Pilot of Drought Reform Measures in Western Australia
The WA Pilot closed, as scheduled, on 30 June 2012
About the WA pilot and its measures
The Australian Government, in partnership with the Western Australian Government, conducted a pilot of drought reform measures in part of Western Australia.
The WA Pilot tested a package of measures developed in response to the national review of drought policy. The measures were directed at helping farmers to move from a crisis management approach to risk management. The aim of the pilot was to better support farmers, their families and rural communities in preparing for future challenges, rather than waiting until they are in crisis to offer assistance.
The Australian and the Western Australian Governments extended the pilot into 2011–12, covering an expanded area of Western Australia, with all programs, other than Building Farm Businesses, closing on 30 June 2012. Approved payments made under the Building Farm Businesses measure will continue until 30 June 2014.
|Farm Planning||WA Government||2.659||5.110||374 farm businesses completed Farm Planning courses in
||620 farm businesses have completed training in 2011–12 and a further 361 have been approved to participate.|
|Building Farm Businesses1||Commonwealth/DAFF||4.360||14.971||127 farm businesses received grants in
||670 farm businesses have been approved to receive grants in 2011–12.|
|Farm Family Support2||Commonwealth/DAFF||4.815||12.290||450 farm families received assistance in
||A further 271 farm families received assistance in 2011–12 in addition to recipients from
|Farm Exit Support (incl. Advice & Training)||Commonwealth/DAFF||0.1413||1.453||5 farmers received an exit grant in
||10 farmers have received a grant in 2011–12.|
|Beyond Farming4||Commonwealth/DAFF||0.126||0.230||20 mentors trained.
17 farmers registered to be matched. 14 farmers with mentors.
|7 new mentors trained. 38 farmers registered to be matched. 30 farmers matched with mentors. 106+ mentoring discussions at rural events.|
|Stronger Rural Communities||Commonwealth/DAFF||0.896||0||8 grants were provided to agriculture dependent rural communities in
||The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, took over the program from 1 July 2011.|
|Farm Social Support – Rural Support Initiative4||Commonwealth/DHS||1.513||3.164||Rural Services Officer customer contacts 8 269 with 927 farm or home visits. Rural Social Worker customer contacts 1 404 with 233 farm or home visits.||Rural Services Officer customer contacts 13 003 with 964 farm or home visits. Rural Social Worker customer contacts 2 668 with 249 farm or home visits.|
|Farm Social Support – Rural and Regional Family Support Service5||Commonwealth/FaHCSIA||0.945||(Expenditure figures available early 2013)||2 293 clients received services.||3 903 clients received services.|
|Farm Social Support – Online Counselling for Rural Young Australians Initiative||Commonwealth/DoHA||0.777||N/A6||37 clients from pilot region used service.||403 clients from the expanded pilot region used the service.|
1 Building Farm Business grants are paid in installments over a number of years – Phase 1 over four years and Phase 2 over two.
2Farm Family Support expenditure included three components; fortnightly income payments and ancillary benefits, such as health care cards and youth allowance for recipients’ dependents, as well as Advice and Training grants.
3 Farm Exit Support budgeted for only a single grant in 2010–11; however, provision was made for additional demand to be funded through the Exceptional Circumstances Exit Grant program, which funded the remaining four grants.
4 The Rural Support Initiative had no administered expenditure. The measure funded additional Department of Human Services officers and the Mobile Office to visit the pilot region.
5 Rural and Regional Family Support Service expenditure reflects the total commitment per financial year rather than expenditure to date. The program was administered and funded by FaHCSIA.
6 Online Counselling for Rural Young Australians was administered and funded by DoHA in 2010–11. It was expanded to a national program in 2011–12 and was not funded under the WA Pilot.
WA Pilot region 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011
WA Pilot region 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012
Farm Planning provided courses for farmers to develop or update a strategic plan for their farm business. The plan identified priority activities to help improve the management and preparedness of the farm business in its respond to future challenges.
The training covered the economic aspects of a strategic plan such as risk management and financial planning, social aspects such as personal and business goals and environmental aspects such as managing the impact of a changing climate on production.
Applications for Farm Planning closed on 14 May 2012.
Completion of Farm Planning was a prerequisite for accessing grants under the Building Farm Businesses program.
Building Farm Businesses — Round two
Grants to eligible farm businesses in two components:
- Business Adaptation Grants– were for eligible activities identified in the strategic plan developed or revised through the Farm Planning courses, that helped farm businesses prepare for the impacts of drought, reduced water availability and a changing climate.
- Landcare Adaptation Grants– were for eligible activities identified in the strategic plan with a natural resource management focus that had a broader public benefit.
The program offered grants in two rounds. Grants under Building Farm Businesses—Round One, available in 2010-11, were up to a combined value of $60,000 per farm business, paid over four years. Grants under Building Farm Businesses—Round Two, available in 2011-12, were up to a combined value of $30,000 per farm business, paid over two years.
Applications for Building Farm Businesses closed on 15 June 2012.
Stronger Rural Communities
In 2010–11 the program provided grants to local government authorities and community organisations to fund projects that build the resilience of rural communities and help them manage hardship resulting from an agricultural downturn. In 2011–12 the Western Australian Government provided an alternative suite of community and family support pilot measures for individuals, businesses and communities.
Farm Social Support
The aim of the Farm Social Support measure was to provide a better coordinated social support network to meet the mental health, counselling and other social needs of farming families and rural communities. Three initiatives were available through Farm Social Support:
- Rural Support Initiative – Department of Human Services’ Rural Services Officers and social workers worked to improve outreach services to rural communities
- Online Counselling for Rural Young Australians Initiative – an online counselling and information service for young people in the drought pilot region, linked to ‘eheadspace’
- Rural and Regional Family Support Service – practical support from counsellors, psychologist and community welfare workers that helped farmers work through issues and concerns and deal with relationship problems.
Farm Family Support
Farm Family Support provided income support, paid at the same rate as Newstart, for farmers facing financial hardship, allowing them to meet basic household needs. Recipients also received case management to assist them in developing a plan to identify steps to improve their financial position either on or off the farm, and up to:
- $2500 towards financial advice to assess their long-term financial position
- $5000 for professional advice and training.
Applications for Farm Family Support closed on 30 June 2012.
Farm Exit Support
Farm Exit Support provided assistance to support farmers in significant financial difficulty who decided to sell their farm and leave farming. This assistance helped farmers and their families make a fresh start. Through Farm Exit Support, farmers could receive:
- Farm Exit Support grants of up to $150,000
- Farm Exit Support Advice and Retraining grants of up to $10,000 for professional advice and retraining after selling the farm
- Farm Exit Support Relocation grants of up to $10,000 to help with relocation expenses and accessing job-seeking services after selling the farm.
In accepting a Farm Exit Support grant, farmers agreed not to own or operate a farm enterprise within five years of the date of settlement.
Applications for Farm Exit Support closed on 28 March 2012.
Beyond Farming, delivered by the Western Australian Council of Social Services Inc., put farmers in touch with trained former farmers, to talk about opportunities outside of farming. It enabled them to talk to someone, who had been in the same position, about the options for themselves and their families if selling the farm business or retiring. The former farmers did not provide advice, but shared their experiences and provided information on relevant services and assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What assistance is available
For information on assistance available to farmers, contact the Drought Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.
For information on free rural financial counselling, visit the Rural Financial Counselling Service WA website or call 1800 612 004.
04 Feb 2013