Drought Support, Events & Initiatives

This list provides a range of initiatives and funding assistance measures relevant to primary producers and community members across the Edward River Council region.


Events & Workshops


Rural Financial Counsellor – Tony Flett Offering Services from MIL Offices

Murray Irrigation have worked closely with Rural Financial Counselling Service to provide access to their services across all MIL offices. This initiative has provided appointment times for our customers to meet with RFCS Tony Flett enabling a confidential meeting to better understand the services and supports available.

Tony Flett, will be available to meet with customers at our Deniliquin, Wakool and Finley offices. The Rural Financial Counselling Service is a free service, supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Agriculture.

Tony will be meeting with customers one on one to have a confidential discussion to help you work through what support you are eligible to access. If following the initial discussion, you decide you would like further assistance Tony will be happy to meet on farm at a later date.

  • Wakool: 11th November 2019
  • Deniliquin: 11 November 2019
  • Finley: 18th November 2019

To book a time call Tony on 0428815766 or email at Tony@rfcsnsw.com.au or contact Laura Circuitt at Murray Irrigation on 0429 819 310 or email at laura.circuitt@murrayirrigation.com.au

RFCS can support and assist in the following areas:

  • Assessment of your current financial position
  • Business planning and reaching your goals
  • Helping to prepare for succession planning
  • Cash flow budgeting and forecasting
  • Information and assistance with government programs and applications
  • Assistance negotiating with financial institutions

Some of the programs that may be available to you include:

  • Transport Subsidy
  • Animal Welfare Transport Assistance
  • Drought Assistance Fund
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Concessional Interest Drought Loans
  • Farm Innovation Fund
  • Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme


 Men’s Roadshow (Pretty Pine Pub)

  •  21st November
  • Special screening of ‘Mens Roadshow’. Stories of hard times, hope and community spirit, as told by the men of the Riverina. 7.30pm – 8.30pm.
  • Further information: Stephen Smith at Wellways on 0429693725.
  • Light refreshments available.
  • Free event.


RAMJO Community Coaching Program

  • The first stage of the Community Coaching Program kicks off on 21st – 22nd November, with a second component following early 2020.
    • “RAMJO has partnered with a private coaching company, Team Resilience, to create a Community Coaching Program designed specifically for empowering a whole community. The program will focus on individual coaching of each attendee to design a roadmap for their individual circumstance, whether it relate to water, finance, farming, health, relationships or all of the above. Held over two days, this program is the first of its kind and aims to coach community members into getting the best out of difficult situations and creating a clear life path during times of uncertainty”
    • For all enquiries please visit: www.ramjo.nsw.gov.au


 Life's a Contact Sport

  • Neville Brady will be presenting at the Deniliquin Golf Club on Friday night, 22nd November.
  • $20 Roast dinner, tables of 8, 6.30pm start
  • RSVP - June 03 5881 1325

  • Grower of the Year Field Day in Jerilderie: 12th December
  •  NSW Farmers Youth Scholarship (dates to come)
  • LLS Smoko Sessions (dates to come)
  • TAFE Farmer Business Workshops (dates to come)




We recently held a series of three events focused on Resilience for groups affected by drought in the Edward River Council region with the assistance of the Drought Communities Programme funding.

Resilient Farm Businesses

Over 90 farmers, farming families and members of the agribusiness community gathered at the Deniliquin Rams Clubrooms for the dinner event “Resilient Farms for the Future” on Wednesday 25th September.

The last two years have been difficult for all and many are seeking guidance and direction on how to navigate the future of farm businesses. Amidst negativity and often fatalist feelings, there exist opportunities and ways forward, however it is often hard to find them. The attendees heard from three varied and informative speakers about diversification, farm financial management and resilience, and the presentations provided practical tools and tips to develop and improve farming businesses.

Dr David McKinna of McKINNA et al opened the evening to speak about possibilities for strategic growth and diversification in the Edward River region. McKINNA et al worked on the Airport Expansion Study and are now working on the Edward River Council Food and Fibre Plan and bring over 30 years of business experience over virtually every agrifood sector.

