Farming families and local businesses will be given a helping hand navigating the support networks and services available to assist during the drought in a forum next week.
Held at the Inverell RSM Club from 10am to 3pm on Tuesday, August 14, there will be representatives from three tiers of government, community and non-government agencies. Forums will also be held in Moree and Glen Innes.
“The forums will take the support networks and services out to the New England and the Northwest raising awareness of the resources available to support them through this difficult time,” Tamworth’s Russell Webb said.
“The R U Aware Campaign has raised significant awareness of our region’s plight across both government and private sectors.”
Mr Webb said he got involved because as a farmer and Salvation Army volunteer, he was aware of the region’s needs, and knew many people were struggling to access assistance.
He told R U Aware campaigners that they would “never raise enough money to meet the needs of all those across the region,” but could instead lift awareness of the wide range of services and resources available.
The forum will provide information on financial assistance, business and tax advice, mental health support, agricultural support and advice, employment services and animal welfare issues.
Several government agencies will be on site, including the Department of Agriculture and Water, Department of Health, the Department of Human Services (Centrelink, social work, farm household officer, financial information services), the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, the Department of Jobs and Small Business, AusIndustry.
RDA Northern Inland, the Salvation Army and Country Women’s Association will also attend.
“Sometimes farmers don’t want to go and seek that advice out. They feel a bit proud about it or concerned about what they have to do,” Mr Webb said.
“If we have these forums and they come to these forums, they can go and talk to whatever agencies they wish to, get advice on the spot or make one on one appointments for a later date.”
The campaign has raised close to $80,000 in both monetary and in-kind donations through the support of campaign partners, the general public and local businesses. Funds raised are being distributed to those in need across the region by the Salvation Army.