R U OK? Day: Upper Lachlan Shire community assistance to deal with financial stress

It started with the simple idea of having a conversation with friends and family, and it is now a national movement in its 10th year.

R U OK? Day encourages people to ask the question of friends and family in a meaningful way.

“With around eight people taking their lives in Australia each day, and many more attempting, there's still so much work to do," said campaign director Katherine Newtown. 

ASK A MATE: R U OK? ambassadors. Photo: Ben Houston Photography. For crisis intervention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

ASK A MATE: R U OK? ambassadors. Photo: Ben Houston Photography. For crisis intervention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

Rural and regional communities face problems that are heavily affected by factors beyond their control: weather, commodity, and fuel prices, for example. In 2016, the number of suicides per 100,000 people in rural and remote Australia was 50 per cent higher than in the cities. The Australian Psychological Society’s ‘Stress and Wellbeing in Australia’ survey in 2015 showed financial issues are rated as the top cause of stress.

“Financial stress affects everybody and being able to get control and see assistance coming in is helpful,” said Beverley Houterman of Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS).

RFCS is working with farmers seeking drought assistance. Ms Houterman has increased her work days to keep up-to-date. “These are not normal times,” she said.

Upper Lachlan ratepayers may also access the council’s Rates Hardship Policy, which allows longer terms of payment for those in financial hardship to pay rates in arrears. “The policy is intended to help ease the financial burden, and by default the mental health burden, while landholders get back on their feet,” said the council’s general manager John Bell.

  • For crisis intervention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.