Moderator Simon Hansford, pledges funds to rural Presbyteries for drought relief
This article is courtesy of NSW/ACT Synod – Insights Magazine and features insights from Uniting Mission and Education’s Director of Rural and Remote Ministry Initiatives, Mark Faulkner. Related – Saltbush Projects.
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With more than half of NSW experiencing severe and crippling drought, the Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford has announced that $90,000 in emergency funds from the Moderator’s Appeal will be sent to drought affected Presbyteries and to areas across the Synod.
Hundreds of farmers in regional and rural areas across the state and territory are battling the worst drought in 40 years.
“The State and territory’s farmers and rural businesses are the life blood of our communities and they’re bracing themselves for another dry winter and devastating loss of livelihood. I am seeing more distress in our communities every day. Where we live in the New England area parts of the landscape are simply decimated,” Rev. Hansford said.
“Many have begun the painful process of selling stock because they don’t have the funds to pay for livestock feed and others are incurring considerable debt as they keep their breeding stock for when the season finally turns. In the Central West and North West there has been an 80% reduction in winter crop sown this season.”
The NSW Government recently announced it is almost doubling the funding that drought affected farmers will be able to receive, with access to one off $50,000 loans interest free for seven years.
While communities welcomed the Government announcement, there is no money for fodder and freight rebates.
Farmers are faced with borrowing more money to transport water and move stock which is expensive. Regional businesses affected by drought do not receive any money in the relief package.
Areas Most affected
Much of the State declared by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in drought include; parts of the Hunter, the Central Tablelands, Central West and North West, New England, Cobar, Brewarrina, Broken Hill and Dubbo.
But what is most concerning approximately 99% of the state is covered by one of the three serious drought categories. Up to 40% of the state is ‘Drought Affected’, 44% in ‘Drought’ and 15% in ‘Intense Drought’. (Source: DPI June 30 Seasonal update). The drought onset area includes large regions around the ACT, including parts of the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Yass Valley, Goulburn Mulwaree, Hilltops, Upper Lachlan, Shoalhaven and Bega Valley.
Areas like Forbes have not really recovered from being declared a natural disaster zone during ravaging floods in 2016 and now the same area is a dry, dusty bowl.
The areas around Coolah in the Central West have not received good rain since their devastating fire 18 months ago.
Rev. Mark Faulkner recently returned from a visit near the Forbes region and Western Tablelands.
“I was deeply struck by the barren hills which appeared as flattened, brown dirt, with sheep simply standing idle or sitting down hopelessly because there was literally nothing left,” Rev. Faulkner said.
“As our rural and remote regions are drawn into this time of deep drought we are not just talking water, but people’s lives including their livelihoods, wellbeing and sense of hope.”
“It is through our rural and remote Christian communities, who live out their faith within their local communities, that once again together, as one Uniting Church, we can offer both support and hope in this time of overwhelming drought.”
Help where it is desperately needed
“It’s thanks to the generous contributions to the Moderator’s Appeal in the past, by individuals and our congregations, that we can help right now when it’s desperately needed,” Rev. Hansford said.
“Funds from the Moderator’s Appeal will be used at the discretion of the Presbytery, from petrol vouchers to food vouchers, where the communities need it most. These vouchers can be used in the local shops, agents, and mechanics, who have often been carrying large amounts of credit for those who can’t afford to pay their bills. In this way we help people across the rural community.”
“This is the church saying that we are remembering these members of our community. These gifts are part of our prayers, our presence, our concern. Right now our prayers and donations are needed and gratefully received by our brothers and sisters in the bush.”
- Pray for those communities in rural and remote NSW and individuals affected by the drought.
- Pray for volunteers, ministers, lay preachers who are involved in assisting those in distress.
- Pray for our Synod Disaster Recovery Chaplains offering assistance to individuals affected by drought.
- Pray for drought relieving rain where it is needed most.
- Use the Moderators Prayers in your Church services
Donate to the Moderator’s Appeal to give immediate relief to help our rural brothers and sisters in times of need and distress.
- To find out the ways you can donate to the Moderator’s Appeal go to the website.
Please note that donations given to the Moderator’s Appeal are not tax deductible.
- Your ongoing gifts to the Moderator’s appeal are gratefully received.
- Read Drought reflections from congregations