The first Rural Aid Our Towns week for 2021 has begun in Barraba. 

The leading rural charity has organised 65 volunteers to help makeover the New England town. 

Made possible by Holdmark Property Group, Barraba has been awarded $100,000 to use over the next five years for renewal activities in the town.   

Volunteers are currently working on almost a dozen projects; Barraba’s Queen Street Mall and CBD, the town’s showgrounds and a number of sporting clubs are all undergoing an exciting makeover.  

Peter Kenyon from the Bank of IDEAS helped the Barraba community decide which town assets would be best suited to Rural Aid’s amazing volunteers. Mr Kenyon also helped plan the town’s long-term future, which has been immortalised in the Community Development Plan.  

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said the award-winning Our Towns program makes a huge difference to rural communities.  

“We know that sprucing up a rural town is great for the region’s morale as well as their long-term economic viability,” Mr Warlters said.  

The 60+ smiling faces of the Barraba crew

“The 65 volunteers who generously give up their week will also inject their own funds into the community, providing another financial boost.” 

“But one of the biggest benefits to the region is the energy and enthusiasm that buzzes around the district during the Our Towns week,” Mr Warlters concluded.  

Holdmark’s CEO Mr Sarkis Nassif said the property investment and development company was proud to be a vital part of Barraba’s transformation.   

“As a person who takes pride in the farming industry, I understand how vital it is to maintain this industry for our survival as a nation. The Our Towns program is important as it helps to build leadership capacity in regional communities and supports agricultural sustainability,” Mr Nassif said.  

“Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone in rural areas whose lives have been impacted by drought conditions.  We know that the top priority right now is ensuring the wellbeing of those affected by the drought and we are proud to support Rural Aid through the Our Towns initiative.” 

Tamworth region Mayor Col Murray said he is pleased that Council have secured funding for the Barraba community. 

“Barraba certainly has plenty of passionate community members who have banded together through bushfires, drought and a pandemic. The priorities in the community development plan have been chosen by the Barraba community, which will go a long way in helping revive the region,” Mr Murray said.  

“The Community Development Plan is a fantastic resource for future projects and funding opportunities.” 

Rural Aid also ran a successful Community Expo on Sunday, 21 March, in response to farmers’ feedback that support agencies are hard to find.  

For more information, contact Rural Aid media on 0447 116 757 or media@ruralaid.org.au 

Australia’s leading rural charity, Rural Aid, is appealing for donations to help farmers impacted by the flooding emergency across the country.  

Large parts of New South Wales and locations in Southern Queensland and Victoria have been hit hard by heavy rainfall and flooded rivers.  

Some farmers have watched their homes and livelihoods go underwater before their eyes. Livestock has perished, paddocks have been flooded and hay storages ruined.  

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said it’s hard to watch Australian farmers face another setback. 

“Our farmers have had everything thrown at them in recent times; drought, fire, a pandemic, plagues (mice and locusts) and now floods,” Mr Warlters said.  

“It’s certainly been one of the toughest times to be living on the land in recent memory, and our hearts go out to all farming families now facing another crisis. Rural Aid will continue to be there for farmers in their time of need.” 

Rural Aid staff are working hard to determine where emergency assistance will be needed, once communities are safe and are able to start the recovery process. Rural Aid is mindful that the disaster is still unfolding and that the priority is ensuring people are safe and allowing emergency services to carry out their work. 

The well-known rural charity can provide affected farmers with financial assistance and mental wellbeing support, through its qualified counsellors.  

Rural Aid counsellor Gary Bentley said, “Farmers are suffering loss and they’re also suffering pain. We’d like to remind people that Rural Aid is there for the farming community”. 

Mr Warlters said the unfolding flood disaster would prompt an outpouring of support from Australians wanting to help.  

“A donation to Rural Aid will help us to help a farming family recover.  

“Rural Aid couldn’t offer the suite of assistance that it does, without the generous support of everyday Australians. 

“If you can, please give generously to help farmers get back to normal as quickly as possible.” 

To make a donation to Rural Aid, head to https://www.ruralaid.org.au/floods 

Farmers needing assistance are being urged to contact Rural Aid on 1300 327 624, or through the Rural Aid website.

