FOLLOWING the fourth warmest autumn on record in Australia, five students from Kerang Primary School have recognised that drought is a serious issue.
So they came up with a plan to help — a gold-coin donation for a dress up day, where kids would come to school in their best farmers outfits.
Grade five student Keely Closter said her family are very interested in the adversities farmers face, and one morning she and her mother were discussing new ideas for fundraisers to support local farmers.
"At home mum and I were coming up with stuff that would go with the Parma for a Farmer scheme," Keely said.
"We didn't think of anything."
Parma for a Farmer is a financial support initiative under the Buy a Bale scheme.
Registered pubs and eateries donate one dollar to the platform for every parmigiana sold.
Keely went to school and the topic of fundraising kept drifting across her mind.
"Later that day, mum had an idea of donating one dollar for a dress-up day.
"She got the school on board to run the day for the Buy a Bale scheme," Keely said.
The scheme is an online fundraising program dedicated to delivering hay to desperate farmers.
Since it's inception in 2013, the program has delivered over 160,000 bales of hay across 4 states.
Keely's classmates, Ricky Kerr, Malachi Tarr, Brady Salter, and Mitchell Pearson all joined the initiative as soon as they heard of Keely's ambition to support her mother's idea, and they championed the dress up day and encouraged the school staff to take it seriously.
"There's no set [fundraising] goal," Malachi said.
"It's about getting as much as we can to help out."
"If there's no farms there wouldn't be food."
Fundraising campaigns for farmers is a hot topic as Australia has experienced the second hottest July on record since 2002, according to the latest Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) report,"Australia in July 2018."
Australia has also become the second-warmest nation (for mean maximum temperatures), reaching 2.22 °C above average.
Climate Council Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Martin Rice said the nation's rising greenhouse gas pollution levels are driving extreme weather events, including drought conditions.
"This is the driest July experienced across Australia, since the long-running Millennium Drought," Dr Rice said.
"Just like dominoes, we continue to see climate records continue to fall, as climate change intensifies due to the ongoing burning of coal, oil and gas."
The impacts extreme weather conditions have on regional towns can be seen in East Gippsland, where many farmers have sold off half of their herds as they face extreme dry conditions.
Mr Pearson said a great concern was how dependent regional towns are on the success of farms, especially local businesses.
"If the shops have to shut down, the towns will only get smaller, which means they have to get the shops closer and it will get more expensive."
For more information, visit https://www.buyabale.com.au/our-story/.
For information on drought conditions, visit http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/