SA Aboriginal community turns to saltbush farming to create remote jobs

The Aboriginal community of Scotdesco on South Australia’s west coast, has pinned its hopes on farming to overcome shockingly high levels of unemployment.

Robert Larking’s office spans 25,000 acres on the edge of the Nullarbor, where he manages the tiny Aboriginal community.

He, and the community’s residents are embarking on an ambitious project to commercially sell saltbush, a hardy native, in a bid to create jobs in the remote area. To create employment, Mr Larking and the community is pinning its hopes on saltbush.

“Our process now is to go into a different stage where we can grow our saltbush, and feed our lamb saltbush and hit a different market,” he said.

The community has planted hundreds of saltbush plants, to be harvested commercially in three years’ time. A nursery has also been built where residents tend the seedlings until they are ready to go in the ground. There are plans to eventually build a mill in nearby Ceduna, where the plants can be turned into pellets for stock feed or flour for human consumption.

The community tends to saltbush seedlings until they are ready to be planted.

The community tends to saltbush seedlings until they are ready to be planted.

Saltbush is gluten free and high in protein.

“That’s when it’s really all going to come together, but we’ll be planting our paddocks for the next three years with other plants, so, increasing our stock.

While this project is only just getting off the ground, those involved have big plans. The hope is to plant about 10,000 hectares of saltbush in the region with the help of other Indigenous communities.

Ms Miller said it was important that job opportunities were available in remote areas.

Local Indigenous groups know this land, in the remote west of South Australia, inside out. That is why Mr Larking started looking at new ways the community could use their knowledge of the country to become self-sustainable.

He turned to farming, and the property runs sheep that are sold to market.

“We first started off with only 600 ewes and about 20 rams. After three years now we’ve got over 3,000 ewes and about 60 rams, even a bit more now, and we’re selling easy over 1,000 lambs a year,” he said.

Mr Larking said the community turned to saltbush to build on that success.

“We’re a small community and I sort of feel like there’s just a one-man-band, myself, but you know if I had more staff … we could move on very quickly to brighter and better things,” he said.

“Thinking about it, I can sell my meat to Woolies or Coles or something like that, a private buyer, instead of selling it straight to the market.”

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Richard Colbran to discuss community development and health

Community Development Richard Colbran

Richard Colbran will speak on how healthy, well country kids are a catalyst for strong communities

Community development: We are pleased to announce Mr Richard Colbran, Business Director, Royal Far West as a speaker, at the 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress which will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.

Richard Colbran will be speaking on ‘Healthy and well country kids – a catalyst for strong communities’ in the Community Development stream.

Healthy and well children and families are important to secure and sustain the next generation of regional Australia. However, families living in country Australia can face challenges in accessing services and good-quality infrastructure (AIFS, 2013). Rural communities are on average sicker, poorer and more disadvantaged compared to people in urban settings. They also have less access to health care (Wilson et al, 2009).

Children living in regional Australia have the right to receive the health and education services and support they need. This is essential so that they can develop well and participate fully in community life. Investment in country kids has exponential advantages to Australian society, delivering benefits and savings in health, education, justice and social welfare and enhancing human capital and productivity.

The presentation will provide examples of RFW approach: highlighting key steps in mobilising integrated funding partnerships, explaining how RFW is addressing the paediatric specialist and allied health workforce shortage and sharing RFW experiences of building service stream capacity to enhance health and community outcomes.

Rural Community Development – Richard Colbran

Richard Colbran is an experienced not-for-profit organisation manager in health and social services and is currently Business Director at Royal Far West – an independent, non-government charitable organisation which has been providing health services for rural and remote children across NSW since 1924.

An advocate for social leadership, Richard’s interests include discovery and innovation, building the capacity of individuals and organisations in order to create change for the community’s health, safety and wellbeing, and the commercialisation of services and products to support NGO sustainability.

Community development will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is the regional conference to attend. To view the 2016 Conference Program CLICK HERE.

The conference addresses issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation.

Roadmap for Regional Communities

Regional Communities: Regional development minister Terry Redman

Regional Communities: Regional development minister Terry Redman

Regional Communities: The WA Government has laid out its plan to overhaul the servicing of Aboriginal communities, with Indigenous leaders involved in the process describing it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for change as reported by Erin Parke.

The future of WA’s 274 Aboriginal communities has been under the microscope following Premier Colin Barnett’s comments that the State Government could no longer afford to keep funding all communities, and some would have to close.

The unit formed eight months ago to review the future of Aboriginal communities will today release details of the changes planned.

The report — described as a “Roadmap for Regional and Remote Aboriginal Communities” — outlines a focusing of funding and support on larger communities, and a withdrawal of the minor services currently delivered to more than 100 small outstations.

