Fight for fund­ing con­tin­ues

Benalla Ensign - - Communityvoice -

The fight for fund­ing to keep ru­ral outreach worker Ivan Lis­ter in his job has con­tin­ued in Par­lia­ment.

State Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan’s first act af­ter be­ing sworn in for a sec­ond term was to high­light Mr Lis­ter’s role to the House.

Ms Ryan sub­mit­ted a no­tice of mo­tion mov­ing that Par­lia­ment pay trib­ute to Mr Lis­ter for his ef­forts to sup­port farm­ers and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties through dif­fi­cult sea­sonal and eco­nomic cir­cum­stances.

The mo­tion called on the state gov­ern­ment to fund Mr Lis­ter’s work on an on­go­ing ba­sis be­fore his fund­ing ran out at the end of De­cem­ber.

‘‘I have made rep­re­sen­ta­tions to min­is­ters, state and fed­eral, in re­cent weeks to high­light the won­der­ful work that Ivan does in our lo­cal com­mu­nity,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘The need for fund­ing is now ur­gent, which is why I used my first speech in Par­lia­ment to draw at­ten­tion to Ivan’s role as our lo­cal ru­ral outreach worker.

‘‘Ivan’s role was ini­tially funded to help drought-af­fected fam­i­lies, but over the years he has be­come a crit­i­cal link for peo­ple fac­ing other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, in­clud­ing bush­fires, floods and even tor­na­does.

‘‘He has helped peo­ple through the dairy cri­sis and sup­ported peo­ple who have been suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, the break­down of their fam­ily and fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.’’

Ms Ryan said Mr Lis­ter worked closely with lo­cal GPs and other health pro­fes­sion­als and had built a re­la­tion­ship of trust be­tween farm­ers and other sup­port ser­vices.

‘‘In the last fi­nan­cial year alone, Ivan made con­tact with 329 peo­ple lo­cally, in­clud­ing 191 men and 138 women,’’ she said.

‘‘About half of those were re­turn vis­its, and half were new re­fer­rals. While all of Ivan’s work is con­fi­den­tial, the prob­lems he was most com­monly pre­sented with in­cluded fi­nan­cial and farm­ing con­cerns, men­tal health and re­la­tion­ship is­sues.

‘‘In ad­di­tion to the work he does one-on-one with peo­ple, Ivan is of­ten asked to speak at men­tal health-fo­cused fo­rums, first-aid ses­sions and other com­mu­nity events.’’

Ms Ryan said while she com­mended the state gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to hold a Royal Com­mis­sion into men­tal health, ur­gent and prac­ti­cal steps could be taken to as­sist our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties by pro­vid­ing im­me­di­ate fund­ing to guar­an­tee Mr Lis­ter’s fu­ture work.

Ivan Lis­ter

Steph Ryan

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