More than $100,000 in drought relief has been raised in the past week by the parents and students of St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill in Sydney, after two boys from the bush brought their audience to tears in an emotional pleas for assistance
Angus Carrigan, Gurley, south of Moree, told assembled students teachers and staff it had been two years without a winter crop and three years since they harvested any summer grain on their dryland property.
“One of the hardest parts of being in a drought like this is that it is totally unpredictable,” he told supporters at the start of the fundraising project – with all money going direct to Rural Australia’s Buy A Bale program.
“We have no idea if it will end in a month or in two years. Therefore as we try and deal with it, we are faced with making decisions when we don’t know what is ahead of us.
“To the country boys at school – stick at it. It’s not always easy being so far from home but the opportunity you have here is enormous. All you can do for your parents from here in Sydney is put your head down and work hard and give everything your best effort..”
West of Gurley from Rowena, fellow year 12 student Ben Sevil also appealed to the crowd to dig deep for drought, explaining how hardship on the land often translated to difficulties in town.
“The thing people often forget (about drought) is the effect on the wider rural community,” he said. “When farmers are struggling, they have no money to spend and therefore, shops start to close in small rural towns and now many streets and shops are just deserted.
“Drought brings around many challenges and tests the resilience of all those in rural areas. Because it’s been such a prolonged period now without rain, feed for stock is running low and as a result, the cost of buying feed is increasing a lot.
“So we find ourselves in the cycle of our stock and crops dying, therefore no income but higher costs to try and survive this. Lower income and higher costs then of course means that many just can’t afford to survive or end up in big debt.
“Our properties are not just about business and money.
“They are important to us and are a part of us. They’ve often been in our families for generations.
“In my case, I will be a fifth generation farmer – four generations on the same property. None of us want to be the one that fails. But right now, my family’s days are spent just looking after stock to make sure they survive rather than improving sustainability and looking towards the future.”
The kitty is currently at $112,000 and rising, with further assistance during a joint collection with The King’s School at St Joseph’s home rugby game last Saturday.