Supporting those on the land

While there has been rain in recent weeks, drought conditions continue in the Upper Hunter. Many are hoping for ‘follow up’ rains to ensure grass regrows and crops take root.

CatholicCare Social Services now has offices in both Singleton and Muswellbrook, and while many services are offered, I’m particularly pleased to be able to support men and women on the land in trying times.

At the best of times, rural life is uncertain. In the words of Dorothea Mackellar, Australia experiences both “drought and flooding rains”, as well as competition from offshore suppliers of fruit and vegetables, increasing expenses and difficulty in repaying loans. So often farmers are asset-rich but time ‒ and cash ‒ poor.

In addition, families on the land experience the usual trials of life – illness and bereavement, addiction, relationship breakdown, un- or under-employment.

These circumstances can lead to depression, grief and loss, and an unwillingness to socialise and share the burden. This is where CatholicCare’s suite of services may be able to help!

Our intention is to support farmers to work through the mental health issues that can often present in times of stress and when people are dealing with the trauma associated with loss of income and livelihood. A large part of our goal is to break down the stigma attached to people who are dealing with a mental health problem. According to the Black Dog Institute, 20% of people, or one in five Australians aged 16 to 85, will experience mental illness each year. Alarmingly, 54% of people with a mental health issue do not reach out for help.

Our aim is to change this. If a person fell off a tractor and broke an arm or a leg, they would not think twice about seeking medical help. Likewise, if they were bitten by a snake, they would seek help. Mental health is no different. Whilst you may not be able to see the break or the bite, mental health issues that go untreated can have devastating effects on the individual and the family. The hardest part is taking that first step and making the call. Please, if you need help, pick up the phone and call one of our friendly and professional team members.

We offer free family and relationship support services as well as a free counselling service. As well as Singleton and Muswellbrook, there are offices in Mayfield, Maitland, Cardiff, Gloucester, Forster and Taree.

To find out more about these free services, or to seek support, click here or P our Muswellbrook office at 6542 4400 or our Singleton office at 4015 2820.


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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit

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