Seek professional help on drought assistance

Farmers who self-assess may miss out on drought assistance


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Gippsland MP Darren Chester says farmers who self-assess may miss out on drought assistance

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DON'T SELF ASSESS: Federal Nationals Gippsland MP Darren Chester has urged farm families not to self-assess, when it comes to drought assistance.

DON'T SELF ASSESS: Federal Nationals Gippsland MP Darren Chester has urged farm families not to self-assess, when it comes to drought assistance.

Federal Gippsland Nationals MP Darren Chester has urged farming families to be guided by professional advisors, when assessing eligibility for drought aid.

Mr Chester said it was important families don't self-assess, but rather seek help from the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Read more: State, territory governments should offer rate help: Littleproud

"Some farmers read the guidelines for assistance programs and quickly rule themselves ineligible, when in fact they would qualify for the help on offer," Mr Chester said.

"Rural financial counsellors can provide farmers the exact information they need and refer them to other services and support programs."

A further $230,000 Federal funding for the Gippsland RFCS was announced last week.

Drought-affected farmers will be able to access detailed information and immediate assistance at a series of face-to-face information in Omeo, Bairnsdale, Buchan, Orbost and Cann River next week.

The Australian Tax Office, Centrelink, Rural Financial Counselling Service, Landcare, NBN Co, Gippsland Primary Health Network, Lifeline and Victorian Government agencies will all be represented.

Mr Chester said the Salvation Army will also be able to distribute immediate support from the Federal Government's $30 million Drought Community Support Initiative.

The DCIS provides up to $3,000 (up to $2,000 cash and $1,000 in vouchers) to eligible farmers, farm workers and farm suppliers/contractors facing hardship due to the drought and live or work in East Gippsland and Wellington shires.

"This is a good chance for farmers to see Federal and State Government agencies, charities, industry groups and mental health providers about their circumstances and the help which may be available to them," Mr Chester said.

"I'm concerned there are some who don't know what help is available and don't know where to start looking.

"Hopefully by bringing these agencies and services closer to farmers, more will be able to take up the assistance on offer."

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