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Old 27-02-2011, 09:03 AM
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Kelly Kelly is offline
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Default The mental health of farmers of station people is of high concern

A mental health expert and 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, has visited the town of Theodore in central Queensland's Dawson Valley to help cotton farmers deal with the mental toll of the floods.

Professor McGorry, asked by Queensland Health to help traumatised people deal with the mental health impact of the disaster, said the community was surprisingly upbeat and stoical but the financial aspect of what has happened to them will have a corrosive impact over the next 12 months.

Mental health was "front and centre" of a series of predictable issues that arise, Professor McGorry said. He is concerned the government will direct resources at physical reconstruction at the expense of mental health services. "In a country like Australia we should be able to afford both," he said.

The chairman of Cotton Australia, Andrew Watson, said there was a specific short term need for counselling in the Theodore community to help people deal with the grief of losing homes and farms, and that financial pressures would be an ongoing issue.

"In six months' time when the media has forgotten the story the pressures will still be there."

Mr Watson said the Director of Mental Health in Queensland, Dr Aaron Groves, had offered to make available mental health professionals from the Health Department to conduct workshop meetings for the community in the coming months.

He said that of the 10,000 hectares of cotton in Dawson Valley, 7000 hectares have been inundated or probably destroyed. He said of the 20 cotton farmers in the valley, 15 will suffer a complete loss of income for the year.

The president of the Dawson Valley Cotton Grower's Association, Fleur Anderson, said the visit to Theodore by Professor McGorry had helped people in the community understand "it's not the event (flood) that defines us, it's the decisions we make after the event that defines our future".
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