The drought conditions currently being experienced across the New England North West region, NSW and Queensland are placing extreme financial and emotional strain on our farmers and regional communities.
Below is a list of contact points for support services and assistance that community members can access.
Armidale Regional Council Hardship Policy
Residents who are experiencing genuine financial hardship can contact Council for consideration to enter into a payment plan under Council’s Hardship Policy. Contact Council's Customer Service Centre on 1300 136 833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Armidale Regional Council PO Box 75A, Armidale 2350.
Hardship Application Form (PDF 212.2KB)
For rural financial counselling Armidale
Phone: 02 6778 4784
Mobile: 0408 936 268
Fax: 02 6778 4101
Phone: 02 6761 3336
Mobile: 0427 924 798
Fax: 02 6766 1153
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is on the ground supporting families and communities affected by the NSW droughts. If you've been affected by the recent drought and would like to find out what support is available, the Salvos encourage you to reach out.
If you're in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory or Queensland, you can:
Call: 02 8757 8088
24/7 National Crisis Support Services
Lifeline - Ph: 131114
Mens Line Australia - Ph: 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue - Ph: 1300 224 636
CWA of NSW Drought Aid grants
Contact information: email@example.com or 02 8337 0210
For further information go to the CWA of NSW website
NSW Government - Drought Hub
The NSW Government has announced a $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package to help farmers manage the effects of the current drought.
The three major elements of the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package are:
$190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies;
$100 million to cut the cost of farming by waiving fees and charges; and,
$150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program.
The package also includes funding for:
Counselling and mental health;
Critical services in regional communities including transporting water and drought related road upgrades and repairs; and,
Animal welfare and stock disposal.
NSW DroughtHub provides a one-stop online destination for information on a vast range of services and support available to primary producers, their families and communities to prepare for and manage drought. Drought Hub also supports pre-existing Drought Relief Packages or the Emergency Drought Relief Package.
Drought Transport Subsidies
The NSW Government will offer a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per eligible farm business. The transport subsidy of $20,000 per eligible farm business per year equates up to $30,000 over 18 months from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019. The subsidy is back-dated so farmers can apply it for freight expenses incurred since 1 January 2018. It covers 50% of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre and 1,500 kilometres per journey. The subsidy can be applied for the cost of transporting fodder, water to a property for stock, stock to and from agistment, and stock to sale or slaughter. The subsidy will be back-dated so farmers can access subsidies for freight expenses incurred since 1 January 2018.
Applications available online or visit the NSW Department of Primary Industries Rural Assistance Authority for more information.
The Farm Household Allowance scheme remains available, paying eligible farmers the equivalent of the Newstart allowance. This scheme is available for farmers who have net assets of less than $5 million. The estimated value of any owner’s residence is excluded from this valuation. Centrelink historically have not requested a formal valuation, and have accepted the farmer’s estimate of what the drought affected price may be.
The term of the payment is 3 years, or until the farm has returned to profitability. If you have previously applied for the payment and exhausted your 3 year time limit, the government has allowed you to apply for a 4th year.
The recent announcement by the Government is for two lump sum supplementary payments of up to a total of $16,000 to families and individuals who are currently receiving the Farm Household Allowance.
Ph: 132 316
Help is available for drought-effected taxpayers across regional areas to manage their tax.
The ATO is allowing:
More time to pay
Waiving penalties or interest charged at a time the person has been drought effected
Payment plans with interest free periods
Adjusting PAYG instalments to better suit the person’s circumstances which may help those who have had to make forced cattle sales
Tax incentives for primary producers
The ATO advises to still lodge activity statements and tax returns by the due date even if they can’t be paid.
The ATO will prioritise paying any income tax or activity statement refunds due to a drought affected person and in some instances they will release the person from paying some taxes if paying the taxes would cause serious financial hardship.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the ATO also offers immediate tax deductions for primary producers for new fencing infrastructure and accelerated depreciation is available for new fodder storage and on-farm water storage facilities.
Published on 21 Aug 2018