Rural Aid has announced a $500,000 donation from Commonwealth Bank (CBA) to expand their network of experienced counsellors based in rural towns across the country.

The new donation sees the appointment of 10 additional counsellors in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, allowing Rural Aid to reach new locations for the service. This comes following the increase in demand for mental health and wellbeing services in regional areas in the wake of the pandemic, natural disasters and the pressure on rural health care provision in recent years. 

Rural Aid provides critical and confidential support to farmers through financial, wellbeing and fodder assistance. Offering free counselling and community-based interventions, Rural Aid’s programs help create more sustainable communities by building their capacity leading to stronger futures for all Australian farmers.

“Rural Aid is extremely grateful for our generous partners like CBA,” Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said.

“Without the support of CBA, we wouldn’t be able to provide as many life-changing services to Aussie farmers. This funding provides the impetus needed to disrupt the pattern of low mental health outcomes for farmers, which is vital in improving farmers’ lives and providing for a more hopeful future.”

As part of the 10 new appointments, Rural Aid is able to engage counsellors based in new locations to the service, including South Australia and Western Australia. The full list includes:

  • NSW – Inverell, Bega and Sydney (including the appointment of a Team Leader for the new counsellors, based in Sydney)
  • VIC - Bairnsdale, Geelong and Mildura
  • SA - Berri and Port Augusta
  • WA - Northam and Wagin

Commonwealth Bank’s Executive General Manager, Regional and Agribusiness, Paul Fowler, said: “As the bank for all Australians we are committed to supporting all of our communities in regional areas. In addition to the pandemic, our regions have faced bushfires, droughts and floods, impacting farmers not just physically and financially, but mentally too.

“We are proud to support the expansion of Rural Aid’s counselling program and acknowledge its huge contribution in providing ongoing assistance and support to regional communities,” he said.

As part of CBA’s ongoing support to the community, the donation to Rural Aid marks CBA’s $1 million contribution to mental health services during the pandemic following a recent donation announcement with Lifeline.

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