Relief ‘for the long haul’

Ask Boolarra South resident Deb Levi about a new charity that provides support directly through the dairy farm gate and she’ll tell you it’s full of down to earth people. 

Gippsland Farmer Relief formed in the wake of cut milk prices to help dairy farmers across the region.

It aims to provide information about support services, help to access donated stock feed and donations of food parcels to those in need.

In a number of weeks, the group has gone from providing one or two hampers a day to about 50 a week.

Ms Levi said she had always hoped for such a high level of community support, but had not realised GFR would grow to the extent it has.

“They’re (the community is) amazing, absolutely amazing,” Ms Levi said. 

“I walk away from Woolworths (a drop off point) with two-and-half trolleys of food, blown away by how generous everybody is and how giving the wider community is.

“(The dairy farmers react with) big smiles; they’re very appreciative and very humbled.” 

GFR is an incorporated group with an online crowd funding account and collection points across Gippsland.

People are asked to donate non-perishable food items or other household goods, which volunteers based throughout the region organise into hampers and drop off to dairy farms.

Ms Levi said GFR was all about the community involvement – Gippsland schools are helping to create promotional posters for upcoming events.

Boolarra Primary School principal Leanne Emond said the school, also a collection point, understood how difficult it was to earn a living on a dairy farm. 

“Obviously like a lot of people in the community, at the school we are very aware how difficult the current situation is for families that rely on the dairy industry for their livelihood,” Ms Emond said.

“We’re very happy to be supporting efforts to show we care for them.”

GFR is planning to host morning teas for dairy farmers to get together and relax, as well as public fundraisers that have already generated significant support.

A trivia night is planned for August in the Boolarra Football Clubrooms, followed by an all-day concert in Boolarra in September.

Despite the reluctance some dairy farmers may feel in asking for a helping hand, Ms Levi said GFR’s approach helped to break down barriers. 

“I’ll turn up in gumboots, pat the dogs, go and walk in amongst the cow manure if I need to, we’re people helping people and doing it because we care rather than for something in return,” Ms Levi said.

And having connected with local governments, politicians and regional support services, she said the group was in it for the long haul.

“We’re not going to be the flavour of the month, we’re committed people and we want to be here for the long run – whether it’s three years, five years, we are here for the long haul,” she said.

What: Gippsland Farmer Relief Trivia Night

When: Saturday, 6 August from 7pm sharp

Where: Boolarra Football Clubrooms

Price: $10 per person. Tea, coffee and light supper will be provided. 

People are welcome to bring their own nibbles – drinks will be served at bar prices.

Lucky door prizes will be on offer, including a tour of Parliament and a dinner for two.

All proceeds from the night will go to Gippsland dairy farmers in need.

Phone: Deb Levi on 0407 896 172 to book your place.

If you would like to donate non-perishable food items and other household goods, or to volunteer, phone the following people:

Boolarra and district: 0409 334 397 or 0407 896 172

Yarram and district: 0429 825 582 or 0457 450 212

Sale and district: 0438 314 053


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