Coordinator-General for Drought, Major General Stephen Day, told Fairfax Media he will know when his job is done and his work is finished when communities feel they are supported after being helped through a period of recovery, and when the government has a long-term strategy for drought resilience and preparedness on its table.
"That's the day I can fold my flag down and go back to doing what I was," he said.
Major General Day visited Armidale as part of an information tour on Friday and held a meeting to speak with a variety of people, including farmers, Councillors, community members and members from charities.
They were very frank and considered about the ideas they had to put on the table.Major General Stephen Day
"There was quite a cross section of the community," he said.
"We had a chance to have a conversation about how the drought is affecting individuals and their families, how it is affecting farms as a business and how it is having a flow-on effect.
Major General Day said he came away with a very rounded understanding of the challenges in the broader Armidale area.
"At this point in time it seems to me that there's actually quite an extraordinary range of support out there, from government and of course charities and national institutions," he said.
"The challenge at the moment is to bring it all together and co-ordinate it so that we haven't got overlaps; that we can understand where the gaps are and make some recommendations to plug those.
"We can manage this, but it is complicated. So, one of the things I've been trying to do is build a framework that would help us understand it and make some progress."
Major General Day said he had a “listen, plan and act” process, which he was very careful not to confuse the order of, and had reached the planning stage.
He saw the drought in the three phases of stabilisation (dealing with the drought as it is), recovery (supporting farmers after it rained) and then long-term preparedness and resilience strategy for the nation.
Major General Day said he would take a broad approach and look inside those phases from personal, farm business, community and information perspectives.
"As I said, There are quite a range of programs and possibilities out there, but a lot of folks don't know what they are," he said.
"There are things that they could be accessing that they can't.
"And the other challenge is going back up the other way. It's for governments to have a clear picture of what is going on, because one of the things that is very clear about this drought is that its effect is very uneven."