Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Drought Resilience Program

Supporting communities through drought

Our Drought Resilience Program is for the people, organisations and communities across Australia who have been living with the long-term impacts of drought.

It’s here to support the great work you’re already doing.

About the program
How to contact us 
Maintaining wellbeing in tough times
Drought and Wellbeing Webinars

About the program

Over the last few years Australia has experienced some of its driest periods on record. Drought is becoming increasingly prolonged and protracted, impacting many communities over the long term.  

Our Drought Resilience Program focusses on wellbeing and is led by communities themselves. We recognise that people who have been living through dry times know what they need, and how best to manage their wellbeing. Our program offers them support to do it.

The program currently runs across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.  It offers:

  • Workshops and training for organisations and service providers about communicating in times of stress, ‘supporting the supporters’ and psychological first aid
  • Training for community members on Farm First Aid, becoming resilient leaders and supporting others through psychological first aid
  • Linking community leaders and members with specialist support, guidance and resources, as well as a mentor program for those looking for further guidance on supporting their community
  • Wellbeing support and practical assistance at community events, gatherings and meetings, as well as outreach direct to homes and properties.

How to contact us

If you wish to know more about the program, please use the form below to get in touch and share your ideas. 

Maintaining Wellbeing in Tough Times

Living in dry conditions can be tough and often stressful. You may find the information below useful, or it can help you support family and friends.

What you, your family or friends are going through is a unique and personal experience, with different challenges developing over time. It’s normal to have a range of feelings in reaction to these challenges, but by drawing on your supports and networks, most people will manage well with the stress that living in dry times often brings.   

Stress is the body’s way of creating extra energy to manage short term challenges; but when you are stressed for extended periods of time it can have significant impacts on your wellbeing. Being able to identify signs of stress in yourself and others is important. Find more information on common reactions here. 

Signs of stress may include: 

  • Feeling upset, anxious, sad, moody, angry, cynical or easily emotionally affected
  • Finding it hard to concentrate and remember details 
  • Feeling exhausted, restlessness and unable to relax
  • Experiencing problems sleeping, headaches, nausea or a poor digestive system  

These feelings are normal as what you are going through is tough. Give yourself space and time to acknowledge the emotions you’re feeling, take time out to check in with yourself regularly and assess your energy levels. 

Keep an eye out for others, look for signs people may need support such as:   

  • They may be acting differently or don’t seem to be coping    Relationships may seem strained 
  • They may talk about something incessantly
  • They may be socially withdrawing, and you may not be seeing them around town as much 

Your wellbeing is important. In any situation, there are things you can do to look after yourself. Everyone manages stress differently, but leisure and pleasure generally take a back seat when we are stressed, even though it is pleasure and leisure that can help us reduce stress. See more information on how to look after yourself here.

  • Find people you trust to talk to and set up regular check-ins
  • Stay connected, make time to connect and be with family and friends
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, sleep and exercise
  • Make time to do things that you enjoy!
  • Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control
  • Avoid making big decisions until you feel comfortable to do so
  • Build in daily routine to try and avoid uncertainty
  • If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counsellor

For those also supporting others, formally or informally, there are additional stressors and it can be harder to ‘turn off’. Your wellbeing is critical to you and your ability to support others. See ways you can support yourself here. 

This is a tough time for your community but you can support people by doing a few simple things. 

Check in:  Check in on friends and family, think about who in your community, workplace or social circle may be doing it tough. Simply giving them a call or asking how they are doing can make a difference. 

Listen: Give people time and space to talk, be patient, don’t try to talk people out of their reactions, respect their challenges even if you don’t understand them. If they don’t want to talk you can still show your support by spending time with them. Download our having supportive conversations information here.

Link: Reassure them they aren’t alone and that everyone needs support sometimes. Talk through how they can connect with loved ones and promote doing things they enjoy doing. Offer practical support or help find information. 

Drought and Wellbeing Webinars

This five-part series explores how to maintain community wellbeing through drought. Each fortnight expert speakers will share their insights so we can better support our own communities, ourselves and our loved ones in these tough times.

Gain a greater understanding of the effects and signs of prolonged stress, the science behind stress and practical ways to maintain wellbeing, support your community and loved ones.

Speaker:

Dr. David Younger is a Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience supporting communities affected by natural disasters and emergencies. David places a focus on the social environment and the use of networks in driving support.

10-11am Wednesday 17 June

Self Care Resources

Hear about the drought cycle, the cumulative challenges communities often face and key considerations at different stages of the drought cycle. Learn a bit about the psychology around adaptation in the face of this long-term stress and how to strengthen resilience and manage wellbeing.

Speakers: 

Dr. Jacki Schirmer is an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra who leads the Regional Wellbeing Survey that examines the views of rural Australians about the liveability and resilience of their community and wellbeing. 

Dr. David Younger is a Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience supporting communities affected by natural disasters and emergencies. David places a focus on the social environment and the use of networks in driving support.

10-11am Wednesday 1 July

Hear from the Bureau of Meteorology on winter weather predictions and what rain means for the drought. Hear what the research says about wellbeing when communities are seen to be in drought recovery, strategies to help with things beyond your control and how to make the most of every day.

Speakers:

Dr. Lynette Bettio is a senior climatologist  at the Bureau of Meteorology. Lynette examines and communicates on variability and changes to Australia’s climate including long-term trends in rainfall and temperature and the interaction with extreme events.

Dr. Jacki Schirmer is an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra who leads the Regional Wellbeing Survey that examines the views of rural Australians about the liveability and resilience of their community and wellbeing. 

Dr. Kate Gunn is a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Rural Health at UniSA, researching how best to promote farmers’ wellbeing. 

10-11.15am Wednesday 15 July
 Register here 

 

Hear what the research tells us about adult relationships, family roles and children’s experience through droughts, alongside practical tips on how to support children as well as adult relationships.

Speakers:

Dr. Margaret Alston is a Professor at the School of Humanities and Social Science at Newcastle University. She has a focus on rurality and gender and has published widely in the field of gender and disasters, social work and rural social issues.

Stephanie Schmidt is a Clinical Psychologist and Farmer who combines her psychological knowledge with her lived experience of farming life to provide easy to understand strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

Dr. Margaret Nixon has over 20 years experience in education and research in the field of children’s mental health, wellbeing and trauma. She is currently a senior trauma specialist at ACATLGN at the ANU.

10-11.15am Wednesday 29 July
Register here 

 

Listen to an introduction on preparedness in the drought space and the importance of preparing the mind for challenging times. Includes tools and tips to support drought resilience and preparedness.

Speakers: 

Dr. Jacki Schirmer is an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra who leads the Regional Wellbeing Survey that examines the views of rural Australians about the liveability and resilience of their community and wellbeing. 

Dr. Mel Taylor is an Occupational Psychologist. Her research focusses on preparedness, response and recovery to events such as pandemics, terrorism, emergencies and disasters. Key areas of interest are psychosocial response and recovery, uptake of protective behaviours and risk communication strategies.

Shannon McCormack has over 20 years in Agribusiness and is now working with the Rural Financial Counselling Service – Northern Region.

10-11.15am Wednesday 12 August
Register here