#PeopleOfNRM – Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program Project Advisory Group

NACC NRM and the Mid West Development Commission have teamed up to develop a regional drought resilience plan for the Mid West under the federal Future Drought Fund Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program

This planning process will engage with stakeholders in agriculture and related industries to develop a locally-informed plan that will guide investment and help the region respond effectively to the impacts of future droughts.

A knowledgeable and diverse Project Advisory Group has been appointed to give input on the stakeholder engagement process and technical components of the plan, to ensure that the final documents will reflect the needs and priorities of our region. This versatile group of experts will bring a wealth of local knowledge and experience in the region to advise on the best ways to incorporate new and emerging information related to drought into the plan and help to develop a pipeline of investable drought resilience projects.

Allow us to introduce you to:

Nicole Batten

  • Secretary, Yuna Farm Improvement Group
  • Councillor, Shire of Chapman Valley

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? Since experiencing the 2006/07 drought, the resilience and innovation growth within our industry has been substantial, which has led to a positive position for the future of agriculture.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? For the first time grower groups in the northern agricultural region have the opportunity to formally work together and collaborate with industry in creating a pathway forward in both effort and investment into agriculture in the Midwest.

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Maurice Battilana

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Shire of Chapman Valley

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I have a long association with broadacre agriculture with my great grandfather being a pioneer of the Mullewa agricultural area, a link which continues to this day. This, along with having lived and worked in the Midwest agricultural region and having been linked to droughts in the past has developed my strong interest in sustainable agriculture.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I hope for projects and programs being ready and immediately available to the whole community and businesses when the next drought hits our area, instead of practices of the past of looking for assistance and solution at the time.

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Amanda Bourne

  • Senior Conservation Planning Officer
  • NACC NRM

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I first became involved in sustainable agriculture in South Africa, working with peri-urban vegetable producers on urban food supply chains and later with livestock farmers in the northern deserts adapting production to a rapidly changing climate.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I hope to develop a regional drought resilience plan that represents the needs and priorities of the people living and farming in the Mid West and that will position the region well to take advantage of future opportunities for drought resilience funding.

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Mike Bowley

  • Director Regional Development
  • Mid West Development Commission

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I moved to Geraldton from South Australia, with my family, to take up a role as manager of Elders in the late 1990’s. In 2007, I left Elders to join the Department of Agriculture and Food as the Regional Director, at a time when the region was experiencing the two worst droughts in WA’s history, back to back.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I led a team of scientists and development officers to create the North East Agricultural Region strategy, which went on to win a Premier’s Award and has since informed the National Drought Policy. I am committed to the economic improvement of the region and aim to create an ongoing legacy by building capacity in and promoting the Mid West.

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Fleur Coaker

  • Regional Manager Mid West Gascoyne Region
  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? In my teens I had a special connection to a local wetland near my home that was proposed to be impacted by plans for a future highway and I had an inherent desire to protect it.  This experience set me on the path for a career in the environmental and sustainability fields.  

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? To collectively work together to plan for the challenges that a drying climate presents for our region and to bring my perspective and experience in sustainable water management to help achieve this.

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Rob Grima

  • Farm Business Consultant
  • Planfarm

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? It’s hard to be green when you are in the red. I have a keen focus to make sure the profitability of our industry remains strong to enable environmental, social and governance outcomes for our community.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? To provide appropriate pathways for future investment into drought resilience.

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Candy Hudson

  • Recovery Support Officer
  • National Recovery and Resilience Agency

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I have been in agriculture most of my life but when you experience drought and the impacts it has not only on individuals but also on communities, you start to question how can we make our agricultural systems more sustainable during tough times. 

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I am hoping we can achieve a region that has tools and knowledge to be more resilient and prepared for drought, but also that the work we do in the Mid West of  Western Australia is collaboratively recognised from ‘boots on the ground’ through to a Commonwealth level.

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Cr. Liz Sudlow

  • President
  • Shire of Northampton

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I grew up on a farm as a child and now operate a mixed farming enterprise with my family, 30km north of Northampton in the Mid West.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I have experienced first-hand the impact the 2006/07 drought had on our farm and across the Mid West.  It’s imperative that we do all we can to ensure agricultural land use is sustainable and that our communities remain strong and viable in the face of future droughts and dry seasons.

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Megan O’Grady

  • Environmental Planning Officer
  • City of Greater Geraldton

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I have always had a passion for the natural environment, and now my partner and I are farming, there is so much to learn about how production and natural systems can complement each other. 

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? I hope to support this group to draw on the great range of work that is being done in the area of drought resilience and climate change preparedness, and apply in the specific needs of the Mid-West region.

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Tina Parkhurst

  • Project Coordinator – Ecological Restoration
  • Bush Heritage Australia

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? I have a strong interest in agroecology, regenerative and sustainable agriculture and nature conservation

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? – I am hoping to learn more about the Regional Drought Resilience Plan  and how this can make a difference to people in the NACC region.

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Christine Zaicou-Kunesch

  • Manager: Farming Systems Innovation
  • Department of Primary Industries and Rural Development

How did you first become involved in or interested in sustainable agriculture? My interest started many moons ago when I went to Uni and I wanted to understand how soil and plants connect and how management can influence this connection.  

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Project Advisory Group? Drought resilience is so important to our industry, our communities, our future, I want to be a part of the process as DPIRD’s regional connection.

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We are also very pleased to have Marieke Jansen, Executive Officer of the Northern Biosecurity Group, represented on our Project Advisory Group.

If you have any questions about the project, or would like to hear more about how you can get involved, please contact our Senior Conservation Planning Officer, Dr Amanda Bourne on 0474 652 595 or Amanda.bourne@nacc.com.au

Dr Amanda Bourne – Senior Conservation Planning Officer

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