The Gwydir Shire Council has recently been successful in securing a substantial grant to support the Gwydir Shire’s farming community through the devastating financial, social and emotional effects of the current drought. The funds which have been provided by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network, aim to deliver events and services to communities experiencing tough times due to extreme drought conditions.
These funds were sourced following concerns raised by Council’s elected representatives at a recent Gwydir Shire Council meeting, as well an increase in calls to the Council’s Social Services Department from residents seeking help and advice.
Suzanne Webber, Gwydir Shire Council’s Social Services Manager, says she has taken many calls from people who are confused and frustrated because they don’t seem to know where to go to for help. “The majority of people that I have spoken with across the Shire are concerned for the health and wellbeing of their families, especially their partners and children” said Ms Webber.
Over the next two months, Gwydir Shire Council will be rolling out a two part initiative to assist our farming community. The first phase, which takes place next week, will provide local residents with the opportunity to take part in Mental Health Support Skills training. The free 3.5 hour workshops will equip participants with the skills to identify the signs and symptoms of common and disabling mental health problems, how to provide initial help, where and how to get professional help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide help in crisis situations.
The second phase will see a series of events to show support for our farming communities. These events which will take place in each of the seven towns and villages within the Shire and will take the form of social evenings complete with a hearty meal and cold drinks. A range of drought assistance services and agencies will be in attendance and will be able to provide advice and assistance to those in need. This will be an opportunity for landholders to gain much needed information about what’s available to them in a social setting.
The main aim of these events is to disseminate as much information to as many people in our Shire as possible, about what help is available without having to travel to a major centre. These events will be held of an evening so that our farmers are not required to be off farm at a time when they are most needed.
Mental Health Support Skills training will take place in Bingara at the Roxy Theatre on Monday 11th March from 10am and in Warialda at the Training Room at the Warialda Depot on Tuesday 12th March from 10am; everyone is invited to attend and lunch will be provide.