Social consequences of drought

1 JANUARY 2003

"The current drought is creating a generation of forgotten people. Young people are losing touch with education access," said Professor Margaret Alston from Charles Sturt University.

“The current drought is creating a generation of forgotten people. Young people are losing touch with education access,” said Professor Margaret Alston from Charles Sturt University.
 
At the annual meeting of the Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work (ACHSSW) continuing today Thursday 1 February on Charles Sturt University’s Wagga Wagga Campus, social work professors from around the nation expressed concern for the individuals, families and communities affected by the long-running drought. 
 
“We urge that national attention be given to addressing the serious social and community consequences of drought in rural areas. Holding our meeting at Charles Sturt University has given us the opportunity to view at first hand the devastating consequences of drought,” said council head, Professor Robert Bland.
 
Professor Alston has worked for several years on the social impacts of drought. “We urge the Federal Government to provide additional social work support to rural communities affected by drought. We strongly recommend that the Federal and State Governments employ social workers to address the significant social and community issues emerging in rural areas,” Professor Alston said.
 
The national council supports the recommendations that:
  • Social workers be appointed to rural communities and that they be co-located with Rural Financial Counsellors;
  • Social workers be appointed to rural schools to work on rural community and social issues;
  • The Federal Government address the problems associated with rural people impacted by drought and their access to income support and educational allowances;
  • Support be addressed towards young rural and remote people’s declining access to education;
  • Governments address declining infrastructure in rural communities.
Professor Bland noted that the issue of increasing mental health problems in rural areas may have much to do with the lack of support for rural areas during these distressing times.

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