The before and after photos Australia needs to see
WHILE Prime Minister Scott Morrison drops into the south-east Queensland farming community of Dalby today to announce the details of a $100 million drought fund for farmers, retired couple Chris and Dean Barnett are on the road to deliver supplies to farmers around the central New South Wales region of Cobar.
The Barnetts are among more than 50 dedicated Drought Angel volunteers, a Chinchilla based charity dedicated to showing primary producers how grateful Australians are for all they do to supply the country with fresh, Aussie produce.
Dean and Chris have spent nearly five years of their retirement eagerly clocking up more than 50,000 kilometres driving around Queensland and New South Wales visiting drought-affected regions in a car loaded to the brim with pantry staples, pet food, toiletries and children's toys in an attempt to support primary producers on the brink of collapse through one of the most detrimental period's in Australian farming history.
They've traversed an area half the size of Europe with their journey taking them to some of the most harrowing sights imaginable.
"Sometimes we arrive to find a family with nothing left in the pantry but a box of Weet-Bix and a bottle of long life milk," Ms Barnett said.
"We once arrived to find a single father and his five sons with only a bottle of tomato sauce in the fridge. Things are only getting more and more dire for them.
"I think as the drought wears on it's easy for people to put it to the back of their mind, but the reality is some of these farming families are living well and truly below the poverty line while they try to hold out for some rain so they can provide food for the rest of the country.
The desperate irony of the situation has not been lost on Drought Angels founder and farming advocate Tash Johnston.
"The Prime Minister's drought fund is a strong start," she said.
While Ms Johnston and her fellow Drought Angels weren't able to arrange a meeting with Scott Morrison during his visit, Ms Johnston said she was confident the Prime Minister was taking the necessary steps to begin to make serious change for the farmer's battling to keep their family fed.
"There's an extremely long way to go until drought-affected farmers are out of the woods but we are grateful to see the government finally recognising our farmers' need more assistance and being reactive," she said.
"We are just hopeful this is the tip of the government's financial support iceberg and hope there's much more to come in the near future.
"After all, who will feed our great nation if we lose our farmers? The people who feed us shouldn't be struggling to feed themselves."
The Barnetts are frustrated though with the government's lack of concern for the country's growing situation.
"We will have been volunteering with Drought Angels for five years shortly and the more people we meet on our travels the more faith we lose in the federal government," Mr Barnett said.
"Morrison committing $150 million to Trump's Mars mission was a total slap in the face to struggling farmers everywhere.
"We should be focusing all of our aid funding solely to the drought relief effort, not overseas, not in third world countries, but here where Australian's really need it right now."
As Queensland's seven-year battle carries on, much of New South Wales has entered into its second year of drought conditions.
Poet and photographer Benjamin Wild has been documenting the worsening conditions on his family's property in the New South Wales region of Marthaguy within the shire of Warren on the Macquarie River.
"Warren is already in level three water restrictions, Dubbo is approaching level 4 come early November, how much longer until that ripples out to many of the smaller towns?
"We've received unprecedented dust storms over the last few months... things are really getting quite dire.
"Our 7,700 acre property normally runs about 550 head of cattle and we're down to 50 now. It's been two years since we saw any significant rainfall and we aren't expecting any now for the rest of the year.
"Quite simply, I don't think that $150 million needs to be spent on going to the moon or to Mars, not when people in drought stricken areas are already looking at their own piece of the moon and Mars out their kitchen windows every day."
Australians need to see the photos showcasing how dire the situation in regional and rural Queensland and New South Wales has become and why the federal government need to commit to a long term solution before it's too late.