It's no secret that Australia is in the grip of a crippling drought.

Some are calling it the worst in living memory, with drought conditions punishing vast areas of Australia. From Western Australia to the east coast, including the southern states, large parts of the country are in the midst of a major dry spell.

Rivalling both the Federation and Millennium droughts in severity, 99% of New South Wales is currently enduring drought conditions, while two thirds of Queensland has been officially drought-declared. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the period from January 2017 to September 2019 is the driest on record for New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin.

Because of this wide-spread drought and the impact it is having on Australian farming families, The Lottery Office has decided to lend our farmers a helping hand and get behind Australia’s largest drought relief charity, Rural Aid.

Last month The Lottery Office donated $45,000 to Rural Aid, with the funds being split evenly across the worst effected states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The donation will help deliver one semi-trailer load of hay and transport to affected areas, and 230,000 litres of water for each state. The Lottery Office is proud to be supporting Rural Aid and the work they do to help our struggling farming families through this difficult time.

General Manager of The Lottery Office, Jaclyn Wood, said the donation had already helped many families across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and it was important for Australians to get behind our rural communities.

“The Lottery Office understands the financial, mental and emotional drain this drought is having on our farmers, which is why we didn’t hesitate in getting behind Rural Aid and donating to the appeal,” Ms Wood said. “We can only imagine what it must feel like to look out and only see brown, dry paddocks and not know when the next cheque is going to come through the door. “It’s up to everyone across Australia to rally together and give our farmers a helping hand. At the end of the day they’re the ones who grow and farm the food we all depend on.”

Drought is something Australia farmers have been battling for decades. Water shortages and lack of seasonal rainfall have had devastating effects on Australian produce, impacting quality and price domestically and harming our export industry. And not only do drought conditions affect farmers’ livelihoods, feed and water shortages mean that animals suffer horribly.

Farming towns and communities have been hit hard as they struggle to keep their businesses profitable. We’ve seen it time and time again: when local farms and businesses close, entire communities suffer.

This was the reality for the 1900 residents of Dennington in May, when milk-producer Fonterra announced the closure of its local dairy plant, citing the drought as a significant factor. The factory’s closure left 98 people without jobs and was a huge financial and emotional blow for the community.

Major droughts tend to have this kind of impact and unfortunately, it's only one of many businesses that couldn't ride it out. As of now thousands of drought-affected farming businesses are suffering and they need our help to get through this devastating period.

The Lottery Office is encouraging Australians from around the country to join the cause, dig deep and donate to the drought appeal. Any small amount helps and will make a big difference to the lives of our battling farmers.

If you'd like to donate to this great cause, please visit www.buyabale.com.au or head to www.ruralaid.org.au for more information.