Drought assistance programs

The Queensland Government and Australian Government offer programs to help farm families, farm businesses and farm communities affected by drought.

This page provides broad descriptions of government drought assistance programs available to Queensland producers.

Check the eligibility requirements for drought financial assistance and access the funding guidelines and application forms.

Read the latest information about which areas are currently drought declared.

Queensland Government drought assistance

In 2013, at the start of the current drought, the Queensland Government announced a package of drought assistance programs that adopted a whole-of-government approach. The government has committed to maintaining these programs until 2018. The estimated value of the Queensland drought assistance package over the next 4 years is $52.1 million.

Drought Relief Assistance Scheme

The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) provides 5 assistance measures.

Drought-declared properties may be eligible for:

  • freight subsidies for transporting fodder
  • freight subsidies for transporting water
  • the EWIR (Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate), which provides a rebate on the purchase and installation of water infrastructure purchased for animal welfare needs. (EWIR addresses immediate animal welfare needs, helps improve properties to be more drought resilient, and generally lifts productivityp by providing water supply to areas where pasture was less than fully utilised.)

Properties that have had their drought declaration revoked may be eligible for:

  • freight subsidies for transporting livestock returning from agistment
  • freight subsidies for transporting livestock purchased for restocking.

DRAS generally provides a maximum of $20,000 per property per financial year on all freight subsidy and rebate types. This may increase to $30,000 with the approval of a drought management plan by DAF Extension staff. This can increase further up to $40,000 in the third and later years of a drought declaration.

Producers in a drought-declared area or who have an individually droughted property (IDP) declaration can apply for DRAS support through DAF.

Additional rural financial counsellors

The Queensland Government has also contributed additional funding to the Australian Government's Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), and has delivered extension workshops on drought management.

Mental health programs

Queensland Health is providing primary mental health support to drought-affected areas through the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Land rent rebates/water licence waivers

Annual water licence fees from 1 July 2016 until 30 June 2017 will be waived for Queensland producers in drought-declared areas from the date of their drought declaration. Affected landholders will be advised by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines of the waiver by letter.

Holders of rural leases (Category 11 leases used for grazing and primary production) issued under the Land  Act 1994 are eligible for a rebate of 12% of their annual rent where that annual rent is more than the minimum rent of $235. The rebate is available for leases that are in drought-declared areas and for those that have an IDP.

Landholders who are eligible for the rebate will receive information with their annual/quarterly invoices.

Community Assistance Package

The Queensland Government is providing

  • community support to help people under stress
  • assistance for organising community events
  • training and resources for community leaders.

Electricity charges relief for water supply

The Department of Energy and Water Supply operates the Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS) for customers in Energex areas and for non-Ergon Retail customers in regional areas. The scheme provides relief from fixed charges for accounts that use electricity to pump water for farm or irrigation purposes during periods of very low or no water availability.

For the majority of customers in the Ergon Region, DRECS is delivered by Ergon Energy Queensland, which is reimbursed by the government via monthly community service obligation payments.

Grazing in national parks

As an emergency measure, the Queensland Government allowed temporary grazing on national parks until the end of December 2013. It is estimated that around $2.1 million in free agistment and infrastructure improvements were delivered through the program.

While the project was successful, it could not be continued due to deteriorating land conditions caused by ongoing drought. Cattle were removed before the parks were damaged.

Transport concessions

Drought assistance measures provided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads include:

  • permits for increasing the maximum hay loading height
  • concessions on shifting droughted livestock
  • waivers and greater flexibility on certain vehicle registration conditions and fees and charges
  • increased school transport allowances for some families that drive their children to school or connect with a school bus run.

Wild Dog and Feral Cat Destruction Initiative

The Queensland Government has committed to providing an additional $5 million over 3 years to support new initiatives aimed at destroying wild dog and cat populations.

DAF has allocated $4 million to support wild dog projects in drought-affected areas and $1 million for feral cat research that will support future programs in national parks and key private conservation reserves that are heavily affected by feral cat predation.

Read more about feral pest initiatives in Queensland.

Climate information

The Queensland Government's Long Paddock website provides climate information, including seasonal climate outlooks, rainfall and pasture growth, and a drought conditions update.

Australian Government drought assistance

On 9 May 2015, the Australian Government announced a drought support package worth $333 million. The package includes funding for:

  • local infrastructure and employment projects
  • management of pest animals and weeds
  • social and community support programs
  • rural financial counsellors
  • concessional loans.

Funding will also continue for the Farm Household Allowance.

Farm Household Allowance

On 1 July 2014 the Australian Government introduced its Farm Household Allowance. The allowance provides eligible farm families experiencing hardship with money to meet basic living expenses.

Further information on Farm Household Allowance can be found on the Human Services website.

Local infrastructure and employment projects

The Australian Government has provided $35 million for shovel-ready local infrastructure and employment projects. Funding will target projects that offer the greatest potential to stimulate local spending, use local resources and provide lasting benefit to the community.

Pest animal and weed management

The Australian Government has provided $25.8 million for programs to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas. This will provide work for rural contractors while helping producers to deal with the impact of feral animals on livestock and pasture.

This funding is delivered through regional natural resource management groups. It is expected that DAF will oversee these groups' delivery of the projects on behalf of the Australian Government.

The Queensland Government also continues to administer $5.6 million in federal funding for feral animal control in drought-affected areas. The first phase of funding grants began in 2013, and the second phase will be completed in 2016.

Read more about Queensland projects currently funded under this program.

Read more about feral pest initiatives in Queensland.

Social and community support

The Australian Government is providing $20 million to the Family Support Program and the Targeted Community Care (Mental Health) Program to support drought-affected farmers, farm families and rural communities. The funding is designed to enhance the capacity of service providers across drought-affected areas of Queensland and New South Wales.

Rural Financial Counselling Service

Like the Queensland Government, the Australian Government has committed to providing extra support for the Rural Financial Counselling Service during the drought.

Drought Assistance Concessional Loans Scheme

Drought assistance concessional loans are available to help eligible farm businesses to manage, recover from, and prepare for, future droughts, and to return to viability in the long term.

These loans are being delivered by QRIDA on behalf of the Australian Government.

Last updated 14 December 2017