Drought towns urged to nominate for $500,000

Rural Aid seeking nominations for ten-town money splurge


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What could your town do with half a million dollars?

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What could your town do with half a million dollars?

Small country towns play a critical role in supporting the social and economic fabric of their local communities but years of drought take take their toll on even the most cohesive.

Recognising their importance, drought charity group Rural Aid has launched a campaign that will give 10 country towns in drought-affected regions a minimum of $100,000 each over five years.

Interested people have until September 30 to nominate.

Much as they're described as makeovers, the programs are aimed at long-term sustainability.

Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said small town decline was real, with some suggesting over 70 percent were at risk.

"Take these towns out of the equation and the local ecosystem is impacted forever," he said.

"There are enough case studies of rural towns that have reversed the trend and created successful thriving communities to know that anything's possible.

"Our community program will lift morale and inject much-needed capital into the local community."

Established within Rural Aid's ongoing Sustainable Community program, the makeover will be undertaken in conjunction with town leaders to develop plans through facilitated workshops, and in partnership with experts in rural and regional town renewal.

Spokesman Richard Forbes said the facilitation from someone like well-known social capitalist Peter Kenyon is what separated this program from Rural Aid's ongoing Farm Army activities.

"His expertise will be able to succinctly summarise everything the community presents to him," he said.

While there's an emphasis on town leadership, anyone in a drought-declared shire with a dream to maintain or grow their community can nominate it.

Organisers say, so they can determine where to send Rural Aid's Farm Army of 50 to 100 volunteers for a week of work on a range of infrastructure projects, they want nominators to explain why their town needs help.

"Do you have a long term plan for your town, do you have a vision?," the website asks. "Do you have a leadership team within your community? Do you have projects your town has had on hold and needs to complete?"

It says to undertake projects, a camping space or showground with amenities for up to 40 caravans or campers is needed, plus undercover facilities to feed and cater for up to 70 volunteers, and onsite shower and toilet facilities.

The selection process will include an evaluation and assessment of the towns vision and leadership capability.

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