There are several government and privately initiated drought support projects but one of the most significant, in terms of dollars distributed and community support provided, has been created and successfully undertaken locally in Narrabri Shire.

Narrabri Rotary Club’s Neighbours in Need program provides financial and moral support to drought impacted families has distributed almost one million dollars since it was launched in August last year.

Neighbours in Need has provided contributions of money to farming families to provide some relief from financial challenges, but importantly is a conduit of cash through the community to local small businesses which are also suffering in the drought.

“We have measured where the funds have gone and can report that more than 90 percent has been spent locally, as was the aim,” said Rotary spokesman Darrell Tiemens who was president when Neighbours in Need was launched.

“This is a community project which was born in Narrabri and has been administered across the shire by Rotary in Narrabri, Wee Waa and Boggabri.”

In addition to the distribution of $950,000 in cash to more than 500 local farming families, Neighbours in Need has quietly organised many social gatherings, barbecue get togethers, to provide support for drought impacted families.

“The project is not about welfare, it is about wellbeing,” said Mr Tiemens.

Neighbours in Need has been funded by contributions from Rotary clubs across NSW, community organisations and individuals and most recently, Santos, which last week donated $40,000 to the program.

‘We had fully distributed our available funds so we greatly appreciate Santos’ generous contribution to the community,” said Mr Tiemens.

However, the drought continues and the need is ongoing, said Rotary president Julie Herbert.

There has been support across the board but more is welcome.

“Donations come to Neighbours in Need from individuals, school students, local groups and businesses,” said Mrs Herbert.

“Every bit helps and we appreciate all of them. We are endeavouring to make it go a long way and do as much good as possible.”

The disbursement of monies flows to small businesses.

“It was very important that the money is spent locally and that is what has been happening,” said Mrs Herbert.

“However we really need more funds. With more than 500 families on our referral list there is much we would like to do.

“The need is still very much there.

“And we want to be able to do something for Christmas to help families at that time.

“And anyone who is in a situation where they feel we might be able to help is invited to go to the Neighbours in Need website,” she said.

The effectiveness of Rotary’s Neighbours in Need project was recognised earlier this year with the award of the prestigious 2019 Community Service trophy at the Rotary District 9650 annual convention at Armidale in March.

“Narrabri, Wee Waa and Boggabri Rotarians can be very proud,” said Rotary District Governor Lorraine Coffey.

“And the Narrabri shire can be very proud of its community and really proud of the Rotarians in the community.”