Valley

Fruit Industry Employment Program Report Released

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) recently released a report titled Fruit Industry Employment Program, A Fruitful Job – Program Partnership, which details the achievements from the 2013 – 2014 Fruit Industry Employment Program (FIEP).

The program, run by the Goulburn Broken CMA and supported by Greater Shepparton City Council, Moira Shire Council, Goulburn Murray Water and Parks Victoria, received $2 million from the Victorian Government in August 2013 to provide employment and training to orchardists and orchard workers while the industry transitioned in the wake of changes to SPC-Ardmona’s fruit intake.

Goulburn Broken CMA Project Manager Corey Wilson said the report describes the “good news stories”, people’s experiences and on ground works achieved during the very successful program, and demonstrates how skilled rural people can be supported by employment programs to achieve amazing results.

“Regional environmental employment programs are responsive and achieve excellent results when the roles of partner organisations are clear and complementary, and relationships between project partners are trusted and strong,” He said.

“The FIEP aimed to keep skilled orchard workers in our communities and build capacity and future employment options through training and hands-on experience, and the FIEP clearly achieved this.

“The Program increased participants understanding and appreciation of the value of protecting environmental assets, and it helped keep fruit growers and their workers gainfully employed while changes were happening in the horticulture industry.

“We really appreciate the support from the agencies that took on crews, and they in turn were really happy with the amount of on-ground work done by the participants.”  Mr Wilson said.

Activities carried out as part of the program include weed control (1,500 hectares, including 43 kilometres of roadside weeds), new protective fencing (47 kilometres), indigenous revegetation (13,000 seedlings) and wildlife nest box construction (400 nest boxes).

Fire affected Landholders in the Wunghnu area were especially thankful when the FIEP crews employed by the Goulburn Broken CMA, Parks Victoria and Moira Shire Council were able to hit the ground running after the 2014 February fires and helped remove and replace fire-damaged fences along more than 20 kilometres of creeks and wetlands (including Black Swamp and Kinnaird’s Wetland) adjoining private property on the Broken and Nine Mile Creeks.

Initial feedback on the report has been extremely positive, with a congratulatory letter just received by the CMA from Barnaby Joyce, Australian Minister for Agriculture.

Please contact the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority on 5822 7700, or call into the Shepparton Office at 168 Welsford Street Shepparton if you would like a copy of the report.