More support announced for farming families affected by drought


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists the package is a supplement to the Farm Household Allowance, a fortnightly payment for eligible farmers totalling about $16,000 a year. "We recognise that. It is a very volatile and often capricious climate", Turnbull said.

"The impacts of climate change will mean that (drought and rain) events could be more extreme but they could be more frequent", she said.

The government will also tip $11.4m into mental health so farmers can access all 10 counselling sessions covered by Medicare over Skype, scrapping a rule the first appointment must be in person.

State Agriculture Minister Tim Whetstone said much national media had been focused on drought in NSW and Queensland, but many SA farmers also were battling tough conditions. "I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while", says a despairing Whitney, whose property near the town of Gunnedah is on the Liverpool Plains, a usually fertile area now withered having received the lowest average rainfall in almost 30 years.

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"A lot of people don't want to go into town, they don't have the time to go into town, they're shy about doing so, and so they have three tele-health consultations and don't have the fourth then drop out".

"There are many, many farmers who at the moment haven't actually made themselves available of the assistance that is there for them, and we urge and encourage them to do just that", Mr McCormack told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"It has been extremely heartening to see Australians rally around our farmers and rural communities during these tough times", he said.

Turnbull also paid tribute to farmers for their resilience. "Some farmers are in absolutely diabolical situations", he said.

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Several fundraising campaigns have sprung up around the country to try and help farmers buy food for their livestock. So they are already resilient. They live in this climate.

The Prime Minister today also said climate change is behind the latest environment crisis as he defended the government's $190 million drought relief package.

When Malcolm Turnbull had a private meeting with the six-member Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the government handed over a donation of nearly half a billion dollars without the body so much as asking for it and no tenders called.

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