Mental health gets a 'Lifeline'

Mental health gets a 'Lifeline'

Safe Hands
Mental Health advocate: Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon is passionate about the work the big agribusiness company does with Lifeline.

Mental Health advocate: Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon is passionate about the work the big agribusiness company does with Lifeline.

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Ruralco has announced a three-year extension on a partnership with crisis support and suicide prevention charity, Lifeline Australia.

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Ruralco has announced a three-year extension on a partnership formed last year with nationally-recognised crisis support and suicide prevention charity, Lifeline Australia.

The funding commitment will provide ongoing support for rural and regional communities who continue to face on-going drought conditions.

Ruralco is currently the subject of a takeover by Canadian agribusiness, Nutrien, which owns established Australian agribusiness Landmark.

Landmark and Nutrien have committed to continue the Lifeline partnership should Nutrien's acquisition of Ruralco proceed.

Managing Director of Landmark Rob Clayton expressed his company's ongoing commitment towards the existing partnership between Ruralco and Lifeline.

"Landmark recognise the value of retaining the existing Lifeline partnership and see it as a key component of the successful cultural alignment between the two businesses.

"We share the same values, and supporting the communities we live and work in makes sense", Mr Clayton said.

The partnership between Ruralco and Lifeline, established in November 2015, has raised over $1 million for Lifeline and its local branches through multiple programs including awareness training and 'farm-help' in-community workshops.

Last year the two organisations also banded together to run a comprehensive survey of regional Australians with survey forms available online, in Ruralco stores and in print in the 2018 Safe Hands publication.

More than 500 respondents, who overwhelmingly owned or lived on a farm, completed the survey.

The results revealed that roughly three quarters had experienced an unusually high period of emotional stress or upheaval during the previous three months, commonly because of financially-related difficulties.

When people were asked specifically about their likelihood of accessing services outside their social circle or family, the most said they would prefer face-to-face support from a professional.

Of the list of coping strategies from which respondents made their selection, the most frequently identified was 'I try to focus on the things I can control and accept the things I can't'.

Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon acknowledged many farmers were still struggling.

"Lately, we've all witnessed the devastating long-term effects of drought and floods on farming communities across Australia and, by all accounts, there's no guarantee of relief soon," Mr. Dillon said.

"Since 2015, through a series of roadshows, mental health workshops and community awareness programs, Ruralco has been able to provide a bit of relief and positivity for regional and rural areas doing it tough. Australians are a resilient bunch, however a combination of events can erode the ability to cope."

Lifeline's Executive Director of Fundraising, Lisa Cheng, said the extension had come at a time when communities were struggling with a disproportionate number of deaths by suicide.

"It is encouraging to know that we can continue to provide that same level of support through the new partnership," she said.

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