Providing support to struggling dairy farmers is a top priority, with south-west communities uniting and calling for action.

A rally in Melbourne next week will call for a levy and industry review.

However, experts saya review would take considerable time, alevy would take years to negotiate, be difficult to manageand would barely assist the dairy industry. Even buying more Australian-made products is unlikely to save the day with the industry at the whim of the global market.

While a complete industry turn-around maynotbe possible, help is on the way.

Naringal farmer Hayden Ballinger said there would be no quick fix.

“But there are places to go to get through the tough times,” he said. “The important thing to do is focus on the things you can influence–focus on what you can do.Speak to those who can help and make a plan to go forward.”

Industry services are continuing toworktosoften the blow for farmers.

Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday said there was a lot of help and support available.

“We know every farm is different,” he said.“It’s important to talk things through, to understand your position and know where to go if you need assistance in any way.”

The Tactics for Tight Times program provides farmers with one-on-one financial support to prepare a personal review and plan for the future. Details can be found on the WestVic Dairy website.

An assistance package worth $1.5 million was announced by the state government on Friday.

Those funds will be used to support dairy farmers affected by the global fall of milk prices and cuts made by Fonterra and Murray Goulburn.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the support was intended tohelpfarmers and the broader community.

“We’re putting farmers and their families first,” he said.“Wewon’t let any farmer or community member suffer in silence.”

The package will ensure dairy farmers and their families experiencing emotional and financial stress have access tosupport programs, workshops,counselling services, community grants and mental health training.

Camperdown mental health clinician Jill Reidsaid the region’shealth services were working together. Shesaid there was always someone who wouldlisten.

“It’s a difficult time at the moment and for some, seeking help is quite new,” she said.“No matter who you turn to or when, you will always find help.

“What we can do is look out for our farming families and show that we care.A simple‘how are you going’ can make a bigdifference.”

People seeking helpcan phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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