Nationals Senator for New South Wales Perin Davey said the first day of Senate Estimates provided further proof the Federal Government continues to help farmers recover from drought.
The Drought Community Outreach program is currently being rolled out across the Hunter in Scone, Merriwa, Coolah and Quirindi.
The program, which was piloted in drought affected areas in Queensland and NSW provides drought impacted farmers, farm workers and suppliers/contractors with vouchers for goods and services and is distributed through not-for profits such as the Country Women’s Association (CWA) and Rotary Australia World Community Service.
“Coordinator-General for Drought, Shane Stone, said at Senate Estimates, some people are in a dire situation, despite recent welcome rainfall in areas,” Senator Davey said.
“Mr Stone spoke of the families in western Queensland in their eighth year of drought, and those in north-west NSW in their third or fourth year.
“They struggle to put food on the table. Mr Stone said there are properties that don’t have drinking water and children can’t even shower.
“The not-for profits and their volunteers that we partner with have played an instrumental role in helping people get back on their feet.”
“The outreach programs also provide a vital forum for other government agencies, State and Federal, to distribute advice about other services including mental health and rural financial counselling,” Senator Davey said.
During yesterday’s hearing Senator Davey also asked if there was a consistent definition of what classifies a drought.
“Currently different drought programs rely on different criteria including rainfall, desertification and even employment statistics. It is confusing enough for those who qualify and devastating for those who don’t because they live across a random boundary under one program but not another..
“It is vital that we have a consistent assessment to what classifies as drought, so farmers know what they are facing and what support is available.”