Scenic Rim drought resilience to get million dollar federal funding boost

DROUGHT: Council has released details of projects to increase drought resilience across the region. Photo: Brian Williams
DROUGHT: Council has released details of projects to increase drought resilience across the region. Photo: Brian Williams

THE federal government has earmarked $1 million for drought resilience projects in the Scenic Rim, including the employment of a drought resilience co-ordinator and development of an adverse event plan.

Federal MP Scott Buchholz said the funding would help the region get back on its feet during this enduring drought.

"I secured these funds last year and now we're going to see the local initiatives rolled out," he said.

"The Drought Communities Programme - Extension is about unlocking projects in local communities, that support the local economy, create jobs and provide a longer-term community benefit."

Mr Buchholz said without the funding from the Australian government, Scenic Rim Regional Council would be "simply not able to deliver these much-needed programs and projects".

"I know this drought is felt just as hard on the main streets of our major centres such as Beaudesert and Boonah as it is in the back paddocks of Rathdowney and Aratula," he said.

"That is why we have continued to step-up our drought response, as the drought worsened.

"I look forward to working with our community and the council to deliver these upgrades including upgrades to water tanks at rural community halls and support for our agricultural sector with skills and land management programs."

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the funding, which would deliver a number of projects to support local communities.

"With agriculture as one of our major industries, the many years with limited rain has been a major issue for our local farmers and has flow on effects to the rest of our communities," he said.

"While we have no control of weather patterns, this funding will help us strengthen our resilience to the drought by providing a coordinated approach to drought response and resilience.

"We will also be delivering projects to support upskilling members of our agricultural sector and helping them navigate opportunities to diversify their businesses.

"Land and waterway management will also be a focus of projects, and we will upgrade community facilities to provide valuable places for people to gather and socialise and create a shared sense of community.

Cr Christensen said the Australian government grant was critically important to fund these projects.

"As a regional council with a limited revenue base, receiving this grant is a great outcome for our communities," he said.

"It means we are able to deliver projects with long-term benefits without adding the financial burden to our ratepayers.

"It's been great to see the recent rainfall greening our region and helping those who are suffering from the ongoing drought."

Projects to be funded included:

  • Employing drought and resilience coordinator. Council said the person employed would coordinate, develop, and deliver drought preparedness, response and resilience programs across the Scenic Rim, and oversee the development of an adverse event plan.
  • Upskilling the agricultural sector to build business capability and diversification and provide training in new agricultural technologies.
  • Delivering industry cluster program engaging specialists to work with the agricultural industry to build capability and capacity, providing mentoring to diversify within the agricultural industry or modify existing practices to incorporate other income streams.
  • Delivering land management workshops on the themes of farming best management practice including drought management and changing climate conditions.
  • Target waterway weeds, employing local contractors. Council said the project would reduce riparian weeds that degrade waterways resulting in poor water quality.
  • Deliver mental health first aid training to key members and enablers of the community and frontline staff in council.
  • Install or upgrade water tanks at rural community halls. Council said the project would employ local people to expand water storage capacity, improve water security and access at rural community halls.
  • Upgrade Mount Alford Playground, Bowman Park including the construction of a new playground and upgrading the surrounding area at the Mount Alford playground with new playground equipment, shade sails, organic and rubber soft fall and concrete kerbing.
  • A new destination music event that would bring upwards of 5000 visitors to the Scenic Rim. Council said this project would bring positive economic return to nearby towns through employing local vendors and visitor spend, as well as the entire Scenic Rim region through 'stay and play' offerings for the audience and an event legacy in return visitation by friends and family. To be delivered in partnership with the Queensland Music Festival and council. The event also received $145,000 in funding from the Australian government's Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grant Stream 2.

Eligible activities to be funded under the Drought Communities Programme - Extension included:

  • repairs, maintenance, upgrading or building new community facilities
  • repairs, maintenance, upgrades, construction and fit-out of community spaces
  • employing local contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance
  • holding events
  • undertaking other drought relief activities (including water carting for human consumption) that benefit the community
  • development of an Adverse Event Plan.