Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Stay Afloat

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:17): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the Stay Afloat mental health program for commercial fishers?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:17): I thank the honourable member for his question. The Malinauskas Labor government values our important seafood sector and looks to support the industry, as we have done, for example, with ensuring flexible arrangements for carryover of quota and fee relief for the rock lobster industry as the industry comes through the other side of some difficult times, both with market pressures and with COVID-19.

South Australia's commercial fishers provide high-quality seafood to both the domestic and international markets and are an important part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of our state and its history. There is, unfortunately, growing evidence suggesting that mental health issues in the fishing industry may be higher than in the general population. The seafood industry is considered to have a unique suite of stressors that require a tailored approach to services to effectively engage and address mental health issues in this industry.

The Stay Afloat program is a national mental health program run by Seafood Industry Australia to deliver a dedicated service for Australia's seafood industry. The program has been piloted in three industry-identified focused communities—Lakes Entrance, Newcastle and Darwin—since 2019.

Recent funding through the recent federal budget will now allow the program to be expanded and extended. Key activities of the program will now see the initiatives rolled out across South Australia, including the establishment of a peer support program, which will engage trusted advocates in up to 50 seafood community hubs nationally. We expect at least 10 of these to be in South Australia, from Eyre Peninsula to the Limestone Coast, including Kangaroo Island.

Trusted advocates are trained volunteers who are supported by Seafood Industry Australia through local coordinators, clinical support and ongoing training. The funding includes locally delivered training and education in mental health and wellbeing for members of the seafood community, their families and friends.

A community resilience fund will enable local communities to hold events and activities that support human connection, wellbeing and messaging around mental health. An Adelaide company, Culturise, has been selected to manage the national rollout of the program, and South Australia's fishing industries are collaborating closely with the Stay Afloat team to ensure their representatives understand the program and the support it provides.

I encourage members of the commercial fishing industry in South Australia to get involved and learn how they can better look after their own mental health and also learn what they can do if they are worried about the mental health of a friend or colleague. Similarly, I encourage those here present, if they know anyone within the industry who would benefit from this knowledge, to also pass on those details about the program.