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Drought Assistance

droughtphotoEast Gippsland is experiencing a prolonged drought following below average to lowest on record rainfall since 2016.


All levels of government have a role to play in providing assistance and support measures for primary producers.


This page has information about agencies and programs that are offering support.


Council can help you access information, help determine eligibility and provide details on the which agency can answer questions related to your circumstances.


Please don't self-assess when considering your eligibility for various grants and programs, ask our Customer Service Centre officers for help in person on by phone on 5153 9500.


Farm rate relief – 12 November 2019


East Gippsland Shire Council will deliver, in full, the Victorian Government’s $1.51 million Local Government Service Support Payment (as announced 2 October, see below) as rate relief for all farm properties.

Council voted to pass on the $1.51m payment – approximately 32 per cent rate relief – at its meeting in Orbost on 12 November 2019.

Mayor Cr John White said Council’s decision was the fairest way to deliver the support.

“Council elected to provide rate relief to all farm properties on a proportional basis, based on the applicable 2019/20 farm rates raised as at December 31, 2019, excluding any municipal or waste charge,” Cr White said.

“The rate relief is effective from December 31. By that time any objections to the 2019 valuations will have been processed and any farm rate assessment reclassifications will have been adjusted.”

Any property classified in Council’s rating system as farm property is automatically eligible.

Council has sent property owners a letter with details of the rate relief amount that will be applied to their current year rates, followed by an amended rate notice showing the rate relief amount and the adjusted balance of rates, including updated instalment amounts for those who have chosen that payment method.

Farm rate relief information sheet


The Premier's drought funding announcement 2 October 2019



Country Womens Association (CWA) Commonwealth Grant Distribution October 2019


CWA of Victoria is again managing a Federal Government grant to farmers affected by drought.  This grant is up to $3000.00 for household expenses.

Information in relation to criteria and the again simple paperwork required to be completed and returned to CWA is on line at http://cwaofvic.org.au/


Government Financial Assistance


The Commonwealth Government has asked St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army to distribute a second round of financial assistance through the Drought Community Support Initiative.

Farmers, farm workers and farm suppliers who live in East Gippsland will be able to apply for this assistance from early November 2019 to June 2020.

More information is available at: https://www.vinnies.org.au/page/News/National/National_News_Items_2019/The_Drought_is_Taking_Its_Toll/


New understanding drought video and BOM Blog - what is drought?

The Bureau has created some content around the issue of drought which can be found in a new video Understanding Drought video along with an Explainer: what is drought? blog. For further information please contact Melody Horrill at the BOM.


Drought Community Wellbeing Grants


One Good Community Gippsland Wellbeing Grants program is now open. 

For more information and to apply visit https://onegoodcommunity.gphn.org.au/


Information and links

The following government departments, organisations, community groups and service clubs have information available, ranging from farm and household assistance, support programs, and opportunities.

Rural Finance

Rural Financial Counselling Service Gippsland

Workways Australia - Drought Employment Program

Gippsland Farmer Relief Inc.
Tackling Tough Times Together (Always Open)


Agriculture Victoria

(various programs listed below) 

A new comprehensive feeding livestock website with tools, resources and calculators you’ll need during drought and other times when pasture is limited can be found at feedinglivestock.vic.gov.au

Drought support services in Central and East Gippsland booklet (PDF - 4.0 MB)

Dry seasons support

Technical support

Financial support

Personal and family support

Drought support services in Gippsland

Victoria’s Drought Preparedness and Response Framework


Agriculture Victoria has published two videos of Gippsland farmers speaking about the drought conditions and assistance measures.

Here are Geoff Gooch, of Pearsondale, and Andrew Jones, of Stratford, discussing support options.


Council rates payments


We can help with:

- Financial hardship assessments

- Pensioner concessions

- Farm rate eligibility 


You are encouraged to speak to council if you are experiencing difficulty paying your rates. Ratepayers who choose to pay their rates in one amount, rates were due on February 15, 2019, and unpaid rates are now accruing interest. There are several ways council may be able to assist, including an arrangement to pay that is tailored to your situation.


Although interest is charged on all overdue amounts, if ratepayers enter into and honour an arrangement to pay, the risk of additional costs being incurred because action is undertaken to recover the debt is eliminated. Council officers are committed to working with ratepayers to put a plan in place for paying any overdue amounts.


