Drought Employment Program (DEP) crews in North Central Victoria have returned to the field after a welcome respite of project works.
Much-needed rain at the start of May put local DEP projects on hold as crews returned to their farms to sow their crops.
Returning to the farm when needed is a key part of the program – which is now six months in and critically important to farmers and their families.
DEP crews are based at St Arnaud and Charlton and have worked on a range of projects over the past six months, including maintaining riparian zones along rivers, spraying weeds, repairing community assets, revegetation of land and protection of local assets.
Earlier in the year, the St Arnaud crew spent a week at Goodwin Village aged care centre in Donald to help with important landscaping works.
The program employs people in communities affected by drought to undertake a range of environmental projects, including weed and rabbit control works, watering revegetation sites, fencing off rivers and improving soil health.
The Andrews Labor Government announced a $3.15 million expansion of the program in April as part of the Drought Support Fund. It follows an initial investment of $1 million last November.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“I’ve seen first-hand the impacts of drought – which is why I’m proud that we’re working side-by-side with farming communities to ensure they get the support they need on and off farm.”
“The Drought Employment Program provides an income stream to farmers and farm workers affected by drought while also bringing a significant boost to local environmental projects.”
Quotes attributable to North Central CMA Program Delivery Executive Manager Tim Shanahan
“It is really important the DEP can help out those who need it, but it’s just as important to plan the work around what needs to be done on the farm.”
“We have built a lot of flexibility into the local program, and this benefits the community as well as the farmers.”
Quotes attributable to Goodwin Village Executive Officer Anthony Hogan
“The crew that came to Goodwin Village was excellent. They were easy going, worked hard and did quality work in pretty hot conditions.”
“These jobs have been on our radar for a year or two, and being able to access the program made them possible.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020