Legal support for struggling farmers

NSW Law Society

LEGAL SUPPORT FOR DROUGHT AFFECTED RURAL COMMUNITIES

NSW farmers and rural communities in country NSW, specifically affected by the drought, will be able to access funding towards legal assistance as a result of a $50,000 grant from the Law Society of NSW.

Law Society of NSW President, Elizabeth Espinosa, announced the grant at the Law Society’s annual Rural Issues conference in Sydney on Friday 25 October 2019.

Ms Espinosa said the $50,000 will be provided to the Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Central Region, which covers approximately 52% of NSW.

“NSW is in the grips of one of the most severe droughts on record with the Central West, Far West and North West regions the worst affected to date,” Ms Espinosa said.

“This grant is in response to feedback from our country solicitors who play a significant role in our regional areas, working tirelessly for local communities while grappling with distinct and challenging issues – often dealing with clients whose lives are made more precarious by events such as floods, droughts, bushfires and other natural disasters.

“As regional solicitors, they are trusted advisers and a crucial component of close-knit towns and rural communities and they well aware of the impact of this drought.”

Around 12 per cent of the state’s 34,000 solicitors live and work outside of our cities; more than one in five sole practitioners is based in the country.

President of the Orana Regional Law Society, Andrew Boog, welcomed news of the grant, saying it will help provide much needed support for farming families and communities who require legal assistance to deal with drought-related issues.

“The economic impact of the drought on our regional communities is enormous, extending way beyond the farmer’s gate,” Mr Boog said.

“A farmer with a drought-related credit or debt problem is a person in need of urgent legal assistance, but potentially without the means of paying for it.

“Part of the service provided by the Rural Financial Counselling Service is identifying the need for legal advice in relation to matters such as farm debt mediation and succession planning.

“This adds another element of support for farmers by connecting them to grants of up to $1200 per person to pay for legal assistance.”

The Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW provide a free, impartial & confidential service, working closely with eligible clients (including farmers and small related businesses who are suffering, or at imminent risk of suffering financial hardship) to assist them to resolve urgent issues and develop a plan for their future and that of their families and their enterprise.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Central Region includes the towns and rural communities of Dubbo, Bourke, Broken Hill, Cobar, Condobolin, Coonamble, Coonabarabran, Forbes, Gilgandra, Mudgee, Nyngan, Parkes, Tottenham, Walgett. Ph 1800 940 404.

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