As the worst drought in history continues to take its toll, Rural Aid has launched a campaign aimed at providing 10 country towns impacted by drought, with a makeover.
Established within Rural Aid's ongoing Sustainable Community program, the 10 country towns will receive a minimum of $100,000 each over five years.
Working with town leaders, the money will be spent developing plans, through facilitated workshops, to support the long-term sustainability of the town and local community. Rural Aid will partner with experts in rural/regional town renewal who will work with town leaders to develop the long-term renewal strategy.
Rural Aid's Farm Army of volunteers (usually between 50 - 100) will also spend a week in the town undertaking a range of infrastructure projects which town leaders identify as important to the town and community.
Small country towns play a critical role in supporting the social and economic fabric of their local communities.
They have unique symbiotic relationships with the farms located around them. Farmers rely on their local town for off farm income through employment, farm employees and services from the local doctor, teachers, dentists, accountants and government support staff. Then there's the small businesses like the local pharmacy, grocery, butcher, bakery, bank and rural supply company.
"Rural Aid believes in community," CEO of Rural Aid, Charles Alder said. "Unfortunately, small town decline is real with some suggesting over 70 percent are at risk. Take these towns out of the equation and the local ecosystem is impacted forever. There are enough case studies of rural towns that have reversed the trend and created successful thriving communities to know that anything's possible!"
"Our community program lifts morale and injects much needed capital into the local community," Mr Alder said.
Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that since 2012, many parts of rural Australia have lost thousands of people due to the decline in the agricultural and mining sectors.
Nominations close on 30 September 2019.
The selection process will include an evaluation and assessment of the towns vision and leadership capability. For more information go to: https://www.ruralaid.org.au/nominate/