The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Harry and Meghan were shocked by the severity of drought when shown images of barren paddocks from far western NSW.
Overlooking Scott and Elaine Woodley’s property ‘Mountain View Farm” near Dubbo, NSW Drought Coordinator Pip Job explained to the royal couple the current situation of drought nationally.
Ms Job then broke it down to what was happening in each state and regionally around NSW.
“They didn’t realise the scale of the drought,” Ms Job said.
Ms Job, whose role as NSW Drought Coordinator is completed in a month, said Prince Harry and Meghan had requested to see first-hand what farmers were going through in this drought during their visit to Australia.
She said the couple asked many questions on the farm and were engaged in a “meaty” conversation about drought.
The couple were also concerned about the mental well-being of farmers, she said.
“They wanted to know how farmers were coping and what support they had,” Ms Job said.
Prince Harry then followed this up when he delivered a moving speech in Dubbo’s Victoria Park in which he personally identified with mental challenges faced by farming communities.
“Prince Harry also asked what was a green drought,” Ms Job said.
“We explained that even though it’s green and there has been rain we are no where near the end of drought. They were both quite shocked.”
Ms Job showed the royal couple images from Nymagee, Milparinka, Cassilis and Coonamble as well as maps of the combined drought indicator (plant growth, soil moisture and precipitation).
“We talked about the sand storms in far western NSW and Prince Harry said he had experienced these in his military service,” she said.
By the end of their conversation, Ms Job said the royal couple understood exactly what regional communities were facing in this drought.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would be part of my job,” she said.