Register now or the 4th Australian Regional Development Conference, held at Novotel Coffs Harbour Pacific Bay Resort from Monday 11 – Tuesday 12 September 2017. 

Mrs Merran Socha, Business and Industry Liason for Berrigan Shire Council joins us this year, presenting “Engaging a community to benefit an industry”.

Engaging a Community to Benefit an Industry

Merran Socha

Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) was declared endemic in Southern NSW and Northern Victoria in 2011 and all State Government intervention in eradication of the pest ceased. The community was accustomed to contractors entering private property and blanket spraying when outbreaks of QFF were detected in the high value pest free production zones of the southern Riverina and the Goulburn and Murray Valleys. Almost immediately the local horticultural industry was impacted with increased infestation of QFF, resulting in increased costs for control, a decrease in production and international market access was threatened. Concurrently, the community was impacted with infestation and fruit destruction in backyard orchards and loss of vegetable garden production.

Council faced a double edged sword from the same issue – needing to support its largest and most valuable industry and wanting to protect and promote a healthy community activity in productive backyard orchards vegetable gardens. Research strongly supported the hypothesis that most QFF infestations originated in the urban and peri-urban areas where the pest was offered shelter and the ability to “overwinter”.

A comprehensive communication strategy was developed to educate community on how to best protect their gardens from QFF. The premise of the campaign was that control in the towns would be the best way to protect the horticulture industry. The program was initially implemented by Berrigan Shire Council and in subsequent years has become a cross border partnership including Moira Shire Council. The marketing strategy for this program is unique in that we used the idea of the individual helping themselves to actually assist the industry, a technique that would be used in community development projects but quite unique in the delivery of an Economic Development project.

In 2016 this QFF program was recognised in the 2016 NSW LGA Awards for communication.

The 2017 Australian Regional Development Conference will focus on issues surrounding the Economy, Planning, Environment and Community Development while considering the “State of the Regions Report” which called for support of regional economic development through diverse infrastructure investments determined by regional priorities in partnership with Local Government. 

There will be an extensive range of topics with over 50 Featured and Expert Presenters, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies, Workshops and Poster Presentations.

Find out more about what’s on for this year here.