Dairy farmers wait up to six months for emergency Centrelink financial aid

Dairy farmers hoping for urgent financial relief are waiting up to six months for money to come through from the Federal Government. By Cassandra Steeth
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They say the money, available under the farm household allowance (FHA) scheme, is delayed by too much paperwork and not enough resources helping progress approvals.
The organisation charged with administering the payments in South Australia agreed, suggesting a big part of the problem is the complexity of the application process.
Rural Business Support CEO Brett Smith said the longer farmers waited, the more stressed and demoralised they became.
«It is a major concern.
«It is frustrating, it really does depend on the complexity of the farm business that we’re dealing with.»
Mr Smith said the longest wait time for a FHA grant was five months.
But Richard Storch, a dairy farmer from South Australia’s upper south-east, said he’d been waiting six months.
«You can see how some people may be easily off put and just sort of end up giving up and saying ‘oh don’t worry about it’.»
Mr Storch milks about 400 cows in Pooginagoric and in the last six months he has come close to quitting.
When the dairy crisis hit, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce vowed to make a faster roll out of the farm household allowance a national priority.
Mr Joyce promised to employ dairy liaison officers and 18 new Centrelink workers to process claims.
All have now begun, but it’s made little difference to farmers like Mr Storch.
Years of drought, combined with low milk prices, have left him among many others with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
Mr Storch said asking for help from the Federal Government had been crushing.
«Six months on, they sent us a letter saying that we’d been rejected simply because we hadn’t given them the information that they’d asked for, which we had,» he said.
«And so, when we approached them and said ‘well what’s the problem here?’ The answer we got from the staff at Centrelink was that ‘oh that’s just a generic letter that’s sent out to most people pretty much to keep you on your toes’.»
Mr Smith said Mr Storch’s problems were not isolated, with frustrations common across the country.
He said he was hopeful the dairy liaison officer employed recently by the Department of Human Services would help fix the growing problem.
«Yeah look it’s a big job… Certainly the diary liaison officer is going to be very busy.
«Certainly, the feedback is that this is a rather widespread issue, it’s not just specific to the south-east.
«These applications are complex. It’s not an excuse and certainly I’m just not going to accept that you know applications are complex, so they take a long time.»
In a statement, the Department of Human Services said when farmers were facing «genuine hardship» and the department had received full details, a decision could be made within five business days.
If farmers require urgent assistance, they can call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.
Source: ABC
Link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-25/dairy-farmers-wait-up-six-months-for-emergency-centrelink-money/7960880

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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