And although it may have rained many farmers are still doing it tough as it takes many years to recover. Australia’s oldest bush charity Frontier Services are still raising much needed funds to help the ongoing drought recovery.
This January, Frontier Services is calling on Aussies far and wide to reunite with family and friends and host a (socially distanced) Great Outback BBQ, in support of our farmers who are still doing it tougher than ever.
Frontier Services is a non-profit organisation that has worked tirelessly for over 100 years, to provide face-to-face support for Australian farmers across the country as they battle severe financial strain, physical stress, and social isolation from dealing with devastating environmental conditions including droughts, fires, and floods.
They run two charities, Bush Chaplains and Outback Links volunteer programs. The Bush Chaplains travel tens of thousands of kilometers each year visiting individuals and families on remote properties for a cuppa and a chat. They are often the frontline for identifying issues and referring people to other service providers.
Meanwhile, Outback Links connects volunteers with people in remote Australia who could use a helping hand. These volunteers donate their skills throughout the year doing repairs and maintenance on equipment, the home, and around the property – free of charge. Group trips of volunteers are also organised to carry out larger projects that individual volunteers might struggle to do on their own.
A total of 20,929 volunteer hours were clocked over 154 volunteer placements, community of more than 1,000 Outback Links volunteers travelling around the country to reach those in need of
support. In 2019/20 alone, $3.3 Million was raised to support these services.
It was the Out Links program that gave much needed help to a family at Nymagee.
Like many when the drought struck things got very difficult for Donna and her family. 1000 head ewes died and to save future fatalities the family had to buy fodder for the surviving livestock. But the expense of having to buy feed with the prospect of no income until rain meant that they had to sell off all their cattle in 2019. With bills still piling up and no income coming in to meet those expenses, it was a very, very stressful time for the farming family.
At one of the lowest points, needing renovations on the family home, Donna had hired a builder, but after receiving their upfront payment, he disappeared. Hearing of Donna’s story, Frontier Services provided much needed assistance for Donna and her family. The Outback Links program helped to link Donna with a volunteer who was able to help with a troublesome repair job.
Holding a Great Outback BBQ is a fun way to make a difference and assist our farmers through ongoing drought, fire, and flood. Interested parties just register online at www.greatoutbackbbq.com.au. All funds raised will go towards supporting Frontier Services’ programs, which provide practical and pastoral support to farmers across Australia suffering from severe financial strain, physical and emotional stress, and social isolation while dealing with the fallout of a relentless period of droughts, fires, floods and now the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“After the year we’ve had, we hardly need an excuse to catch up with family and friends, but this is a really good one, allowing you to play a critical part in helping our Aussie farmers in need,” says Jannine Jackson, National Director of Frontier Services. “Gathering around the barbie, making the most of Summer, and sizzling up some snags is a fun and easy way to raise much-needed funds to show our Aussie brothers and sisters in the bush that we are with them.”
Jannine believes there has never been a more challenging period in history for Australian farmers and their rural communities. “Dealing with the Pandemic has had a profound impact on our farmers. Not only are many of them still suffering through worst drought in history, but they’ve also lived through the worst bushfire season on record, and we’ve also seen unpredictable weather with flooding in other areas,” she said.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the ‘triple whammy’ for farmers, stopping many from selling their stock due to the closure of overseas markets and the entire hospitality industry being affected. “These disasters have not been separated by a year, they’ve happened back-to-back and the hits just keep on coming,” said Jannine.
“The financial, emotional, and mental health repercussions have been devastating and the pandemic has made providing the support and services so sorely needed by our farmers and their communities even more difficult.”
The last Great Outback BBQ in 2019 raised $235,000 and in 2021 Frontier Services hopes to raise even more. “Our farmers have endured so much for so long. The reality is, it’s going to take years for them to get back to even half of where they were before the drought hit, let alone the more recent natural disasters,” said Jannine. “We’re in it for the long haul and the more Outback BBQs are held this January, the more we can do to help. “fresh, local produce and get ready to throw a bonza outback barbie that will tangibly help our mates in the bush.”