It all began in January 2014…Natasha Johnston & Nicki Blackwell, co-workers from Chinchilla, heard stories of struggling farmers who could not afford to put food on their own tables due to the ongoing drought. They heard heartbreaking reports of farmers having to shoot stock that were too poor to be transported to market; hearing one such report where the farmer then turned the gun on himself was the impetus for them to take action.
They knew they had to do something to help these families and ensure no-one was left feeling so helpless in the face of the ongoing drought. They organised a fundraising event, raising enough money to assist one family.
Drought Angels was born!
Tash & Nicki would load up a ute and trailer and head off whenever possible to deliver to farming families in need, having no real idea of the impact they were having…until they started receiving heartfelt letters of gratitude – motivating them to continue their mission to support Aussie farmers.
Through an auspice agreement with Chinchilla Family Support Centre, they were originally known as Chinchilla Community Drought Fundraiser 2014. After about 6 months, realising this was going to keep going, they put out a call on Facebook to help them come up with a better name. It was Tash’s friend Natasha Herbert who came up with the name Drought Angels. They continued to raise awareness of the plight of Aussie Farmers in the face of drought and natural disasters and delivered their personalised and heartfelt assistance through personal deliveries and Rural Day Off (RDO) events throughout rural Queensland.
On 15th July 2016, Drought Angels Ltd was formed and became a registered charity listed with the ACNC. Tash & Nicki became Executive Directors and Tash’s friend of 22 years Jenny Gailey joined them as a Non-Executive Director.
In August 2017 Nicki found love in Western Queensland; following her heart she made the difficult decision to leave behind the cherished charity she had co-founded. Upon Nicki’s departure, Jenny stepped up as Executive Director assuming the role of Chief Operations Officer. Tash’s husband, Steele Johnston, then became a Non-Executive Director.
From the early days they operated out of shipping containers in Tash’s back yard…
Having outgrown the back yard, they moved into a small warehouse, opening the Hidden Treasures Charity Shop in October 2016. In April 2018 they moved once more to the current Drought Angels HQ at 29 Malduf Street Chinchilla where the charity shop, warehousing, and office staff all call home.
Today Drought Angels is overseen by three Executive Directors, Tash Johnston – Co-Founder, Jenny Gailey – Chief Operations Officer, and Steele Johnston – Logistics Manager.
All three Directors bring with them experience and knowledge from diverse work placements throughout their careers. This has enabled them to confidently guide Drought Angels through a rapid growth phase during 2018/19 when the drought arrived on Sydney’s doorstep and awareness of the plight of drought stricken Aussie farmers hit the front pages. Donations soared and the applications for assistance from farming families across Australia quadrupled almost overnight raising the number of families requiring assistance from less than 500 to beyond 2000.
From the devastation of the North Queensland floods in January 2019 to the unprecedented and catastrophic disaster of the bushfires during Australia’s Black Summer of 2019/2020; you will not only find Drought Angels there during the times of crisis – they’ll also be there long after the initial disaster has passed, continuing to provide assistance during the extensive recovery periods when the need is often the greatest.
Guided by Tash, Steele & Jenny, Drought Angels will always be there to ensure no Aussie farmer facing adversity due to natural disaster, will ever be forgotten!