Qantas, together with its customers, will donate $3 million to help provide relief to Australia’s drought affected farming communities.
The national carrier has today announced a partnership with charity Rural Aid to help fund hay bales, water trucking, groceries and mental health counsellors for farming communities struggling to survive the worst drought conditions parts of Australia have seen in decades.
The program includes an immediate $1 million cash donation by Qantas to Rural Aid, followed by a number of Qantas and Jetstar appeal initiatives to raise another $1 million with the help of customers. Qantas will then match these fundraising efforts, with the aim of providing the charity with a total donation of $3 million by the end of 2018.
Among the fundraising initiatives:
Two special fundraising charter flights from Sydney to Longreach and Tamworth in October. These will be operated by volunteer Qantas crew with revenue given directly to Rural Aid’s initiatives. Tickets to Longreach will be on sale from today via Qantas.com.
Qantas Frequent Flyers can use their Qantas Points to support farmers, with Rural Aid being added to the list of charity redemption partners on the Rewards Store.
Qantas will support its employees to join Rural Aid’s Farm Rescue program and volunteer their time repairing farming equipment, fixing homes and building fences on rural properties around Australia.
Rural Aid collection barrels will be placed in Qantas lounges and at Qantas and Jetstar gates for customers to donate, with on-board announcements to raise awareness. The airline will also host monthly “Chops for Change” pop-ups at various lounges around the country where guests will be offered gourmet lamb chops in exchange for a small donation.
A formal partnership with Rural Aid to provide flights for representatives to travel to regional communities.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the worsening drought had triggered the national carrier to quickly develop a support package in addition to what it already does in regional Australia. “Qantas started in the outback. Many of our staff live there and we have a lot of farming families who supply everything from beef to broccoli that we serve customers. We feel we have a duty to help these communities who are doing it so tough,” said Mr Joyce.
Qantas Domestic cabin crew member Zanthe Atkinson is one of those who will donate her time for the fundraising flights and understands first-hand the harsh reality of drought.
She and her farmer husband are handfeeding their stock to keep them alive on their farm near Tamworth, but say they are among the lucky ones as they are able to do so using her supplementary income.
“Most of the farming families have no choice but to rely solely on farm income and for a lot of them there hasn’t been any income for years. We can’t make it rain but we can at least do our bit to help get them another day closer to the drought breaking,” she said.
The drought assistance program adds to other Qantas Group initiatives designed to strengthen regional communities, drive local economic activity, stimulate tourism and support jobs. This includes the launch of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy which is expected to drive further activity when it opens in regional Australia next year.
Photo credit: Brent Winstone.