Drought affected communities across the Cootamundra electorate will now have access to three new frontline mental health workers, as part of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s $6.3 million mental health drought assistance package.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the workers have now been recruited and are on the ground providing support across the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, with one based in Temora.

The three positions will be based with the Community Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Teams in Temora, Deniliquin and Griffith, outreaching from those centres to the communities affected by drought.

“These new counsellors will reach out to individuals and families in our local community to offer counselling and link people to further support services if needed,” Ms Cooke said.

“If you or someone you know need support from a farm gate counsellor please call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or speak to our local Community Mental Health Service.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies confirmed the new ‘farm gate counsellors’ have completed their training and are ready to go wherever help is needed.

“These counsellors are farmers, small business owners, and members of the community who are passionate about the agriculture sector and understand the pressures faced by families and farm businesses affected by drought conditions,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Our rural communities are full of proud, resilient people who may be reluctant to seek help or admit they are struggling. I urge anyone who thinks they or someone they know isn’t coping to reach out and talk to someone.”

“These new counsellors have been trained to educate and connect people, communities and workplaces with the help that is available, to give people facing difficult conditions additional support,” Mrs Davies said.

The 19 new mental health workers, introduced by the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government to support drought affected communities, are in addition to a newly appointed National Association of Loss and Grief Drought Support Program Coordinator.

This additional mental health support is part of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s comprehensive drought support package, which was recently boosted to close to $1.5 billion.