When farmers needed support, you gave generously.
A total of $11.4m was raised to help drought-stricken farmers. Now letter boxes along dusty outback roads are receiving envelopes with drought relief.
Farmer John Pratt opened his recently.
The last five years have been tougher than usual for John and his family on their 9,000 acre sheep, cattle and stone fruit property, west of Brisbane in south east Queensland.
A hail storm nearly wiped them out three years ago, a second 18 months ago knocked two years growth off the trees. This spring black frost took 30% of the orchard out.
And then there’s the drought.
Half the property hasn’t had any grass-growing rain for over two years. It’s been the driest eight months here since 1908.
"To ask for help is tough, but for me it wasn't that big a deal, as I'm not asking for myself but for my livestock, my family and the local business community," John says.
Other farmers are telling us the same. We understand that, as do Australians who've donated because they want to stand with people coping with this ongoing crisis.
Grants of up to $3,000 are available to help families pay bills and other living expenses. Farmers in drought-affected parts of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia can apply.
Meet John as he talks about the drought on his farm
"We're going to keep the country going along."
That's what John insists in the face of the worst drought on his land in 60 years.
The disastrous effect of the drought right across his region and its impact on the local economy is what motivated John to seek financial help through the Red Cross Help Aussie Farmers Appeal.
“This may be egotistical but a problem shared is, well, it’s definitely not halved but there is certainly, I think, a narrowing in the gap between country and city."
Drive south from John's Queensland property to New South Wales and drought has been affecting people in Sue and Robert Strayhorn's part of the country for a long time. Sue sees the impact on her neighbours, her friends and, closer to home.
"I see Robert coming in, and he's very quiet. He doesn't say much, but he's always optimistic."
"I was born an optimist, and I don’t think it does anyone much good to talk about how bad everything is. I believe you should be positive," Robert, Peak Hill
Get people talking
Farmers by nature are used to being self-sufficient and chipping in to help one another. It's how Sue is responding to the drought. She volunteers with Let's Talk, a Red Cross drought program run to support the well-being and mental health of people in rural communities. It's one of the ways Sue's helping her local community get through.
"What we do is strive to bring about resilience in the community."
Let's Talk works by bringing people together, often at a barbeque or it could be a dog training day. They organise haircuts and manicures for people on severely financially-impacted properties. Or pay for a family to have time away from the farm. Some farmers haven't been off their properties for two years.
"The essence really is to get people talking to one another, so that they realise that they’re not alone, that they do have friends that are in exactly the same position as them, or in a similar position to them."
A household in drought
Two hours drive north of Sue and Rob, you'll meet Fiona. She gets goosebumps when she thinks about how much Australians want to help.
Fiona's husband Steve and his Dad run sheep and cattle and a haymaking property on 1,200 acres. They're just outside Coonabarabran. Fiona runs the household – looking after her little daughters – 3-year-old Eva and Jazz, 18 months.
They’ve had no harvest for two seasons and very little rain for 18 months. Fiona acknowledges that it can be hard for some families to ask for help. She sees it differently.
"It makes a nice circle when people can give and receive happily.”
The main pressure point is household income. It's drying up. That kind of financial pressure adds to the family’s mental strain. Drought relief is helping. It's gone to pay outstanding household bills – groceries, a car service, pre-school fees and an electricity bill.
More significantly it's helping give the family back security, knowing some money is coming back in.
Farmers and their communities hit by drought will need support for a long time.
We'll be there, providing well-being checks, psychological first aid and holding community events.