A drought assistance hub to put people in touch with the help they need as the dry takes a toll on Singleton farmers will officially become operational on Monday.
Singleton Council has partnered with a range of stakeholders to be a conduit between Singleton farmers and the services available to rural producers to make finding help easier.
Rural Resilience Program (Department of Industry), Rural Assistance Authority, Rural Aid, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (Hunter New England Health), Local Land Services and the Department of Human Services (federal govt) are some of the stakeholders who are on board.
Singleton Library and Singleton Visitor Information and Enterprise Centre are available during business hours on weekdays for people to come in for a cup of a tea and a chat to find out what assistance is available, and to use computers or connect to the internet to register for help.
Singleton Mayor Sue Moore said it was amazing to see the outpouring of support and fundraising for farmers across the country, and the sense of community spirit was just as strong in Singleton.
“With 100 per cent of NSW now in drought, and a range of government packages now available to farmers as well as an overwhelming response to community fundraising, the difficulty for farmers is often knowing where to start to find the help available to them,” she said.
“The aim of Council’s drought assistance hub is to be a first point of contact so people can be connected to the right organisation according to the help they need.
“We understand it can also be daunting to fill in online forms, or downright impossible for people without a computer or home internet, so this is a practical way that Council can provide assistance by providing facilities and a friendly ear if people have questions or want to chat.”
Council’s Customer Service teams have undertaken training this week to best be able to help the people who may come through the door or pick up the phone on Monday.
“Last month was the second hottest July on record, and the driest since 2002, continuing a 15-month run of below-average rainfall across NSW – so it’s going to take a fair bit of good hard rain to break it,” Cr Moore said.
“We know people are doing it tough, and there are people in our agricultural community who may be putting off asking for help because they’re waiting for things to get better or they know someone who’s ‘worse off’.
“The assistance that is available is there for a reason, and that’s because people who are doing it tough deserve it. If you are feeling the impacts of the drought, you are entitled to assistance now. Don’t wait for things to get better. You can contact us at Council and we can tell you what’s available and how to find the people you need.”