10 ways to support rural communities in NSW at Christmas and beyond

HELPING HANDS: Look for ways to support rural communities this Christmas. Photo: Sylvia Lieber
HELPING HANDS: Look for ways to support rural communities this Christmas. Photo: Sylvia Lieber

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) team encourages Australians to support individuals and communities impacted by the ongoing drought and the bushfires leading up to Christmas.

RAMHP manager Tessa Caton said this Christmas would be especially tough for many rural families.

"The bushfires and the ongoing drought has really taken a toll on many people financially, physically and mentally," she said.

"There is a lot of stress and worry about what the future entails.

"On the positive side there is lot of great work happening across communities by individuals, volunteers, community groups and organisations.

"It is often the strength and spirit of our communities that gets them through difficult times.

RAMHP manager Tessa Caton.

RAMHP manager Tessa Caton.

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) team encourages Australians to support individuals and communities impacted by the ongoing drought and the bushfires leading up to Christmas.

RAMHP manager Tessa Caton said this Christmas would be especially tough for many rural families.

"The bushfires and the ongoing drought has really taken a toll on many people financially, physically and mentally," she said.

"There is a lot of stress and worry about what the future entails.

"On the positive side there is lot of great work happening across communities by individuals, volunteers, community groups and organisations.

"It is often the strength and spirit of our communities that gets them through difficult times.

"Our RAMHP team who live and work in rural communities often get asked by people 'how can we help those who are doing it tough?'.

"That is why this year RAMHP have put together these suggestions on how to support people in rural communities leading up to Christmas."

  1. Make a donation. A national not-for-profit, Givit helps to provide exactly what is needed in disaster response and recovery. Visit: www.givit.org.au
  2. Support rural businesses. Check the Facebook page buyfromthebush. This page provides a showcase of beautiful things to buy from rural communities facing drought.
  3. Take a road trip and visit a regional area. This Facebook page - Stayinthebush - provides a showcase of beautiful places to stay in the bush.
  4. Volunteer in your community or in another community doing it tough. This Christmas give volunteers a break and donate some time to a cause or organisation.
  5. Buy rural. Buy home-made crafts from rural Australians via this facebook page One Day Closer to Rain (Drought).
  6. Support our first responders' wellbeing. An initiative supports postage costs and distribution of Stress Less Packs to first responders across Australia. Visit: www.givenow.com.au/behindtheseen.
  7. Give a gift of hope for Christmas. Provide support for farmers and their rural communities affected by drought. Visit the Facebook page Drought Angels or visit www.droughtangels.org.au
  8. Keep up with social connections. Now is time to spend time with family and friends. Arrange to have a cuppa with a neighbour or pick up the phone and check in with someone who you know who may be doing it tough.
  9. Help raise awareness around the gaps in services and support for rural Australians struggling with alcohol addiction. Visit Sober In The Country at www.soberinthecountry.com.au
  10. Make someone's day with a random act of kindness. Check www.randomactofkindness.org for ideas on how you can make a difference.

Charities are asking people who want to help communities to donate money instead of food or clothing.

Where to get help

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Contact your local RAMHP co-ordinator at www.ramhp.com.au. They are not clinicians but can listen, provide support and help connect people to services in their local area.

If you're concerned about your own or someone else's mental health, call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for advice or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.