THE situation for the region’s farmers is now so desperate that a recent Rural Aid care package arrived just in time to save a farmer’s dog from being put down.
With 100 per cent of the state now declared in drought, many farmers are at breaking point and living in poverty.
There is no feed for stock, for farm dogs and often for the farmers themselves.
Within the next couple of weeks, the Central West will have its own dedicated rural mental health counsellor thanks to $150,000 that was raised at the Black Tie and Boots Ball in Bathurst on Saturday.
They will be the 14th counsellor that Rural Aid has employed since July 1 to help farmers.
The counsellor will be on the road to visit the region’s farmers and speak to them where they need help most.
Rural Aid founder Charles Alder said the charity was already saving lives and last week his wife, and the charity’s co-founder, Tracy Alder arrived just in time at a Bathurst farm to save the life of a farm dog that was about to be put down.
Our counsellors are dealing with the 50 inquires we get a day from farmers registering for assistance.Rural Aid's Charles Alder
The farmer had come to the heartbreaking decision that with no money left to buy the dog food, that this was the kinder option.
“He was about to shoot his favourite dog and she turned up with a car full of dog food and he was literally walking out the door with the gun in hand as Tracy drove up to his place,” Mr Alder said.
The new rural mental health counsellor will check in with farmers on the phone and in person.
They will ask about the farmer’s welfare, whether there is food in the pantry, if there is fuel in their car and whether the children have enough school supplies including uniform, shoes and text books.
“Otherwise they’re in their car and they’re driving down your driveway with a packet of Tim Tams, and tea bags and a jar of coffee,” Mr Alder said.
Mr Alder said the counsellor were already making a big difference to farmers across the region.
“All of our counsellors are dealing with the 50 inquiries we get a day from farmers registering for assistance,” Mr Alder said. “So many of those that we’re talking to are becoming regular callers of our counsellors.”
Black Tie and Boots Ball
THE sold-out ball was held in Bathurst on Saturday, with farmers and community members from across the region coming along to lend their support.
On the night, $150,000 was raised thanks to ticket sales, auctions, raffles and donations.
Rural Aid ambassadors Grant and Chezzi Denyer joined forces to MC on the night, while Guy Sebastian, Em Rusciano and the Heydays featuring Kyle Manning took to the stage to entertain.
- Read more: See the gallery of photos from the ball