South Australian farmers struggling through drought and recovery from the summer's devastating bushfires now have more support through an expansion of the State Government's Family and Business Support (FaBS) program.
The FaBS program has been expanded as part of the Marshall Liberal Government's $21 million Drought Support Package with six mentors now operating in the Upper North/Pastoral areas and mentors also available across bushfire-affected communities.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said FaBS mentors play a crucial role in linking primary producers with available assistance.
"These mentors are well-known people in their communities and are able to identify farmers who are crying out for help but reluctant to admit they need it," said Minister Whetstone.
"This FaBS program expansion ensures more farmers, pastoralists, families and small businesses doing it tough in drought-affected regions and bushfire-affected communities can quickly access the support they need.
"The mentors are available to meet, listen and, if needed, connect people to appropriate services and programs. This program is critical in addressing a support gap, which I envisage will save lives, relationships and families."
The State Government has been working with an alliance of Northern Councils, as well as the Mid North Suicide Prevention Network, to establish two new FaBS mentors in the Upper North. They will be operating within the council areas of Orroroo Carrieton, Flinders Ranges, Peterborough, Northern Areas, Goyder, Mount Remarkable and Port Pirie.
Minister Whetstone said in addition to the FaBS expansion in northern and pastoral areas; the FaBS program has also been expanded to assist bushfire-affected communities particularly in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.
"While the latest FaBS expansion addresses the ongoing impacts of the drought and last summer's bushfires, this is a service that is designed to assist regional communities with various adverse events," said Minster Whetstone.
"Over the past year the FaBS program has been expanded to provide support to producers and businesses that have been impacted by hailstorms in the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Riverland along with fishers and fishing businesses impacted by changes in the commercial fishing industry.
"Since the FaBS program was started in 2018, nearly 500 producers and businesses from across the state have accessed the service.
"Importantly, the FaBS team 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."
The latest expansion of the FaBS program is part of the State Government's $21 million Drought Support Package, with additional funding provided by the Outback Communities Authority through the Federal Government's Drought Communities Programme Extension announced earlier this year.