THE VICTORIAN government is monitoring the dry season in East Gippsland, and plans to intervene if conditions worsen.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said support packages, similar to those offered to farmers in northern and western Victoria in late 2015 and early 2016, could be put in place in East Gippsland if farmers continue to struggle without rain.
“These packages were designed in collaboration with the affected communities, we had discussions with them about what support they needed, and they helped us put it together,” Ms Pulford said.
“It included support to assist families in paying for school fees, school uniforms, and other education fees, as well as stock containment funds, and many other different components.”
She said that system worked well, and could be replicated in East Gippsland if necessary.
“They should be reassured that if they are suffering significant hardship, we’re here to support them,” she said.
She said the government is also monitoring social conditions in East Gippsland, for example demand for the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
“Demand for the service is often used as a measure of distress during hard times in a region, and we haven’t seen a significant increase in East Gippsland that would cause concern,” she said.
She plans to visited the region in January next year, to visit drought affected farmers, and see how they have dealt with conditions.
Ms Pulford said the Victorian government has also been conducting workshops in East Gippsland to provide advice and resources to farmers in dealing with dry conditions.
“Our team at Agriculture Victoria conducts dry season workshops normally at the end of a dry summer, but we’ve started conducting these workshops earlier in East Gippsland, given the dry conditions,” she said.
“The workshops provide advice on farm management, and how to adapt to low rainfall conditions."