Vouchers between $50 and $100 have been donated to drought-affected farmers to help cover living expenses, such as food, rural supplies and fuel and were designed to be used at local businesses.
RACQ Foundation has so far given $40,000 of the $50,000 in approved funding to Rotary International District 9630, which serviced Chinchilla, Dalby, St George, Roma and Mitchell, regions which have not had rain in more than five years.
Rotary District Drought Committee Chair Phillip Charles said the idea of the vouchers, ironically, came after a flood.
“The Rotary voucher system was originally the brainchild of a Mitchell Rotarian in the 2011/2012 flood event when he saw food and goods being donated and trucked into town. These goods were then given away at the detriment of local businesses, “ Mr Charles said.
“Our vouchers are drawn on the local businesses of the recipient, for example, Quilpie recipients get vouchers for Quilpie businesses, Charleville residents for Charleville businesses, and so on. It is said that the value of each voucher will circulate some four to six times within the community, helping with cash flow.”
RACQ Foundation has been supplying the organisation with funds which go entirely towards these vouchers.
Rotary has received numerous letters of thanks from voucher recipients, which they have shared with RACQ Foundation.
“I think the big thing for us is the recognition by others that we’re still in a very severe drought. We have cows calving who are seven years old and who have yet to see summer grass. It’s a sobering thought,” said one recipient.
“It is still amazing to us that people are so willing to help us out, even though many of them have their own problems to deal with. This voucher initiative is to be applauded, as not only will it make a difference to our lives by helping with expenses, but it will also allow local businesses to keep sales,” another wrote.
RACQ Foundation spokesperson Darryn Hammond said the organisation was honoured to be able to assist these Queensland communities.
“Many of those in drought-hit communities have been grappling with this natural disaster since 2012,” Mr Hammond said.
“If this voucher system helps to remind those affected that people care, or helps to alleviate just some of the stress of getting by day-to-day, then RACQ Foundation is proud to fund this program.”
Rotary’s Mr Charles said the RACQ Foundation’s funding was vital in trying to maintain normality in western Queensland communities.
“Rotary District 9630 sincerely thanks RACQ Foundation for its support and commitment to our drought-affected farmers, graziers and indeed whole communities,” he said.
“Like everybody, we’re anxiously waiting on the good seasons that surely must follow [this drought].”