Five Queensland regions complete landmark drought resilience plans
Published Tuesday, 26 September, 2023 at 12:30 PM
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner
Queensland’s rural and agricultural communities will be in a stronger position to adapt to drought and climate change thanks to the Albanese and Palaszczuk Governments’ investment in drought resilience planning.
At today’s National Drought Forum in Rockhampton, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt and Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner announced Drought Resilience Plans for the first five Queensland regions - Fitzroy and Capricornia, Darling Downs, Burdekin and Charters Towers, Torres Strait and Cape York and South West Queensland - have now been finalised, ensuring Queenslanders are as ready as possible for the next drought.
The Plans have been developed by Councils, in partnership with regional communities, farmers and industry, and cover a range of areas including community wellbeing, resilient local businesses and economies, building skills and leadership, landscapes, and collaboration.
Each region will be supported with a grant of up to $300,000 to help kick-start implementation of priority actions identified in their plans.
Queensland regions will also be able to access up to $150,000 for an implementation officer to help put the plans into action.
The Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program is funded through the Future Drought Fund, by the Federal and Queensland Governments.
Minister Watt said the plans were an important part of community readiness for drought.
“With hotter, drier conditions on the way on the back of El Niño conditions now confirmed for Australia, it’s vital communities are equipped with the right tools to be more resilient to drought, and to bounce back quicker.”
“These plans represent a great deal of work by regional communities to share their experience, knowledge, and ideas. They set out how businesses, councils and people in these communities are going to prepare and hold their community together in the event of another drought.
“Each region is unique and so each drought plan will be too. Each community can come together to share their experience and knowledge to build a plan with locally tailored actions to prepare for future droughts.”
Minister Furner said that, while most of the state was not currently in drought, it was vital to prepare.
“We have had some regions that have only just emerged from drought status after a decade, but with an El Nino weather pattern confirmed, it means communities need to prepare,” he said.
“We have put in place critical reforms to our drought assistance for primary producers, ensuring they don’t need to be in a drought declared area to access financial support for preparedness.
“These plans are about the whole community, not just our farmers, and how they can best work together to be resilient when the next drought inevitably arrives.
“The Program for the pilot year received the Australian Institute of Program Management awards for the Government project, the Project of the Year in Queensland and went on to win the Government project at a national level, which celebrates Queensland’s approach to the development of these plans in the pilot year.”
Assistant Minister Chisholm said the plans demonstrate the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring regional and remote communities possess the infrastructure needed to build their resilience to severe dry spells.
“Queenslanders are well aware of the threat droughts pose to our state’s environment and economy. The Albanese and Palaszczuk Governments want to make sure that we’re as prepared as possible for when we inevitably encounter another drought.
“The Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program will better connect communities in these five regions with the support and services required during times of need.”
“Collaboration between local governments, regional organisations and industry is key to this program benefitting those it seeks to assist. We look forward to working with those groups over the coming months.
The Rural Economies Centre of Excellence were engaged during the pilot program to work with the communities to develop the plans.
Drought Resilience Plans for the remaining nine regions within the State are now underway, with completion set for 2024.
Regional Drought Resilience Planning is a key program under the Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund and is rolling out nationally. For more information on the Future Drought Fund, visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund.
Minister Watt: Tali Eley – 0499 770 772
Minster Furner: Martin Philip - 0407 675 008
Assistant Minister Chisholm: James Laidler – 0458 729 475