The drought may be affecting almost every area of their lives, but teens and young adults felt their power to survive and thrive through it at a statewide event this week.
Several dozen young participants did a lot of listening and learning - and decision-makers did them the same courtesy - at the UNICEF NSW Youth Drought Summit.
Attendees from the region said they were left feeling more connected and empowered as the three-day event unfolded Lake Macquarie in the Newcastle area.
While the summit was still under way, Elka Devney, 17, of Moree said it had been "really great".
"To know that the state government and UNICEF are providing rural youth the opportunity to discuss as well as collaborate with each other to build support for NSW people affected by drought is extremely rewarding but also so progressive," she said.
"Our voices as well as stories are being heard and listened to by change-makers who want to understand our experiences with drought."
The teenagers and young adults heard from and talked with presenters - including state ministers - on topics of mental health, water policy, local government and more.
There was also a range of outdoor activities including high ropes, fishing and kayaking - in fact, the lakeside location was chosen to give the young people a break from their usual dry surrounds.
'We're not alone'
Laura McFarland of Narrabri said: "We have learnt that we are not alone in what we are going through and that more people relate to us than we thought."
She said the summit had also showcased the ideas of young people.
"UNICEF staff [listened to] suggestions we have and tried to give us advice on how to move forward on these ideas," she said.
Caroona girl Sarah Hutchins, 15, said the summit had "really opened my eyes up to how we are all in the same boat, we're all facing the worst drought and we as the next generation are the decision -makers for the future".
Caroona teen Patrick Blomfield, a member of the steering committee for the summit, said he was "excited" to be discussing solutions to the problems drought-affected communities were facing.
"We're not looking for sympathy ... We're looking for better solutions," he said.
UNICEF, the United Nations' children's fund, hosted the event after it found in a study that young people on drought-stricken properties in NSW had "escalating levels of stress".
This was due to financial pressure at home and a greater workload split between family farms and school.