Drought-affected families are receiving a welcome and much-needed financial lift on the eve of Christmas.
The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society and Rotary Australia World Community Service are providing financial support from the Federal Government’s $30 million Drought Community Support Initiative to people across parts of drought-hit Australia.
Federal Regional Services Minister, Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said delivering support in time for Christmas was a top priority.
“I am pleased to confirm the $30 million Drought Community Support Initiative is up and running,” Senator McKenzie said.
“It will provide immediate assistance to at least 10,000 farming households facing hardship because of the drought.
“Practical support of up to $3000 per household, including up to $2000 to help pay the bills and $1000 in vouchers, will be welcome relief this Christmas.”
She said the government hoped it would bring some cheer to the thousands of eligible farmers, farm workers, suppliers and contractors, who were struggling to pay everyday bills, including basics such as food, petrol and utilities.
Senator McKenzie said the three charities were chosen because they were already on the ground in drought regions and were best suited to deliver immediate relief, across all eligible Local Government Areas.
The Minister said a key element of the support was the provision of vouchers to be redeemed at local businesses.
“The injection of money spent in rural and regional communities will help boost local businesses that are also struggling due to drought,” Senator McKenzie said.
The Drought Community Support Initiative was announced by government at the National Drought Summit in October.
It's part of the government’s Drought Communities Program, which supports the most drought-affected regions of Australia by funding eligible Local Government Areas for local infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities.
Along with the $30 million for individuals and families hit by droughtm $23 million has be secured in 66 projects for the Drought Communities program.
Councils are delivering projects this financial year, employing local workers and suppliers to help promote their local economy.
In Gippsland, Wellington Shire Council will use part of its $1 million to engage local contractors to cart potable water to farming families and improve infrastructure at the shire’s leading livestock selling facility to help promote competition to improve prices for Gippsland farmers.