DROUGHT-stricken farmers in regional Queensland are being encouraged to put their hands up for assistance following the launch of a Queensland Drought Appeal.
The Queensland Country Women’s Association will administer donated funds to ensure they reach families hardest hit by the ongoing drought.
The funds will be put into the QCWA’s Public Rural Crisis Fund, which was established in 1990 to help struggling rural families in times of crisis.
QCWA president Joy Coulson said the appeal would help the association to reach more families in need.
The funds will be given to families to help them purchase food, fodder, pharmaceuticals and pay bills including water, electricity and car registration costs.
Mrs Coulson said it was a priority that funds would be spent in local communities, where small business owners and suppliers in town were also doing it tough.
“With this we’ll be able to extend our friendship and the love out to all of those people that are in need and keep all of the industries, the suppliers and the families in particularly well fed and looked after,” Mrs Coulson said.
She said the difficulty was ensuring that the money went to those who needed it most, who were often reluctant to seek help.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the appeal at the Royal Queensland Show today with a $100,000 donation.
Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government had provided $670 million to drought stricken farmers over the last five years and the appeal was a way for Queenslanders to do their part to help their bush cousins.
“There are a lot of families that are doing it tough across our nation in Queensland and NSW and the effect of the drought is really taking its toll on the personal circumstances of families.
“Our small donation of $100,000 is on behalf of Queenslanders, to say to our families out there that we're prepared to help make your lives a little bit easier.
“It's an opportunity for families, for mums and dads, boys and girls to show a bit of Queensland spirit, no amount of money is too small.”
LNP Gregory MP Lachlan Millar said while he welcomed the appeal, it was three years too late.
He suggested that the appeal should be modeled on the successful community-led Western Queensland Drought Appeal, which was established three years ago after his request for a Queensland Drought Appeal was denied.
“It’s important that we ensure that the money raised it effectively supporting the whole rural community” Mr Millar said
“Over the last three years the Western Queensland Drought Appeal has delivered over a million dollars to drought-affected primary producers and their families in 18 remote shires across north, south and central western Queensland.
“The money has come from public and corporate donations of cash. It is distributed via pre-loaded debit cards to drought affected farmers and graziers.
“It is discreet and dignified and ensures that they funds are spent locally, including items such as groceries from the local supermarket, medicines from the local pharmacist or having the car serviced at the local mechanic.
“With the debit card, families can continue to function within their local communities and by spending the money locally, we are keeping our small business families in town.”
The appeal will remain open for at least three months.
To donate visit www.qlddroughtappeal.com.au, SMS drought to 0484 200 200, at any Commonwealth Bank branch or at the Ekka at the CWA Tea Room John McDonald Stand.