Emma's story of the drought and community spirit

Emma, 19, shares her story of living on a farm affected by the drought.

The drought has had a huge effect on my family and me

We live on a farm in regional NSW. When you drive through the paddocks now, everything’s bare. When I bring out the rattling bin of grain, our sheep and half the neighbour’s sheep chase after it as fast as they can go – it’s their only source of food. It’s really depressing.

I’m away for work a lot, but I know that Dad’s got an extensive feeding program to get through every day. When he’s not feeding, he’s ringing around looking for more hay to buy or is trying to get the kangaroos to stop eating the little bit of grass we still have. At dinner time, he’s often driving the truck to the saleyards with another load of someone’s cattle. My brother gets straight off the school bus and on the tractor to help out, and Mum is working as a nurse seven days a week to pay for it all. It makes for very quiet dinner times!

It does make me appreciate the little things, though. Like when I’m caring for the lambs because their mums can’t, and I see the smiles on their faces when I bring out their bottle.

Community spirit is everything

I get annoyed and angry at people who go around saying we’re in a dying industry and things like, ‘If you can’t feed them, don’t breed them.’ They need to understand that this type of negative thinking won’t solve anything.

It helps me to realise that we’re not alone in what we’re going through. I work in the shearing sheds and travel around a bit to find work. I’ve been to a few places where people are clearly struggling, but where there is a real sense of community spirit. They all have each others’ backs and try to do whatever they can to help out. Schools are having mufti days, pubs are having concerts, and stores are donating whatever they can.

It really lifts my spirits knowing that everyone is in it together

Community events are brilliant at times like these. I’ve joined a couple more groups and go to a few more meetings because I find that even talking to people about anything really calms me down. I also help to organise events like drought-relief family days at the pub, and that helps keep my mind occupied.

I want other young people who are going through the drought to remember that we are the future! Put your boots on and keep going, because the rain’s getting closer every day. We need to take this drought and learn from it – whether that’s studying sustainable farming methods and diverse plants, or breeding drought-tolerant bloodlines of cattle. As young people in agriculture, we need to prove to society that we can rise above all of this. After all, that’s the Aussie country spirit!

What can I do now?

  • Chat to other young people about their experiences of drought on the ReachOut forums.

  • Natural disasters, like drought, can have a huge impact on your mental health. Check in with how you're really feeling with our simple online quiz.

  • It can be hard to cope with mental health problems when you're living in a rural or remote area. Watch this video to find out how Bella managed depression while living in a rural town.