Health | May 17, 2021

Funding security critical for Rural Outreach Program

The Rural Outreach Program operating in the Wimmera Southern Mallee is again facing an uncertain future, with funding due to run out at the end of next month.

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy is calling on the Andrews Labor Government to provide ongoing funding certainty for the program in next week’s State Budget.

“The Andrews Government is specialising in handing out temporary lifelines to critical services like our Primary Care Partnerships and the Rural Outreach Program,” Ms Kealy said.

“We need at least a three-year funding commitment, not just 12 months at a time, to allow this important program to plan for and provide the long-term support that our local communities need.”

Ms Kealy said the Rural Outreach Program, which has been in operation since December 2018 and is provided through the Wimmera Primary Care Partnership, had helped more than 1300 community members in times of psychological distress across the Hindmarsh, Horsham Rural City, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack council areas.

“The fantastic Rural Outreach Team provided vital support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for residents in cross-border communities who were dealing with restricted border access between Victoria and South Australia and the many difficulties this created,” she said.

“No-one can do what this service does for our local communities, and we can’t afford to lose them.

“Now we have the situation once again where our amazing rural outreach workers have only been given funding certainty until the end of June.

“The continued drip-feeding of funding by the Andrews Labor Government is only creating uncertainty and making their jobs harder.

“Municipalities in our electorate have some of the highest suicide rates in the state, but the worst access to state funded mental health support.

“We need a serious investment in stepped care services for our region, from education and primary supports to keep people well, through to counselling, psych consults and psych beds to keep those in crisis close to home and their support networks. 

“I have been proud to stand with our PCPs in the fight for ongoing funding security and will continue to do everything I can to ensure local residents continue to have access to the vital services that they provide, including the fantastic Rural Outreach Program.”


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