What the NSW Government is doing

Learn about the NSW Government drought strategies, programs and packages to support drought relief and recovery.

Emergency Drought Relief Package

The NSW Government allocated $310 million for emergency drought relief in May 2020. This funding will give communities and farmers in regional NSW the certainty they need to make important stock and business decisions for the next 6 months.

The emergency drought relief package includes:

  • drought transport subsidy
  • waiving of Local Land Services rates, bee site permits, Western Lands lease rent, wild dog fence rates and assistance for vehicle registration costs for eligible primary producers
  • waiving water licence fees (for stock, domestic, general and high security water users) continued
  • continuation of health and wellbeing programs, including farmgate counsellors program, mental health training for pharmacists, Aboriginal wellbeing services and Royal Flying Doctors Far West Drought Support programs.
Drought Stimulus Package

The main objective of the $170 million NSW Drought Stimulus Package is to mitigate the employment and income effects of the current drought in regional NSW by delivering economic stimulus.

All projects and initiatives will focus on putting dollars into local pay packets. Tradespeople, suppliers and project workers will receive new work and spend money in local businesses such as cafes, retail stores and with service providers.

Projects include regional airport upgrades, road and rail construction and critical town water projects.

Combined Drought Indicator (CDI)

The Department of Primary Industries Enhanced Drought Information System (EDIS)™ aims to improve the quality and timeliness of seasonal conditions information across the state. It tracks drought by using four indicators; rainfall, soil water, plant growth, as well as tracing rainfall trends. 

The Combined Drought Indicator (CDI) brings this information together, and has been designed to characterise developing drought conditions. The key purpose for building the CDI was as a drought early warning system. 

Further information:

Managing drought (Department of Primary Industries) (PDF 10.6MB)
NSW Future Ready Regions Strategy

The Future Ready Regions Strategy was released in 2021 with the goal of helping regional communities plan and prepare for drought, by building resilience and improving our responses to drought in the future.

The strategy outlined 14 actions to help achieve sustainable, secure and healthy water resources, stronger primary industries and resilient, more economically diverse communities.


Extreme event policy for drought

The Department of Planning and Environment  ̶  Water is implementing drought contingency measures in the Lower Darling and Barwon-Darling river systems and the Namoi, Gwydir and Macquarie river systems in northern inland NSW following extended dry conditions.

This policy sets up a framework to manage extreme events in a structured and proactive way. It provides a clear and transparent framework for making decisions during extreme events — including what those decisions are, when they are made and who makes them. This information allows water users to make plans during extreme events with more confidence and provides more certainty for the water market.

For more information visit the NSW Drought Hub.

Regional water infrastructure and water security

The Safe and Secure Water Program (SSWP) is a $1 billion regional infrastructure co-funding program established in 2017.

The SSWP will co-fund eligible water and sewerage projects in regional NSW through improvements to public health, water security, environmental outcomes and/or social benefits.

Water management strategies

The Department of Planning and Environment  ̶  Water is working with water service providers and stakeholders to develop 12 regional water strategies across NSW. We are currently focusing on the Greater Hunter, Gwydir, Macquarie, Lachlan, Richmond and Bega regions.

Regional water strategies ensure that infrastructure funding maximises water security benefits, and that these benefits are distributed for the best economic and community outcomes.

Regional Advisory Committee (RAC)

The Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) is an independent body that provides advice to the NSW Government on drought.

Buy Regional

Buy Regional

The NSW Government's Buy Regional initiative aims to support drought-affected communities. Learn more about Buy Regional.
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