With southern Queensland and northern New South Wales struggling against drought and bush fires, Australia’s co-op sector has ralled to help.
“Potentially this may be the biggest disaster regional communities have experienced,” said John Bylicki, a director of health food co-op Go Vita. “Drought is a slow and relentless – it spares nothing. It’s totally invasive and that’s what makes it so destructive.”
Quoted on the website of national sector body the Business Council of Co-op and Mutuals, he added: “What we see is parched earth, dwindling water storage, dying trees. What we know is that agriculture has been hit hard, farmers have been smashed.”
But he said there is also less obvious damage, to local economies and regional towns.
“The worst scenario is an empty main street, no work, residents leaving and people struggling.”
Along with a number of other co-ops, local members and the Salvation Army, Go Vita has organised the shipment of water and food for Rural Fire Service volunteers in southern Queensland.
In response to the extreme conditions facing its farmer-members across Norco Co-operative has announced a ‘drought premium’ milk price increase.
BBCM says people can help efforts to support affected areas through the following organisations: