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CWA's plea for extra funding to help drought-affected families rejected

Tim Fookes and Michael Condon, Tuesday November 26, 2019 - 13:24 EDT
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The Country Women's Association has been helping people in drought-affected communities. - ABC

A request by the Country Women's Association (CWA) for urgent funding for its ongoing support work has been rejected by the Federal Government.

The $5 million allocated to the organisation in the 2019-20 federal budget was meant to last a year, but the demand for financial help saw it spent within six months.

The CWA sought an extra $5 million, which it said it needed to continue operating during bushfires and ongoing drought.

In the past year, the CWA spent an estimated $30 million in assistance measures across the country, mainly using charitable donations as well as government funds.

"We've been helping people in drought-affected communities with schools fees, grocery and petrol bills, doctors' fees and phone bills," national president Tanya Cameron said.

"The CWA has been providing assistance for people living in this drought for the past 18 months, and it would be a shame if we can't continue that.

"There will be households now that will miss out on funding to help pay the council rates, pay for groceries and other daily expenses."

Funding priorities

In a letter sent to the CWA, David Littleproud, the Minister for Drought, said the Government was unable to provide additional funding.

"The Government has committed to providing a further $33 million for the Drought Community Support Initiative," he wrote.

"We will continue to monitor the impact of drought to ensure our support measures cover a range of areas, including financial assistance.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the hard work and commitment of the CWA in delivering financial assistance to farmers and farming families, and I acknowledge the significant effort that was put in to distribute funds in an equitable, responsible and collegiate manner."

Ms Cameron said it would be good to have an explanation why the funding request was rejected.

"[The Government] has lauded and applauded our work up until now, and most of the recipients who benefit from our work have been very complimentary," she said.

"Sometimes the CWA funding is the only funding people are able to access because they don't qualify for other assistance."

As part of the $5 million it received from the Government earlier this year, the CWA is required to submit a report explaining how it was spent.


© ABC 2019

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