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Children skipping on education as they help on family farm during drought

Children as young as seven are being taken out of school to help out on their family farm as drought tightens its grip on NSW.

UNICEF project ‘In their own words’ tracked the devastating toll the big dry has had on farming children as their families continue to struggle with dwindling livestock.

In some cases, children are being woken up before school to shoot starving animals to put them out of their misery. 

‘Before the start of this year I’d never shot a lamb in my life and I’ve done probably about 50 or so this year,’ a Year 10 student said.

Children as young as seven are being taken out of school to help out on their family farm as the drought tightens its grip on NSW (pictured, Harry Taylor with bones of dead livestock on family farm at Coonabarabran)

UNICEF project 'In their own words' tracked the devastating toll the big dry has had on farming children as their families continue to struggle with dwindling livestock (pictured, Harry Taylor picks up a lamb to try and feed it with cotton seed)

UNICEF project ‘In their own words’ tracked the devastating toll the big dry has had on farming children as their families continue to struggle with dwindling livestock (pictured, Harry Taylor picks up a lamb to try and feed it with cotton seed)

‘[Initially] I didn’t want to do it. Like, I cried sort of thing… but now it’s just easy. You just do it.’ 

Others say they have had to put homework on hold because they have to help out on the farm during after school hours. 

‘The problem is, you get home and you bust your a**e to feed stock until about 10 o’clock at night, and then you’ve got to do homework,’ another Year 10 student said.

‘And that’s the hardest thing. Like, you’re tired and you’re up til 12 and you’re tired the next day. So it just keeps piling up. It’s like a domino effect and it just gets worse and worse.’ 

For those studying distance education, learning has had to take a backseat. 

‘Others with children in primary school (distance education) are rotating siblings between helping out and attending school,’ the report said. 

As a Year 5 student explained, she and her brother would tag in to help out their father. 

A school principal told UNICEF researchers children were being called in because farmers simply couldn’t afford hired help. 

‘Mum and the kids are the workforce because they’ve let go any of their casual staff, they’re not employing anyone… they just use the family. That’s the workforce now,’ the principal said. 

The damning report went on to say education wasn’t the only casualty in the children’s lives.

In some cases, children are being woken up before school to shoot starving animals to put them out of their misery (pictured, Heidi Taylor kicks up dust on family farm at Coonabarabran)

In some cases, children are being woken up before school to shoot starving animals to put them out of their misery (pictured, Heidi Taylor kicks up dust on family farm at Coonabarabran)

Other children say they have had to put homework on hold because they have to help out on the farm during after school hours (pictured, Taylor kids play in an empty dam)

Other children say they have had to put homework on hold because they have to help out on the farm during after school hours (pictured, Taylor kids play in an empty dam)

Children may be further at risk of lasting psychological damage as they are exposed to the financial stress on their families.

One child said they felt like they were ‘walking on eggshells’ because tension was that high, and another said they hardly saw their father because he was out working the land all day. 

UNICEF has since put a call out for the government to direct more drought-relief funding into children’s programmes to combat the very serious issue. 

Jess Taylor and her husband run a sheep and cattle property at Bugaldie in north-western NSW. 

The pair have an eight-year-old and two-year-old child and can see firsthand how stress has impacted their children. 

‘The kids know what is going on. We have sold quite a bit of stock, we are pretty low down in numbers, and the kids know that they are going and they are not coming back and they get pretty upset,’ Mrs Taylor told 9News. 

She went on to say added programs to help children cope with the drought would go a long way. 

‘It would be great for the older kids especially because they understand the complexities of it and are pretty good at bottling things up.’  

Children may be further at risk of lasting psychological damage as they are exposed to the financial stress on their families (pictured, Taylor children play on donated hay bale as hungry cattle feed on the food)

Children may be further at risk of lasting psychological damage as they are exposed to the financial stress on their families (pictured, Taylor children play on donated hay bale as hungry cattle feed on the food)

UNICEF has since put a call out for the government to direct more drought-relief funding into children's programmes to combat the very serious issue (pictured, Taylor family take sheep orphaned from the flock on their family farm)

UNICEF has since put a call out for the government to direct more drought-relief funding into children’s programmes to combat the very serious issue (pictured, Taylor family take sheep orphaned from the flock on their family farm)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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