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Need a hand? Rural Aid has your back

08 November 2023

Born from the 2015 El Niño declaration, Rural Aid began with the Buy A Bale campaign which was initiated to aid drought-stricken producers. Eight years later, Rural Aid has been established as Australia’s most trusted rural charity with approximately 17,500 Aussie producers registered as recipients.

In light of the recent declaration of another El Niño event in 2023, Rural Aid is gathering its resources in preparation for a large influx of producers battling harsh environments. Here, Rural Aid’s CEO John Warlters shares how you can access the right support if you find yourself in tough times.

I’m feeling down – what can I do to help myself feel better? 

The first steps are to acknowledge those feelings and take time to do things you know you enjoy. This can be as simple as taking time for yourself to switch off with a good book or giving yourself the chance to have some fun by playing footy with the kids and enjoying time on the patio with your partner.

It's also really important to reserve time for your family, friends and community – whether this is having a yarn with your neighbour or making trips into town to watch a local sports team play. Being part of a community and being socially connected is one of the strongest urges we have as human beings, and it gives us the opportunity to ask for help or check in on others.

The next step is to reach out to the professionals. Rural Aid counsellors are always available for a chat. It’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling 1300 175 594 from anywhere in Australia. Our expansive team of counsellors also attend livestock sales and industry meetings and are spotted at field days and farm walks, engaging with producers and building relationships.

Money is getting tight – where can I get financial support? 

The financial support Rural Aid provides comes as a pre-paid VISA card that producers and their family can use in the way that best meets their individual needs. Inevitably, these dollars find their way back into the local community which is great as we all know how these businesses are similarly impacted when times are tough in the bush. 

Once you’re registered with us online, this can be applied for by emailing

Our water supply is getting low – is there somewhere I can request a backup supply? 

Australia just experienced its driest September in more than 120 years and with it came a surge of requests for emergency drinking water. Since mid-September, there have been several water carter trucks criss-crossing across the country, with a larger cluster making their way to Queensland and NSW properties which is reflective of their season.

Typically, we deliver around 20,000 litres of water to our requesting producers. However, we also provide water tanks and are well on the way to achieving our goal of supplying 500 tanks by 2025.

Requests for water services are received and processed via our website. 

I’m running out of fodder – how can I get some more? 

In the lead up to Christmas, Rural Aid has been taking action to relaunch our Buy A Bale campaign.

Fodder provided by Rural Aid is supported by a vendor declaration from the grower and every effort made to ensure a quality product is delivered. 

Requests can be made for fodder via our website.

I need help on the farm – who can I ask?  

One of the best supports that Rural Aid offers, but is also the least utilised, is the Farm Army. It’s our free online job matching platform that connects producers with people who can help.

Right now, that includes tasks ranging from fencing to farm sitting, and just about everything in between. Posts to the website are ever changing, so it’s a good one to bookmark as a favourite and revisit regularly. 

I’m OK, can I help others?  

Typically, when Rural Aid reaches out to offer its support, we are met with: “I’m okay, it’s the neighbour who needs a helping hand.” Our team has heard this more times than it can remember. Our response is: “We’ve got them covered too, but right now let’s talk about you.”

That attitude of putting the neighbour ahead of themselves is what we all admire about Australian producers, although some people would call it avoidance. Take the time to check in with yourself and family before you jump to help others.

If you are worried your neighbours are carrying a load too heavy for them, ask them to help out with an easy job on your property. It’ll make them feel more comfortable asking for help from you in return and while they’re helping you out, you can chat to them about Rural Aid resources you’ve seen available.

For producers who are fortunate enough to be in a good position, you can make a difference by donating time, money, or fodder. You can volunteer and donate online, and discuss supplying fodder via emailing

Final advice

Whilst Rural Aid caters to a lot of producer needs, our free counselling is not limited to primary producers. Hobby farmers, spouses and children of producers, and other on-farm staff such as accountants and governesses are also encouraged to use the service. 

Living in a remote area is often an isolating experience and that feeling of isolation is quite capable of impacting each person residing on the property regardless of their involvement in on-farm production.

Feelings of helplessness often impact the children and spouses of a producer who can see there’s some on-farm production challenges occurring but don’t have the means to physically help out.

This is especially common in children who are temporarily living away from home at boarding school or university and for spouses who hold the role of accountant, schoolteacher, or carer of the home.

Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones if they are ok and to have the response be “no”. Take the time to listen and work with them in finding an appropriate support system. Even words of reassurance that what they do for the family is enough and is appreciated can be a step in the right direction. 

For Rural Aid free counselling services, call 1300 175 594 between 9am-5pm AEDST on Monday to Friday to chat to trained counsellors.

For all other on-farm support services, apply via the website or email

Rural Aid will also be in attendance at this years MLA Updates in Bendigo on Thursday 23 November 2023. If you haven’t yet, register for this free event via MLA Updates 2023 registration to meet some of Rural Aid’s counsellors and staff.

For more information on all the presentations, displays and speakers that will be showcased at MLA Updates 2023, head to