Know you’re not alone

By Stephen Cooke

The drought in NSW and the associated hardship it creates for farmers and rural and regional communities is receiving widespread attention from media and politicians, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The severe drought is relatively easy for the ever-expanding city population to understand, and their support is welcomed.

But it remains bloody brutal for those experiencing it.

There are many areas throughout the country not officially in drought, but they are certainly doing it tough too.

Unfortunately, it usually takes an extreme weather event for the mainstream media – and therefore the city-dwellers – for anyone to notice just how tough farming can be.

In Victoria, a poor autumn was followed by some rain, but only in some parts. A lot hinges on spring, and feed prices continue to rise to frightening levels.

People on Victorian roads may drive past some green pasture and assume all is well, unaware that after two years recovering from the processor-driven price crash, and an insipid opening price recently, many farmers are still hurting.

The dairy farming community is tight knit and will often help others before asking for help themselves.

The March bushfire provided the perfect example. Farmers that were completely burnt out did not put their hands up for donated fodder because they assumed someone else was more deserving.

At times like these, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded to reach out to neighbours, and to trust your judgement if you think somebody is not doing well, even if they say (perhaps unconvincingly) that they’re OK.

The past two years have taken a great toll on many and a chat, an invitation to a BBQ or an act of kindness in the shape of a casserole, can be vitally important.

We also recommend utilising resources like (1300 224 636) if you want to talk confidentially, or to seek advice on how to help others. For families with young people doing it tough, (1800 650 890) also offers a free service.

The Prime Minister said this week that it was resilience that would get our farmers through tough times like the current NSW drought.

We know our farming communities are extremely resilient, but when the weather and other factors seem to throw up a greater number of challenges, it’s important to know you’re not always expected to bounce back and that no-one is in this alone.

Knowing you’re not alone can be a great help.