Wagga community groups have received a boost after a visit to the city by another state government minister.
Ray Williams, the Minister for Multiculturalism, Volunteering and Disability, announced grants of $10,000 to the Riverina group of the Country Women’s Association, $3000 to Wagga’s Riding for the Disabled, and $1000 each to Wagga Youth Connections and Tumut Men’s Shed.
Mr Williams’ visit follows those of Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Agriculture Niall Blair last week and comes as ahead of the September 8 Wagga byelection, called after the resignation of Daryl Maguire.
The CWA members will split the government funding between two causes: drought assistance and their Riverina group project of raising money for play equipment at Willans Hill School.
Mr Williams told CWA members they would play an important role on behalf of families “as we go through this devastating drought, which really is biting”.
He talked about a recent visit to the state’s central west, which is in the grip of severe drought.
"It is dry and brown. There’s not much stock out in the paddocks, there’s certainly no crops,” Mr Williams said.
“In some areas, it is just dirt.
“The Hunter Valley is absolutely devastated.
“It’s not just the land, not just the animals and the crops, it is that social isolation at the moment, that impact on people.
“We know that organisations like the Country Women’s Association, for years and years and years, are that shoulder to lean on, cry on maybe sometimes.
“But just having that support goes a long way.
“If we can reach out deep in the community and support our volunteers, we feel that can make such a difference.”
Ann Adams, the CWA state secretary and a member of the Oura branch, said while Wagga was not too badly affected by the drought at the moment, “you don't have to go far to see the effects”.
“Just in Ganmain, it’s much worse. I know people who sowed crops dry. They’ve put all that money out and there has been no rain,” she said.
“Even though the drought hasn’t hit here as much as it has up north, it is coming if we don’t get rain.”
Mrs Adams said the Riverina group was “twinned” with Darling River, whose members lived at centres like White Cliffs, Ivanhoe and Tibooburra, and were facing tough times during the drought.
Mrs Adams said Riverina CWA members were planning to stage a promotion at the Henty Field Days and were considering a visit to drought-affected areas in October.