Drought Assistance in the Inverell Shire
Individuals, families, farms, and communities in Inverell Shire can access a range of national, state and local drought support services.
The drought has hit the region hard and some people in the community are doing it particularly tough.
The Australian Government provides support including financial assistance and advice, funding for children’s school fees, health and wellbeing services, tax and financial incentives, water, and environmental initiatives and support for communities.
Initiatives established to help farmers and their families are detailed below.
Farm Household Allowance
Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides up to four years of support to eligible farming families experiencing financial hardship. The allowance, which is paid fortnightly and totals around $16,000 a year, is designed to help people meet basic household needs.
An FHA supplement lump-sum payment of up to $7,200 for single farmers and $12,000 for farming couples is available in two instalments to eligible farmers receiving FHA between 1 September 2018 and 1 June 2019. To be eligible for the first payment of up to $3,600 for singles or $6,000 for couples, farmers must lodge their FHA application form by 1 December.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service can help you apply for FHA and develop an action plan to get on top of your finances. Contact your local Rural Financial Counsellor Geoff Mill or call 1800 686 175 to book an appointment.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
Eligible parents and carers in rural and remote areas can access funding and support for education and childcare to take some of the pressure off. The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme offers a boarding allowance or distance education support and second home allowance, depending on your circumstances.
There’s also support for families with younger children. The In Home Care program helps parents in rural and remote areas to balance their working responsibilities with flexible care options.
Loans, rebates, and other incentives
Farming businesses can access help to manage their business operations now and into the future.
There’s low-interest loan options, insurance rebates, tax and depreciation options, and water and environment incentives to help people prepare their business for future challenges, including droughts.
The Australian Taxation Office has a range of support options for individuals and businesses experiencing drought, including payment plans, more time to lodge and pay tax bills and penalty waivers. Call the ATO on 1800 806 218 for tailored assistance.
Many banks are offering assistance to their drought-affected customers, including deferral of loan payments, waiving of fees and loan restructuring. Contact your bank to seek advice and to discuss options.
Rebates for on-farm water infrastructure
On 21 December, the Federal and New South Wales Governments launched the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme. Drought-hit farmers can claim up to $25,000 or 25% on new farm water infrastructure costs, including:
New purchases and installation of pipes, water storages and water pumps; De-silting dams, and, Associated power supplies such as generators.
Farmers will be eligible to apply through the NSW government for the rebates which will also cover eligible work undertaken since 1 July 2018.
Applications for the rebate can be made from 14 January 2019 via the NSW Rural Assistance Authority website https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/
The rebate program is part of the Australian Government’s $50 million On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme.
Health & wellbeing
The effects of the drought are hurting our broader community, with businesses feeling the pinch as people spend less in towns.
The people in our community are resilient, but this drought is taxing and it can take its toll on everyone’s health and wellbeing.
People feeling the pressure need to reach out and talk to someone. Your GP can connect you to a range of services, including telehealth services that allow you to talk to trained professionals via Skype from the privacy of your home. There are other great online and phone services too, like Head to Health and Lifeline.
People in crisis can call Lifeline’s 24 hour support line on 13 11 14.
Accessing Drought Assistance
For more information and to apply for Australian Government drought assistance visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought or call 1800 900 090.
To access state/territory and local drought support visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub.
Download the Drought Assistance Information Pack for further information.
Drought Community Support Initiative
On 26 October 2018, the Australian Government announced it would provide $30 million in much-needed support to drought-affected families through the Drought Community Support Initiative. This will provide up to $3,000 in assistance to at least 10,000 households in 81 Local Government Areas eligible under the Drought Communities Programme Extension.
The funding is now available for farmers, farm workers and farm suppliers/contractors facing hardship due to drought. It can be used to spend in local communities or to cover urgent bills such as food, petrol and utilities. The $3,000 per household can consist of up to $2,000 in cash and $1,000 in vouchers.
The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society and Rotary Australia World Community Service have been engaged to deliver the assistance. Eligible households should reach out to these organisations directly to seek financial support (details below).
The Salvation Army
24 hour hotline: 1300 551 030
St Vincent de Paul
Hotline: 13 18 12
Charities and community organisations are providing much needed support to rural communities. Contact a local charity representative about accessing vouchers for food and basic living needs, feed for livestock, or other support.
Country Women’s Association (CWA)
Phone: 0459 444 111
Phone: 02 9887 4144