Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund Projects in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour

The Australian and NSW Government’s are supporting the recovery of bushfire impacted communities through a range of funding programs that support local and regional economic and social recovery – including initiatives across economic, social, built and natural environment recovery. Through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLERF) Envite have supported communities in the Coffs Harbour and Clarence LGA to recover both economically and socially from the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Two projects “Environmental recovery in Clarence Valley” and “Coffs Coastal Access Repair and Asset Protection Zone Environmental Resilience Improvements” have been designed to provide local youth with employment, training and skill development in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Between 2021-23 four stages of groups of four entry level environmental workers were employed for approximately 6 month programs, providing opportunity for our next generation of workers.

The teams were involved in land management and strategic program activities including landscaping, environmental rehabilitation, improving natural environment and amenity maintaining the stability of ecosystem processes. The programs improved local employment opportunities with an entry pathway into a growing agriculture, conservation and land management industry in the Clarence and Coffs Coast area. It was aimed to improve ongoing employment opportunities through local community, industry support and effectively developing trainee’s skills and work experience increasing their chances of obtaining ongoing work and transferable skills in the industry within the Coffs and Clarence Valley regions.

East Gippsland School-based Traineeships Program

Youth disengagement in East Gippsland was exacerbated by the 2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, and stands to have lasting negative impacts on community recovery, capacity and wellbeing. As of November 2021, the Gippsland region had the highest rates of disengaged youth in Victoria. One in five (19%) young people aged 18-24 were not engaged in formal work or study, and youth unemployment is on the increase. Moreover, Gippsland has higher early school leaver rates and lower levels of higher education attainment than the Victorian average.  

Fewer tertiary education and vocational training opportunities, poor transport infrastructure, social disadvantage, and inter-generational unemployment contribute to heightened youth disengagement in East Gippsland’s remote communities, such as Swifts Creek, Orbost, Cann River and Mallacoota. Furthermore, the winding down of native forest logging in the region has, and continues to, lead to a loss of rural employment opportunities.

Young people who lack clear pathways to employment in their communities, have few incentives to stay local, or to attend and complete school. There is a pressing need to create novel skills development and employment pathways that engage and improve the future prospects of young people living in East Gippsland’s remote regional communities. 

In 2022, Envite and partners pioneered a novel school-based traineeship program that simultaneously addresses youth disengagement while building community capacity and support for bushfire recovery in East Gippsland.  

Restoring Mallacoota’s Nature Reserves for Wildlife and Community Recovery

This project aimed to safeguard the recovery of 127ha of bushfire-affected coastal scrub and lowland forest, including an endangered remnant littoral rainforest, in an Important Bird Area in Mallacoota District, to be achieved through:

  1. Surveys and mapping of invasive weeds and native vegetation recovery;
  2. Controlling invasive weeds;
  3. Preventing erosion to protect waterways and facilitate vegetation re-establishment;
  4. Seed collection for the community seedbank and nursery; and,
  5. Engaging the local community in planting native vegetation as well as feeding back project outcomes and future management recommendations.

Skilling Queenslanders for Work

The Queensland Government funded Skilling Queenslanders for Work program support Work Skills Traineeship projects throughout the state.

Envite has supported crews in Townsville and South East Queensland to gain accreditation and experience in Conservation and Land Management, and delivered on a broad range of community projects as part of the student training.