Attendees heard from Simon Fritsch of AgriPath in Tamworth. His firm concentrates on benchmarking and he shared insights about profitability, risk and decision-making.

The Unbreakable Farmer, Warren Davies, also presented. He shared his personal and raw mental health journey and opened up an important conversation for all in the room.

Dinner was served by the team from Smoko Shak and the whole evening was a huge success thanks to all involved and especially to our MC, Emily Small.

Edward River Council are grateful to the Deniliquin Rams Football and Netball Club for their generous hosting and support of the event.

Resilient Small Businesses

We hosted attendees for a full day of practical presentations and workshops to help drive small businesses forward on 11th October 2019. Experts presented on Profit and Cashflow Planning, Digital Marketing, Customer Service, High Performing Teams and Public Relations.

Speakers includd:
- Michael Licenblat: Becoming Resilient to Pressure in Today's Business World
- Jen Waterson: Confident Profit & Cashflow Planning
- Cate Schreck: The Art of Customer Service
- Jenn Donovan: Email & Digital Marketing Workshop
- Mark Bloodworth: High Performing Teams
- Jules Brook: Handling your own PR

Resilient Rural Women

Edward River Council invited local women from all walks of life to come together for  'Thrive Riverina’, a women’s resilience event in Deniliquin.. This empowering event is the first of three community initiatives to be rolled out across the local area and is being supported by the Australian Governments Drought Communities Program.

The flagship event focused on resilience, productivity and business development and gave local women the chance to hear from some incredibly successful business women, both locally and nationally, including CFO of MDH Pty Ltd, Julie McDonald, who runs one of Australia’s largest family owned and operated integrated beef cattle farms.

Boots Up

Edward River Council invited rural residents to put up their boots and catch up with friends at a series of drought relief events held across the region.

The free events included a keynote address from former Richmond AFL player Neville Brady, a BBQ dinner and an indoor movie screening.

Financial Assistance

Ricegrowers Association Australia - Leadership Programs

As part of the Rice Industry Leadership funding the RGA have two programs that will be run in 2020, these programs are not only open to rice growers we are also encouraging participants from supporting industries and our communities to apply.

  • The RGA would like to encourage people to the opportunity to attend one of the 2020 programs or to encourage family members, employees, colleagues or community members to look into this great opportunity. These programs are fully funded residential programs, they provided participants with the opportunity to take themselves out of their business/employment to learn and network with likeminded people who are passionate about agriculture and our communities.
  • The Tier 1 Leadership program (Introduction to the rice industry application open now) is for new and/or inexperienced people with a passion and interest in the rice industry and/or supporting industries and communities. The program engages the next generation of leaders with the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture and gaining exposure to industry associated organisations. Developed in conjunction with Rice Extension team this course will be offered from the 24th-27th of February 2020 in Deniliquin.

    The Tier 2 Leadership program (Foundations of Leadership applications will open January 2020) This program is for rice growers, industry representatives and community members who have demonstrated an interest in pursuing leadership opportunities within the rice industry, or have demonstrated a commitment to the broader industry and community. Developed in conjunction with The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) this course will be offered in May 2020.
  • Contact Ainsley Massina – Leadership Coordinator on 0428859214 amassina@rga.org.au  or visit this WEBSITE for a more details and to apply for the Tier One program.


The $3,000 Drought Community Support Initiative has resumed

The Drought Community Support Initiative funding provides up to $3,000 in immediate financial assistance to eligible farming households who are facing hardship due to drought, as well as provide much-needed stimulus to local businesses. It is administered through Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society as is eligible for those located in all eligible Drought Communities Programme Extension Local Government Areas..

The commencement date will be made available in the near future and we recommend keeping an eye on The Salvation Army or St Vinnie’s website for application details.

Farm Innovation Fund

From 1 July 2019, farmers can borrow up to a maximum of $1 million per project, with a total of $1,000,000 outstanding at any one time to build on-farm infrastructure, including stock containment areas.

In addition, interest charges on Farm Innovation Fund loans for the 2019-20 financial year will be also be waived.

