Stay up to date and have your say on drought-related policies and programs.
Drought is a recurring feature of the Australian landscape. It is forecast to become more frequent, severe and longer lasting in many regions as the climate changes.
The Australian Government is working with farmers, rural communities, the states and territories, and the farm, finance and not-for-profit sectors to build Australia’s capacity to withstand drought.
We all have a role to play in drought.
Find services and support near you from governments, charities and other organisations.
Call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.
What we are doing
As at August/September 2023
Future Drought Fund (investing $100 million a year to build drought resilience)
- 8 drought hubs operating, with 125 on-ground projects
- Another 180 projects funded to develop, trial, demonstrate and extend drought resilience practices
- Over 16,000 farmers offered business and risk management training
- 195 organisations funded and more than 1,000 people supported to build community drought resilience
- 69 regions at various stages of drought resilience planning
Other Australian Government programs
- About 2,900 farmers and their partners currently on Farm Household Allowance
- 44,271 farm management deposit accounts
- 3,005 concessional loans approved for farm and related small businesses
The Australian Government’s plan focuses on immediate action and support as well as long-term resilience and preparedness for farmers and wider communities affected by drought.
Download our plan
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
The Australian Government’s Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan was published in 2019 and reflects priorities from that time. Stakeholder feedback on this plan was captured as part of a review completed in May 2023. This review is informing the development of a new Australian Government drought plan. A consultation draft of the new plan is expected to be published in the first half of 2024. Following this consultation process, the new plan is expected to be finalised and released in 2024.
The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency’s (the Agency) published the ‘Review of Australian Government Drought Response’ in October 2020. The Review found that there has been limited and inconsistent evaluation of drought support programs, leading to a lack of meaningful information on drought program performance and continuous improvement on Government’s response to drought.
This document sets out monitoring and evaluation principles and guidance to support Commonwealth Government agencies to consistently assess the performance (effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness). The principles and guidance bring together Commonwealth Government best practices on monitoring and evaluation, and the National Drought Agreement (NDA) objectives.
- All drought support programs will consider and apply monitoring, evaluation and learning activities, scaled and tailored as appropriate to their program.
- All drought support programs will contribute to regular government reporting on drought support, including but not limited to annual reports against the NDA and the National Drought Response Resilience and Preparedness Plan, and any evaluation activities.
- All drought support programs will directly contribute to one or more of the agreed NDA outcomes.
The NDA is a framework agreed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments in December 2018, to prioritise objectives and outcomes that enhance long‐term preparedness, sustainability, resilience and risk management for farming businesses and farming communities in Australia. To support the Commonwealth Government’s annual reporting obligations under the NDA, any drought support program should be informed by at least one of the below NDA outcomes.
National Drought Agreement Outcomes (Clause 7)
- Farming businesses have an improved capability to manage business risks and the tools to implement sustainable and resilient risk management practices.
- Farming businesses, industry service providers, agri‐finance, community organisations and local government are partners of government and support rural communities to prepare for, and respond to, drought.
- Farming businesses, farming families and farming communities are supported in times of hardship and have an increased understanding of, and access to, available support.
- Roles and responsibilities of jurisdictions in responding to drought:
- are clear;
- promote consistency of drought policy and reform objectives;
- complement drought preparedness, response and recovery programs; and
- reduce gaps and unnecessary duplication.
- Improved sharing, and quality, of common sources of data and information across jurisdictions to strengthen policy and business decision making.
- Future programs related to the objectives of this agreement are consistent with the principles for reform at Attachment A of the NDA.
- Future programs providing temporary in‐drought support are consistent with the principles and processes at Attachment B of the NDA.
The following high‐level guidance can be adapted to suit the scale and range of drought support programs. The guidance recommends establishing a Program Logic model, Performance Measures and Monitoring & Evaluation Strategy for Government drought support programs. This will support robust reporting and advice to Government on the performance (effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness) of its drought support programs. The accompanying self‐assessment questions will help to ensure that monitoring and evaluation considerations are applied consistently throughout the life of a program (beginning, middle and end).
The drought support program should directly contribute to one or more of the agreed outcomes from the NDA. Developing an overarching outcome statement will set out the purpose of the drought support program and ensure linkage with the NDA. Setting out a hierarchy of outcomes will also provide a clear connection between desired outcomes established for the short term, medium term and long term, in order to achieve the overarching outcome.
