Rural Financial councillor Gabby Kirk said she has seen a “resurgence in numbers” of families since the New Year who were under financial stress due to the ongoing lack of rain in the region.
Only 85.4 millimeters of rain has fallen since the start of the year, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Ms Kirk was appointed as the Rural Financial Counsellor for the Bogan, Warren and Cobar Local government areas for the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) to provide assistance to a range of clients who are suffering, or at imminent risk of suffering financial hardship.
“The community’s been very welcoming, its really kicked up in the last six weeks and I think what's happened is a lot of people have had a bad year last season and hung on hoping things are better,” Ms Kirk said.
Ms Kirk said farmers hold the knowledge about the business, but the RFCS are available to leverage it for them and translate situations to ensure they make the best decisions for their businesses.
“We're an observer, they're the expert. We are here to do the heavy lifting to understanding the legislation and what’s available in terms of drought assistance and what's not. We're there to to put a lens over their data and their season,” she said.
RFCF NSW Central Region Chief Executive Officer Jeff Caldbeck said they are there to help put local farmers who have a business plan in their head onto paper.
“The hard part with a drought is you don’t know when it started, it happens without your knowledge, it just doesn’t rain, then suddenly you’re in a drought.”
He said that both the state and federal government are committed to supporting farmers, who in particular have been facing a very dry season, but farmers are seeking more assistance especially with fodder.
“Don’t self assess, don't look at your situation and say it's hopeless or it's brilliant, come and see a councillor and work with them. They will look at your cash flows, your business planning and if it's dire straights the councillors will help you,” Mr Caldbeck said.
Both Mr Caldbeck and Ms Kirk said that while the RFCS is available for those in financial difficulty they are also available for anyone in the rural community.
“Now the issue of being in financial difficulty can be as long as a piece of string,” said Mr Caldbeck.
“That's the public perception of that's all we offer, that we are the last refuge of the destitute and desperate, but that's not the case, we are also about promoting the long term sustainable development of agriculture in Australia,” said Ms Kirk.
“While some may be in a bad situation, it might not be as some people think it is. On the other side of that is we help people unlock the potential of their business,” she said.
“Often people call me and need my help and their question may not be covered by our area of expertise but we refer them onto the network, and there’s a network of support personnel out there. If someone needs help and are in the rural community, they should call us for help because we can get them in contact with someone.”
“We don’t leave them dangling, someone’s going to help.”
To contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service phone 1800 940 404.