Dry periods are a natural part of life in Australia, particularly in the marginal areas away from the coast and ranges. Lying directly under the subtropical belt of high pressure, much of Australia experiences low, but highly variable, rainfall, and years with well below normal rain are to be expected. But when years pass when dry conditions are not relieved by equally wet periods, or when a shorter term dry is truly exceptional, we commonly call it drought.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology monitors rainfall deficiencies across Australia. It does not declare drought. The declaration of drought and the provision of drought assistance is the responsibility of the relevant State and Federal Government departments, which consider many factors apart from rainfall. However, as drought is ultimately the end result of exceptionally low rainfall, the Bureau of Meteorology highlights areas suffering serious or severe rainfall deficiency (for definition of these terms and of the term drought check the Climate Glossary).
The Australian Government is committed to "lending practical support to drought affected farmers and rural communities through employment services, free personal and financial counselling, income support and interest rate relief." The official Australian Government Drought Assistance web-site is here. The web-site contains information on areas eligible for full Exceptional Circumstances assistance and interim assistance. Information on Exceptional Circumstances, drought policy and state and territory governments drought information is available, as well as many other useful links.
The Weekly Rainfall Update comments on, and has a map of, recent rainfall. A discussion of the impact of recent rains on rainfall deficiencies is also presented. Maps of rainfall deficiencies are also available for examination.
The State and Territory Governments Drought Contact Information is available as part of the Australian Government Drought Assistance web-site.
Many useful links are available from Australian Government Drought Assistance web-site. These include, amongst others, information from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) on farm income models, information on feeding livestock during drought, as well as Frequently Asked Questions on Exceptional Circumstances and information on Australian Government drought assistance programs.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology produces a seasonal climate outlook.
This page last modified 17th August 2005
© Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology