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Award-winning rising indie pop artist Jem Cassar-Daley, daughter of Australian country music legend Troy Cassar-Daley, has teamed up with Rural Aid to record a new version of one of the greatest folk ballads of all time: Carole King’s 1971 signature song ‘You’ve Got a Friend’.
Recorded especially “for our mates in the bush”, the poignant and powerful anthem will serve as a soundtrack for this year’s Mates Day, Rural Aid’s largest annual giving day.
Ms Cassar-Daley said she hoped the song would help Australia’s most trusted rural charity shine a spotlight on the mental health of Australian farmers and the alarming gaps in regional healthcare.
“Despite being more than 50 years old, Carole King’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ couldn’t be more pertinent or timely for Rural Aid’s Mates Day initiative,” Jem said. “The main message – all you have to do is call – resonates powerfully with Rural Aid’s core service of free, confidential counselling to Aussie farmers and their families. “I am humbled to be able to lend my voice to such an important cause and to do my bit to shine a spotlight on Rural Aid’s vital work.”
Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said Australian farmers continued to battle with natural disasters, including last month’s deluge in Eastern Australia which flooded 43 towns in New South Wales, 24 in Victoria and three in Tasmania. In stark contrast, parts of Queensland remain drought-declared and large tracts of South Australia have endured some of the driest months on record.
“Rural Aid stands with our farmers when they need us most, providing water and fodder deliveries; financial, volunteer and counselling support, and developing programs to build sustainability in rural communities,” Mr Warlters said.
Mr Warlters said Mates Day was an opportunity for all Aussies to throw their support behind our primary producers and help Rural Aid reach its $2.4 million fundraising target. “Farmers are the people we all need three times a day,” Mr Warlters said.
Rural Aid health and wellbeing manager Lauren Stracey said the demand for counselling services in rural areas had escalated in the last 12 months, with increased numbers from the 16,000+ primary producers registered with Rural Aid seeking support. To meet demand, Rural Aid’s counselling team has grown from three to 15 in a year.
“Rural Aid counsellors live in the areas they service, understand the nuances of farming life, and usually visit farmers on their properties to deliver mental health support in ways that overcome barriers,” Ms Stracey said. “This vital service allows our primary producers to prioritise their mental health by bringing the support to them in the place they feel most comfortable.”
Sutton llama farmer Glynda Bluhm has first-hand experience of Rural Aid’s lifesaving support, including the supply of water relief during an eight-year drought. “During the drought, I could have walked into any of the 14 dams on my farm and cleaned the floor of them; it was a dust bowl,” Ms Bluhm said. “Rural Aid helped me buy water and food for the animals – they were going through $1,500 worth every week. “Without Rural Aid, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
Rural Aid’s Mates Day takes place on Wednesday 23 November and donations can be made at ruralaid.org.au. Jem Cassar-Daley’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ will be available on all leading streaming platforms from 23 November.