A specialised information session for farmers facing financial hardship is being held at Sale Centrelink this weekend.
Sale Centrelink will open Saturday (November 3) from 10am to 12 noon to offer a farmers-only information session covering the Farm Household Allowance and support available from the Federal Government to assist farmers.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the session was targeting farmers doing it tough during the current drought conditions.
“It is now easier for farmers to apply for the fortnightly Farm Household Allowance hardship payment. The application form has been cut by a third and critical eligibility criteria is at the front so farmers can identify if they are eligible much quicker,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a specialised session, just for farmers and their partners, to go along and speak with a real person and get the help they need to find out what assistance is available to them, who is eligible and how to apply.”
Farmers are encouraged to take identification and documents demonstrating their income and assets so they can receive assistance on the spot to lodge applications. The Rural Financial Counselling Service can also help with claims on 1800 686 175 if farmers are unable to attend on Saturday.
The Federal Government has increased the farm assets test eligibility threshold from $2.6m to $5m so more farmers can be eligible for the Farm Household Allowance and extra lump sum payments of up to $12,000.
“The paperwork to apply for the Farm Household Allowance has been cut by a third and simplified so it is now easier for farmers to apply for the Farm Household Allowance,” Mr Chester said.
“Farm Household Allowance helps families struggling through the drought to continue with daily living expenses.
“But there is more to be done and as a nation, we need to support the future viability of our farming sector.”
Mr Chester has called for a whole of government response to assist Gippsland farmers in drought. He is advocating for all Ministers with a portfolio capacity to respond to the drought.
East Gippsland and Wellington shires have also been named among 60 regions nationally to receive Federal Government funding from the Drought Communities Program.
Mr Chester said the shires would each receive an initial allocation of $1 million in grant funding, provided directly to councils so they can choose projects that will have the biggest impact for their own communities.