The Hub at Guyra is here to help farmers, Sonya Shipman says

HELPING HAND: Sonya Shipman and the staff at the Hub at Guyra are here to help farmers in need. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
HELPING HAND: Sonya Shipman and the staff at the Hub at Guyra are here to help farmers in need. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Farmers struggling with drought should drop into the Hub at Guyra.

Staff at the neighbourhood centre can help them get the most and best out of available funding; or simply provide a cuppa and a chat.

"Come to us, and ask for help," administration assistant Sonya Shipman said. "We're here to help everyone."

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Farmers, Mrs Shipman said, are entitled to apply for up to $3000 relief funding via the Federal Government's Drought Community Support Initiative, administered by St Vincent de Paul, Rotary Australia, or the Salvation Army.

Other charities are offering assistance to farmers, including Buy a Bale, Aussie Helpers, Need for Feed Disaster Relief, Drought Angels, and the Country Women's Association.

Most farmers were aware of the CWA, Mrs Shipman said, but not aware they could access money from the other organisations.

The Hub at Guyra can help farmers apply for financial assistance, or lodge applications on their behalf; and explain how much they are entitled to, and how many times they can apply.

"It could be the fact of being able to pay your electricity, or put food on the table," Mrs Shipman said.

Charities might require different information: their Primary Producer Declaration, or their driver's licence. Sometimes the financial assistance might only be for the household situation, whereas others will give them assistance for stock feed.

"It's knowing where to apply, and where to get the most benefit out of the assistance," Mrs Shipman said.

The Hub at Guyra can also help farmers apply for transport subsidies when they buy feed - which can, Mrs Shipman said, be a minefield with paperwork.

Staff can also refer farmers (and all community members) to other services which operate out of their building, such as mental health, legal, children's support services, and job active JobSearch agencies.

Since 2018, people who access other services have received drought assistance, including vouchers generously donated by Guyra Lions Club.

"Dealing with the drought, searching for assistance, and asking for help is just too overwhelming," Mrs Shipman said. "Finding somewhere to help carry the load has been critical to the care of many."

An unidentified person has also donated funds for heating to the Guyra community. The generous donation allows households in Guyra and surrounds to access a one-off heating payment of $150.

This is available to the whole community for anyone in need; payments are made directly to the suppliers of firewood, electricity, and gas, and are administered by the Hub at Guyra.

Wherever possible, local suppliers are used, keeping money in the Guyra community. The funds are limited, but so far the donation has contributed almost $12,000 to heat the homes of Guyra residents this winter.

The donor, Mrs Shipman said, comes from outside NSW. They heard radio broadcaster Alan Jones interview New England MP Barnaby Joyce, and wanted to help.

"It was a stroke of luck that our community was able to get that assistance," Mrs Shipman said. "It could have gone somewhere else."

The Hub at Guyra, however, has not seen as many farmers as they would like, Mrs Shipman said.

"It doesn't matter how large or small their assets are. They're all entitled to some form of help."

The Hub at Guyra is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10am - 2 pm. Phone 6779 1635.