Community resilience and prosperity

Kids smiling.

 

To help us better understand the contribution the dairy industry makes to local and regional communities, the framework must continue to evolve and be broadened to explore the value dairy jobs and people bring to communities.

It needs to move beyond a perceived recognition of value to a meaningful measurement of value. Work has begun to establish indicators for measuring change in regional community resilience and wellbeing.

The aim is to be able to measure and monitor dairy’s contribution to the resilience and wellbeing of regional communities by developing a framework and indicators that can also be relevant to other rural commodity sectors.

Further work will be undertaken with Canberra University using their Regional Wellbeing Survey (CU RWS).

300 dairy farmers contributed to the 2014 CU RWS, which found that dairy farmers are the second-most likely to invest in their community (after cotton growers), have the highest sense of wellbeing, and the third-lowest level of distress. Tasmanian farmers are the most satisfied with their lives.

Further work will be conducted with the CU RWS in 2016. Dairy Australia is encouraging more farmers to participate in the future to collect a more representative sample of the industry.

The modelling work commissioned by Dairy Australia to determine the economic impact of the dairy industry in Australia was completed in late 2015. However it needs further work before it can be released to refine the outcomes so they can be compared with the economic impact provided by non-dairy alternatives in each dairy area around Australia.  This work should be finalised around March 2016 and will be used to help determine the economic and social impacts/multipliers that dairy has on regional communities.

A networking event held in 2015 highlighted the value the Gippsland dairy industry brings to the region and its growth opportunities. Gippsland Dairy – Leveraging the Opportunities was a pilot project held in a dairy region, to build on the successful Legendairy breakfast held at Parliament House in Canberra in October.  The event is expected to be rolled out across all dairy regions.  It aimed to capture the attention of regional decision-makers with local dairy representatives promoting the value of the dairy industry and the potential it offers to the wider community.

The Gardiner Foundation is also committed to strengthening dairy communities.  For 12 years it has partnered with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and invested over $1million in small grant to fund projects in dairy communities with small populations. Each year the Gardiner Foundation provides $100,000 to FRRR to fund grants for inventive and practical community-driven projects. These grants, of up to $5000, aim to strengthen small Victorian dairy communities, build their capacity to deal with local issues and enhance existing community infrastructure. These grants will continue in 2016.