For more information or interviews, contact Rural Aid media on 0447 116 757 or media@ruralaid.org.au
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The hugely popular Spirit of the Bush photography competition has returned in 2021. 

Rural Aid is today putting the call out to snappers of all ages and abilities to submit their most stunning photographs of life on the land.  

The winning photographs will be turned into a beautiful 2022 calendar, that will be available to purchase. 

In the popular 2020 competition, Rural Aid received more than 700 photographic submissions- making it a very tough job for CEO John Warlters to choose his top snaps.  

First placed winner in 2020, Kristin Walsh from the Riverina.

“The creative talent in the bush is outstanding and I’m always blown away by the images Rural Aid is sent,” Mr Warlters said.  

“Last time we ran this competition, most photographs poignantly depicted the heartbreaking reality of drought. I hope that this time round, all of our farmers have been given the chance to capture some happier pictures. I’m excited to see green shoots, frolics in the rain and fattened livestock,” Mr Warlters said.  

A panel of judges will determine the best bush snaps, based on twelve categories.  

  1. Farming Generations   
  1. Drought   
  1. Fire   
  1. Flood   
  1. Life On A Farm   
  1. Farm Animals   
  1. Rural Women   
  1. Rural Men   
  1. Outback Kids   
  1. Rural Landscapes   
  1. Man’s Best Friend   
  1. Small Towns  

Winners will be awarded a feature in the 2022 calendar, and a Rural Aid prize pack. 

Photos can be submitted through the https://woobox.com/srqwkg  page up until 5pm (AEST) on Monday, 31st May 2021. 

See https://www.ruralaid.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SOTB2021-TCs.pdf for the full list of Terms and Conditions.  
For more information, contact Rural Aid media on 0447 116 757 or media@ruralaid.org.au


Australia’s leading rural charity Rural Aid has put a renewed focus on bushfire recovery efforts, through a new campaign to help the winemaking industry, called VineAid.

Aussie grape growers are still incurring significant financial losses in the wake of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, with some estimates suggesting $100 million worth of Aussie grapes were ruined in the horrific bushfires through smoke taint alone. 

Rural Aid has also brought major wine industry players together for the relief initiative, with Naked Wines coming on board to provide financial assistance in the form of a $50,000 donation to struggling growers, to help kick start VineAid.


Drew Tuckwell, a winemaker in New South Wales’ Orange region, believes the industry needs vital support,  
“In a nearly 30-year career in winemaking, I have never not made wine during the harvest, but you need to harvest grapes to make wine and unfortunately in 2020, the grapes were completely ruined by bushfire smoke taint.” 

“Not only was I unable to make my wines, but our whole cash flow cycle has been interrupted. This disrupts the funding for the next harvest.”

“Due to the financial backing of Naked Wines, I’ve been one of the lucky ones. But the issues are ongoing and there are more winemakers, growers and rural communities that need support. Programs like this are vital to our survival,” said Mr Tuckwell.

Bushfires haven’t been the only threat to the industry; crippling China trade tariffs, covid-19 tourist restrictions, insect plagues and severe drought have all wreaked havoc on the prosperity and financial success of winemakers and growers.

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters has acknowledged the role played by Josh Ingham from The Epicurean Collective, in recognising the need for an initiative like VineAid, and is encouraging grape growers to register with Rural Aid for assistance, “VineAid will provide financial relief and access to mental wellbeing support – two areas the sector has identified as being in high demand”.

Naked Wines Managing Director, Alicia Kennedy strongly feels this type of financial assistance must and should come from industry leaders, alongside more traditional income streams, “Supporting independent winemakers is business as usual for us and it’s important consumers and retailers do that everyday through buying, drinking and enjoying Australian wine. However, it’s just as important to provide real support in times like this where most small winemakers and growers don’t have the resources to get through and the consequences can be dire, long lasting and in some cases, permanent.”

“We’re proud to have been able to provide support for our own community of Naked Winemakers affected by the bushfires, but this donation and partnership represents the boundless passion of our members and employees who also wanted to extend their support to the broader winemaking and grower community.”

“Rural Aid has a track record for doing amazing, practical work in the rural community and we’re very happy for them to put our $50,000 donation to good use, kick start VineAid and continue doing what they do so well,” concluded Ms Kennedy.

