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Support for needy, farmers
According to the official press release on the recent federal budget, the Gillard Government is investing an extra $83.3 million over the next four years in emergency relief services to provide vulnerable families and individuals with life essentials such as food and clothing, pharmacy and transport vouchers, and help with accommodation and utility bills.
"This ongoing investment recognises that the demand for emergency relief services remains high across Australia. In 2009-10, 1.1 million Australians were assisted by 705 organisations in more than 1,340 emergency relief service locations nationally".
In addition, seventy-seven full-time financial counselling positions established during the global financial crisis will continue to be funded, with an extra $28.0 million over the next four years.
Commonwealth financial counsellors deliver free, confidential and professional counselling for people experiencing financial difficulties.
As farmers move towards recovery after the long-running drought across the eastern half of Australia, the Government will continue to make EC assistance available including the programs: EC Relief Payments, the EC Interest Rate Subsidy and EC Exit Grants.
The $20,000 off-farm salary and wages exemption for EC Relief Payments for primary producers will be extended for a further 12 months to assist farmers to meet basic living expenses.
Small rural businesses will also be supported in their recovery. Eligible small business operators in EC declared areas will be able to access EC support until 30 June 2012.
An additional $9.6 million will be provided in 2011–12 to support farmers through Re-establishment Assistance for primary producers. Eligible primary producers wishing to exit farming can apply for grants of up to $150,000. Eligible primary producers may also receive up to $10,000 for professional advice and retraining to help them plan for life after farming. They may also access up to $10,000 to help with relocation expenses and to access job seeking services after they have sold the farm.
Other good news for the Riverland in Treasurer Swan's budget, is the injection of $6 million for dental health care. The region will also benefit from the $2.2 billion mental health program boost.
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