THE dire flood crisis continuing to grip huge areas of land and communities within New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia has prompted the urgent relaunch of Rural Aid’s ‘Buy a Bale’ rescue campaign in the lead-up to Christmas.
Thousands of rural families face a bleak festive season, with recovery from Australia’s most expensive flood event, hampered by ongoing rain across more than 130 local government areas already declared disaster zones.
The ‘Buy a Bale’ program first came to prominence when it raised $100 million for drought-affected farmers between 2015 and 2020.
Rural Aid chief executive, John Warlters, said the disaster made it necessary to bring Buy a Bale back.
“These floods have had unprecedented impact on rural Australians – families are losing their homes and livelihoods and entire towns are being wiped out,” Mr Warlters said.
“Hay supplies are running out and stranded animals are drowning and starving. Crops are rotting in the ground.”
Rural Aid predicts at least a two-to-three-year recovery for communities, with the funds required to adequately support farmers and families estimated to be over $50 million.
Mr Warlters urged governments and private donors to prioritise the wellbeing of communities.
“We’re ready to execute an extensive recovery support program based on a tried and tested approach, but we need as much help as we can get,” he said.
“These families need help, and they need it now. Without it, they face a frightening and uncertain time as the rest of the country gears up to celebrate Christmas.”
Deniliquin farmer and Rural Aid board member, Airlie Landale, said the floods had been catastrophic.
“It is now summer, yet it still feels like winter is rolling on and haunting us. It feels wrong to be speaking about too much rain, but these floods have taken a toll on so many,” Ms Landale said.
“Farmers have lost thousands upon thousands of hectares of crop, producers have lost livestock, fences and their homes, and rural communities and businesses have been isolated and inundated with water.
“It will take months – if not years – for people to recover, but I know the strength and resilience of our rural people will once again shine though.”
All donations received by Rural Aid ensure the assistance to farmers, including the expansion of their national mental health and wellbeing program.
To support Rural Aid go to: www.buyabale.com.au