Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson and Centacare New England North West CEO Fergus Fitzsimons.

NSW Nationals MP Kevin Anderson has secured psychology and counselling services for people on the land at the Commonwealth Agquip Field Days next week.

The Member for Tamworth was pleased to announce the initiative after making strong representations to NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro for the funding.

“We understand the critical importance of providing mental health support for rural and regional people in this unprecedented drought,” Mr Anderson said. “We will have a psychologist provided by the Centacare New England North West team at The Nationals’ stand [J24] during all three days of Agquip. Having a person with these skills means we can deliver ‘walk-in’ or ‘without referral’ psychology and counselling services to visitors to the site.”

Mr Anderson said he speaks daily to farmers, their families and small business owners about their concerns and the challenges they face.

“It’s really important we look after our people and them with their resilience and wellbeing,” Mr Anderson said. “They really need to know that being looked after and cared for – they need to know they are not alone or feeling isolated.”

Centacare New England North West’s Chief Executive Officer, Fergus Fitzsimons, thanked Member for Kevin Anderson for the Agquip opportunity.

“This is a great initiative to provide a soft or walk in service to our local communities during Agquip with follow-up contact from our psychologists if they request it,” Mr Fitzsimons said. “It gives our farming communities at Agquip another avenue to access counselling services. Some may not want to talk on the day, some may not want to talk on the day, but our staff will do the follow-up and work out what is the best service we can provide to them in the future.”

During this week’s sitting of the NSW Parliament, Mr Anderson spoke out about the need to acknowledge the difficulties facing farming communities across the state.

“It doesn’t matter where we are in NSW, the whole of the state is now drought affected,” he said. “I am delighted that we can provide a service where visitors to the site can drop in and talk one-on-one with a psychologist without having to provide a referral.”

The Nationals in Government have now secured more than $1 billion in drought support and assistance measures, which also includes funding for counselling and mental health. For more information on the Emergency Drought Relief Package visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au.

If you are worried about anyone, farmer or otherwise, who is doing it tough, please encourage them to seek help. Rural financial counsellors provide referrals to counsellors and support to access programs and there are also a number of phone and web-based support services of particular help to farmers. They allow access to expertise without the need to travel and are fully confidential. The following numbers can be called free of charge for assistance 24 hours, 7 days a week:

• Lifeline 131 114
• Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
• MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
• Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467