Three Big Rivers Director Thomas Holden (left) with NQ Dry Tropics CEO Dr Scott Crawford.

Healing Country extension continues support for jobs and the Reef

A highly-successful 12-month project supporting Indigenous jobs and training while protecting the Reef has been extended until June 2022.

The Healing Country initiative, funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Assist program, is being delivered by NQ Dry Tropics in partnership with Indigenous employment group Three Big Rivers.  

Under the original project, members of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Team gained practical on-ground skills working on NQ Dry Tropics projects across North Queensland, while undertaking an accredited environmental training program. 

And thanks to an additional $150,000 investment, a new team is out on country helping to reduce sediment run-off from grazing properties in the lower Burdekin.

Team members are complementing work done by landholders at Swan’s Lagoon and Landers Creek, southwest of Ayr, to accelerate the healing of scalds and gullies on grazing land. 

So far, they have installed 29 leaky weirs — sticks and rocks held together with mesh — in gullies to trap sediment and create suitable conditions for plant growth.

They have also chemically-controlled 5.7 hectares of rubber vine, parkinsonia and prickly acacia to date from riparian zones along the Burdekin river, to help promote the establishment of native vegetation that better stabilises creek banks and prevents sediment erosion.

Alongside the on-ground work, team members are studying for a Cert III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management and receiving a range of further training, including: installing leaky weirs; chemical weed control; and revegetation.

NQ Dry Tropics CEO Dr Scott Crawford said the project extension was good news for the Burdekin region.

“The Healing Country project supported five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with training and work experience on NQ Dry Tropics projects aiming to reduce sediment run-off to the Great Barrier Reef”, Dr Crawford said.

“All five original participants found permanent employment, and the additional funding will provide opportunities for more young Indigenous people to connect with country, while gaining important work and life skills.

Three Big Rivers Director Thomas Holden said the Reef Assist program had created additional meaningful employment opportunities, and facilitated a joint venture between his organisation and the Bindal Traditional Owners in the region.

“Two Rangers from the Gudjuda Reference Group are working closely with the crew, which supports knowledge sharing and ensures culturally safe workplaces across this project,” Mr Holden said. 

“This level of collaboration allows both organisations to expand their operational footprint across the region.”