With a population equating to one person per 32,000 acres, central west Queensland is one of the most remote regions in the state.
Now, a new project supported by Carinity is set to increase social connections and support the emotional and psychological wellness of isolated people in rural communities.
Longreach Baptist Church has launched Outback Connect, a ministry supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people living in isolated situations across western Queensland.
Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Month, Pastor Steve Ballin from Longreach Baptist Church said mental health is a major issue for those living on the land.
“The prevalence of mental health and wellbeing issues is higher in rural and remote communities and the impact runs far deeper. Social, economic, and geographic barriers to help-seeking prevent many from accessing support, leading to poor mental health and wellbeing outcomes,” Steve said.
Funded by Carinity’s Collaborative Community Projects, the church’s Outback Connect program is community-led care where individuals “provide a listening ear” and “encourage and support isolated people.”
“Our goal is to love and serve through listening and asking powerful questions, helping people make the decisions they need and linking them to the support they need, so they can stay healthy and move forward in life,” Steve said.
“We also want to build connections with people across the west by facilitating community events like our Paddock Days, engaging with people on the land, building relational connections and providing an opportunity to support those on the land.”
Longreach Baptist Church is one of 14 churches and organisations around Queensland to have been allocated funding from the inaugural Collaborative Community Projects.
The grants scheme sees Carinity partner with Queensland Baptist churches to fund community outreach programs which promote connectivity for vulnerable people, relieve and mitigate disadvantage, and increase the strength of local neighbourhoods.
“We’re very thankful for the funding. It’s meant we’ll be able to provide funding for the growing team that we have connecting and supporting people across the west,” Steve said.
Over $350,000 was allocated in the first year of Carinity Collaborative Community Projects, with a number of projects receiving a commitment of additional support in subsequent years.
The funding scheme builds on the positive outcomes of the Carinity Innovation Grants, which saw 92 Queensland Baptist churches deliver 137 community projects between 2005 and 2019.