FOUR drought affected NSW towns have scored a win in Rural Aid's 10 Towns Makeover initiative.
The towns - Barraba, Brewarrina, Coolah and Walgett - were nominated by members of these communities and each will score a $100,000 prize package.
Rural Aid chief executive officer Charles Alder said the initiative's was to highlight the impact of one of the worst droughts in history on small country towns.
It will see each town receive a minimum of $100,000 commitment to support the makeover of the towns over a five-year period.
Mr Alder said $10,000 will be used for town leaders to workshop with experts in rural/regional town renewal with the aim of developing a long-term renewal strategy.
These facilitated workshops will support the long-term sustainability of the town and local community.
While the remaining $90,000 will be spent on materials for maintenance projects identified by the town leaders, that fit within our scope of work.
The maintenance projects will be completed by Rural Aid's Farm Army of volunteers (usually between 50 and 100 people) who will spend a week in the town in the first year bringing a welcome financial injection to the town's local businesses.
Mr Alder said Rural Aid's support over the remaining years would be determined by the leaders of the town once the future plans for the town had been developed.
"While the focus is largely on the impact of the drought on farmers and their families, equal attention should be given to the impact on rural communities," he said.
"Small country towns play a critical role in supporting the social and economic fabric of their local communities.
"This initiative will lift morale and inject much needed capital into the local community."
Mr Alder said small towns had a unique symbiotic relationship with the farms located around them.
"Farmers rely on their local town for off farm income through employment, farm employees and services from the local doctor, teachers, dentists, accountants and government support staff," he said.
"Then there's the small businesses like the local pharmacy, grocery, butcher, bakery, bank and rural supply company.
"Take these towns out of the equation and the local ecosystem is impacted forever."
The 10 Towns Makeover winners
- Alpha QLD
- Barraba NSW
- Brewarrina NSW
- Coolah NSW
- Cunnamulla QLD
- Gayndah QLD
- Lockington VIC
- Monto QLD
- Orroroo SA
- Walgett NSW
The story Winners of Rural Aid's 10 Towns Makeover announced first appeared on Daily Liberal.