In July 2018, the NSW Government announced a new $500 million NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package to provide immediate support measures to primary producers to address the compounding impacts of the drought on regional communities. This included a commitment of $6.3 million over two years for a Mental Health Support package known as the Emergency Drought Relief Mental Health (EDR-MH) support package.
The aim of the EDR-MH was to better support the mental well-being of people living and/or working in drought-affected communities. The target group includes farmers and their families, farm workers and farming-related businesses, broader communities (including businesses, services and residents) and professionals and volunteers supporting these groups.
Funding was provided to three Local Health Districts (LHDs) to establish Drought Support Teams (DSTs)1, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and the National Association of Loss and Grief (NALAG). Between these organisations, the EDR-MH spanned a geographical area comprising more than 85% of NSW.
The Centre for Health Service Development, University of Wollongong was engaged to evaluate the EDR-MH. The evaluation has analysed information from multiple sources including program data from service providers, semi-structured interviews with EDR-MH stakeholders and a consumer survey of EDR-MH clients.