Community Resilience helped Gunnedah shine in tough times

Gunnedah Shire Council

A final report of the Community Resilience Program has detailed how the program helped Gunnedah Shire weather difficult times.

The Gunnedah Shire Council Community Resilience Program won the Local Government award in the NSW 2020 Resilient Australia Awards.

“This wonderful recognition of the combined efforts of Council and our community showcased the efforts taken over a very challenging time to strengthen our Shire into the future,” the Community Resilience Program Final Report notes.

The report shows the program included 21 community-led resilience, drought and visitor economy projects with a total of $3.2 million funding in 2020-21.

The funding included $1.2m from Gunnedah Shire Council, $1 million from the Commonwealth Drought Communities Extension Program, and $1 million from the NSW Government Drought Stimulus Program.

“This was an exceptional program,” Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said.

“It made it possible, during the most difficult days of the drought, to not only encourage our community in their endeavours, but to build a better Gunnedah for better times ahead.

“The Community Resilience Program saw projects such as the Dorothea Mackellar silo mural, the upgrade of facilities at organisations like Ooranga Curlewis Preschool and Balcary Park, and a better canteen for Gunnedah Rugby Club.

“This report shows that these projects supported an estimated 40 jobs in 2020-21 and created 10 new jobs. There are also immeasurable benefits in the ongoing amenity and pride these projects bring with them, alongside the direct expenditure of more than $3 million into a drought-impacted economy. That’s a remarkable achievement.”

The projects completed under the Commonwealth funding requirements were:

  • Facilities upgrades at Ooranga Curlewis Preschool, Gunnedah Motorcycle Club’s Balcary Park, the Gunnedah Rural Museum, Carroll Sports Ground and Gunnedah Rural Fire Service Headquarters;
  • Drought resilience projects at Porcupine Reserve and Pensioners Hill including water supply upgrades at Yallambee Gunnedah Homes for the Aged and Kelvin Hall along with the completion of the Adverse Event Plan;
  • Tourism-focused projects with a Dorothea Mackellar-inspired silo art painting, and protection of the Gunnedah Water Tower Museum Vietnam War Memorial mural;
  • Support for sporting associations, especially to host more events in future, through an upgrade of the Black and Blue Boxing Gym, upgrading lighting at the Tennis Courts and upgrading the canteen for Gunnedah Senior and Junior Rugby; and
  • Culturally targeted projects with an Arts Gunnedah mural in the CBD and new musical and theatrical events developed by the Gunnedah Conservatorium of Music.

The projects undertaken with State funding were:

  • Replacing old amenities with accessible bathrooms and new audio-visual equipment at the Gunnedah Shire Band Hall;
  • Approvals, bores and standpipe installations in Carroll, Emerald Hill and Kelvin;
  • Solar panel installations at two key sites, with a 100kW solar array at the sewerage treatment plant and a 40kW array at the sewer pump station better utilising council land and contributing to reduced energy costs for the next 25 years; and
  • Installation of automatic watering and monitoring systems at two sites – Pensioners Hill and the Showground precinct, supporting drought resilience and volunteers.

The projects undertaken with Council funding were:

  • $600,000 was re-directed to support Invigorate Gunnedah, a COVID-19 recovery plan;
  • $200,000 directly engaged the resources to design, support and administer the Community Resilience Program;
  • Around $300,000 was directed towards the Farmer Army, paying locals whose income had been impacted by the drought for such projects as the Stock Road beautification; and
  • Just under $30,000 supported the Riding for the Disabled project, covering the acquisition of a horse float and three-seater wheelchair compatible carriage.

Caption: One of the most recognisable projects achieved under Council’s Community Resilience Program is the award-winning Dorothea Mackellar mural on the Gunnedah Maize Mill.

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