Drought Communities Program Wrap Up

Recent Drought Support Project update

In March 2019, it was announced GLENRAC would be receiving $100,000 of drought support funding through the Australian Government Drought Communities Programme (DCP). The funding, distributed to GLENRAC via the Glen Innes Severn Council, was to be used to inject money, resources and support into the local community, and to fund one full time Drought Support Officer to be based at the GLENRAC office.

“Since then, so much has happened,” says GLENRAC Landcare Coordinator, Kylie Falconer. “This project has been a big achievement for GLENRAC to deliver in such a short timespan. Every effort has been made to spend money locally, supporting local businesses and local community groups.

“We have had such an extensive roster of events over the last three and a half months. Each activity has had its own focus, attracting new participants to GLENRAC events and helping us to connect our community with information, services and resources to support them during this difficult time.”

The DCP funding has been hugely beneficial to the region, allowing GLENRAC to deliver 22 free events to over 550 participants, and engaging and expanding partnerships with local businesses, community groups and state-wide organisations across the areas of natural resource management, business management, drought support, health and wellbeing. New partnerships developed have helped to inject cash back into the local economy through cash grants to be spent locally distributed through The Salvation Army; St Vincent’s de Paul and the CWA of NSW.

 Some of these events have included: 

- Men’sNightOut, aneveningof mates catching up over dinner and drinks at the Services Club, while enjoying the entertainment of guest speakers, racing legend, Dick Johnson, and retired-farmer, Rob Anderson; 
- Farmer information breakfasts and evenings presented by leading industry professionals, such as the NSW Drought Coordinator and Water and Land Commissioner of NSW, Jock Laurie, experts from Meat and Livestock Australia, and consultant Mary O’Brien of Are You Bogged Mate? fame; and 
- Rural Adversity Mental Health workshops for community groups and workplaces to educate participants in recognising and supporting people in the region experiencing significant drought related pressures.
- Nine ‘Smoko’ events in Glencoe, Deepwater, Wellingrove, Emmaville and Pinkett with guest speakers have been critical in providing support to those living in the most remote areas of the region.

One of the most popular support activities made possible through funding from the DCP have been the Time Out from the Dry dinners, with 160 people joining a subsidised dinner at a venue in tow, their local hall or at a family home. Will Newberry, a Glen Innes local, who attended a dinner at the Glen Innes The Great Central Hotel said: “At a time when everyone is feeling the stress of the drought at work and at home, Time Out from the Dry was a great excuse to catch up with family and friends over dinner and drinks, while also supporting a great local food place.”

GLENRAC have also provided individual support, assisting more than 90 farm businesses with information and help to access and apply for freight, water and infrastructure rebates offered by NSW Rural Assistance Authority, and financial assistance through Drought Aid, St Vincent’s de Paul, the Salvation Army and the CWA of NSW.

“This is the first time GLENRAC have offered this service and the numbers demonstrate a real need for assistance, even if it is as simple as saving time with our staff scanning tax invoices and submitting forms online. The process has been integral in developing the confidence of attendees to 'have a go' at submitting subsequent rebate claims,” says Kylie Falconer.

Unfortunately, the DCP project finishes at the end of June. Although the drought is far from over, GLENRAC is exploring what opportunities there may be for funding to continue to provide drought support going forward. Already they have successfully secured a PHN Empowering Our Communities grant to continue offering Time Out from the Dry Dinners, and the team are considering offering weekly half-day rebate assistance sessions.

GLENRAC encourages anyone needing help or information to get in contact on 02 6732 3443, or to make an appointment with one of the staff at their office.