FUNDING: Member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, says the North Burnett community will have access to up to $1 million in drought funding.
FUNDING: Member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, says the North Burnett community will have access to up to $1 million in drought funding. Matt Taylor GLA180519ODOWD

Up to $1m in drought support pledged for Burnett communities

NORTH Burnett Regional Council will have access to up to $1 million in drought assistance.

The Federal Government package, worth nearly $100 million in total, will go towards direct and immediate support to help farming families and communities.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said $33.4 million had been made available through the Drought Community Support initiative to provide immediate financial assistance to eligible households in hardship.

"I know this will make a difference here in the Banana and North Burnett region where we've been dealing with drought for many years now," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The effects of the drought are not just felt on the farm - regional communities and businesses suffer as people spend less in towns."

Farming households can receive up to $3000 to spend in their communities to cover urgent bills such as food, petrol and utilities.

"This will take stress off families and boost the local economy," Mr O'Dowd said.

The Federal Government will work with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society to make sure this money hits the ground quickly, and gets to those most in need.

Under the Drought Communities Programme Extension, another 13 councils will have access to up to $1 million each to complete infrastructure and drought-relief projects.

"This will boost the economy from Biloela to Gayndah and create jobs, engage local businesses and provide a long-lasting benefit to the community and the rural industries it depends on," Mr O'Dowd said.

The government will also simplify Farm Household Allowance applications.

The changes will remove business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment to four years in every 10, simplify the assets test and recognise agistment," Mr O'Dowd said.

"These changes will make FHA quicker and easier to access."

The government also announced an injection of $740,000 of contingency funding to five rural financial counselling service providers experiencing pressure from increased demand.

"It's really important that those in need of support do not self-assess their eligibility, and instead seek advice from an expert like a rural financial counsellor," Mr O'Dowd said.

For more information and to apply for assistance, visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought or call 1800 900 090.

South Burnett

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