Drought support: $3000 in one-off assistance through St Vincent de Paul

DROUGHT SUPPORT: Michael McCormack (right) with Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Yeoval farmer Philip Blowes.
DROUGHT SUPPORT: Michael McCormack (right) with Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Yeoval farmer Philip Blowes.

Drought-hit farmers in Parkes Shire may be able to access one-off payments of up to $3,000 under the Federal Government's Drought Community Support Initiative Round 2.

Riverina MP and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the payments would help cover day-to- day living costs such as groceries, car servicing, energy bills and medical expenses.

Registrations are now open for drought-affected farmers, farm workers, contractors and suppliers in the shire, to be delivered in partnership with St Vincent de Paul.

Eligible applicants, over 18 and in eligible local government areas including Parkes, should go online to www.vinnies.org.au/droughthelp or phone 1300 846 643.

This new grant is in addition to the existing Farm Household Allowance and other measures - assistance the Rural Financial Counselling Service is seeing increasing need for as we enter a third brutally dry summer.

Forbes Rural Financial Counsellor John Beer said his local workload had been intensifying and the service's Central Region CEO Jeff Caldbeck said they had seen a severe increase in demand for services across the region and beyond.

As many people face the third year of poor or failed crops and high feed prices to keep their breeding stock going, they are reaching out for assistance.

"I have never seen anything like this," Jeff said of the landscape he and his counsellors travel extensively.

Jeff Caldbeck, CEO, NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service with Grant Cairns, Commbank executive financial general manager for regional and agricultural banking.

Jeff Caldbeck, CEO, NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service with Grant Cairns, Commbank executive financial general manager for regional and agricultural banking.

There has been good news for the Rural Financial Counselling Service: The Land has reported former banking personnel would be contracted to help the service under a $500,000 CommBank partnership.

Executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns, announced the financial counselling program with Mr Caldbeck in Dubbo this week.

"One of the services' biggest challenges is the high demand by farmers and small businesses asking for help to access government support," Mr Cairns said.

"Mr Caldbeck told me of a former bank manager who had joined his team worked closely with people as he knew financial services, understood customers, farmers and regional communities, and that experience was invaluable.

"I approached our CEO, Matt Comyn, who visited Dubbo last weekend and agreed for us to mobilise our Christmas Appeal and begin the process of contracting former bankers to provide their experience."

Mr Cairns said CommBank and the NSWRFCS were working through the contractual arrangements.

"We hope by Christmas we can go to our retired officers who left the bank five to seven years ago and invite them to participate, and have people on the ground early in the new year. We have initially pledged $500,000 and if demand is greater, we may not stop there."

You can contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1800 686 175 to make an appointment to see the local team, but Mr Caldbeck asks that people do fill out the paperwork before coming in to allow the counsellors to help as many people as possible.

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