Over the past few months a Queensland based rural charity has been helping drought affected farmers across western NSW.
Not-for-profit organisation Drought Angels has assisted farmers in Dubbo, Coonamble, Cobar, Bourke, Mudgee and Guneedah.
The charity started in January 2014 by friends and co-founders Natasha (Tash) Johnston and Nicki Blackwell.
Read more on Drought Angels:
Tash and Nikki decided to help after hearing the shocking stories of local drought affected farmers in the Chinchilla cafe they were both working in.
“We just felt compelled to do something,” Tash said.
So in January 2014, the rural charity was born.
After being auspiced by the Chinchilla Family Support Centre for two years, Drought Angels became their own charity in 2016 and have since grown to help farmers in Victoria, Tasmania.
Tash said they are currently getting more calls for help from farmers in NSW, than in Queensland.
She said there is massive shortage of hay and feed in NSW because everywhere was so dry, so they are sourcing it from Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
“We’re sourcing hay from around Chinchilla and getting it sent down to the families we’re helping in NSW,” she said.
“But even the hay and freight costs are too much for us at the moment.”
Tash said NSW farmers need freight subsidies, not any more Government loans.
“How are they going to pay these loans back? They need more subsidies,” she said.
“More loans are no good because it puts them into more debt that they’ve got to pay back and find a way to pay back and things are tough as it is.”
Read more on the NSW Drought:
More than two million dollars has been raised and donated by Drought Angels to support thousands of drought affected farmers across Australia over the four years.
“We’ve helped a lot of dairy farmers (in Victoria) with the dairy crisis and we also helped in Tasmania last year after the floods,” she said.
As well as donations, Drought Angels also fundraiser and do food and fuel vouchers for farmers.
Tash knows first-hand how farmers are financially and mentally affected as a result of natural disasters.
“When I was younger my parents almost lost everything. They had a property out near Toowoomba and they didn't get a crop because of the floods,” she said.
“I’ve seen first-hand what it can do to families.”
Read more on how people are helping:
While Nikki has since left Drought Angels, Tash said she still flies their flag and Jenny Gailey has since come on board to help.
Many Queensland farmers and rural communities are feeling forgotten and isolated, Tash said.
“All the Government funding comes out and it’s all given to the City’s,” she said.
“Everybody in rural communities are hurting from the drought, it hurts the local businesses so it has a massive ripple effect.”
The Government’s response to the drought:
Tash said they’re seeing heartbreak and a feeling of being let down across regional towns.
“They’re feeling let down by our Governments because they’re letting their rural communities die and suffer…,” she said.
To help farmers, it’s as simple as buying Australian made produce when grocery shopping and fundraising Tash said.
If you would like to find out more information please visit droughtangels.org.au