The NSW Nationals in Government are urging sporting clubs wanting to improve mental health and wellbeing in drought-stricken areas to apply for a share of a new $1.2 million Mental Health Sports Fund.

Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said sporting clubs were the heart of our rural communities and this fund would assist NSW sporting bodies to work with local clubs to deliver mental health and wellbeing initiatives that suit the needs of local people.

“We are hoping a diverse range of sporting codes will apply to promote mental health, and start important conversations in regional areas battling this tough drought,” Mrs Taylor said.

Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said sporting groups played an important role in rural communities, and were well-placed to help tackle mental health issues.

“Sport is a great way to unwind, to get out of the house and catch up with your mates. Our sporting clubs and organisations have strong ties within our community, and they act as a point of focus for families, friends and neighbours,” Mr Johnsen said.

“That’s why the Nationals in Government have launched this fund, to create an opportunity for sports organisations to support the drought effort and help build resilience in rural communities.”

The fund was launched off the back of the highly successful 2018 “Baggy Blues” regional Cricket tour, which harnessed a love of cricket in rural communities to have conversations of the importance of mental health. The Baggy Blues will tour new locations next year, starting in Inverell in January and Tamworth in February.

“NSW sporting bodies could apply for funding to expand an existing program, team-up with a mental health service provider on a new program or support their local member clubs to run community wellbeing events,” Mr Johnsen said.

For further information and how to apply please visit the Office of Sport NSW website.

Anyone requiring drought assistance is encouraged to visit the NSW DroughtHub website.

If you or someone you know needs crisis support please call Lifeline 13 11 14, MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78, or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800. For mental health services in your local area phone the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.