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Drought funding instalment talks

Drought funding instalment talks

East Gippsland Shire Council, Orbost Regional Health and Far East Victorian Landcare met last week to detail how the first instalment of Victorian Government drought funding will be delivered to the Orbost and district community.

East Gippsland and Wellington shire councils will receive $250,000, with the first instalment of $100,000 now available.

Council’ s chief executive officer, Gary Gaffney, said $40,000 would go to the Orbost district for projects such as the Big Bonang Arvo, a field trip for women in agriculture and health and wellbeing initiatives.

“The meeting with Far East Victorian Landcare’ s Dawn Parker and Orbost Regional Health’s Meryn Pease last Thursday was extremely constructive, with various suggestions to utilise the drought package discussed,” Mr Gaffney said.

“Orbost Regional Health and Far East Victorian Landcare are really engaged in the process and have been of great assistance.

“Among the key discussions were how we could implement a first aid mental health program across East Gippsland that could be rolled out to not only farmers, but people supporting the farming sector such as stock agents, suppliers, contractors etc.”

Mr Gaffney said council also has access to funding that can assist community groups with putting on events such as barbecues, wool shed morning teas etc.

“We are also working on a proposal to put to council on how to best utilise the $1 million in Federal Government drought funding. We have requested changes to some of the funding parameters, however the majority will need to be spent on infrastructure projects in the area. Bush nursing centres may be one of the areas that come into consideration.”

Orbost Regional Health chief executive officer, Meryn Pease, said the community project, Stand by Your Farmer, was excited to receive the funding via council.

“The funding will enable farmer health checks and activities at the Big Bonang Arvo (held on Wednesday, October 31),” Ms Pease said.

“This is a fantastic step forward in supporting our farmers and community during the drought.”

Ms Pease acknowledged this was timely delivery of the first stage of funding, and said the meeting with Far East Victorian Landcare and Council to detail program delivery was very productive.

Meanwhile, East Gippsland Shire Council mayor, Cr Joe Rettino, represented the region at the National Drought Summit in Canberra last Friday which saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison bring together more than 80 representatives from across Australia with leaders across all levels of government joined by experts from the agricultural, charity, community, banking and finance sectors.

Cr Retinno joined Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, at the Summit to announce the funding to develop a business case and build the first stage of Omeo Mountain Bike Trail as part of its drought relief program.

The funding is provided through the State Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, along with $1.52 million from East Gippsland Shire and $1.5 million from the Federal Government.

Cr Rettino said the announcement was very welcomed.

“This is a fantastic outcome from the summit, which will see local jobs created during the construction phase and the potential for offfarm jobs to help our drought affected farmers,” Cr Rettino said.

PICTURED: Dawn Parker (Far East Victorian Landcare), Meryn Pease (ORH CEO), Gary Gaffney (EGSC CEO) and Paul Holton (EGSC Director Development) met last week to discuss how State Government drought funding would be spent on the region.


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