End date looms for role
Since beginning his role as a rural outreach worker in 2003, Ivan Lister’s work has been funded by many different bodies including local health services, state government and most recently Benalla Rural City Council.
Funded for two days a week, with an end date looming in December, Mr Lister is determined to extend the role and keep it going.
‘‘We’ve proven over 16 years that the role needs to be funded for three to five years in advance,’’ he said.
State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan has made many requests to Mental Health Minister Martin Foley to provide financial support for the program, however Mr Lister was recently informed that this role was funded by local government and would not receive state funding in the near future. ‘‘It really got me upset,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not talking about being employed, I’m talking about this role which is so important.’’
He said funding of the role by local government was on a short-term basis due to budget constraints from one year to the next.
Mr Lister invited Mr Foley to visit some farming families in the Benalla region.
‘‘I’d invite Martin Foley himself to come to Benalla, get in the ute that I go around with and meet a few farmers and listen to what they’ve got to say,’’ he said.
‘‘The criticism the farmers have is they hear these people talking about the issues but they don’t see anybody and they feel they haven’t got a voice, so I reckon I’m the voice as much as I can.
‘‘I will stick up for the farmers — and they know that.’’
Warrenbayne farmer John Harrison said the work Mr Lister did was imperative in the area, and the current funding of two days a week was not enough.
‘‘Why is it so difficult to find funding for him?’’ he said.
‘‘How many dead farmers do they want (before funding is allocated)?’’