Coordinator-General Shane Stone and Agency staff are spending two weeks driving across the Northern Territory and Queensland to see first-hand how the drought is affecting people and their communities.
Throughout the journey Shane and his team will speak with property owners, local businesses, community leaders and other members of rural and regional communities about their experiences of drought and what the government can do to improve its response.
The journey began in Katherine on 12 December where Shane addressed the Ministerial Forum on Northern Development on improving the resilience of regional communities and the Agency’s work with communities recovering from the North Queensland floods in early 2019.
The team then headed south to the Barkly Shire where CEO of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association Ashley Manicaros led the group on a visit to several drought-hit properties.
The group visited Beetaloo, Newcastle Waters and Phillip Creek stations to see how the impacts of the drought are being managed and to learn more about water infrastructure, grazing management and techniques used to improve the resilience of farming businesses.
At Beetaloo station owners Jane and Scott Armstrong have invested in a grid-based water system giving their 80,000 head of cattle easy access to water and ensuring livestock remain in optimal condition.
The visit to Barkly Shire concluded with a meeting with Mayor Steve Edgington, Councillor Kris Civitarese and a local agriculture business to discuss how drought conditions are affecting the local town and pastoralists.
The following day the group continued their journey south to Alice Springs where they visited Elkedra and Ammaroo stations to learn about the importance of connective infrastructure including bitumen roads and telecommunications in helping primary producers to manage their cattle businesses and improve self-sufficiency.
At Elkedra station, the Driver family have been experiencing drought for four long years and are keen to improve their long-term strategies for building and maintaining self-sufficiency. This includes establishing critical infrastructure like mobile towers and bitumen roads to improve livestock watering points. This infrastructure is also shown to have wider community benefits and lasts beyond the immediate drought.
The team also met with the Alice Springs Mayor Damian Ryan to discuss the impact of drought on Central Australia, as well as the ways in which Government at all levels can work together to ease the financial burden on affected families and support preparedness for future drought.
On the next leg of the trip the group will cross the border into Queensland and head to the towns of Boulia, Barcaldine, Blackall, Winton and Longreach.
The Drought and Flood Agency would like to thank station owners for allowing us to visit their properties. Thanks also to Ashley Manicaros for joining us on the first leg of the journey and for sharing his knowledge and ideas with us.