While parts of NSW are experiencing an exceptional season there are areas in the North West of New South Wales which are still in the grips of severe drought. Areas in Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett are experiencing a one in one hundred year drought.
There is assistance available to farmers and households who are suffering as a result of this prolonged drought. I urge residents to make contact with the appropriate organisations to ensure that they are receiving the assistance that they are eligible for.
Farm Household Allowance (FHA)-
This is a fortnightly income support payment which is available Australia-wide. The payment is administered through the Department of Human Services and is designed to suit the specific circumstances of farmers and their families.
It is very important that farmers do not self-assess their eligibility for this payment. A household’s eligibility for the FHA depends on a number of factors and it is essential that professional advice is sought through the Department. While guidelines are available online in complicated farm business structures this advice is essential. There are specific people tasked with assisting farmers through the assessment and application to ensure that the process is as simple as possible.
The best thing to do is to contact the Department of Human Services directly through the Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316. Applications can also be submitted online at www.humanservices.gov.au/farmhouseholdallowance.
There are over three and a half thousand households accessing assistance through the FHA measure.
Drought Concessional Loans-
These loans have been made available to eligible drought affected farm business with maximum loans of $1 million or up to 50 per cent of the farm business debt (whichever is lower).
These loans are designed to assist with debt restructuring, operating expenses and drought recovery and preparedness activities.
More information is available at www.daff.gov.au/assistance.
Assistance for farmers has also been made available through additional funding for the Rural Financial Counselling Service, for social and community support, water related infrastructure investment and farm pest management.
If you believe that someone you know is in need of additional support I encourage you to get in touch with the drought coordinator for your region by contacting the Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316.