Drought resources in town

Local farmer and Local Land Services Officer, Albert Mullen spoke about how to keep a healthy dam during the drought workshop. Photo Anne Keen
Local farmer and Local Land Services Officer, Albert Mullen spoke about how to keep a healthy dam during the drought workshop. Photo Anne Keen

Building networks, providing support and helping producers know where to go when they need a little help was the basis the recent drought workshop held in Gloucester.

Around 70 producers from as far away as Dungog gathered at the St Paul's Anglican Church hall on Thursday, December 5.

The original meeting was booked for November 15 but was postponed due to the bush fire danger across the region, and seeing as the whole point of the event was to make sure many farmers as possible could attend, it was decided put it off for a few weeks.

It was a decision that was clearly a good one as the turn out to the event was quite impressive.

Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS) has been running these types of workshops around the region, including Bunyah and Coopernook, but this was the first time one was held in Gloucester.

HLLS organised to bring together as many drought and agricultural support Government department representatives as possible in order to cover off on everyone's needs.

Along with the HLLS team, who talked about animal health and land management, there were also representatives from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Rural Resilience Program and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.

Across the day, the attendees were provided with an overview of what each department does and how they can reach out for help; whether it be for financial assistance, livestock health assistance or personal assistance.

From the HLLS perspective, it was about providing information about the cost of feed, things to look out for in regard to health of their livestock, and the maintenance of their land in order to make informed decisions about whether or not to keep their animals.

Attendees were told about how the Rural Resilience Program covers off on a range of issues facing farmers, working as a conduit between producers and the services available to help.

According to the DPI's Peter Brown, the program is about talking to farmers in order to find out what their issues are, then linking them to someone who can help. This can be anything from financial hardship to personal struggles.

He explained how the program tries to get farmers to be more aware of their own mental health struggles, recognise the signs and know how to reach out for help. The program also provides support with recovery after a major event like bush fire or drought.

There was also information available for people on the range of drought funding from both a State and Federal level and what they need to do to apply for it.