The Wakefield region in South Australia sits just north of Adelaide and is best known for its grain and hay production as well as commercial fishing, poultry and pig farming.
Like many parts of regional Australia, times have been tough with the lack of rain in recent years impacting Wakefield townships and farms alike.
To counter the effects of drought, create employment and provide important community facilities, the Wakefield Regional Council made good use of the $1 million in Australian Government funding provided through the Drought Communities Programme (DCP) in 2018.
Wakefield Mayor Rodney Reid said the projects completed with the DCP funding were a tremendous asset for both Council and the community.
“Like most regional areas, ‘sport’ and ‘community’ are integral to living and working in the Wakefield region,” he said.
“This funding gave us a unique opportunity to improve our community spaces and alleviate some ongoing amenities costs for our hardworking clubs and volunteers.
“It was a satisfying feeling to be giving back to the people who love and cherish these spaces, the volunteers who run the facilities and the people who work hard to put on events and carnivals.”
Many of the DCP projects undertaken by Wakefield Council involved upgrading local sporting facilities, community gyms, swimming pools, town halls and playing fields.
DCP funds were also allocated towards the upgrade of facilities at community halls, the upkeep of historical tourist attractions and improvements to the local road network to allow greater access to farms.
Other projects included the installation of solar panels for local swimming pools, a security system for the Brinkworth Museum and a major kitchen and electrical upgrade at the Owen Institute Hall.
One of the sports facilities funded through the DCP was the Snowtown Community Gym.
Mayor Reid said the gym has made it easier for locals to engage in an active, healthy lifestyle.
“The Snowtown Gym has gone on to become a popular facility and one of the only fit-for-purpose places where locals can meet up, do some exercise, and embrace a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
All DCP-funded projects were locally-led, and over 40 local contractors were employed, as well as a project coordinator.
A primary focus of the Australian Government program is to use local resources and suppliers to complete the projects. This helps keep businesses, services and facilities in regions affected by drought, and generates a long-lasting benefit to agriculturally-dependent communities.
Wakefield celebrated the completion of their DCP projects with an event A Million Reasons to Celebrate, featuring celebrity chef Poh Yeow, who hosted a live cooking masterclass using local produce. Mayor Reid said this important event brought the community together and provided an opportunity to keep people socialising and strengthen resilience and social ties.
On 7 November 2019, the council was announced as eligible to receive a further $1 million to support more local projects, as drought conditions continue. Upon confirmation of the grant, the council plans to use this additional $1 million to extend the popular Cinema complex in Blyth, support a Silo art project at Owen, and fund streetscape improvements at Balaklava and Hamley Bridge.