Tallandoon farmer Alice Colclough has seen three families pull out of the dairy industry this year alone due to the milk price crisis.
The mother of three children aged under five manages a 230-cow herd with her husband, Justin.
“Having to take on new debt because of the price fall-out is what’s really pushed us up to the edge,” she said.
“Coming into the winter, the thought in my mind was ‘I’m going to be working for free, in my gumboots’.
“The season has added another impact on top of that because it’s not getting any easier on the catch-up.
“At the moment, I keep pulling stuff back out of the trolley at the supermarket.”
Mrs Colclough had a clear message for Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley on his visit to the Border – don’t forget about us.
“A short-lived service isn’t going to have a big impact, in fact it probably won’t at all,” she said.
“Rural communities survive on relationships and take time to build up trust.”
Mrs Colclough said accessing recovery concessional loans had been difficult.
“It’s very slow – someone applied for their loans on the day the announcement was made and has just been approved,” she said.
Minister Foley agreed it was important the federal government secure a financial safety net for farmers.
“The last thing we need is more of the finger-pointing blame game that we saw a few months ago,” he said.
“This is far too important for that – we need a co-operative arrangement between all levels of government.”
Minister Foley announced a $1.5 million package to provide mental health support to dairy farmers would be extended to stock drivers and veterinarians.
North East Border Mental Health Service community development clinician Renee Murtagh said the mental health first aid training was crucial to people within all layers of the industry.
“We held a course in Dederang and one will happen in November at the Barnawartha saleyards,” she said.
“Alice participated in the last mental health first aid course and has now become more active in her community in supporting people.”