To learn more, visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/assistance/farm-innovation-fund


RIC Low-interest loans

The Regional Investment Corporation provides affordable finance for farmers to modernise and diversify their business. Farmers can apply for farm investment loans and drought loans to finance immediate needs such as purchasing feed and fodder. For the first five years these loans will remain interest only (current variable interest rate of 3.11%) and farmers with existing loans can refinance to take advantage of the interest-only option. At the end of the term of the loan, you do not have the option to roll over, so you will have to go back to the commercial lender to take up the remaining debt.

The maximum loan has increased from $1 million to $2 million.

For more information call 1800 875 675 or visit www.ric.gov.au.


Drought Assistance Fund

Interest free loans of up to $50,000 are available to eligible primary producers to assist in implementing systems and management practices that enhance the sustainability of their enterprise. The loan term is seven years and there are no repayments required in the first two years. This essentially means the payback period is 5 years, or $10,000 per year.

This loan can fund:

  • transport of stock, fodder and water
  • genetic banking of breeding herds
  • installing of on-farm fodder and water infrastructure
  • activities that promote profitability and resilience as a result of the on-farm investment.


For more information, visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/loans/drought-assistance-fund


Farm Household Allowance

The Federal Government Department of Human Services provides help for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship. Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides up to four cumulative years of support to eligible farming families experiencing financial hardship.

An announcement was made that ‘radical simplification’ changes will be made to the FHA.

The Government website currently states:

  • On 27 September 2019, the Australian Government announced changes to Farm Household Allowance (FHA). Start dates are yet to be set. Some of the changes are subject to the passage of legislation. There are no changes for current customers or to the claiming process at this time.

For more information call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316, or a rural financial counsellor on 1800 686 175.

To apply, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/farm-household-allowance


Wage Subsidies

Financial assistance is available to you if you are looking to engage new employees who are between 15 and 29 years old or 50 and older, are parents, Indigenous Australian or are registered unemployed.

Up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • 15 to 24 years of age, 
  • Indigenous Australians, or 
  • 50 years of age and over.

Up to $6,500 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • 25 to 29 years of age, 
  • parents, or 
  • registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more.

To apply, visit https://www.employment.gov.au/wage-subsidies


Drought Transport Subsidy

The NSW Government’s transport subsidy can be applied to the cost of transporting fodder, water to a property for stock or domestic use, stock to and from agistment, and stock to sale or slaughter.

For journeys completed between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, eligible farmers can claim up to $40,000 per farm business. The subsidy covers up to 50% of the full cost of freight with a cap of $5 per kilometre (+GST). There is no cap on kilometres per journey for tax invoices paid between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

Visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/grants/transport-subsidy


Animal Welfare Transport Subsidy

The NSW Government is subsidising 50% of eligible costs for the permanent transport of stock off a farm which is facing financial hardship and where livestock are at fat score 2 or below (dairy cattle 3 or below), to a maximum of $20,000 per financial year.

To learn more visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/grants/transport-subsidy


Water Licence Assistance

The NSW Government is providing financial assistance of up to $4,000 to all general water security licence holders (and supplementary water access licence holders) in rural and regional NSW across surface and groundwater systems, and to customers of Irrigation Corporation. You do not need to apply for this waiver as it will be automatically applied to landholders on their next bill.



There are waivers on Farm Innovation Fund interest charges, Local Land Services charges, fees for existing grazing permit holders on National Parks land in the Riverina, agricultural vehicle registration waivers, bee site permit waivers. All waivers will be applied automatically.


Managing Farm Risk Program

The Managing Farm Risk Program provides rebates for advice and assessments to help farmers prepare and apply for a new insurance policy that assists with the management of drought and other production and market risks.

For more information call the Community Grants Hub on 1800 020 283, or visit www.grants.gov.au and search for GO625.


Farm Business Skills Professional Development Program

NSW farmers can apply for fee assistance to attend courses in professional development. Approved participants can claim a 50 percent subsidy of up to $5,000 for the first individual. There is an additional $1,000 available per person for a maximum of four people for a total maximum of $9,000 per farm business.

