News Parliament


One of the characteristics of our country communities is that when the chips are down we rally together and support each other. And our country communities have rallied from far and wide to support our farmers and farming communities through this devastating drought. The generosity of communities not just in the central west but from around Australia has been extraordinary. I'd like to make mention of a few individuals and communities groups, and there are too many to mention today, who have been part of this extraordinary effort of support.

Rebecca Childs from Orange coordinated the Fair Dinkum Farmer Fundraiser on behalf of Feed4Farmers. Feed4Farmers has grown from just a few people into a community group, providing hay, water and other supplies to farmers. I'd like to thank them all for their efforts and pay tribute to them.

An event was recently held at Bletchington Public School on 26 August. There were 27 market stalls there and $5,000 was raised—I was there myself. I'd like to congratulate Rebecca and her organising team, and all of the stallholders and everyone who turned up at Bletchington school that day to support our farming communities. Rebecca is a hairdresser in Orange, and next week on Sunday she'll be donating all the money made from haircuts to Feed4Farmers. The last time she did this she raised over $2,400. Rebecca is encouraging other salons in the region to do the same.

The Orange Lions Club is holding a Euchareena family day shortly—that's on next Sunday so farmers and their families can not only just enjoy time away from the farm and the reality of the drought but also talk to and support each other. The idea has been supported by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, including James Cleaver, who's a rural assistance officer based in Dubbo, as well as the Cudal Cargo Lions club. The Orange Lions Club are covering all of the associated costs for the event. It's a joint-club effort, and the Cudal Cargo Lions will be bringing their catering truck and supplying the barbecue on the day. Dianne Gill, who is the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program Coordinator for the Western New South Wales Local Health District, will be there to provide support, and it promises to be a very encouraging day.

The Orange Lions Club members who are organising the event include Ron Parry; Graham Eggleston, famous for organising the camel races every Easter; Andrew Wood; and Peter Fuge. I am a member of the Orange Lions Club and I know how hard they've been working on this project. I congratulate members from all of the Lions clubs involved and thank them for their great community work.

The Rylstone Red Cross was one of two branches that began in 1914, not long after the Australian Red Cross was formed. They recently held a morning tea at the Kandos golf club to raise funds for our local farmers. They raised over $1,700. Again, I had the privilege of attending. It was certainly a very impressive morning. I'd like to mention those dedicated members of the Rylstone Red Cross for supporting our farmers. They include President Margaret Jose; Treasurer Elizabeth Ferguson, who guarded the treasury tin very well on the day; Secretary Mary Vrisakis; the vice-president and patron, Barbara Reynolds; Patricia Reynolds; Margaret Elwell; Helen Merrett; Carol Hayward; Margaret Baxter; Nola Fraser; Jean Johnson; Claire Andu; and Shirley Tunnicliff. Congratulations on a job well done to the Rylstone Red Cross.

I'd also like to mention 200 Bales at Mudgee, another great cause. It's based in the Mid-Western Regional Council area. Glenn Box and a group of Mudgee mates, including Kelly Dray, started a movement to deliver 200 bales of hay to farmers. They've rocketed past that target; they've now delivered more than 600 bails to farmers in need. Local fundraisers are now contributing to the cause, with Mudgee Golf Club raising $3,600, which equates to about 18 bales of hay. It has a massive social media following. Congratulations to the Mudgee 200 Bales movement.

I'd also like to acknowledge Lifeline Central West, who launched their drought toolkit last week. Supported by the Orange Ex-Services Club, they are holding workshops about wellbeing right around western New South Wales, from Lithgow to Bathurst, Forbes, Walgett, Coonamble and Dubbo. Again, I was at the launch of that. I'd like to congratulate Stephanie Robinson, who is the CEO of Lifeline Central West, on all of her hard work and also acknowledge the work of the previous CEO, Alex Ferguson.

I'd like to thank all of our community groups for supporting our farmers and farming communities during this very, very difficult time.