WNSWLHD Drought Support Team providing services to rural people

Members of the Western NSW Local Health District Drought Support Team. Photo: Supplied.
Members of the Western NSW Local Health District Drought Support Team. Photo: Supplied.

Everyday people with lived experience on the land are helping others across the western NSW as they battle through the persisting drought conditions.

Since the beginning of the year the Western NSW Local Health District commenced a Drought Support Team, providing a new, free and confidential model of care for rural people.

Tullamore's Heather Jones is the Senior Support Worker for the Drought Support Team.

Mrs Jones grew up on a dairy farm on the coast and for 20 years worked as a registered nurse, spending the last 10 years of her career as a community nurse.

Including Mrs Jones, there are another eight support workers throughout the WNSWLHD who are helping clients in need of support throughout the region.

The workers support clients as far as the Bourke, Cobar, Condobolin, Orange, Wellington areas and as far as Lightning Ridge.

Their main role is linking clients to services, whether that may be to a mental health service, GP, rural financial counselling service or non-government organisation's.


Mrs Jones said the effects of the drought has reached beyond the farm and the support workers have clients other than farmers who need these services.

"We're finding with the drought its just not farmers anymore (affected) it's the communities, small businesses, the shearers, farm hands and contractors," she explained.

As conditions continue to deteriorate across the western NSW area, Mrs Jones said the workload has gotten busier.

"We can't solve the drought we just have to work with what we've got and support people," she added.

"We can make it a little bit easier by providing some services for them."

The service is able to provide support via phone calls, text, email or one-on-one.

To access the Drought Support Team service call (02) 6881 4002.

The service runs Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm, outside of these hours anyone with concerns about their mental health or that of a friend or loved one should call the Mental Health Line on free call 1800 011 511 or contact their GP.