Located in central west New South Wales, Gilgandra Shire is an agricultural region with cropping, cattle and sheep enterprises and is part of a region with a rich history and various tourist attractions.
In 2018, Gilgandra Shire Council was eligible for $1 million in Drought Communities Programme (DCP) funding from the Australian Government. When they put out an open call for priority project applications from the community, the response was overwhelming.
“Gilgandra Council supported 23 community projects in 2019 through the first round of DCP funding. The projects covered infrastructure and facility upgrades, as well as community events focused on mental health and resilience,” said Mayor Doug Batten.
The diverse mix of projects helped to rejuvenate Gilgandra, Curban and Tooraweenah inside and out while stimulating the local economy.
“It was exciting to see so many different projects and initiatives for our Shire, and it was inspiring to see people and groups come together to deliver community benefits during this time.
“Many of the projects supported the local businesses, either by using local contractors or boosting tourism.” Mayor Batten said.
The Tooraweenah Showground in particular benefited from the construction of a new kitchen and undercover seating area, making it much better suited to hosting the annual agricultural show.
Other community facility upgrades included the Gilgandra Speedway, Little Athletics Club, Tooraweenah CWA rooms, Curban Hall and Wellness Centre, Tooraweenah Cricket Oval and the Gilgandra Basketball Stadium. Each of these upgrades will provide long-term opportunities for community groups to thrive, and even to host regional events in the future.
The DCP funding also made possible a range of locally organised initiatives that lifted both the economy and community spirit. One such event was the Dust to Dusk drought relief concert, which was a free family event that saw over 1,200 people attend.
The Coonamble-Castlereagh District Landcare group also delivered five successful family ‘Dustbuster Days’ around the Shire in partnership with Gilgandra Lions Club. These community barbeques provided an opportunity for everyone to get together, enjoying the company of friends and neighbours in a casual and relaxed setting.
The Gular Rugby Launch and Mental Health Awareness function united the community to celebrate a common interest in sport while destigmatising and supporting important discussions about mental health.
The Gilgandra Jockey Club hosted a Calcutta night and New Year’s Day Carnival, attracting a high number of locals and visitors, which significantly increased spending in the local economy.
Together, the projects created 137 contractor and 42 ongoing jobs, providing a welcome boost to the region’s economy. The events spurred tourism in Gilgandra and injected much-needed funds back into the community, with more money being spent at local shops, restaurants and hotels.
The DCP funding provided a significant opportunity for Gilgandra Shire to deliver locally identified projects, all of which were initiated and delivered by community organisations and interest groups. This approach ensured the projects were in response to direct issues and needs, and were implemented for the maximum benefit for the Shire.
On 7 November 2019, Gilgandra Shire Council was announced as eligible to receive another $1 million under DCP Extension to provide support for the community as drought conditions continue.