Coinciding with the start of International Mental Health Week (October 6-12), Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation announced its newly formed on-farm counselling program with Rural Aid to support the mental health and wellbeing of dairy farmers.
There has been a 15 per cent drop in the number of dairy farms operating across Queensland and a 10pc drop in the volume of milk produced over the past 12 months. While considerable headway was made earlier this year when supermarkets ended the nine-year $1/litre milk discount milk campaign, the dairy industry is in such crisis that it will likely be years before it finds its feet again.
The rising costs of production and the ongoing drought across much of Queensland and NSW has put a serious financial and mental strain on Queensland's dairy farmers. While we're working with processors and the retailers to get farmers a sustainable price for their milk, these things take time and for some farmers it's just too late
QDO staff spend a large portion of their time talking with farmers, so using the opportunity to check in on their mental health and wellbeing makes sense. To do this professionally, QDO is working with not-for-profit group Rural Aid to encourage farmers to register for assistance. Rural Aid counsellor Jane McCollum said that the initial meetings with farmers were often spent strategising and planning rather than discussing feelings and emotions.
There are a lot of other not for profit organisations doing a great job in the mental health space, but it was felt that our farmers could be best helped by the kind of on-the-ground counselling that Rural Aid can provide. The enthusiasm and lack of bureaucracy we've seen from the people at Rural Aid is such a welcome change.
Any farmer or member of a rural community who is finding things difficult is encouraged to register with Rural Aid on 1300 327 624 or at www.ruralaid.org.au