Reef Assist investment extended to $20 million for projects in six catchment areas

Published Monday, 21 November, 2022 at 10:30 AM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

The Palaszczuk Government is injecting more than $20 million into its Reef Assist initiative to assure ongoing protection of the Great Barrier Reef, while supporting more than 150 new regional jobs.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the Reef Assist program was all about reducing water pollution and creating good jobs in Great Barrier Reef catchments.

“The Great Barrier Reef is Queensland’s most iconic natural asset and our investment is designed to protect it, while creating good jobs,” Minister Scanlon said.

“Six new projects will be funded under ‘Reef Assist 2.0’ across the Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, and Fitzroy Reef catchment areas.

“We had initially committed $10 million for this round of Reef Assist projects, however we received so many great proposals we have increased funding – bringing the total to $20 million – to this round.”

Ms Scanlon said the projects would be delivered in partnership with natural resource management organisations, local councils, First Nations and environmental organisations.

“We have a strong focus on First Nations employment and training, with approximately half of the new jobs created expected to be filled by First Nations people.”

$8.5 million for Reef Assist 2.0 has been allocated to five organisations, with funding expected to be allocated in the Burnett Mary region before the end of 2022, with an additional $10 million worth of projects now in assessment, from the current application round.

The organisations are:

  • Cape York NRM: $1.338 million
  • Greening Australia: $2.3 million across two projects in the Wet Tropics and the Fitzroy
  • Jaragun EcoServices: $862,000
  • Townsville City Council: $2 million
  • Reef Catchments: $2 million

Ms Scanlon said the Reef Assist initiative started in September 2020 with $10 million in funding, with a further $3.5 million provided to allow continuation of some of the original projects.

“The first iteration of the program was incredibly successful, delivering 11 projects in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions.

“First Nations people were employed in around half of the 230 jobs created in the first program and, for many participants, it was their first full time work and the training and experiences provided have greatly broadened their future employment opportunities.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity to extend the work we have been doing in the Cape York Peninsula,” Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries and Water Quality Manager Michael Goddard said.

“Gully erosion remediation has proved to be a great success in terms of reducing the amount of sediment that runs into the Reef, and we have a proven track record in assisting Indigenous trainees obtain their heavy machinery tickets and increase land management knowledge.”

Reef Assist achievements to date:

  • 232 regional jobs directly supported
  • 190 people receiving training, with 134 courses completed
  • 109% of vegetation restoration targets achieved
  • 389% of soil health restoration and bank stabilisation targets achieved
  • 93% of participants surveyed noted increased physical and mental wellbeing, community connectedness and sense of personal or cultural identity

Information on the individual projects funded in Reef Assist 2.0 follows:

Cape York region

Cape York NRM Cape York Gully Remediation and Creation of Indigenous Employment Pathways, delivering:

  • remediation of eroded gullies in the Normanby catchment
  • practical and theoretical machinery operation training on Normanby and Melsonby Stations to repair gullies, reducing sediment loss to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, and
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country in remote Indigenous owned cattle stations

Wet Tropics region

Greening Australia Wet Tropics Wetland and Cane Drainage Water Quality Treatment Systems, delivering:

  • repair and revegetation of wetlands and riparian cane drainage systems in the Mulgrave catchment to deliver improved Reef water quality, and
  • in partnership with Wanyurr-Majay Aboriginal Corporation and Mulgrave Landcare, providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country.

Jaragun EcoservicesRestoration of Wetland Function in the Russell River Catchment, delivering:

  • revegetation of both natural and constructed wetlands for reductions in dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) pollutant loads, and
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country.

Burdekin region

Townsville City Council Townsville Landscape Regeneration through First Nations Knowledge and Delivery, delivering:

  • catchment restoration activities in the Black-Ross basins, including gully, sheet and streambank erosion remediation, and soil and land improvement work
  • utilisation of innovative urban development erosion control products and techniques, and
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country. 

Mackay Whitsunday region

Reef Catchments – Mackay Whitsunday Streambank Stewardship Program, delivering:

  • riparian revegetation, bank stabilisation and gully erosion remediation to halt sediment run-off, undertaken in partnership with three Landcare organisations, Traditional Owners and First Nations people
  • supporting the development of a Healthy Country Plan for Koinjmal Country, and
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country.

Fitzroy region

Greening Australia Woorabinda Healing Country and Gully Remediation Program, delivering:

  • water quality improvement through the stabilisation of a range of eroding gullies and streambanks across Woorabinda Aboriginal Council Land and Woorabinda Pastoral Company Land in the Fitzroy Catchment, and
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country.

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Media contact: Francis Dela Cruz - 0420 592 078