Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said communities in his electorate will benefit from a new round of drought assistance from the Federal Coalition Government.
Mr Coulton said $33 million had been made available through the Drought Community Support Initiative (DCSI) to provide immediate financial assistance to eligible households in hardship.
“Farming households can receive up to $3,000 to spend in their local communities to cover urgent bills such as food, petrol and utilities, taking stress off families and boosting the local economy,” Mr Coulton said.
“DCSI was made available to farming households experiencing the drought up until June 2019, and given it was so successful we are commencing another round.
“The effects of the drought are not just felt on the farm – regional communities and businesses suffer as people spend less in towns.
“We will work with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society to make sure this money hits the ground quickly and gets to those most in need.”
Mr Coulton said contingency funding had been allocated to Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) NSW Central Region, which services areas in the Parkes electorate.
“I’m pleased that with a further $200,000, the RFCS NSW Central Region will be in a better position to service high demands, through reducing workloads and decreasing wait time for clients,” Mr Coulton said.
“The RFCS provides free financial counselling to farmers in financial hardship and plays an important role in communities across my electorate.
“It’s vitally important that those in need of support do not self-assess their eligibility and instead seek advice from the RFCS.”
The government will also simplify Farm Household Allowance (FHA) applications, making it quicker and easier to access.
“The FHA changes will remove business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment to four years in every ten, simplify the assets test and recognise agistment as primary production income,” Mr Coulton said.
“Some of these changes will require amendments to legislation, but through Centrelink we will implement many changes to the application process immediately.”
The Australian Government is providing more than $7 billion in assistance and concessional loans to support those affected by drought.
For more information and to apply for assistance visit www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought or call 1800 900 090.