THE STATISTICS grab your attention first - 142 farming families, $50 000 in Visa cards, $55 000 in groceries, 75 volunteers, 55 500 km. Then there is the passion of those 75 volunteers, committing themselves to a weekly, fortnightly or monthly contribution.

This is the data and passion underpinning Gippsland Farmer Relief, which has grown from one woman’s commitment to helping dairyfarming families during the dairy crisis, to become a registered charity supporting 142 farming families affected by drought.

No-one is paid for their time or mileage. Some volunteers commit to helping weekly. One volunteer drives 700 km to deliver groceries each month to one farming family.

She received donations of time and money and established, initially, an incorporated community organisation that recently was registered as a charity. In that first year, 54 dairy farming families were assisted - with two boxes of groceries monthly, pantry staples with a retail value up to $200. There are many well-known brand names in the grocery boxes - Kelloggs, SPC, Campbell, Kraft. The charity also buys food from FoodBank. In January, school supplies are added to the groceries, for those families with school-aged children.

Referral for assistance is wholly word-of-mouth. Some farmers have self-referred, others have been referred by a third party.

“We have a dedicated staff member who contacts the farmers. We try to do it with the utmost respect for farmers.

“We advise why we’re phoning and invite them to participate in the scheme.

“We continue our ethos of respect through the system. The 20 packers don’t know who they are packing boxes for. The 49 people who deliver the boxes drive their own private vehicles and only receive the names and addresses of the farmers they are delivering to.”

The Visa cards are delivered by registered mail. Recently, some fresh fruit and vegetable retailers have come on board, providing vouchers so families can supplement their staples with fresh food.

All product is paid for from funds raised by several Rotary and CWA clubs, schools and other groups in Gippsland.

All of the money raised is spent on groceries and $50 and $100 Visa cards.

“One hundred per cent of our fundraising goes to farmers.”

In the last quarter, $50 000 of Visa cards were distributed and $55 000 of groceries were delivered to farmers, with volunteers driving 55 500 km.

“I’ll specifically identify what we need. Often the service clubs assist with those donations,” she said.

In the past year, the number of farming families being assisted by Gippsland Farmer Relief has grown from 98 to 142, as drought bit deeper into the regions east of the Latrobe River.
Gippsland Farmer Relief Inc
Phone: (03) 5174 0217 Warehouse Address:
U1/20-22 Stratton Drive,
Traralgon, Victoria, 3844.

Postal Address:
PO Box 1588
Traralgon Vic 3844

​Email Address:
admin@gippslandfarmerrelief.com.au
.