Progress to date

The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 5 December 2019 to lead a national response to the drought affecting large parts of the country and to continue supporting North Queensland communities affected by wide-spread flooding in early 2019.

The Agency is led by the Hon Shane L Stone AC QC, Coordinator-General and Chairman of the Advisory Board. It was previously known as the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency (NQLIRA).

Below details the Australian Government's commitment to supporting people through drought, and as they recover from the 2019 North Queensland flood event.

2019 North Queensland flood event

The Australian Government has committed $3.3 billion in support measures to help the region get back on its feet including:

  • $1 billion – in AgRebuild Loans for Primary Producers, available through the Regional Investment Corporation ($129.5 million approved as at 31 Jan 2021; now closed)
  • $240 million – in Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure grants for primary producers.  As at8 February 2021, $67.3 million has been approved for 268 applications). Applications close 30 June 2022.
    • Initially $300 million was allocated to this program, and in October 2020 $ 58 million (plus administration costs)  million was repurposed for recovery and resilience grants for the region, including:
      • $2 million for preventative mental health programs aimed at school aged children
      • $20 million for recovery and resilience grants
      • $9 million for projects that support emerging industries and expand or add value to existing industries and supply chains to generate economic and employment opportunities
      • $15 million to improve access to reliable and affordable telecommunications and energy services
      • $12 million to support increased skills in disaster risk planning including improved data collection and communication
  • $232 million - to the Queensland Government in Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements payments, for distribution to affected local government areas, individuals, primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations. This includes:
    • $114 million to 2249 primary producers in Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (up to $75,000 per eligible primary producer), and
    • $14.9 million  to 1008 small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (up to $50,000 per eligible small business or not-for-profit organisation)
    • Both these programs are now closed and applications have been finalised.
  • $5 million – for the management of prickly acacia
  • $6.8 million – prioritised mental health funding – increased online counselling, referral and support
  • $4.5 million – education support
  • A further $151.7 million has also been provided through demand-driven disaster recovery payments and allowances; additional funding to the Primary Health Networks; and support for new radars and rain gauges.

Further information about support for North Queensland communities affected by the flood event of 2019 please see the recovery in action page on our website.

Drought

The Australian Government wants our farmers to continue to be successful and to maintain their competitive advantage. Stronger farmers mean stronger rural communities and a stronger economy.

In our dry continent, drought is an enduring feature. It is a recurring and challenging experience for Australia’s farmers and rural communities.

As a consequence of climate change, drought is likely to be longer and more severe in some regions and over broader areas. It means that farmers and communities in some regions are likely to see drought more often. Those that have been managing drought for many years may now see it intensify beyond their lived experience. Ultimately, the nation could see some areas of Australia become more marginal and/or unproductive.

Drought impacts the productivity and profitability of farms. It affects businesses, communities and regions. Services and businesses suffer as less money is spent locally. Inevitably, some businesses close and people leave their communities seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Drought also has significant social and environmental impacts. Stress often affects the health and wellbeing of farmers, their families and communities. For some farmers, stresses can become chronic if decisions in the lead up to, and during, drought do not work out. The land may suffer with good management practices neglected or eschewed in favour of income, leading to degradation of natural capital, and in turn increasing the recovery challenge.

The Australian Government Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan outlines a three-part plan for drought, ranging from immediate assistance for farmers and regional communities, to investing in ways to build long term resilience and preparedness so we’re ready for the next drought:

Part 1: Immediate action for those in drought—focused on measures to support farmers and communities facing prolonged drought conditions to keep them going until the drought breaks.
Part 2: Support for the wider communities affected by drought—rural and regional communities depend on our farmers and are at the heart of Australia.
Part 3: Long-term resilience and preparedness—building resilience and ability to withstand drought periods in the long term.

This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can. And the Plan is not just about responding to and preparing for drought—it is about giving our farmers and regional communities hope for the future and building resilience.

The Plan is not set and forget. Drawing on advice from the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency, Government will continue to monitor the effectiveness of policies and programs and adjust as necessary to best support communities who are living through the immediate and longer-term effects of drought and flood.

Key Dates

28 August 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the opening of two Future Drought Fund competitive grants worth $11.2 million. The grants will fund programs designed to help Australian farms and rural and regional communities prepare for and deal with the significant economic, social and environmental impacts of drought.

28 August 2020
Drought

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces the establishment of the National Drought and Flood Agency’s Regional Recovery Officer network. The network works closely with other Australian Government agencies such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Regional Investment Corporation, Services Australia and the Australian Taxation Office to ensure farmers, regional businesses and communities are aware of Australian Government support initiatives and that people receive the correct information and advice to suit their individual needs.

21 August 2020
Drought

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announce further support to drought-affected communities, with 30 local projects sharing in more than $1.1 million in funding. The funding forms part of the $15 million Tackling Tough Times Together program, which is administered by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

31 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the investment of $5 million to develop drought resilient landscapes.  The funding will be available to Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies as part of the Future Drought Fund NRM Drought Resilience Program – Landscapes, and will support projects that build the drought resilience of natural capital in agricultural landscapes.

22 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announce further assistance to farmers and small businesses by providing an additional $2 billion in loan funding to the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) for 2020-21. 

17 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces a further $1 million to provide small regional businesses in South Australia with access to free and confidential financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)

01 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the first programs funded under the Future Drought Fund. Eight programs worth $89.5m will begin to roll out from July this year.  The programs will give farmers and communities the tools they need to prepare for, manage and sustain their livelihoods during droughts.

26 June 2020
Flood

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Queensland Government Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick announce a new online educational game to help Queensland children and their families prepare for future disasters and severe weather.

26 June 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces an extension of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) relief payment for three months, providing $2.1 million to eligible farmers and their families. The payments will support farmers who require some more breathing space to begin to recover or make difficult decisions about their future.

25 June 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces $36 million in funding to support agricultural show societies recover from the effects of COVID-19, ensuring they can continue after the pandemic.

25 June 2020
Flood

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Queensland Minister for Communities Coralee O’Rourke announce the continuation of vital flood recovery services in Townsville for another 12 months with almost $290,000 in additional funding to help the community rebuild after the devastating 2019 monsoon event.

24 June 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud highlighted the Australian Government’s continuing support for drought-affected farming households by announcing the extension of Round 2 of the $148.5 million Drought Community Support Initiative (DCSI) program until the end of 2020.