The NSW Government is providing a range of services and support for drought-affected communities across the state.

There are more than 70 rebates and savings you can apply for on Service NSW's Cost of Living (CoL) page. 

As the drought continues to impact NSW, CoL specialists in regional service centres and on board the Mobile Service Centres can help with drought-specific rebates and support, during a CoL appointment.

If you know what you're interested in, gather the necessary paperwork that's required to apply/claim, and take it with you when you visit a service centre or Mobile Service Centre.

Check out the lists below for more information on the variety of support that's available.

Subsidies

Apply for the emergency drought relief transport subsidy
The drought transport subsidy provides up to $40,000 to eligible farm businesses to assist with the transport costs of:

  • fodder
  • water for stock or domestic use
  • stock to and from agistment
  • stock to sale or slaughter.

The subsidy covers:

  • up to 50% of the full cost of freight
  • up to $5 per kilometre (+GST).

Apply for the animal welfare transport subsidy
The animal welfare transport subsidy provides up to $20,000 for eligible primary producers who have livestock where:

  • their animals are at significant risk in terms of animal welfare
  • there is limited available feed and/or water.

The subsidy covers up to 50% of the transport of the stock to sale or slaughter.

Apply for the emergency water infrastructure rebate
The water infrastructure rebate is available to eligible farmers in NSW who purchase and install emergency water infrastructure for their livestock. It covers 25% of the cost of purchase, delivery and installation of:

  • pipes
  • water storages and water pumps
  • de-silting dams
  • power supplies such as generators.

The maximum that can be claimed is $25,000 per farm business.

Claim the donated fodder transport subsidy
The donated fodder transport subsidy scheme covers the costs incurred by a transporting company/operator, when transporting donated fodder to a central location for distribution to rural properties.

The subsidy applies to the loaded portion of the journey only, with a:

  • maximum rebate of $5 per kilometre (plus GST)
  • maximum distance of 1500 kilometres.

Claims for distances in excess of 1500 kilometres will be considered on a case by case basis.

Farm business skills professional development program
The farm business skills professional development program has been initiated to support farmers and provide access to vocational and skills training.

The courses available fall into 3 categories:

  • risk management
  • financial and business management
  • farm business planning/drought preparedness.

Loans

Apply for the drought assistance fund
The drought assistance fund provides interest-free loans to primary producers.

Its purpose is to help farmers put systems and management practices into place that will boost the sustainability of their farms.

The loan amount is $50,000 and can be used to fund:

  • the transport of stock, fodder and water
  • genetic banking of breeding herds
  • installation of on-farm fodder and water infrastructure
  • activities that promote profitability and resilience as a result of the on-farm investment.

The loan term is 7 years, with no repayments for the first 2 years.

Apply for the farm innovation fund
The farm innovation fund provides a long term, low interest loan to NSW farmers, for permanent on-farm infrastructure.

Farmers can borrow up to a maximum of $1 million per project, with a total of $1 million outstanding at any one time. The aim of the fund is to help farmers:

  • improve farm productivity
  • manage adverse seasonal conditions
  • ensure long term sustainability.

Waivers

Bee site permit fee
The NSW Govt is waiving bee keeping fees for existing public bee site permits for 24 months. Beekeepers who paid or have been invoiced for 2018/19 fees will receive a refund or credit for the next billable financial year. 

Agricultural vehicle registration
Registration charges are waived on class 1 agricultural vehicles. A class 1 agricultural vehicle:

  • exceeds one or more of the following prescribed dimensions:
    • 2.5m wide
    • 4.3m high
    • 12.5m long
    • 42.5 tonnes gross mass (or exceeding a statutory axle mass limit).
  • has its own automotive power
  • is built to perform agricultural tasks.

Farm innovation fund
All existing farm innovation fund customers, and all applicants who submitted an application on or before 30 June 2020 will have applicable interest charges for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years refunded.
The refund will be applied and processed automatically.

Local land services (LLS) rates
All LLS rates will be waived for 2019 and 2020. This includes general rates, rates for animal health, pest animals and pest management, the meat industry levy, and costs of a routine stock moving permit and stock identification.

Rates notices will show the usual components, but amounts shown will not be payable. NSW Government drought relief package will provide funding to LLS to continue to deliver the services normally funded from rates.

Water licences
There's financial assistance of up to $4,000 per licence on the fixed component of water bills for general security licence holders (and supplementary water access licence holders) in rural and regional NSW across surface and groundwater systems.
The waiver will be automatically applied to landholders on their next bill.

SafeWork and Fair Trading are waiving licence fees for drought-affected customers experiencing financial difficulty. To be eligible you must work or live in an area classified as 'Intense Drought or Drought' by the Department of Primary Industries.

Check out the Combined Drought Indicator map, and if you think you may qualify, call SafeWork on 131 050, or Fair Trading on 133 220.

Wild dog fence charges
A waiver of the annual rates for the border fence maintenance, known as ‘dog rates’, will be automatically applied to eligible landholders.

Mental health assistance

Rural resilience program
The rural resilience team work with primary producers across regional and remote NSW to build personal and family resilience. They link rural communities, families and individuals with appropriate services and information.

Rural adversity mental health program (RAMHP)
Drought can have a long-term effect on communities, including their mental health and wellbeing. RAMPH links people to appropriate mental health support by training workplace and community members to recognise and provide support to someone who they think may be experiencing a mental health problem. Currently, there are 19 RAMHP coordinators located across NSW.

Wellbeing – supporting your mental health
The current drought impacting NSW farmers is having a significant impact on the economic prosperity of rural communities. During challenging times, it is more common for people to feel greater distress, anxiety and depression, which can impact on their relationships and businesses.

1800RESPECT counselling service
1800RESPECT is a national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. The service is available 24/7 and provides confidential online chat or telephone support for anyone experiencing violence or abuse themselves, or for family/friends/work colleagues who may be concerned about someone.

Useful links

Drought assistance in NSW
The DroughtHub details and links to all the measures the NSW Government is delivering to support farmers impacted by drought conditions.

Drought and rural support – Department of Agriculture
The Department of Agriculture supports farmers in times of hardship and assists with risk management and plann​ing.

Rural financial counsellors
The rural financial counselling service provides free financial counselling to help NSW primary producers improve financial literacy, develop business plans and contingencies, and access industry support. While the service does not provide specific financial advice, the counselling process supports individual needs.

Local land services (LLS) – drought response
As drought conditions persist across the state, the LLS are continuing to help landholders manage their farming businesses. They hold workshops, information sessions, ‘smokos’ and ‘cuppas’ to connect farmers and their families to advice and networks on animal nutrition, pasture management and livestock health.