Boosting drought relief for farming families

31 August 2018

The Australian Government has announced a Farm Household Allowance (FHA) boost to help farming families and their communities get through the current drought and other hardships.

The Government is also making it easier for farmers to get help by increasing funding to the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), who can assist farmers fill out their application for the FHA. This is a free service.

An extra $5 million dollars will be invested in the RFCS, which will provide additional support for farmers – particularly those applying for the FHA for the first time. 

The FHA provides a fortnightly payment totalling around $16,000 a year to help farming families in tough times to put food on the table and give them breathing space to make important business decisions for a viable future. Farmers do not need to be in drought to receive FHA payments. 

In addition to the recent extension of the FHA from three to four cumulative years, new lump sum payments of up to a total of $12,000 will be made available for eligible households.

The first of the FHA supplements will be paid to on 1 September 2018.  People will have to be an FHA recipient between 1 September and 1 December 2018 to receive the first payment.  The eligibility period for the second payment is between 2 December 2018 and 1 June 2019.

The first instalment from 1 September will provide couples in a household with up to an additional $6,000 (if both people are receiving FHA) and single households will receive $3,600.

The Government is also making it easier for farmers to access support through temporary changes to the FHA assets test. This means farmers who have up to $5 million in net assets locked up in their farms can apply for FHA from 1 September 2018. The temporary increase will be in place between 1 September 2018 and 30 June 2019.

The Government’s $190 million of immediate relief measures also includes additional support for mental health services and community organisations.

Farmers can find out if they qualify for new lump sum payments by calling the Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316 or by visiting humanservices.gov.au/fha

Farmers are encouraged not to self-assess, just because they may think they’re not eligible for FHA doesn’t mean they are. Seek guidance from a rural financial counsellor. Farmers can access this free service by calling 1800 686 175 or by visiting agriculture.gov.au/rfcs

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