Victoria’s Drought Preparedness and Response Framework
There have been significant changes to drought policy nationally and the Australian Government no longer makes drought declarations.
In 2013, following extensive reviews of how governments assisted farmers, businesses and communities through the Millennium Drought, all Australian governments agreed on a new approach to supporting drought-affected communities.
The aim of the national reform is to create a consistent approach for communities that may be experiencing similar conditions but have been treated differently in the past due to a 'lines on the map' approach. Assistance is now targeted towards supporting greater preparedness and capability to respond to seasonal conditions.
The Victorian Government now has a 'Drought Preparedness and Response Framework' (the Framework) to guide it in making informed and measured decisions about how best to support Victorian farmers, businesses and communities manage and recover from the impacts of drought.
The key features of Victoria's new Framework are:
- Flexibility in responding to drought depending on the degree and impact of drought in different regions and industries.
- A focus on people through support that targets the welfare needs of individuals, families and communities.
- Early and ongoing programs and incentives to help farm businesses build capacity, adapt and be self-reliant, rather than providing direct business subsidies.
- A formal, strategic process for developing and implementing drought assistance informed by regional and industry leaders.
The Framework aims to provide timely intervention that helps farming communities be better prepared for, and capable of responding to, difficult seasonal conditions. The assistance programs and services provided to support Victoria's communities, farmers and businesses will complement those already available through the Commonwealth Government.
The Framework has three levels of drought response: mild, moderate and severe. Clear principles and priority focus areas will guide support that is well-planned, fair and strategic. A staged-approach and a robust monitoring of seasonal conditions allows government to deliver a more informed, tailored response to local communities.
Principles and Priority Focus Areas
- Drought is a risk for which farmers and other businesses should take reasonable steps to prepare.
- Drought support should only be directed to those farm businesses that have taken reasonable steps to prepare.
- Drought assistance will be considered in the context of national drought program reforms and on-going services provided by the Commonwealth Government.
- Drought assistance will be considered in the context of on-going Victorian Government programs that help communities, farmers and businesses prepare for drought.
- Drought assistance should target household welfare and support communities with social and economic infrastructure.
- Drought assistance should avoid placing additional stress on land and natural resources during drought.
Drought assistance initiatives consistent with Victoria's new Framework include:
- Mental health and wellbeing, including counselling support
- Community infrastructure/ local economic stimulus
- Family household support
- Farmer decision support
- Information for farmers and businesses
- Pest plant and animal management
- Regional employment opportunities
- Rural financial counselling
- Skills and training
- Support for community activities
- Water infrastructure.
Additional support will be based on evaluations that show initiatives are effective.