Indi dairy farmers’ long wait for assistance to be heard by Minister’s office
Dairy farmers in Indi facing long delays for Centrelink assistance will have their case heard on Wednesday 9 November during a briefing between the office of Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan.
Ms McGowan will also press for action to get the assistance flowing where it is needed in a Notice of Motion to the parliament detailing the hardship faced by Indi’s dairy farmers. The Notice of Motion asks for a proactive approach to processing applications and a Mobile Service Centre response by Centrelink targeting at-risk farmers.
“The government’s emergency dairy support package announced in May included a commitment to fast track Farm Household Allowance applications, but farmers are facing delays of up to twenty weeks to get assistance,” Ms McGowan said.
“There are approximately 120 dairy farms across the Kiewa, Upper Murray, Mitta, Ovens and King valleys impacted by the dairy industry crisis, and up to 60% of those are in need of assistance. The situation for some is desperate.
“Farmers are reporting issues with the complexity of forms and many weeks of no income. Centrelink encourages them to complete their applications online but in many areas there is no internet access.
“Farmers in Indi have been contacting me as a local person with deep connections in the farming community. They welcome the assistance from the government but they need to be able to access it sooner. There are practical solutions that the government can implement to avoid further unnecessary distress.
In the meantime, Ms McGowan is encouraging local farmers who are having trouble getting their applications processed with Centrelink to contact the electorate offices in Wangaratta on 03 5721 7077 or Wodonga on 02 6024 6284.
Farmers experiencing hardship can call Centrelink for Farmer Assistance on 132 316 or the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1300 834 775.