Drought affected farmers across Gippsland will have greater access to drought assistance with the Federal Government providing immediate support to help farming families and communities.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said $33.4 million has been made available through the Drought Community Support Initiative to provide immediate financial assistance to eligible households experiencing 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 Chester said.
“This is the worst drought in 100 years in some parts of Gippsland and many farmers are struggling to meet costs such as bank loans, municipal rates, stock feed, re-establishing pasture or transporting stock for agistment.
“The effects of the drought are not just felt on the farm – regional communities and businesses suffer as people spend less in towns.
“I know this will make a difference here in Gippsland where we’ve been dealing with drought for some time now.”
The Federal Government 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 Chester said the government will also simplify Farm Household Allowance applications.
“The 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,” Mr Chester said.
“These changes will make FHA quicker and easier to access.
” The government also announced an injection of $740,000 of contingency funding to five Rural Financial Counselling Service providers who are experiencing pressure from increased demand.
“It’s really important that those in need of support do not self-assess their eligibility and instead seek advice from an expert, like a rural financial counsellor,” Mr Chester said.
For more information and to apply for assistance visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought or call 1800 900 090.