Rotary Club of Cobar volunteers raise much needed drought funds

Drought support: Gordon and Therese Hill and The Rotary Club of Cobar have raised almost $800,000 for the Drought Relief Program. Photo: Supplied.
Drought support: Gordon and Therese Hill and The Rotary Club of Cobar have raised almost $800,000 for the Drought Relief Program. Photo: Supplied.

For nearly two years a husband and wife from Cobar have been raising funds to support drought-affected farmers across western NSW, but say their job isn't over yet.

Gordon and Therese Hill and The Rotary Club of Cobar have raised almost $800,000 for the Drought Relief Program since September 2018.

The program provides fodder, groceries, bill relief, water, working dog food, fuel to farmers.

Mr Hill said it was always a great feeling when you are able to help those in need, but that is just what Rotary does, whether that be to individuals or community groups.

"But the thing that was unusual for us was the scale of this particular fundraiser event. We're used to holding barbecues to raise funds... but to be involved in raising nearly $800,000 that's a major thing," he said.

The Drought Relief program reaches more than 150 farming properties in the Cobar Shire and in the adjoining Bourke, Bogan, and Central Darling Shires.

Except for the funds spent on fodder, the other expenditure has gone to purchases from local businesses to help them to stay viable during the drought and now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They've recently secured another $35,000 from charity support service, Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) to further support bill relief, living expenses and child education.

Mr Hill said those funds are currently being distributed to farming families across the region.

The Cobar volunteer said he is lucky enough to know about two-thirds of the farmers they've helped, which makes the support even more worthwhile.

"We've had people tell us that if it wasn't for the assistance from Rotary they probably wouldn't be on their property... they would have had to walk off," Mr Hill said.

Mr and Mrs Hill first put their hand up to be a part of the local Rotary Club after retiring in 2011.

There are a total of eight active members and three absentee members.

"Our job isn't done yet. Rotary sees a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change in our communities so even when the drought breaks in western NSW it will be some time before our farmers can bring stock numbers back, normal farming practices can resume and income can be generated," Mr Hill said.

Since being a part of the Drought Relief Program, the Rotary Club of Cobar have distributed about 490 grocery packs, 19 pallets of dog food, 326x$100 fuel vouchers, more than 222x$50 fresh meat vouchers and thousands of dollars worth of IGA grocery vouchers.

Mr Hill said all the money has been donated to locally purchase the products for farmers.

"And what that does is it helps to keep the local businesses ticking over as well... it all adds up," he said.