VITAL funding for drought-affected communities including Cobar, Warren and Walgett were cut in the federal budget, a relationship services organisation servicing Far West NSW said.
Interrelate said the Department of Social Services’ Family and Children Program had been helping the towns as part of the Drought Assistance Program since July 2014.
“The drought in Far West is far from over and these communities are still recovering,” Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli said.
Interrelate Rural Support Worker Kate Mudford said there was as much need as ever for support services in the far west.
“The region that our services cover, particularly in Walgett, is still financially and physically unhealthy with many in the community still feeling the strains of minimal to no income for up to four years now,” she said.
Ms Occelli said one of the key points from the report, that was the framework for the Drought Assistance Program, was that social support services should be available to those in need at all times and not just in a crisis.
“This is yet another example of government going against their own position and on what they agreed was in the best interest of communities,” she said. The Drought Assistance Program offers free support to rural communities affected by drought to regenerate resilience and increase mental health sustainability. The services include counselling for individuals and families, education programs and community workshops. Interrelate said it was strongly committed to supporting these drought affected communities who had been facing ongoing hardships for an extended period of time. “Our Rural Support Workers have seen firsthand the emotional toll continued drought can take on individuals, families, relationships and communities. We would ask the government, where will our clients go for help once our services have been withdrawn?” Ms Occelli asked.
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