NSWFA Contact

Isabella McDougall
Policy Advisor
Ph: (02) 9478-1066
Email: mcdougalli@nswfarmers.org.au

Rural Affairs Committee Members

Name Town
Graham Brown Orange
Debra Chalton Marrar
Garry Grant
Ben Hawke Come-by-Chance
Reg Kidd Orange
Lisa Minogue Barmedman
Sonia O'Keefe (Chair) Walcha
Sarah Thompson Cassilis
Laura Bruce (YF) Leeton
Email-sml Click here to email the Committee...

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Rural Affairs

Farmers make up the essential fabric of rural communities, supporting the community and the social networks that form part of the Australian character. The Rural Affairs Committee and policy team strive to improve the standard of services available to farmers in NSW. The Committee works on behalf of the Association to champion the issues at the heart of rural and remote NSW, ranging from health, education and telecommunications to community development, bushfires and drought.



Bushfires have the potential to damage and destroy large amounts of farmland and farming assets. The operation of a rural fire service is critical in protecting these assets.

We are calling for:

  1. An active hazard reduction program based on a tenure blind approach with active reporting on operations
  2. Appropriate fire protection including fire breaks between public and private land
  3. A simplified planning and approval process to facilitate private landholdings use of fire for agricultural purposes. 
  4. Local Brigades and Group Captains to retain the authority to make decisions on fire operations in their area. 
  5. Changes to the Fire Levy so that the contribution from insurance companies is replaced by a levy on all council rates so that all ratepayers contribute.
  6. A transparent and accountable fire service
Bushfire Resources

NSW RFS - Before You Life that Fire

NSW Farmers - Burning off: a guide to landholders 




From 2001 to 2010 the east coast of Australia experienced one of its driest decades on record causing immense financial hardship to farmers. It is essential that there is a framework to ensure that farmers are equipped to deal with these climatic variations.

We are calling for:

  1. A comprehensive, integrated and effective national drought policy based on drought proofing which:
    a. facilitates the early recovery of agricultural and rural industries from drought;
    b. includes a range of financial and management tools to allow farmers to effectively prepare for and manage their response to drought;
    c. includes a transition period during which appropriate incentives will be available to encourage the move to self-reliance; and
    d. maintains in drought business support with appropriate asset and income tests;
  2. Support workers and counsellors to be provided and that they have long term contracts and funding streams to ensure their tenure within the community
  3. Any boundaries used in a declaration process are flexible 

    Read more... 



Education is the building blocks to provide basic understanding within the Australian community of food and fibre production and also develops skills vital for the agricultural sector.

We are calling for:

  1. Food and fibre production be taught in all schools so that all students understand where and how food is produced and the interrelationships between producers and the environment at local, national and global levels real increased funding for rural schools;
  2. access to modern telecommunication and computer technologies in all rural schools;
  3. access to specialist services as required for rural students;
  4. Boarding or living away from home allowances are supported as a means of providing a more equitable access to educational facilities
  5. The retention and support for Agricultural High Schools and other agricultural education institutions. 

Read more... 


Natural Disasters

Floods, fires and other natural disasters have the potential to cause severe financial damage and emotional stress in farming communities. Facilitating farmers to be in the best position to deal with these natural disasters is important in reducing the cost of natural disasters to landholders.

We’re calling for:

  1. NSW flood affected farmers be treated in an equitable manner to other states in Australia
  2. the expeditious replacement of public assets damaged in Natural Disasters
  3. appropriate assistance including grants and transport subsidies be made available to flood affected farmers   
NSW Farmers' Natural Disaster Fact Sheet - June 2015

To access the NSW Farmers' Natural Disaster Fact Sheet, updated June 2015, please click here.  


Rural Communities

As integrated members of rural communities, farmers have strong interests in the services available to their local community.

We are calling for:

  1. Governments to provide incentives to encourage business investment and infrastructure development in regional areas.
  2. services such as electricity, health, telephone, television, roads and banks in rural communities be maintained and enhanced
  3. a reduction in the length of daylight savings to 4 months
  4. removal of rules and regulations which draw funds away from events held by voluntary not for profit groups in small rural communities. 



Rural Health

Health is a basic human requirement and rural and remote areas have traditionally suffered lower services levels. In particular, NSW Farmers is focused on mental health in rural areas, particularly following the pressures of drought, natural disaster and other government imposed policies.

We are seeking a coordinated approach to mental health delivery and support for increased services to residents in rural areas.

More broadly in the area of general health we are calling for:

  1. Governments take appropriate action to ensure equity between rural and urban communities in the provision of health services
  2. Solutions to address the rural doctors shortage
  3. improved allied health services and associated infrastructure
  4. ongoing education campaign for rural/remote people, on the importance of good oral health and an increase the availability of dental services in rural areas
  5. increased access to tele-health facilities for rural Australia
  6. incentives for nursing and allied health professionals to work in rural locations 



Rural Crime and Firearms

Rural areas face their own particular pressures with rural crime. Isolation often impacts the access to services and reporting of crimes.

We are calling for:

  1. the NSW Government to take action to reduce rural trespass, theft and illegal hunting
  2. strengthened and harmonised laws around farm trespass
  3. national registration of firearms and that this process be linked to the current licensing of gun users. 
  4. ammunition supply for all guns only be available upon the presentation of a licence.
  5. a review of security arrangements and liquor licences with the intent to reduce the onerous regulations and costs to rural community organisations such as shows and rodeos
  6. the increase of operating hours of police stations and the retention of police stations.



Given the large distances associated with living in rural areas, telecommunications plays a vital role in maintaining social, community and business links. Unfortunately the lower population densities also mean that these ares do not get the same focus of service delivery.

NSW Farmers is calling for:

  1. quality, affordable and equitable telecommunications be delivered to all telecommunications customers now and in the future
  2. extension of mobile coverage and the expansion of broadband access
  3. ensure Universal Service Obligations are maintained and upheld 


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