Premier visits drought-affected communities in Far North

FAR NORTH: Premier Stephen Marshall visited Hawker, Orroroo, Cleve and Maree on this week's drought tour.
FAR NORTH: Premier Stephen Marshall visited Hawker, Orroroo, Cleve and Maree on this week's drought tour.

Premier Steven Marshall is visiting drought-affected communities in the state's Far North this week on the back of an announcement outlining more support for the region.

Drought-affected farmers, primary producers and local businesses will have more access to wellbeing and financial support as the state 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.

"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," Mr Marshall said.

"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."

The FaB mentors will help address a critical support gap by connecting those in isolated drought-affected communities with available financial and mental health services.

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the coalition will continue to support drought-affected farmers across the country.

"There is no silver bullet to this drought," Mr Ramsey said.

"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 the 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 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.

The government will be partnering with the northern areas councils of Flinders Ranges, Mount Remarkable, Northern Areas, Orroroo Carrieton, Port Pirie, Goyder and Peterborough to deliver the program.

"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," Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

"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," he said.

"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."