2. Outputs & Inputs
Outputs are efforts within an entity’s direct control that lead to the outcome/s. Inputs are the entity’s resources required to achieve the outputs. Identifying inputs and outputs set out the entity’s assumptions on the sequence of activities required to achieve the desired outcome/s of drought support programs. The outputs of drought support programs should include a communications approach to ensure awareness and accessibility among its target group.
3. Performance Measures
Performance measures provide a basis for assessment of an entity’s performance over time; and need to be directly linked with the outputs and outcomes of the program. Identifying data sources for the measures will ensure that data collection is achievable and there is a strong evidence base for performance. Performance measures should set targets to measure effectiveness and efficiency; and follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time‐bound) principle.
4. Monitoring & Evaluation Strategy
Performance monitoring is the routine collection and initial assessment of performance data at fixed timeframes (e.g. monthly, quarterly). Evaluation makes judgements on the efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness of the program; and should consider industry and community consultation. A strategy will set out the planning for monitoring and evaluation arrangements to allow for robust reporting throughout the life of the program. Program reporting should also align with Commonwealth reporting on the NDA.
5. Lessons Learnt
Identifying lessons learnt in final reporting and reflections will ensure the relevance of future drought support programs. Lessons learnt would be drawn from qualitative data and may include case studies, feedback from support recipients, regional communities and program administrators, and interviews.
|1. Outcomes/s||2. Outputs & Inputs||3. Performance Measures||4. Monitoring & Evaluation Strategy||5. Lessons Learnt|
Progress in implementing the Australian Government’s current drought plan is reported annually.
Read the 2019-20 implementation review (PDF) undertaken by the former National Recovery and Resilience Agency or download the latest review.
Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan: Australian Government implementation review 2020-21 (PDF 1.4 MB)
Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan: Australian Government implementation review 2020-21 (DOCX 2.8 MB)
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
How we work with others
The Australian Government works with state and territory governments to co-ordinate our approach to drought policy and programs through the National Drought Agreement.
We also partner with the farm and finance industries, charities and other not-for-profit organisations to help farmers and rural communities get ready for drought, through the National Drought Network, National Drought Forum and other, regular engagement.
Australia experiences drought in 3 stages:
- preparing for drought
- responding to drought
- recovering from drought.
Different regions, industries and farmers will be at different stages of the cycle at any one time.
For farmers and rural communities:
- Before drought, it’s time to prepare for drier times ahead.
- During drought, it’s time to action your drought plan and make early decisions to manage the impacts.
- After drought, it’s time to recover and use the lessons learned to build back better.
The Australian Government is there with you at each stage of the cycle.
By adapting to the drought cycle, Australian farming can remain profitable and sustainable. It can continue to protect our land and water, strengthen rural communities, secure the nation’s food supply and grow our economy.
The Australian Government is improving how it monitors drying conditions and impacts on farmers and regional communities.
Drought isn’t just about how much rain falls on a farm. The capacity to cope with dry conditions also depends on other factors. These include when rain falls, what the prevailing temperature, water balances, commodity prices and input costs are, and what financial and other reserves remain. Some of these factors are being integrated into an early warning system for drought.
The system will help translate climate data into current and future impacts on agriculture. It will feed Bureau of Meteorology seasonal forecasts into ABARES and CSIRO models to estimate rainfall deficiencies, soil moisture, pasture growth, crop yield and farm profit for 5km areas. These indicators will provide government with monthly data about the extent, severity and timing of impacts as conditions dry.
The system will support the Australian Government’s drought decision-making framework which is being developed to inform future government responses to drought. This framework will draw on the system’s data about emerging impacts as well as what we hear from organisations, industries, governments and our staff in affected regions. Through data, and a deeper understanding of what’s happening on the ground, we can work with all stakeholders to prepare for, manage and recover from drought.
Many of the data sources, models and tools that feed into the early warning system are also available publicly, for use by farmers, their advisers, industry and other organisations. They can be accessed via:
- Climate Services for Agriculture
- ABARES farm data portal
- Bureau of Meteorology climate outlook
- Bureau of Meteorology drought statement
- Bureau of Meteorology Australian water outlook
- National Landcare Program vegetation cover time series.
Our work builds on the long history and significant evolution of drought policy in Australia.
By reviewing how we manage the drought cycle, we can continue to improve our approach.
The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency reviewed the most recent drought package. It found the package had positive impacts on drought affected farmers, communities and small businesses. It also highlighted opportunities for improvement.