Gov­ern­ment fund­ing nowhere to be seen for ru­ral out­reach worker

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS - BYGRACE EVANS [email protected]­me­

LOCAL ru­ral out­reach worker Ivan Lis­ter is set to con­tinue his role around the com­mu­nity, de­spite not hav­ing re­ceived any se­cured fund­ing from the gov­ern­ment.

Be­nalla Ru­ral City Coun­cil is again show­ing their sup­port for Mr Lis­ter’s role in the com­mu­nity af­ter hav­ing him em­ployed on a ca­sual ba­sis over the past four years.

The coun­cil have pre­vi­ously sup­ported the role in their an­nual bud­get whilst also re­ceiv­ing con­tri­bu­tions from out­side par­ties.

They are en­cour­ag­ing all forms of gov­ern­ment to get on board and recog­nise the im­por­tance of Mr Lis­ter’s role and are seek­ing ways they can gain sup­ple­ment and sup­port.

Pop­u­lar en­tity around the Strath­bo­gie Shire and local farm­ing com­mu­nity, Mr Lis­ter ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment that the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment are still un­able to recog­nise the im­por­tance be­hind the role.

“I guess the ques­tion I want to ask and know is why they won’t fund it,” Mr Lis­ter said.

“The only way they will get the im­por­tance of it is if they take out the time to come and see what I do.”

Plac­ing a par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance on the “out­reach” con­cept of his role, Mr Lis­ter noted that when these farm­ers are work­ing in iso­la­tion they of­ten won’t come to some­one, and it’s about that out­reach to them that start’s the process in get­ting help.

“I hate to think what would hap­pen if the pro­gram ever went away,” he said.

“They are en­dur­ing the dri­est sea­son on record and it has mas­sive ef­fects on not only the farmer’s liveli­hoods but also their fam­i­lies.

“Politi­cians need to un­der­stand the hard­ship and how im­por­tant the help is.”

Along with his friendly na­ture and re­laxed ap­proach, Mr Lis­ter show­cases an in depth knowl­edge into the in­dus­try, which he says is an im­por­tant part in get­ting through to a farmer.

“Farm­ers like you to know what their is­sues are,” Mr Lis­ter said.

“I want that knowl­edge to take with me so I can open up a dis­cus­sion of what’s ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause I know what’s go­ing on in their lives.”

Steph Ryan (MLA, Euroa) took to par­lia­ment in De­cem­ber to high­light the im­por­tance of Mr Lis­ter’s role, hav­ing pre­vi­ously have made rep­re­sen­ta­tions to both state and fed­eral min­is­ters.

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 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,” Ms Ryan said.

Mr Lis­ter’s ini­tial role was funded to help drought-af­fected fam­i­lies, but Ms Ryan said 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.”

Strath­bo­gie Shire mayor Amanda McClaren said men­tal health is a se­ri­ous and com­plex health is­sue and fund­ing for ser­vices like Ru­ral Out­reach and other men­tal health sup­port pro­grams are ab­so­lutely vi­tal for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties where ac­cess is of­ten lim­ited.

LEFT IN THE DARK: Pop­u­lar ru­ral out­reach worker Ivan Lis­ter’s role con­tin­ues to go un­recog­nised by state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

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