Pip Job has walked with farmers in bone dry paddocks as they spoke about how their family built up the property with their bare hands.
She has sat in countless kitchens across the state listening as they opened up about their fear of losing the farm over financial hardships.
And there have been moments where she has hopped in her car and shed a tear.
“It’s been one of the toughest jobs I’ve had but it’s been the most rewarding job I’ve had. You see the best and worst of everything,” Ms Job said.
After six months in the role as NSW Drought Coordinator, the former National Rural Woman of the Year, hands over the reins to State Water Commissioner Jock Laurie. While she will still be involved in drought support, Ms Job will go back to her role in the business resilience program with the Department of Primary Industries.
Reflecting on her time in the position, Ms Job said it had been an absolute privilege being invited into people’s homes to share openly what they were going through. While some were in tough situations, she said for the majority of the state’s primary producers they were getting on with the job and preparing for the future.
In the role, she travelled thousands of kilometres from Broken Hill to Bathurst where she conducted 95 consultation sessions in 50 locations. Everywhere she went there was a different story and each region had their own distinct issues.
At West Wylaong she met a farmer who had been storing fodder underground for 20 years, which had enabled him to continue trading as his livestock were in good condition. He recently had a failed canola crop and buried 980 larges square bales to prepare for the next dry.
“People are making decisions and thinking forward how to mitigate risk into the future,” Ms Job said.
In one of the state’s most remote corners at Milparinka, one family is transitioning from cattle to sheep. For those in the far west, they were concerned about wild dogs and in the unincorporated areas, bull dust bog roads were hindering transport for water, fodder and tourism. At Dubbo available fodder was the number one concern while at Burren Junction, the community had to raise money for teachers with drought forcing people to leave the region.
Looking forward, Ms Job said farmers had big decisions to make. “Please pick up the phone and find out what is available there,” she said. Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said Ms Job had been the NSW Government’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, making sure every region had a voice, and was critical to the design of the Emergency Drought Package.