CWA denied federal government assistance for disaster relief

Country Women's Association of NSW chief executive Danica Leys.

Country Women's Association of NSW chief executive Danica Leys.

The Country Women's Association of Australia (CWA) has been denied further government assistance this year to boost disaster relief coffers.

The national body wrote to the Federal Government in September outlining what they did with the initial $5 million that was allocated to CWA in June this year ($2m to NSW) and flagged they were close to running out and put a request in for an additional $10m.

The Land reported that the CWA of NSW had only weeks left of allocated funds for disaster relief with just under $500,000 in the bank.

Since July 2018, CWA has paid out around $14.5 million in NSW to help people in drought with household expenses from groceries to fuel.

A letter sent to CWA of Australia by Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud, states: "the Government is unable to provide additional funding to the CWA at this time and has committed to providing a further $33 million for the Drought Community Support Initiative".

The letter said the government had already provided $5m in a "one-off ad hoc" grant as part of its drought package.

"We will continue to monitor the impact of the drought to ensure our support measures cover a range of areas," the letter said.

"This includes financial assistance, infrastructure investment, rural and regional mental health, combating pests and weeds, increasing access and simplifying support information, and broadening access to the Farm Household Allowance and the Rural Financial Counselling Service."

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack during his visit to Willawarrin west of Kempsey on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack during his visit to Willawarrin west of Kempsey on Sunday.

During Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack's tour of fire affected region west of Kempsey on Sunday, The Land asked him whether the government would step in to help the CWA, which had been a life-line to drought affected communities.

He said someone from his government would contact the head of CWA this week in relation to their request for more funds for disaster relief.

Mr McCormack said the CWA, along with Red Cross and Rotary, had done a "mighty power of work" in relation to where people needed help.

"They do it in a delicate and dignified way and we thank them for it," Mr McCormack said.

"We are not going to leave farmers high and dry and we will continue as we have done right throughout this devastating drought to provide the assistance we have been called upon to do.

"We will be working in conjunction with organisations such as the CWA to provide assistance when and where they it is needed."

The CWA says demand continues to be high, with the organisation still working through the first round of applications.

The organisation has been distributing $125,000 a week to eligible applicants and expects funds to run out within a month, before the organisation even reaches the end of the first round of applications.

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