It could be an arrangement that spreads rates payments more evenly across a period of time, or if things are really tough, it might be an interest free period that allows the rates to be paid over time without extra costs being incurred.


To discuss your rates, visit one of our Customer Service Centres or contact us on (03) 5153 9500. View our rates payment options information

* Council continues to lobby the Victorian Government for rate relief.


Free silage wrap disposal continues


East Gippsland Shire Council has extended its free silage wrap disposal program. Due to finish at the end of June, farmers with silage wrap can continue to dispose of their silage wrap free (until further notice) at council’s waste facilities in Omeo, Orbost, Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale.


The silage wrap needs to be shaken and as clean as possible, and will be accepted in Bulka bags, wool bags or Plasback bags without net wrap or twine.


Small Business Support Services


RFCS Gippsland is providing free, professional small business support services within drought-affected East Gippsland. The aim is to assist small businesses become viable, sustainable and resilient to economic downturns. 

Small rural businesses can receive one-on-one assistance to help understand its financial position, viability, and identify options/plan to improve.   

A range of services tailored to individual business needs and goals will be made available for up to 2 years, with access to a wide range of services, assistance and support.

Find Out More and Register Your Interest via RFCS Gippsland website or call 1300 045 747. Places are limited.  

This program is proudly sponsored by the Victorian Government and the Financial Counselling Australia Foundation with ANZ.


Other government and support agencies


Look Over the Farm Gate

Department of Human Services

Regional Investment Corporation

Lions Need for Feed

Red Cross

Rural Aid

St Vincent de Paul

East Gippsland Water



Telephone contacts


Agriculture Victoria Line 16 186

Eastern Rural Financial Counselling Service 1300 045 747

Rural Finance 1800 260 425

Small Business Victoria 13 22 15

Human Services 132 316

Regional Investment Corporation 1800 875 675

Workways Australia 1800 631 196


Crisis support

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support please contact:


Lifeline 13 11 14 or

Beyondblue 1300 224 636

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Farmers Friend (03) 5136 3500

Look over the Farm Gate 1300 882 833 

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Family Relationship Service 1800 050 321

Befrienders Worldwide (for international visitors) 1300 78 99 78


Australian Government infrastructure funding


Drought Communities Programme guidelines. 

The criteria (restrictive to infrastructure projects - see guidelines above) was made available in December and Council’s application, lodged in early February in conjunction with the East Gippsland Drought Reference Group, included:

The tanks are installed with lockable CFA couplings which are designed only to be accessed for firefighting purposes.

  • $160,000 for a joint tourism attraction and marketing initiative in conjunction with Wellington Shire Council.
  • $30,000 for the installations of a ground water bore and standpipe as part of the Emergency Water Supply Points Program operated by the Victorian Government.


Media releases

12 November - Farm rate relief approved 

12 November - Helping volunteers help our communities

8 November - Council to consider farm rate relief

2 October - State delivers on Council’s drought advocacy

12 September - Drought allocation determined

15 July - Free silage wrap disposal continues 

8 July - Council helps make community facility upgrades possible

21 May - Joint drought advocacy continues

8 May - East Gippsland and Wellington join forces on drought advocacy  


Draft revised budget and drought information sheet PDF

View the Gippsland Drought Response Proposal Looking Ahead May 2019.pdf


East Gippsland Drought Reference Group


The East Gippsland Drought Reference Group was formed in response to the prolonged drought across East Gippsland.

The intent of the group was to provide strategic advice, guidance, advocacy and action required to support drought-impacted communities in the shire, and maximise support and funding opportunities across all tiers of government.


This page aims to consolidate the information about drought organisations and groups, frequently asked questions, what assistance is available and from where, and community events funded through drought grants.

Organisations represented on the group are:

EGSC LOGO RGB 2015 LARGE.jpg agriculturevictorialogo-1.jpg CMA.jpg

East Gippsland Shire Council


Agriculture Victoria




rfcs gipps.png Chester, Darren.jpg orbost rh.png

Rural Financial Counselling


Member for Gippsland


Orbost Regional Health


gipps farmer relief.jpeg Bull, Tim.jpg vff.png

Gippsland Farmer Relief Inc


Member for Gippsland East


Victorian Farmers Federation



CWA Victoria


* Other groups may be co-opted or identified as required.


Image courtesy Bairnsdale Advertiser.


Updated 3 October 2019



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