Jump to Navigation

Caring for our Country?

Printer-friendly version

Is the withdrawal of support for community engagement and capacity building which seriously constrained the start up of NHT2 being repeated, again?

Community Engagement

The Rudd government’s first announcement of its Caring for Our Country Program included cutting the Regional Natural Resource Management Facilitators and Community Landcare Coordinators. At end of June the total NRM and Indigenous facilitators/coordinators across the country will be reduced from 140 to 40.

Once again Canberra-based policy makers (with little or no understanding of what’s required to deliver sustainable NRM on the ground) appear to be adopting the “magic pudding” approach to investing in the sector covering natural resource management, environmental services, climate change adaptation and sustainable food production. One again they are assuming that human and social capital are spontaneously renewable resources which can be endlessly ‘mined’ as they continuously emerge, without investment!

It is widely acknowledged that achieving sustainable NRM and countryside development is all about engaging land managers and their rural communities in assessing their own situation, agreeing what they wanted to do about improving it and then learning-by-doing until empowered to manage themselves. The strong and vibrant rural communities which emerge from this process have an autonomous capacity to pull down assistance as necessary; to creatively solve their own problems and move forward towards ‘sustainability’.

Capacity Building

In NSW over 100 applications were submitted to the National Landcare Program’s Sustainable Practices component.These total $16M for Year 1 alone. However, with probably less than $3M allocated to NSW under the program it follows that most of us will be left to wither on the vine!

It took the efforts of many facilitators until late 2007 to make up some of the ground lost during the start up of NHT2 (2003-04) and with NLP and other support re-engage the de facto resource managers and their community-based volunteer groups of landcarers, no-till farmers and similar producers. Many groups never recovered. Will the nation’s landholders and other communities of carers once again have to suffer a setback as the electoral cycle and central policy makers curtail their hard-won capacity to effectively manage change?


Australia’s farmers, groups and networks and their supporting partner institutions have a proven drive and capacity to adopt regenerative agriculture, adapt to climate change and sustainably produce quality food. But they must be supported well beyond the limits imposed by the current model of centralized policy making and minimalist government investment.
Australia urgently needs an approach which:

  • directs much more investment towards community-based NRM, but also
  • supports the profession of NRM/landcare facilitators working out of producer & landcare networks, NRM regions and local government and enabling local communities across the country to effectively managing change.

Main menu 2

Dr. Radut Consulting