Drought is a recurring feature of the Australian landscape. It will become more frequent, severe and longer lasting in many regions as the climate changes.
The impact of drought on farmers, rural communities and the national economy is likely to worsen unless we continue to adapt.
We all have a role to play to ensure we are better prepared to deal with drought.
Farmers, rural communities, governments, the agricultural and finance industries and not-for-profit sector have a shared responsibility to build Australia’s capacity to withstand drought.
That is why the Australian Government is working with all involved as they prepare for, manage and recover from drought.
Check current drought and rural support we provide.
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 December 2022
Future Drought Fund (investing $100 million a year to build drought resilience)
- 8 drought hubs operating
- 2 digital climate tools available online
- Over 8,400 farmers offered business and risk management training
- 93 organisations funded and 35 regions targeted to build community drought resilience
- 150 projects funded to develop, trial and encourage take up of drought resilience practices
- 21 regions developing drought resilience plans
Other Australian Government programs
- About 3,740 farmers and their partners on Farm Household Allowance
- 44,739 farm management deposit accounts
- 2,903 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
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2019
Australian Government’s Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan (PDF 609 KB)
Australian Government’s Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan (DOCX 3.8 MB)
Monitoring and Evaluation Principles and Guidance for Commonwealth Government Drought Programs (PDF 148 KB)
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
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 drought plan is reported annually.
Read the 2019-20 implementation review (PDF) undertaken by the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery 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.
We are reviewing the Australian Government Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan, with the aim of developing a new Interim Australian Government Drought Plan in 2022-23. The Interim Plan will guide drought policy at the Australian Government level. The current Australian Government Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan was published in 2019 and reflects priorities from that time. Since then, conditions have changed significantly, creating an opportunity to review and refine the Government’s approach to planning for drought. A Final Plan will be released in 2024 to ensure it remains consistent and complementary to the updated National Drought Agreement and next Future Drought Fund funding plan, both of which are also due to commence in 2024.
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 work with farmers, industry and rural communities to prepare for drought by:
- improving access to climate data
- encouraging better farm planning and risk management
- supporting research, development and adoption of drought-resilient technologies and practices
- managing land and water more sustainably and productively
- strengthening social networks and well-being.
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 developing drought indicators to better measure and forecast the impacts of drought on farmers and regional communities. The indicators will bring together a broader suite of the best available data, including rainfall deficiency, soil moisture, pasture growth and socio-economic indicators.
Our plan 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.
Have your say on future drought-related policies and programs.