East Gippsland was severely impacted by long term drought, fires and now the flow on effects of COVID-19. The Poets Walk in Swifts Creek was developed through a group of dedicated volunteers rehabilitating a portion of Swifts Creek and the Tambo River over the last three years. It was previously infested and overgrown with blackberries, a fire hazard for the town and inaccessible.
Now, it is a wonderful walking track with a poem on 6 rock cairns, has had numerous art workshops and involves many facets of the community including Swifts Creek P12 School, Omeo
District Health residents and the elderly.
Poets Walk volunteer Anne Richardson said, “Volunteers can only do so much and without the Drought Employment Program work crews coming in and doing some of the heavy work it would never have advanced to the stage it is now. Apart from tackling the large jobs the crew have been a complete morale booster encouraging more local involvement and has provided essential local employment opportunities, especially for youth”.
The Drought Employment program has proven to be great model of employment providing income, flexible work, socialisation, access to training and diverse work opportunities. The DEP program no longer continues, however, Envite is looking forward to more opportunities in the future to develop programs like this one to assist more local communities.