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2022 floods have hidden, long term costs on Aussie farmers

2 min read

The Murwillumbah farming community reflected on the physical, economic and emotional toll of the floods one-year on and, as ever, proved that Aussie farmers are tough, resilient and big-hearted. 

Almost 100 farmers and supporting organisations from Murwillumbah connected yesterday for the first time since devastating floods tore through the Tweed Valley in March 2022.  

The community event, coordinated by Aussie Helpers and supported by numerous local organisations and businesses, was the first time many farmers have had a chance to stop and reflect on how the unprecedented floods had impacted their lives over the last 12 months. 

“Despite many Aussies breathing a sigh of relief this year with recent changes to our weather systems, farmers and farming communities are still being lashed with heavy rains—causing huge, long-term damage and an even greater and more difficult to measure long-term personal toll,” said Tash Kocks, Aussie Helpers CEO. 

Tash highlighted that while many Aussies—including farmers—were aware of the reality of increased and more severe natural disasters, it was important to remember what that ‘reality’ meant at a personal level. 

Related:Dick Smith Foods donates $1 mill annual profit to Aussie Helpers

“Every Murwillumbah farmer we spoke with at yesterday’s community BBQ is still recovering from the floods 12 months ago and overwhelmingly the biggest challenge they’ve faced is the physical recovery and amount of work required to restore their farms.” 

She emphasised that almost 70% of farmers had a moderate or significant impact on their mental and emotional health over the last 12 months due to natural disasters. 

The pressures of farming and isolation mean farmers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, and excessive self-reliance increases the risk of suicide. For many reasons, including stigma and reluctance, it can be difficult for farmers to receive external support when they need it. 

“It was heartening to hear that despite the financial, physical and emotional costs of the floods, and the recognised likelihood of increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, more than 90% of farmers yesterday were determined to stay on their farms.” 

“Despite the extreme challenges they’ve faced, farmers report feeling supported, which is a reflection on their families and the broader community,” added Tash. 

In early 2022, four Aussie Helpers team members responded to the urgent needs of farmers during the devastating Murwillumbah flood crisis.  

The team visited 48 farmers in the region over five days, providing essential financial support, delivery of practical necessities like food and hygiene hampers, animal food and hay, as well as critical emotional well-being support.  

Aussie Helpers paid $380,000 in supplier invoices for farmers from our $5K Aussie Helpers Fund, delivered $15,000 worth of hay, which continues today, and $33,000 in fuel vouchers, visa cards, hampers and pet food. 

Aussie Helpers is committed to providing ongoing support to farmers in need and supporting rural communities as they rebuild, and has continued to be on the ground in Murwillumbah—and across many farming communities—since the floodwaters subsided. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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