Agency staff were in North Queensland last week to see first-hand how communities are coping with the drought and to talk to primary producers, businesses and other stakeholders about the level of recovery a year after the monsoonal flooding of 2019.
Arriving in Longreach the team were pleased to see the hope that has come with recent rainfall, but noted that the showers are highly variable and patchy.
In Winton the team attended the Remote Area Planning Development Board (RAPAD) meeting to gain ideas and insights into how local regions are faring in the current drought as well as the recovery from the 2019 monsoon flood event. RAPAD is a regional development organisation and regional organisation of councils which aims to foster, facilitate and promote the sustainable growth and development of the Central Western Queensland region.
The team also caught up with Trish Sloan from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum to learn about the museum’s expansion plans and other business innovations. This unique museum is home to the world's largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. The museum is looking to expand even further and attract more tourists to the region with the addition of a star-gazing observatory that will make use of the region’s recent accreditation as a Dark Sky sanctuary.
As well as battling a sea of gidgee bugs, the team held a general drop-in session, with locals dropping in to chat about how recovery is going generally. These meetings were well attended, supporting the Agency to maintain its commitment to solutions that are locally led, locally understood and locally implemented.
In Cloncurry the team met with the local mayor and Agency Advisory Board member, Greg Campbell, to discuss mobile phone connectivity for the region and the importance of supporting diverse employment and business opportunities.
They also met with Susan Dowling from the Sisters of the North charity and Dr Tim Driscoll from the Royal Flying Doctor Service to discuss issues such as mental health and community wellbeing. The group discussed the long-term strategy for recovery and the importance of communities being involved and having a voice in how recovery initiatives are implemented.
Before wrapping up, the team met with Lindsey Perry, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) Beef Extension Officer for the region. They heard about the effectiveness of their local outreach, including opportunities for younger people to attend conferences, learn new ideas and build peer support networks that can foster innovation.
The Agency is looking forward to an expanded visit to the North Queensland region.