DROUGHT assistance has been extended to the communities of Richmond and Barcoo in Queensland and Coonamble in NSW.
They are now eligible to participate in the federal government's new Drought Communities Programme to assist in building infrastructure.
In a joint statement, Agriculture and Water Minister Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the decision to extend the Drought Communities Programme was based on an update and extension of rainfall deficiency records provided by the Bureau of Meteorology up to August 2015.
Mr Truss said the programme had been introduced to generate greater economic stability in regional areas impacted by low rainfalls and that it provided $35 million over four years to fund local infrastructure initiatives in eligible drought-affected communities to "build greater economic resilience for the future".
“Funding under the programme aims to stimulate local community spending, employment and use of local businesses and suppliers to provide long-lasting benefits to regional communities," he said.
“A number of regions continue to experience terrible drought,” Mr Joyce said.
“Also announced earlier this year was support for mental health, the Rural Financial Counselling Service, pest management and concessional loans, and each of these initiatives is well underway, providing real relief for those doing it tough.”
Eligible councils yet to submit requests for assistance under the Drought Communities Programme have until December 24, 2015 to lodge applications or their eligibility may lapse.
Mr Joyce said rainfall data will be reviewed again over the coming months to monitor the funding eligibility of other councils in NSW and Queensland.