Drought support providers visit Cowell, Cleve and Kimba

VISITORS: Fitness and lifestyle coach Mel Semmler, Kylie Reznar from Rural Business Support, co-ordinator Dale Sheridan and Libby Baldock from Rural Business Support.
VISITORS: Fitness and lifestyle coach Mel Semmler, Kylie Reznar from Rural Business Support, co-ordinator Dale Sheridan and Libby Baldock from Rural Business Support.

A group of government, charitable and private organisations providing support to farming communities during drought conditions visited Cowell, Cleve and Kimba this week.

Community members could sit down one-on-one with representatives from Centrelink, the Australian Tax Office, Rural Business Support and a variety of other organisation to discuss the programs available.

Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities' Drought Taskforce assistant director Dale Sheridan said the tour was about "correcting misconceptions" around eligibility for certain programs and giving country people the opportunity to speak directly to someone about what they need.

"It's not often that some of these agencies come to town," she said.

Ms Sheridan said she found the Eastern Eyre Peninsula to be well-educated on the available support, and said the Franklin Harbour and Cleve district councils stood out through their proactive efforts to keep the community informed.

She praised Cowell's Jasmin Piggott and Cleve's Angela Harris for their work visiting farmers in their respective districts to spread information.

Rural Business Support Communications Manager Kylie Meznar said while rain was beginning to fall in the region, farmers would still require support until next harvest at least.

"The need isn't going away just because it's rained," she said.

The financial counselling service has partnered with the SA Country Women's Association to distribute payments of up to $3000 for those in need, and Ms Reznar said the organisation was still fundraising and currently donating about $23,000 a week.

The payments, aimed at personal costs such as school fees or utility bills, can be accessed by calling Rural Business Support on 1800 836 211.

The not-for-profit organisation also offers assistance with budgeting, cash flow issues, applying for loans and Farm Household Allowance applications with over 100 clients on the Eyre Peninsula.

Among the visitors was Port Lincoln-based personal trainer Mel Semmler, who was invited to promote a focus on health and wellbeing in farming families.

Ms Semmler has set up an online program to assist regional families to eat healthy and exercise.

She said in tough times it was important to remember to take a break and focus on wellbeing.

"In regional areas it's just so important to maintain health and fitness," she said.

She said the exercise program was designed to be done at home.

"I'm from a small country town and we just didn't have access to gyms and things."

More information is available at melsemmler.com.au.

Ms Sheridan said she hoped the farmers who came and spoke to the representatives would share what they learned with their peers.

"We're hoping farmers share the news across farm fences... that's the best way news travels," she said.