End date looms for role

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

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)?’’

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