Rayner Reckons

Feb 12

How Can You Help Our Rural Communities?

Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Across Australia, the impact of the extremes of climate is playing out with disastrous consequences for hundreds of families.  Its been easy for some people in metropolitan NSW to think that the coastal rain and storms have been widespread.  In fact the NSW DPI reveals in their latest Seasonal Update that the Combined Drought Indicator (CDI) has 99.8% of NSW experiencing drought conditions.

To break that down over a third of the state (36.8%) is classified as Intense Drought, The remaining areas of the state are considered wither in drought or drought affected.  The impact of heat waves and above average temperatures, plus no rain has many producers on edge.

 

Of course the drought is not confined to NSW. Many parts of Queensland are now in the fifth or sixth year of drought.  Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and parts of Western Australia have all recorded below average rainfall and are in drought or rapidly approaching drought conditions.

 

In Tasmania this has resulted in unprecedented bushfires. While many fires have impacted wilderness areas, there have been losses of homes, buildings and farming country.

Last week a huge part of North Queensland, some 20,000KM(almost the entire size of Kenya) was swamped by monsoon rain.  This event has inundated stations, roads, railways and swept away 100’s of thousands of cattle.  So many people in this region are struggling to start assessing the scale of their losses let alone even to consider rebuilding.

 

So what can you do to help?  It’s a good question.  The Australian way is to offer help and to want to look after those people doing it tough. I know that I feel that way myself. 

The reality is, these events are huge.  They will have an ongoing impact that will last for much longer than the news cycle or the next trend on Facebook.  It extends across farms to impact businesses, towns and communities.  

 

So any help that you would like to offer should be something that reflects the scale of the events and can be useful.  

If you would like to offer or donate money, the Country Women’s Association have appeals that are directly focussed on communities.  The CWA are community driven and have a long commitment of helping their community. In Qld, the QCWA Public Crisis Fund has been established to provide direct support in the event of disasters such as floods and fires. In NSW the CWA has established a fund specifically for drought aid.  Alternatively the Australian Red Cross and St Vincent De Paul are charities that I have worked with and are focussed on direct assistance.

 

However, there are two other things you can do.

Go and visit these communities for a holiday.  

When the worst of this is over, and communities start to rebuild, the money your visit brings in is essential.  Small towns in the Huon Valley depend on tourism.  In the Central West of NSW or the Far West, the difference your visit can make to a café, motel, and service station is just as important to a community as anything else you can do.  And this is something you can do and make a difference in a real way over a longer term.


Support regional businesses.  

It can be as easy as having an extra beef or lamb meal each week!  However there are lots of small regional businesses that provide products and trade on line.  Many of these support faming families with a little extra income.  These little businesses are important to families, and communities so any support for them will have a direct benefit to people who need your help.

 

As communities recover over the coming months and years, don’t forget to check in on people you know.  Keep visiting, keep supporting communities in these simple and practical ways.  It will take a while to recover, so these are ways you can help for a longer time than just in the immediate aftermath of the disasters we are seeing right now.


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