DROUGHT Angels representative Dean Barnett admits he takes pleasure in telling farmers sometimes that no, they’re not getting any charity out of him.
So if that’s what they’re expecting, he says, they’re mistaken – because it’s not charity, it’s gratitude and support that just happens to be tangible.
Mr Barnett says he wants a mind shift when it comes to the connotations of farmers receiving a hand during drought.
He hopes that will encourage them to seek support – whether from the government, a non-profit group, or even each other.
And he wants to see that help-seeking happen before it’s too late to save livestock, a farm or even a life.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Mr Barnett was in Nundle recently with wife and “partner in crime” Chris, to attend a community dinner for the area’s growers.
The Barnetts told the diners that people challenged by drought should register with a group such as Drought Angels before it became urgent.
The group is based in Chinchilla, Qld, but has been travelling widely in NSW, too.
And like most support organisations, they have become very, very busy in recent months.
“At the moment we have 1000 emails in there waiting to be answered,” Mr Barnett said.
“It’s gone absolutely berserk at the moment, due to all the publicity.”
Mr Barnett said he’d driven another 23,000km in the week after he’d visited Nundle.
And most parts of NSW looked, sadly, one of a kind.
“The paddocks are full of stones and rocks, and the sheep and cattle are not looking real good at the moment.”
He said farmers were “a wonderful mob”.
“The main thing is to get them to come forward to us: I know they’re a proud bunch,” he said.
Mr Barnett said that, along with food, hay and other material support, the Drought Angels liked to show “someone cares for them”.
“It’s good to sit down with with a cup of tea and listen to what they’ve got to say.
“A number of times you have tears, from both men and the women. We get bloody close, too.”
Mr Barnett said the group “don’t call ourselves a charity”.
“We’re there to help ... people cry and say, ‘We’ve never received charity in our life,’ to which I say, ‘Well, you’re not getting it now, mate – you’re getting a thank you from the people of Australia for putting food on our plates’.
“We’re there for support.”
If you need that support, or you can offer some, go to:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.