Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands, South Coast campuses to be activation centres
The University of Wollongong (UOW) will partner in a new $8 million Southern NSW Drought Resilience Hub announced this week.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announced in Wagga Wagga the establishment of a Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub for southern NSW.
The bid, led by Charles Sturt University (CSU), includes a large consortium of farming associations and industries, alongside key research and education institutions. In particular, UOW will offer its campuses in the Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands, Batemans Bay and Bega as adoption and innovation nodes.
The project will receive $8 million in operational funding over four years through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund. The consortium will contribute an additional $11.9 million over the four years in financial and in kind contributions.
Resources will be used to establish a ‘hub-and-spoke’ organisation with its headquarters located at CSU’s AgriPark in Wagga Wagga. The Hub will deliver drought resilience-focused outcomes in various domains such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community building, regional development and the environment.
The regional nodes will serve as activation centres for primary producers, industries and communities to co-design and share innovative solutions.
“It was important for us to bring the South Coast and Southern Tablelands into the Southern NSW hub, alongside with the Riverina-Murray region,” he said.
“Drought has also had dramatic effects on the South Coast as we have seen with recent bushfires.
“Moreover, there are strong environmental and social connections between the hinterland, the coast and the ocean, as summed up by the adage ‘drought inland, drought at sea’.”
Professor Perez said participation in the Hub would provide opportunities for a broad range of research conducted at UOW, including bushfire and land management, crop genetics, coastal ecology and artificial intelligence.
“The funding announced so far will focus on establishing the organisation,” he said.
“Later this year, the Federal Government will start rolling out additional funding for R&D grants addressing drought resilience.
“It is our understanding that drought resilience adoption and innovation hubs will be prime recipients of these competitive grants.”
Other partners in the successful bid are Australian National University, Farming Systems Groups Alliance, First Nations Governance Circle, Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, and University of Canberra.
The hub is one of eight to be established around the country.