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Rural drought support program winding up

Grace Ridge. Photo contributed

A key program to help western region farmers and community members through the hardship of drought is being wound up.

The Rural Resilience Program was funded through the Department of Primary Industries, and in Bourke was led by Grace Ridge, who is widely regarded for her advocacy for people in the bush who were doing it tough.

Now that role is to be made redundant, with the five-year program to be replaced.

But because of the winding down of the Rural Resilience Program, and her desire to help people in the bush, Grace Ridge has continued to advocate for them by setting up a Facebook page called ‘On Channel’.

Grace said the group loosely covers the Bourke, Brewarrina, and Cobar local government areas.

“There is still a need for good, relevant information to be shared and accessed by primary producers in this area.

“I figure that sharing information is free and if I can help do that, then why not try to be helpful.

“People can post information for landholders, station employees and contractors, within the group.

“It can be anything from local events, available assistance, handy information, requests for advice or a platform to share anything others might find useful,” Grace said.

Grace said the group is owned by everyone in it. Check it out the Facebook page On Channel.

The DPI Rural Resilience Program was created in 2014, with a five-year, $5m commitment as part of the NSW Drought Strategy.

At that time, DPI was the first government agency nationally to create a dedicated program to deliver resilience-building activities.

The program focused on working with rural communities to build economic and social resilience, provide support to primary producers impacted by natural disasters and to provide links to a range of assistance programs and services.

Since 2014, the program has delivered more than 875 events and workshops with more than 33,600 participants.

In the Bourke, Brewarrina, and Cobar shires, it performed a key support role for people trying to navigate their way through a raft of assistance programs and challenges brought on by the drought.

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