Drought support is available to help you through the holiday season

Individuals, families, farms and communities in drought-affected regions can access a range of national, state and local drought support services.

People are doing it tough, and some are reluctant to ask for help because they think other people are worse off than them, but there is plenty of support to go around.

The Australian Government provides a comprehensive range of support programs and initiatives to help people manage basic needs during drought, including financial assistance, support for your children’s education and wellbeing services.

Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides up to four cumulative years of support to eligible farming families experiencing financial hardship. The allowance, which is paid fortnightly is designed to help people meet basic household needs, giving them breathing space to implement plans to become financially self-sufficient so they are better placed to sustain their farming businesses.

An FHA supplement lump-sum payment of up to $3600 for single farmers and $6000 for farming couples is available to eligible farmers receiving FHA between
2 December 2018 and 1 June 2019.

Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland (and all RFC services nationally) can help you apply for FHA and develop an action plan to get on top of your finances.

Nationally, call your local Rural Financial Counsellor on 1800 686 175 to book an appointment or in North Qld call any of our RFCs closest to you.

Eligible parents and carers in rural and remote areas can access funding and support for education and childcare to take some of the pressure off. The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme offers a boarding allowance or distance education support and second home allowance, depending on your circumstances.

There’s also support for families with younger children. The In Home Care program helps parents in rural and remote areas to balance their working responsibilities with flexible care options.

The Australian Taxation Office has a range of support options for individuals and businesses experiencing drought, including payment plans, more time to lodge and pay tax bills and penalty waivers. Call the ATO on 1800 806 218 for tailored assistance.

Many banks are offering assistance to their drought-affected customers, including deferral of loan payments, waiving of fees and loan restructuring. Contact your bank to seek advice and to discuss options.

The people of regional Australia are resilient, but dealing with drought is tough and it can take its toll on everyone’s health and wellbeing.

People feeling the pressure need to reach out and talk to someone. Your GP can connect you to a range of services, including telehealth services that allow you to talk to trained professionals via Skype from the privacy of your home. There are other great online and phone services too, like Head to Health and Lifeline.

People in crisis can call Lifeline’s 24 hour support line on 13 11 14.

For more information and to apply for Australian Government drought assistance visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought or call 1800 900 090.

Additional support is available from state and territory governments.

Charities and community organisations are also providing much needed support. Contact a local charity representative about accessing vouchers for food and basic living needs, or other support.

Foodbank: Call 02 9887 4144 or visit https://www.foodbank.org.au/