The Epicurean Collective’s Wine Rewards is also supporting VineAid by donating 1% of its annual revenue to the cause. 

Founder Josh Ingham is urging vino lovers to do their bit, “Consumers can help the wine industry by getting out and purchasing local wines and supporting the businesses that employ Australians”.

Growers registered with Rural Aid can apply for the full suite of assistance, including $1,000 of financial assistance or bill payments; a $500 pre-paid Visa card; drinking water and fodder. Importantly, they are also able to reach out to a member of Rural Aid’s resilience building wellbeing team for counselling support. Growers also have access Rural Aid’s community development programs, including the Farm Army service, where farmers are matched with capable volunteers and labourers.
To register as a grower, or to donate, visit www.ruralaid.org.au/vineaid

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All media enquiries contact Rural Aid media 0447 116 757 media@ruralaid.org.au

About Naked Wines:
Today, Naked Wines boasts 57 of the best independent winemakers from across Australia and New Zealand, including emerging and award-winning winemakers who have worked for famous labels like Yalumba, Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Vasse Felix, and now work for themselves. Six new local winemakers have joined the Naked Wines stable in the last 12 months, including the talented and acclaimed Phillip Moraghan (ex Curly Flat), Paige McCardle, Josh Pfeiffer from Whistler (ex Henschke), Glenn Barry (ex Knappstein) and Ben Riggs of Mr Riggs Wine Co. (ex Wirra Wirra).
For years, the big supermarkets and their bottle shops have been giving winemakers and wine drinkers a raw deal. Their buying clout forces local winemakers, who want to reach Australian drinkers, to churn out wine which the big players then stick a fancy label on and mark-up significantly, meaning that by the time consumers buy it, the majority of what’s in the bottle is retailer margin and marketing. Winemakers are driven to the wall and consumers are, at best, short changed. In fact, the only winners are the big bottle shops and supermarkets.


About The Epicurean Collective:
Combining decades of industry expertise with a deeply engrained family history in rural Australia of more than 180 years, Founder Josh Ingham is ensuring that Australian food and wine remains at the forefront of connoisseurs for generations to come.
The Epicurean Collective is driven to reconnect consumers with the Australian wine industry by bringing exceptional cellar door experiences into the digital space.  The Epicurean supports the Australian wine and tourism industries with their unique WINE REWARDS loyalty and rewards platform launching in October 2021.

Dirranbandi mother of six Anne Brischetto is now the face of a nationwide Rural Aid campaign, after winning big in a charity raffle last year.  

Anne Brischetto on her Dirranbandi property

Mrs Brischetto features in a new video that has been published on the Play for Purpose and Rural Aid social media sites.  

The Lott’s Play for Purpose raffle is a not-for-profit community raffle. Raffle tickets are $10, with a guaranteed minimum of $5 per ticket going directly back to the player’s charity of choice.  

The raffles have helped Rural Aid raise tens of thousands of dollars towards its life-changing programs.  

Mrs Brischetto said she chose to support Rural Aid because she knows how tough life on the land can be.  

“I usually have cattle on the place, but because of the drought, which we’ve had for nine years, I’ve had to shift them away,” she said.  

She said winning a prize in the last raffle was a huge thrill. 

“A lady rang me and told me that I’d won the third major prize in the raffle, which was $7500 of Myer vouchers. I didn’t actually believe her because I never win anything!” 

The video, which was premiered this morning, shows the headphones and home gym that Mrs Brischetto bought with her prize. 

“I think Rural Aid is a very good charity to donate to, because it supports the farmers and you’ve got the chance that you might win something that you wouldn’t normally have,” she said.  

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said it was great to see a farmer have a win. 

“We’re always appreciative of any donations made to Rural Aid by our generous Aussie supporters,” Mr Warlters said. “But it makes it that much sweeter when our donors benefit too!” 

Mrs Brischetto’s video can be viewed on the Rural Aid Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RuralAidAustralia/videos/174006547663585  

The current Play for Purpose raffle closes this Thursday with a $250k prize pack on offer. Tickets are still available at https://playforpurpose.com.au/rural-aid 

For more information, contact the Rural Aid media officer on 0447 116 757.