A mental health program for the Australian commercial fishing industry – Stay Afloat Australia – has officially launched in three iconic fishing communities across Australia.

The Morrison Government invested $600,000 for Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) to deliver the first industry-specific mental health support program.

As of this week, three trusted advocates have been selected in each focus community and are now working in locations selected by industry: Lakes Entrance, Newcastle and Darwin.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the advocates had received mental health first aid training and would now act as mental health support coordinators.

“It’s great to see industry advocates hitting the ground running, and ensuring our hardworking fishers have access to the help they need,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“We know studies have shown that a range of factors have led to poor levels of mental health among Australia’s commercial fishers.

“That’s why we committed $600,000 of funding to the cause at the last Federal Election to help those in the high-pressure industry.

“Commercial fishers have had a difficult year navigating the challenges posed by COVID-19, and this program is essential for reducing barriers and helping those that have been impacted.”

SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said the program has been developed to break the stigma associated with poor mental health within the industry.

“We are excited to announce our Trusted Advocates pilot program, which will run under the Stay Afloat banner, and we would like to thank the Australian Government for their ongoing support of Australia’s commercial fishing industry,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.

“The $600,000 program, funded under the Australian Government Department of Health’s Mental Health Program, will be run in three industry-identified focus communities providing industry, primary health networks and trusted industry advocates with training and resources to assist in better identifying and responding to the mental health issues affecting the local fishing community.”

For more information visit www.seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au/our-priorities/mental-health

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