Government funding nowhere to be seen for rural outreach worker
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.