DPI rural support worker applications open for Tamworth, Armidale

Tamworth is one of the locations the new rural support worker could be based; the other is Armidale.
Tamworth is one of the locations the new rural support worker could be based; the other is Armidale.

“Significant” demand will result in the New England being the next location for a new Department of Primary Industries (DPI) rural support worker.

The role of the staffer, who will be based in either Tamworth or Armidale, will be to help farming communities build resilience during “adverse events” – drought being that adverse event in this region.

Rural support workers are already based in Coonabarabran, Dubbo, Taree and Scone, and a new Bourke-based position is also being advertised.

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Rural Resilience Program co-ordinator Caroline Hayes said the DPI had identified that the need was greatest in these areas.

“Everywhere’s in significant drought, pretty much, but we’re getting feedback from people in those areas that there’s gaps there,” Mrs Hayes said.

The DPI has started advertising the roles, and applications close on Monday of next week, August 13.

The starting date would depend on the new recruit’s availability, Mrs Hayes said.

“We want to move as fast as we can – as fast as is feasible – but it is important we get the right person.”

On the job

Rural resilience officers, who were permanent staff, and rural support workers, who were temporary, worked together to “listen, learn and link”, she said.

Their role was to meet, and find out the circumstances and needs of, people in farming areas.

Those people could then be connected with an agency such as Local Land Services, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program or Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Or the rural support worker might develop or contribute to an activity or event to meet a specific need; that could be a social event or an upskilling workshop. 

“Their role is to get networked into what’s going on in the rural community, attend as much as they possibly can, meet as many farmers as they possibly can and listen to the issues,” Mrs Hayes said.

She said the right person would be a great networker, communicator and independent worker.

“Someone who has good integrity and can keep a confidence,” she said.

“Not necessarily someone with an agricultural background – they might have a social work background or psychology background [but] who can quickly get across all the assistance and resources available.”

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