However, it does not have to be used to attend the pre-approved courses. In fact, the ‘training’ may take the form of one-on-one sessions with your financial advisor, accountant or lawyer. The training can cover; succession planning, financial and business management, farm business planning, risk management, drought preparedness planning or other topics that suit your particular requirements.

Learn more at https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/education-and-training.


Young Farmer Business Program

The Young Farmer Business Program is creating opportunities for young farmers and fishers to enter or expand their existing businesses by helping them improve their business skills. A grant of up to $10,000 (excluding GST) is available per eligible farmer group and examples of projects include (but are not limited to) farm tours, commercial fishing business tours, workshops, events, business skills coaching, training and guest speakers. They also offer a Young Farmer Business School and workshops.

To learn more, visit https://farmtable.com.au/young-farmers-business-program/


Murrumbidgee Community Grants

As part of the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting farmers and communities deal with the uncertainty, stress and anxiety in drought affected areas, Murrumbidgee PHN (MPHN) is offering the Murrumbidgee Community Grants program.

Activities eligible for funding through the Murrumbidgee Community Grants initiative will address immediate support needs, but also foster longer term recovery and resilience. These could include community orientated wellbeing activities and training, or workforce capability development projects.

There are three levels of grants available:

  • Up to $1,500 
  • $1,501 to $10,000 
  • $10,001 to $30,000

To learn more, visit https://mphn.org.au/drought-support


Tackling Tough Times Together

The Tackling Tough Times Together grant program helps communities access the resources they need to support one another through the ongoing effects of the drought.

Grants are available for a broad range of grassroots, community-led initiatives that directly and clearly benefit local communities. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and assessed quarterly.

Three tiers of grants are available:

  • Up to $20,000 – projects to be finalised within 18 months of approval; 
  • Up to $60,000 – projects to be finalised within 18 months of approval; 
  • Up to $150,000 – applications for this tier are by Expression of Interest, and multi-year projects (up to three years) are welcomed. Applicants must speak with the TTTT team to discuss their project before applying.

To learn more, visit https://www.frrr.org.au/grants/TTTT


Relief organisations

Organisations such as Rural Aid, Buy a Bale, Need for Feed, Outback Links, Drought Angels, and Aussie Helpers can assist via monetary, human resource and feed assistance.



Additional Support & Advice


Drought Relief Water Allocation

Eligible drought-affected ratepayers in the Edward River local government area to access up to 30,000 litres of rural water per application, free of charge, for stock and domestic use. Learn more at https://www.edwardriver.nsw.gov.au/Residents/Water-and-Waste/Drought-Relief


Rural Resilience Program

The NSW DPI Rural Resilience Program team is located across the State and can provide support by way of appropriate referrals, liaising with other services, and delivering initiatives tailored to the particular need of the community.


Australian Taxation Office advice

The ATO is providing tailored assistance to drought-affected communities to help you manage your tax affairs and obligations.

For more information call 1800 806 218 or visit www.ato.gov.au/drought.


Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS)

The Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW provides free and impartial rural financial counselling to eligible primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses who are suffering financial hardship, and who have no alternative sources of impartial support, to manage the challenges of change and adjustment.


The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP)

RAHMP provides a range of information services to individuals, communities and service providers to link rural and remote people to the help they need.

This includes information on where to access services, common mental illnesses and how to keep

mentally healthy, as well as the Glove Box Guide to Mental Health. Visit http://www.ramhp.com.au/


Additional Support Organisations

Organisation’s are here to support you if you are in need. Please refer to numbers below:

  • Kids Helpline – phone 1800 551 800 telephone counselling service 24 hours, seven days a week
  • Community Mental Health Line- phone 1800 011 511
  • Mensline Australia –phone 1300 789, 24 hours a day, 7 day telephone counselling for men
  • Beyondblue depression information line phone 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Australian Red Cross- the Red Cross provides personal support during a disaster and an outreach service to affected households. Contact 1800 660 066 or (02) 49413200 in the Hunter area.
  • Black Dog Institute – phone (02) 9382 4530
  • Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467