East Gippsland and Wellington Shire Councils have today endorsed their Gippsland Drought Response Proposal – Looking Ahead.
The document details a joint advocacy plan between the two Councils to the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments for drought assistance and recovery into the future.
In response to the drought, both Councils have established and engaged industry reference groups. These groups have provided the Councils with a clear picture of the day-to-day struggles of those severely impacted by the drought.
The Councils also acknowledge that the effects of this drought spread a lot further than just those farming the land. The loss of agricultural economic activity also has implications more broadly into our local business communities.
As a result, the Looking Ahead document proposes a three-tier approach to further engagement with the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments: Transition; Recovery; and, Adaption.
East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Natalie O’Connell said both Councils had been involved in successful advocacy on behalf of their primary producers resulting in funding for local events; water infrastructure; supporting grants for community initiatives and implementing the Australian Government drought package.
“While the immediate effects are now being felt, it will take years for our communities to fully recover,” Cr O’Connell said.
“That is why it was important for Wellington and East Gippsland shires to come together and plan how we are going to manage this advocacy past the drought and into the recovery of this drought.
“Our communities are looking ahead and re-assessing the way they do things in our changing climate. We need to do the same.”
Wellington Shire Council Mayor Alan Hall said Looking Ahead detailed how Councils would communicate the needs of their communities to the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.
“We propose the need for transition programs for those who either choose or have no choice other than to transition away from agriculture,” Cr Hall said. “We will also require recovery programs to help manage the impacts on farm and reduce off-farm impacts for the community.
“Adaption programs will also assist the communities to explore better pathways for agriculture in a changed climate.”
Both Wellington and East Gippsland shire councils will continue to work together and with other relevant agencies and partners towards a positive future that drives opportunity and positivity in the agriculture sector.