Locals lead drought support campaign


REGION - A group of young farmers and their wives and partners have come together to create a charity called 'Live Rural' to assist those struggling on the land.

The first event to raise much needed funds for those in need will be in the form of a fashion show, to be held during the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival next Friday.

The event links fashion, food, people and country Australia together to create a luxurious experience for all those who attend.

Leila McDougall, the designer that has put the show together has seen first hand the harsh times people living and working on the land face.

"My husband and I live and work on a sheep, cropping and cattle farm," she said.

"We have seen all the hard ship that farmers and their families in Northern New South Wales and Queensland are facing at the moment due to drought.

"But, in typical farming style they put on a brave face, make no complaints and carry on."

Mrs McDougall grew up in one of the worst affected places, Walcha, a small town in the New England region of NSW. Her parents still own a farm there.

"They are close to having no water, and the cattle will not survive without water," she said.

"We put them all on a B-double truck and moved them more than 20 hours to our farm here in Western Victoria so they could survive."

Despite the dire circumstances Mrs McDougall insists they are lucky compared to others with most cattle in the area too weak to travel that distance. Instead they are being sent to the abattoir and slaughtered.

"Farmers are faced with many problems that most Australians are not exposed to," Mrs McDougall said.

"Farmers will suffer from depression and many commit suicide as the problem becomes too big. We can't let this happen, we can help and make a difference to these people's lives.

"This charity (Live Rural) is working to raise funds for farmers all over Australia that are faced with harsh and crippling times.

"We are raising money to help provide assistance, such as, transporting stock feed to areas that are in drought, sending supplies to areas that have been struck by flood or fire providing general support to farming communities."

The first fundraising event next Friday will take country Australia to the big smoke, exhibiting fashions that are created from locally owned and grown produce.

All funds raised will go towards assisting with getting much needed supplies to farmers in need of support.

The fashion show will be held at the Cross Culture Church, 194 Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne.

All guests who attend will be greeted with a complimentary wine and will sample tasty canapes made from local produce throughout the entire evening.

Guests will be celebrating all things that represent Rural Australia, and have the chance to be immersed in the country life style for one night.

"My dream is to build the emotional connection between the consumer and producer. By creating this emotional connection people will feel more strongly about supporting their fellow Australians that happen to be farmers," Mrs McDougall said.

"This is only the beginning, this organisation is pushing to create awareness on a national level and support farmers all over Australia, this is just one piece in the huge puzzle we are putting together.

"Not only will you have a fantastic night, but you will walk away knowing you have contributed to supporting our Australian farmers."

All designers participating in the fashion show have produced 50 percent of their garments and accessories from Australian produce.

The fashion show is not only about publicising the Australian designers involved, but the Australian produce that is available and the quality of products that can be created through using them.

For more information about next Friday's event go to www.liveruralaustralia.com, www.leilasweeney.com or contact: enquiries@leilasweeney.com.

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