“SEND money, not stuff” is the mantra developed by the Queensland Country Women’s Association to help people respond to the drought gripping many of its people, and it’s been reinforced by a bus tour this week through some of the hardest-hit regions in the state.
Described by state president Robyn McFarlane as a fact-finding trip, 33 CWA members from around the state have been travelling through parts of the Maranoa, central highlands and central west, as far north as Winton this week.
“We wanted to see for ourselves what’s going on,” Ms McFarlane said. “We wanted to have perspective, so we’ve been going into shops and asking questions and talking to people on the street.”
She said the bare paddocks and roadkill had been a serious eye-opener for many members, including some from the Brisbane region.
“It’s also reinforced what many of our members have been telling us, that cash is the best way of helping now.
“Our people don’t want to be overwhelmed with goods they don’t have the resources to sort or that can’t be used. Cash is what’s needed now.”
Since January last year the Queensland CWA has been able to donate an average $30,000 a month to people in drought-declared shires, thanks to fundraising and external donations.
“We’re a trusted organisation – people trust that we’ll make the best use of their money,” Ms McFarlane said.
They turn the money into vouchers that have been used for all manner household purposes – to pay car registrations, power bills, medical costs, or just to buy some new clothes and give everyone in the family a haircut.
While people need to apply to the CWA for assistance, it’s not means tested and it’s not restricted to graziers but can be accessed by people struggling in small towns in the bush as well.
Ms McFarlane said as a result of the bus trip, participants were busy thinking of other ways to help, including skyping between sister branches to organise joint fundraisers, to brainstorm ideas, and to offer billets for people visiting urban areas for health reasons.
The Fun Over 50 group in Brisbane donated the bus, a driver and fuel for the trip as their way of assisting the cause.