THE national spotlight was well and truly on Bathurst on Friday to help shine a light on our region’s drought-affected farmers.
Sunrise host Edwina Bartholomew wound up her week-long Farm Rescue series of stories at Bathurst Goldfields on Mount Panorama and was joined by a number of special guests and hundreds of schools students from across the region.
The film crew was on site at from 5.30am until 9am and the program featured a number of live crosses.
During her final cross at 8.15am she spoke to Rural Aid founder Charles Alder and ambassador Grant Denyer.
“I’m from a farming family, we’re up to our fifth generation now, and obviously I live in a regional centre and we just see the trauma out there, we just see the heartbreak,” Mr Denyer said.
“These farmers, these are the people that put food on our tables and they grow the materials that become the clothes on our back and they’re at breaking point.”
Mr Denyer also shared stories from his farm visits, along with his wife Chezzi, in their role as Rural Aid ambassadors.
“The amount of people that tell us they’re just surviving on two minute noodles and these are families with kids,” he said.
“We’ve also seen quite a really significant and very, very tragic increase in mental health issues as a result of such drastic times like this.”
Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson joined the live cross from another location and announced that the airline was “standing up to do our bit to support the farm effort”.
“We will be donating $3 million by the end of the year,” she said.
“It’s going to start immediately with a $1m cash donation to Rural Aid to help with feed, to help with farm support and to also help with mental health counselling.
“We’re also going to start today fundraising with our staff, with our customers and we’re targeting to raise another $1m and that Qantas is going to match that fundraising effort to deliver the $3m to Rural Aid by the end of the year.”
Bathurst Goldfields will host the sold-out Black Tie and Boots Ball on Saturday and all funds raised will go to the creation of a local mental health counsellor.