Queensland-based non-profit organisation, Rural Aid, has released its latest quarterly report which outlines the assistance it has provided to farmers and their rural communities between January and March 2020.
Rural Aid CEO, John Warlters, said the charity delivered 15,974 large bales of hay worth $3.23 million into 190 locations to 1143 drought and fire affected farmers during the reported period.
“That’s almost 100 farmers per week receiving 1,331 large bales of hay transported on the back of 37 trucks,” said Warlters.
“We also delivered over $335,000 of domestic drinking water to 640 farmers.
“Each water truck delivered, on average, 19,000 litres, so that means around 12.16 million litres of 12.16 mega litres of water was delivered to our farmers between January and March. That’s almost five Olympic size swimming pools full of domestic drinking water," he said.
Over this same period, over $2.34 million in financial assistance was distributed to 1,564 farmers and over $1.84 million in gift cards was distributed to farmers, with many spending in their communities, supporting local economies.
However, COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way Rural Aid has had to deliver some of the programs and initiatives.
“Our wonderful and generous Farm Army volunteers and our Farm and Community Rescue Team can no longer travel, so for now, the 10 Towns Makeover and the Farm and Community Rescues are on hold,” said Warlters. “But planning is still going ahead with the 10 Towns and our Community Builders Series webinars, launching on 5 May 2020, will assist rural communities to be ready for when the rest of Australia can visit them again.”
Many of Rural Aid’s counsellors travel to farms to work with their clients. However, for now, this has changed with Rural Aid’s counsellors only offering tele counselling services.
“With many of our farmers experiencing so much uncertainty from natural disasters and now, COVID-19, our counsellors have been extremely busy supporting them,” said Warlters. “In the first quarter of this year, Rural Aid’s counsellors made phone contact with 1528 farmers and in that same period, Rural Aid received 1768 new registrations requesting counselling support.”
The Gift of Music program continued to deliver musical instruments to rural and remote schools, though the Gift of Music team can no longer personally deliver instruments to very excited children and their teachers.
Between January and March, Rural Aid delivered 216 musical instruments, valued at over $131,600, to 18 rural and remote schools, giving over 4000 students access to learning a musical instrument. Many of these children would not have had these opportunities.
“We could not do this without the generosity of everyday Aussies and our corporate sponsors,” said Warlters.
“It’s their continuing support that enables Rural Aid to assist farmers and their communities through our various programs and initiatives.
“Since July 2019, Rural Aid has distributed over $23 million in assistance to farmers and their communities. Now, more so than ever, we are leveraging our proven delivery model to ensure assistance reaches drought, fire and now COVID-19 affected farmers," he said.
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