Hero schoolboy fights for drought attention
TEN-year-old Jack Berne is aiming to bring national attention to the Granite Belt's drought fight.
The Year 5 student from St John the Baptist Primary School in the northern Sydney suburb of Freshwater has been in the region filming for a segment that will air on Channel 10's The Project.
Jack has already raised more than $1.5 million since late last year through his fundraiser Fiver for a Farmer, which supports the charities Drought Angels and Rural Aid.
"The Project wanted to take us up to Queensland so we came to Stanthorpe because it's one of the most drought-affected areas currently in Queensland and Australia," Jack said.
Jack and his mum Prue visited the farms of old family friends Don and Tracy Caslick, as well as George and Leah Costanzo.
"I live in Sydney so going out to the farm and seeing and hearing them say their grass is green was probably the most shocking part, because it wasn't green," Jack said.
"If I look in my backyard I see loads of green."
Witnessing empty dams up close really brought home the severity of the situation for him.
"That was really scary," Jack said.
"I would see the first dam empty, dry, nothing. Then the second dam was all muddy. Then we got to the third one, it wasn't even half full. But it seemed like the best thing in the world after seeing the first two.
"It made me think about back home where we have our Narrabeen lake. If you walk around it it's 10km long and it is full to the top."
There's one thing that particularly bugs Jack in all the conversations he has with farmers in his travels.
"The thing that frustrates me is they always say they're not the worst. It may be true, but they do need help too," he said.
"One of the farms we went to there is out of water and won't be growing capsicums this season because they can't."
He wants one message to ring clear to residents of Stanthorpe and Australia.
"The drought isn't over," Jack said.
"If you are trying to think of ways you can help then there's 50,000.
"The two that I think are most important are buying Australian produce and donating that little bit.
"I think a lot of people think you need to donate $100. I'm not asking you to do that - donate $5.
"It's that little bit that counts."
Jacks segment on The Project will air on Thursday.
Visit www.afiverfora farmer.com.au for more about Jack's work.