Australian Red Cross launch month long drought appeal

Leading humanitarian and community services charity, Australian Red Cross, has launched an appeal to help drought stricken farmers and communities.

The Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal was launched on August, 1 and will run for the entire month.

Funds raised from the appeal will be distributed where its needed most.

The charity is coming into its fifth year of supporting and assisting farming families and communities, whether that be through a social gathering or a pamper day.

Red Cross regional manager for the greater Western region, John Pocius said the drought has gotten to a dire stage.

“It’s really affecting people in such a big way,” he said.

“So I think while the appeal will focus on the immediate needs of assisting drought affected families and we’ll still continue to work in the background to ensure that some of those social needs are met.”

Mr Pocius said it was not only about supporting farmers, but supporting the whole community.

“As a group and we know economically things start going down (in a drought), everyone suffers,” he said.

“We really do want to try and understand the impacts of that and see whether there is a place where we can help and assist.”

Mr Pocius, covers west of the Dividing Ranges, including Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

He said the drought has gotten “out of control.”

“We’ve seen every single area.. and every single area is suffering,” Mr Pocius said.

“I see first-hand the dry land and empty dams... there’s no growth in the paddocks. There’s just nothing out there.”

A lot of the work Australian Red Cross do is in partnership with other organisations, including the Department of Primary Industries.

Mr Pocius said farmers are proud people and don’t want to ask for help or identified.

“They always turn around and say ‘I’m okay, but go and see my neighbor next door,’” he said.

“There are specialist organisations out there who are on the ground all the time doing this (supporting farmers). And in the past we have provided them funding to run events.”

Some of those events have included Christmas gatherings in remote areas, working dog training programs and more.

“The whole idea of getting them (farmers) together is they get an opportunity to talk with each other,” Mr Pocius.

“They also get a chance to understand that everyone is suffering from stress and talk about it, which is an important thing.”

Commonwealth Bank has contributed $1.75 million to support the appeal, and customers and members of the community can now make donations at branches Australia wide.

Mr Pocius said 100 per cent of the funds raised from the appeal will go back into farming communities.

He said the Australian Red Cross will continue to work in partnership with other organisations and agencies to ensure the funds are distributed to those in need.

Mr Pocius said while there will never be enough money, or even feed, to fix the problem, they want to make sure families stay strong and communities stick together.

“Unfortunately I don;t see the drought going away in the short-term,”he said.

“As long as it’s around we’re going to continue to keep providing services if we can.”

Red Cross is encouraging Australians to dig deep to support the effort.

They can donate to the Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal online at redcross.org.au/drought, by calling 1800 RED CROSS or by donating in person at a Commonwealth Bank branch around the country.