WORST WE'VE SEEN: Farmers riddled with guilt over drought
AS CALLS for drought assistance ring out to governments and communities, one teen has given back to farmers in the most powerful way she knows.
Offering words that could only come from someone who spent her childhood on the land, Melanie O'Dea, 18, wants farmers to find hope in the face of gut-wrenching reality.
In a powerful poem she penned after talking to neighbouring farmers on Friday night, the Spring Creek teen paints a devastating scene with eloquence beyond her years.
"Hope is the only thing that can help us survive, hope is our only gain; when all you have worked for and proudly built up, becomes your only pain," her poem reads.
Aiming to inspire others, Melanie has drawn on her own pain as she waits to see whether her childhood home will survive the drought.
With only a month's supply of hay in the shed, the dairy farm of her youth hangs in the balance while cows grow skinnier with every day.
Next month, Melanie's family will decide whether to sell the farm they have "done everything" to keep alive.
But instead of dwelling in sorrow as her home turns to dust, Melanie has focussed her energy on others.
"This is the worst we have seen it, but I know there are farmers further out there who have it even worse," she said.
"It is something that creeps up on you and you don't realise it until it's too late.
"There is a lot of regret in that - a lot of farmers regret they didn't do something and feel like it is their fault, but they didn't know it was going to happen."
After hearing stories of depression and farmers turning to suicide, the teen hopes to share the foundation of hope that has helped her.
"The basic point is that we could simply rest in trust if we already had a hope that is not of this world and can't be taken away," she said.
Finding strength in spirituality has helped the young teen and her family stay positive in the face of uncertainty.
"Some of the older farmers are saying it you just have to wait and it will rain eventually," she said.
"It's hard for a lot of younger generations who haven't seen that before because they haven't experienced the rain coming.
"It is just knowing what to hang on to: that is where God has such a big role in it."
Home schooling her daughter on their family farm, mother Andrea said Melanie was a passionate writer from a young age, but had been suffering a "drought of her own".
"For a while she hasn't had anything to write about but she was just in the background listening to the old farmers," Andrea said.
"Then it was like she sat down that night was inspired with this poem."
Andrea hopes the poem will comfort with farmers to know they are not alone through the difficult time.
"For us as farmers, I think what happens to the farm is out of our control but you have to find that hope knowing that you have done everything you can for what you love."
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you need help with depression, please see beyondblue for a list of organisations that can help.