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Not just farmers – how the drought crisis is impacting whole communities

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal is urging donors to consider the impact the drought crisis has on the whole community, not just farmers

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) is urging those who have generously responded to the drought relief to not forget the whole community.

FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton, said it was fantastic to see support towards assisting farmers but warned those who live in small rural townships and communities in the drought-affected areas were also in need of support.

“When farmers experience prolonged drought, the whole community struggles – the local school, the pub, the vet, the newsagent, the supermarket and the sports clubs,” Egleton explained.

“Money dries up for the things that keep community members connected and supported – just when they need it most.”

Egleton said the challenge with raising funds for the community is amplified when the whole town is struggling. The drought takes its toll on volunteers that run community groups, who are usually farming families or business owners.

“FRRR makes grants to local not-for-profit groups that deliver activities and services that address the most pressing needs that locals identify,” Egleton said.

“FRRR believes local leaders know what will make the most significant difference at times like these, so the grants programs are deliberately flexible.”

These projects may include upgrading facilities in local meeting places, events that bind communities, skill development and funding for schools.

The government announced significant changes to the existing Farm Household Allowance scheme to provide $12,000 for eligible households, a move that was criticised by campaigner, Edwina Robertson, for being “too little, too late”.

On top of other commitments, the government also announced it would provide $15 million to help the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal with small grants for not-for-profit community groups, including the FRRR.

“We can’t make it rain,” a statement released by Malcolm Turnbull read. “But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet.”

FRRR welcomed the government’s announcement of additional funds.

“Needs will change over time and these funds will ensure that they can access funds for locally led initiatives that strengthen social and economic fabric throughout the drought and during the recovery phrase,” Egleton said.

FRRR also recently received a $500,000 donation from ANZ Banking Group to help meet the increased need for support given the worsening conditions.

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