Firsthand experience of drought and an understanding of the toll it can take on farming businesses, bank balances and emotional well-being was the catalyst for a series of Dealing with the Dry: Farm management options during and after drought forums being run across the Victorian Mallee and Sunraysia region.
Initiated by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grower Relations Manager Susan McDonnell the forums aim to deliver practical advice ranging from how to talk about debt with your bank manager, to accessing government services and identifying and supporting mental health issues.
A grain grower herself, Mrs McDonnell said the GRDC Dealing with the Dry forums will be run in Lake Cullullerain, Wentworth, Euston and Balranald and were focused on delivering genuinely helpful information directly to those in need.
“Unfortunately, like many people involved in rural industries, I know only too well the impact of drought. It can be extremely demoralising and leave you wondering how you will get through both from a financial and psychological perspective,” she said.
“These forums are about bringing communities together and offering support and advice on some really challenging topics, like how we talk to our bank manager about debt and what we can do to put ourselves in the best possible position for that conversation.
“As growers we all know our long-term business goals have been put on hold due to our income changes with the drought, so this is about understanding the different ways we can effectively manage our debt and limited cash flow while planning for the future.
“These forums aren’t about having all the answers. Instead, they are about starting interactive discussions and offering opportunities to question experts and build on our knowledge.”
Mrs McDonnell said rural financial counsellors would also present at the forums on how and what government services growers could access during dry times.
“As growers we don’t always have the time to fully investigate options when it comes to government services so this is a chance to hear what is available and how you can access it,” she said.
Specialists consultants will also offer guidance on managing dry conditions and evaluating farm planning for when the season breaks.
“We have invited experienced local farm advisers at each event to be part of this session so we are hearing realistic options for local conditions,” Mrs McDonnell said.
“Like many people involved with the GRDC, the drought is my daily reality too and while I know there is a limit to what we can do on-farm while it is dry, there are steps we can take to put ourselves in the best possible position to get through these tough times.”
“We encourage growers to attend and know that they will find the forums valuable. We delivered a similar series in NSW during July with grower feedback suggesting that the practical information and regionally relevant content helped them make important management decisions.”
“The forums have been extended across a wider area due to high demand and need,” Mrs McDonnell said.
The GRDC Dealing with Dry forums are open to growers, farm advisers and other community members and industry stakeholders and are free of charge.
The forums will be held as follows:
- LAKE CULLULLERAINE: WEDNESDAY 6 NOVEMBER
o 8:00am – 12:15pm
o Lake Cullulleraine Yacht Club – Part Lake Cullulleraine Recreation Reserve
- WENTWORTH: WEDNESDAY 6 NOVEMBER
o 2:00pm – 6:15pm
o Wentworth Tennis Club – Beverley Street, Wentworth
- EUSTON: THURSDAY 7 NOVEMBER
o 8:00am – 12:30pm
o Euston Club Resort – 1 Nixon Street, Euston
- BALRANALD: FRIDAY 8 NOVEMBER
o 8:00am – 12:15pm
o Senior Citizens Hall – 106 Market Street, Balranald
The workshops are free but registration is essential so we can cater accordingly and ensure you have an information kit.
To register visit: Dealing with the Dry or call Tina on (08) 8332 32 77