Premier Steven Marshall hears community concerns over drought-related issues

CLEVE VISIT: Member for Flinders Peter Treloar, left, Premier Steven Marshall and acting Primary Industries Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan were hosted at Cleve on Tuesday.
CLEVE VISIT: Member for Flinders Peter Treloar, left, Premier Steven Marshall and acting Primary Industries Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan were hosted at Cleve on Tuesday.

Mental Health dominated discussion at a drought forum held in Cleve on Tuesday morning, with more than 60 people in attendance raising issues to Premier Steven Marshall.

Topics included struggles for small business to pay rates, "accidental counsellors", health staff and services, programs for fencing and revegetation and other issues such as road upgrades and speed limits.

"This is my second visit to the Eyre Peninsula in the last year ... it has such a beautiful environment, but it has been doing it tough especially up around this neck of the woods for some time now," said Mr Marshall.

"We know that some of the communities across South Australia have been hit with dry and drought conditions for three, four or even more years and it is a very dangerous situation in those communities with issues around mental health as well as financial issues and also just around long term sustainability."

Kimba Mayor Dean Johnson asked what more could be done for suicide prevention and said professional psychology services were needed "on the ground". "The lives we have lost are unforgivable really," he said.

Others raised that while small 'pockets' of grant money had been helpful for short-term community projects around mental health, there needed to be larger amounts of long-term funding available to provide consistent support.

Some also proposed similar schemes to the water resilience rebate but for replacing fencing in areas badly affected by sand drift like Arno Bay.

Mr Marshall said he had told other communities about his last visit to the peninsula because he was "really impressed" at the events held by the community that helped bring people out of isolation.

"At a time like this you do find a lot of people that are really hurting at the moment ... lots of people in country SA are strong proud people and they aren't putting their hand up so it is really important we put the supports in place," he said.

The government also announced four new Family and Business Support mentors across the state, as part of the $21 million Drought Support Program first announced in December.

The FaBS program has already trained three members of the peninsula community - Helen Lamont, Jeanette Long and Steve Whillas - to act in a mentoring role across drought-affected communities.