Knitting Nanna and Eltham cattle farmer Anne Thompson will run her North Coast Drought Appeal this year after receiving word from drought-stricken families.
Mrs Thompson has been coordinating appeals for flood and drought for almost 20 years.
‘Over those 20 years we have run the appeals for more years than not,’ Mrs Thompson said. ‘We didn’t need to run one last year and the year before that was a flood appeal.’
Different areas receive the hampers each appeal, dependent upon the conditions.
‘We have delivered in both NSW and QLD,’ said Mrs Thompson.
This year some of the hampers will go out to areas around the northwest of Moree and Bourke.
Community responses have varied with each appeal according to Mrs Thompson, who said that, ‘some years the donations don’t stop coming and others are not so prosperous’.
Mrs Thompson has observed community responses and believes that, ‘if it is nice and green here and we are getting rain here, then people can’t comprehend drought not too far away. If it’s dry here then people get it.’
One of those not-too-prosperous years Mrs Thompson and her husband drove a truck themselves to deliver the hampers, which that year took them out to Bourke.
Mrs Thompson has been in touch with the Rural Financial Counselling Services who also told of the hardship being experienced by many farmers.
Mrs Thompson told Echonetdaily about a postcard that motivated her to run this year’s appeal.
‘I received a postcard from a lady out west, who has distributed for us before,’ Mrs Thompson said, ‘who said she hadn’t seen it this bad; she painted a very desperate picture.’
Echonetdaily spoke with property owner Bessie Lambert who wrote that postcard.
‘I have a few helpers and we distribute around a big area: Mungundi, Bullarah and Collarenebri,’ Mrs Lambert said. ‘My run alone would take me two days – that’s without talking!’
Mrs Lambert and her partner have run a cattle and sheep farm for more than 30 years and said the conditions are dire.
‘I am not surprised if people don’t start suiciding, which has happened in droughts before,’ she said. ‘People get pushed to the wall, you don’t get a hand from the government as they say you should be prepared.’
Mrs Lambert rejects the way the government treats farmers, as her farm was prepared.
‘We were prepared but you cannot go on for this long,’ she said.
Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett have been drought declared and said that her area northwest of Moree has not been drought declared yet as the whole area is not in drought.
Rain did come in January from the coast but stopped 35 kilometres from their farm.
‘Since then we had a 28mm storm in May but not everyone got that one either,’ Mrs Lambert said.
‘We have been hand feeding our stock for more than 12 months. Some have been lucky and gone to harvest but won’t make any money. They are trying to get their seed back so they can sow them next year.’
Mrs Lambert said that many farmers have too much pride to receive hampers so she sneaks those hampers in.
‘One incident: the farmer was telling me not to deliver it. Well once I got it onto the back of his ute I told him it was secondhand and I couldn’t take it back.’
Mrs Lambert said she has seen a lot of ‘tears of thanks’ when the hampers are delivered.
Mrs Thompson is also asking the community to donate toys for the children of Tara and Kogan in Queensland who have had their health impacted on by surrounding CSG wells.
Drop-off points for toys and non-perishable items are in Lismore at Jontom Car Sales in Dawson St, out the front of Woolworths in Lismore Square, at Casino Environment Centre and at South Ballina Bait and Tackle.
Mrs Thompson has extended the close-off date to Saturday 14 Dec , which will be the day pallets are loaded onto trucks from Eltham Hall.
Enquiries please call Anne Thompson 6629 1041 or 0412910523.