Drought-affected farmers, primary producers and local businesses will have more access to wellbeing and financial support as the Marshall Liberal Government expands the Family and Business Support (FaBS) Program.
Up to four new FaBS mentors will be appointed in the drought-ravaged pastoral regions and northern areas of the state as part of the State Government's $21 million Drought Support Package with additional funding from the Outback Communities Authority through the Federal Government's Drought Communities Programme Extension.
The Family and Business Support mentors help address a critical support gap by connecting those in isolated drought-affected communities with available financial and mental health services.
Premier Steven Marshall, who is visiting drought-affected regions today, said the State and Federal Governments are standing with South Australian primary producers doing it tough.
"We know there are many people across the state who are suffering through significant dry conditions and we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our drought-affected farmers," said Premier Marshall.
"Importantly, we are working closely with the Federal Government to ensure support is being provided where it is needed most in a practical and efficient way.
"This latest FaBS program expansion ensures more farmers and pastoralists, families and small businesses doing it tough in our northern drought-affected regions can quickly access the support they need."
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the Morrison Coalition Government will continue to support drought-affected farmers across the country.
"Communities across South Australia and the country are suffering in the midst of drought and the Morrison Coalition Government is stepping up to help," said Mr Ramsey.
"There is no silver bullet to this drought. Each time we introduce further help we listen, we learn, and we adjust our response because we know each community has different needs and priorities that need the resources and cooperation of every level of government."
The expansion of the FaBS mentor program is a key element of State Government's $21 million Drought Support Package and in addition to the $25 million rebuild of South Australia's 100-year-old Dog Fence will provide much needed support to our primary producers and pastoral communities.
Acting Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development and Member for Stuart, Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the FaBS mentor program works closely with other service providers such as Rural Business Support, Red Cross and local health networks and support organisations.
"Our Government is pleased to announce we will be partnering with the northern areas councils of Flinders Ranges, Mount Remarkable, Northern Areas, Orroroo Carrieton, Port Pirie, Goyder and Peterborough to provide an enhanced FaBS mentors service with a stronger focus on mental health and wellbeing support," said Acting Minister van Holst Pellekaan.
"The program has been critical to date in addressing a support gap that has existed in drought-affected communities, and I commend the northern areas councils for coming to the State Government and helping evolve the program to address local needs.
"FaBS mentors can assist in ensuring people are able to access technical advice, drought assistance and other support measures available through government, non-government, community and charity networks.
"Importantly the team of FaBS mentors can also respond to direct requests for help from people or from others concerned about the wellbeing of a family member, friend, neighbour or client."
Outback Communities Authority Chair Bill McIntosh AM said despite some much-welcomed rainfalls in the north, many of our pastoralists have been experiencing drought for a number of years now and it's taken its toll on their business, their farms and the environment around them.
"As a result there remains a need to expand current drought support and through this new initiative we can ensure that such support is accessible to the outback community," said Mr McIntosh.
"The OCA FaBS Pastoral Outreach Program is a specific outreach service that will include scheduled one on one visits, which will be tailored to suit individual needs.
"This activity will be critical to determine the community's needs and the appropriate support services that may be required."
The $21 million Drought Support Program is providing immediate support through a council rate rebate and pastoral lease rent relief, expanding the Rural Financial Counselling Service and increasing the Family and Business mentor program, while also supporting long term resilience through an expansion of the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
The $25 million South Australian Dog Fence upgraded is being jointly funded by the State Government ($10 million), Federal Government ($10 million) and industry ($5 million).