Generosity is not a token, embrace it

Don’t throw goodwill back in people’s faces


Opinion
Annette Turner, NSW CWA president, says we should not throw the goodwill and generosity that has been pouring in due to the drought back in people's faces.

Annette Turner, NSW CWA president, says we should not throw the goodwill and generosity that has been pouring in due to the drought back in people's faces.

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Annette Turner, NSW CWA president, says we should not throw the goodwill and generosity that has been pouring in due to the drought back in peoples faces.

Aa

I’ve been watching with interest the discussion around drought and drought support over the last couple of weeks. It feels like the whole world has finally woken up to the drought crisis that is going on in a large part of the eastern states especially. 

I know for us here at CWA, it has been something that we have been trying to provide assistance on for some time. Readers would be aware of our grant programs and of the many generous donations we have received. What we are doing is providing a form of rural stimulus – not just helping with people’s bills.

I also noticed that there are those that are looking for a different angle on this issue and talking about whether this outpouring of generosity is bad for farming’s image. Really?

The goodwill and generosity on display from many members of the public is not tokenistic. It’s genuine and heartfelt. It also illustrates that we have a city population that really wants to help; an indication that we’ve really made headway on this so-called city-country divide; and this “divide” is way less of a problem than what we country people think it is.

So why are there those, from within industry now that are looking to hijack that for a headline for themselves?

The reality is that we are in a drought that is taking us into completely unchartered territory. There is no agistment available, virtually no feed and, massive water issues to boot. 

Contrary to some commentator’s assertions, I do not think that providing assistance with basic living expenses or some donated hay is some kind of “reward” for not being supposedly prepared enough.

What nonsense. Everyone goes through drought differently and every drought is different. Helping out others where we can is being human. That is why I love CWA and that is what we are trying to do.

No-one is denying that drought policy is complex and there are unintended consequences with the best of intentions rendered. It is absolutely critical that we do not portray farmers as helpless victims and charity cases. They are not.

Farmers are resilient, strong and determined to come out the other side of this drought with a viable business – I count myself as one of them. I can tell you though, from the feedback that CWA receives, help is needed and appreciated from all types of people in all types of situations. 

Has the so called drought-narrative changed? Or are there, ironically, a number of Johnny-come-lately reporters, academics and so-called commentators that can see some sort of point of differentiation in jumping on the drought bandwagon for themselves? Let’s not throw goodwill and generosity back in peoples faces – let’s show what we can do with these amazing gestures to make our communities even more resilient and continue to portray them as the fabulous, colourful and interesting places to live that they are. 

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