$1.5 million election-commitment from Morrison Government for Stay Afloat national rollout

$1.5 million election-commitment from Morrison Government for Stay Afloat national rollout

A re-elected Morrison Government will invest $1.5 million in improving mental health support for commercial fishers across Australia.

This investment will extend and expand Seafood Industry Australia’s ‘Stay Afloat’ program, a national mental health pilot for the Australian seafood industry that was started with a $600,000 election commitment from the Morrison Government in 2019.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Liberal Senator for Tasmania Jonno Duniam said the investment will allow the program to establish up to 50 Hubs covering 150 seafood producing communities across Australia to provide mental health support to our hardworking fishers.

“Research shows that Australia’s commercial fishers suffer from mental health problems at twice the base rate of the general population,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“There are a range of factors that influence this, and this program is all about educating people, developing those mental health support networks and ensuring that any barriers to accessing support are broken down.

“We know that the pilot program run in Lakes Entrance, Newcastle and Darwin has been successful in connecting fishers with the services they need and otherwise may not be accessing.

“More than 230 industry members have received accredited mental training, 220 people in crisis have been connected with mental health support services, and 35 events have been delivered for industry members to learn about mental health signs, symptoms and where to find help.

“This program is giving our fishers the tools to look after their mental health and it is saving peoples’ lives through program outreach.

“This investment will ensure the positive outcomes of the pilot program are extended to fishing communities around Australia.

“It is essential that we increase awareness, reduce stigma and empower our hardworking fishers to reach out for help.”

Chief Executive Officer of Seafood Industry Australia, Veronica Papacosta, welcomed the commitment from the Morrison Government to provide support for a national rollout of the Stay Afloat program.

“This funding will save lives, and we thank the Morrison Government for their support,” Ms Papacosta said.

“The Stay Afloat program does not duplicate existing work or services but engages with Primary Health Networks and educates them about industry issues and the challenges facing commercial seafood producers.

“The pilot program developed highly effective grassroots, peer-engagement method which supported industry to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health, and how to connect with existing services like GPs, Beyond Blue and Lifeline.”

The Morrison Government has made mental health and suicide prevention a national priority and is investing a record $3 billion in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 Budgets for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to deliver landmark reform of the mental health and suicide prevention system.

Unlike the Labor Party, who cut mental health funding when last in Government and has not given Australians any detail on their plans for mental health in the future, the Morrison Government will continue to ensure that all Australians can access information, advice, counselling, or treatment, when and where they need it.

For more information on the Stay Afloat program please visit: https://www.stayafloat.com.au.

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Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta please contact SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager Jessica McInerney on 0420 695 431 or jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au