Regional Communities: However Regional Development Minister Terry Redman has emphasised no-one will be forced to leave the smaller bush out-stations, even though small government contributions, such as fuel subsidies, will be withdrawn.

“One of the not-negotiables in the work we did, was that we’re not going to remove, or force Aboriginal people to be removed from land, and access to their culture and heritage, access to their kin,” he said.

“So what’s imperative in this, is if someone wants to stay living on the land, living where they’ve always lived, they can do so.”

The 120 communities that have less than 10 residents, or which are only occupied occasionally, will therefore be required to be self-sufficient, while resources are focused on larger centres.

“By the end of the year, we’ll identify 10 of the larger communities and sequentially start coordinating investment into key municipal infrastructure, to give them much better service delivery around water, power, sewerage and the like going forward,” Mr Redman said.

“It may even be some of the bigger centres, where there is access to employment and good quality education, that they could get transitioned into a town.” To read more click here.

Regional Communities will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Early bird closes on 25th July so be quick to receive a discounted rate. To view the Conference Program CLICK HERE. With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is a Conference opportunity not to be missed.

The conference explores opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future and the Conference addresses issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation.

Big potential for growth in East Arnhem Land

ABC Rural

The head of a development body in Nhulunbuy believes the region is well poised to capitalise on potential agriculture and aquaculture ventures.

Rio Tinto’s decision to curtail the local alumina refinery in 2014 meant more than 1,000 people lost their jobs and the town took a huge economic hit.

Developing East Arnhem Land, which was created last year as a result of the curtailment, has been pitching to the major projects conference in Darwin this week.

CEO Carley Scott said there were a number of opportunities for investment in projects beyond mining.

“There’s been a big move in East Arnhem Land where we’ve seen people go through a really tough period and now come out the other side to a large degree,” she said.

“We can look at the port infrastructure that we’ve got there and what we can do with aquaculture in particular, agriculture as well.

“Whether it’s beef product that we already have there or… the crocodile industry, which is of interest to us.”

Ms Scott said there were a number of challenges that needed to be overcome to achieve the development sought, including access to land.

“If you’re looking to access land to develop, there is certainly commercial land available so that’s a real positive,” she said.

“You’re looking to build those partnerships… so you’ve got those really strong networks and the ability to really work well in the region.”

Read more.

Shannon Olds from the Office of Environment and Heritage to present on Cultural Tourism

Shannon Olds, Cultural Tourism Development Officer at the Office of Environment and Heritage will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Speaker Introduction: Shannon is a Wiradjuri woman from central west NSW and is the project manager of the Cultural Tourism Development Program. Shannon’s role is to increase the profile of cultural tourism within NSW national parks by working alongside Aboriginal people/communities to establish sustainable cultural tourism enterprises. Shannon has extensive experience in working with Aboriginal communities across the state. Prior to her role with OEH she was employed at her local land council and sat on the board of the lachlan CMA regional Aboriginal reference group and mid-lachlan Aboriginal housing co-operative. Shannon has a Bachelor of commmerce degree with a major in accounting and business law. Shannon was the recipient of this years Carol Kendall award which is an award that acknowledges outstanding contribution in a number of areas, Shannon won for her achievements in community liaison and project management.

Presentation Title: Cultural Tourism Development Program

Overview: The Cultural Tourism Development Program (CTDP) is an initiative of the Customer Experience Division and has been operating for the past 18 months.

It is a strategic state-wide program which facilitates and supports Aboriginal businesses, and Aboriginal business development by engaging and working collaboratively with Aboriginal communities/individuals who have been identified as having the potential to develop and deliver a new or enhanced cultural tourism experience within their local national park/s.

The program’s objectives are to increase the profile of Aboriginal cultural tourism within NSW, contribute to community capacity building through training and development and increase employment and economic development opportunities for Aboriginal people. This is achieved through the establishment of sustainable Aboriginal owned and operated tourism enterprises and a long-term partnership with NPWS.

The strategies implemented to achieve the program objectives include, facilitation of community workshops which provide an overview of the tourism industry and what is needed to succeed. A SWOT and Gap analysis is done through brainstorming and an action plan is developed to progress ideas and address any needs i.e. training etc. The CTDP Handbook is also an integral component of the program, designed specifically to assist new business operators with the development of a new cultural tourism experience. The program manager also plays a key role in assisting with industry networking and mentoring. Participants receive guidance and support on an ongoing basis from initial concept through to establishment and operations.

The NPWS CTDP program has the support of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Indigenous Business Australia, Tourism Australia, Destination NSW, the Local Government Aboriginal Network, the Aboriginal Economic Development Officer Program and Many Rivers Micro Financing. Already the CTDP has enjoyed great success, assisting with the development of five new Aboriginal owned and operated businesses

About the Conference

The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.

Themed Redefining the Future of Regional Australia,  the Conference will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Sub themes for concurrent sessions

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.