Improving the resilience of Australia's rural communities
Individuals and families in Australia’s rural and remote communities experience unique ongoing challenges such as geographic isolation, economic stress, lack of access to services and the impacts of natural disasters. These are challenges that most people living in cities just don’t face.
In light of the drought, and responding to the call of local communities, the Federal Government in 2014 initiated what has become a highly successful community mental health and family and relationship counselling services programme in drought affected communities.
This programme has begun to break through the social and cultural barriers to people in need of support, linking people in to the services they need, supporting families who are trying to cope in the face of an ever worsening drought, and building more resilient and cohesive communities.
Unfortunately the 2016 Federal Budget did not provide funding to extend this programme beyond 30 June 2016.
In consultation with our member agencies, Catholic Social Services Australia has developed a Rural Community Resilience Programme. This programme, drawing on the success of the earlier model, enables counsellors to go into rural and remote communities and extend mental health, family and relationship support to people in their homes, on their stations, and at community events.
The establishment of the Rural Community Resilience Programme recognises that challenges faced by rural and remote communities are ongoing. The unforgiving Australian climate seems to offer only the narrow choices of drought, flood or fire. Building a baseline of resilience and support will enable people to face the unique challenges arising in this environment and, we believe, significantly reduce the tragic incidence of suicide and family breakdown within these communities.