It is well understood how all-encompassing the agricultural industry is with regards to people, communities, organisations, locations, occupations and products, just to name a few.
The industry also has its challenges and problems like adapting to climate change, declining rural populations, human health, environmental diversity, the growing rural/urban divide and the narrowing yield gap, all without clear solution. Further, they are often interconnected and can have a large scale effects on huge areas, populations and economies.
BCG is keenly aware of how these issues impact both directly and indirectly the work they do and the communities in which they are so heavily dependent on.
For these reasons, BCG developed an innovative solution and are now at the start of an exciting and innovative initiative thanks to the generous support of the William Buckland Foundation.
‘The BCG Community Network’ aims to identify the complex challenges rural communities and growers face and drive change by bringing together a cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary team to address priority themes through an agile, creative and long term project design.
This includes representatives from the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, the National Centre for Farmer Health, Federation University, Crop Facts, Nicon Agricultural Services, RMCG and NAB.
Project activities include an intensive stakeholder charrette and a community of practice both to run in 2018. Action group workshops and research workshops will follow in 2019 and 2020.
Broadly, the outcomes will be:
- Increased capacity in rural communities in the areas such as adapting to climate change, impacts on ecosystems, health, data management and improved infrastructure
- More targeted investment in future projects creating shared value from investment in rural communities ensuring problems are targeted rather just solutions given from outside the region
- A co-designed identification process with problems and solutions coming from both growers and researchers
- A multi-disciplinary and flexible program that could be used as a model in other regional areas of Australia
BCG Chairman Caroline Welsh explained the premise behind the BCG Community Network is to assist in beginning tackling broad issues in a cooperative manner.
“Currently opportunities to collaborate on wider regional and rural issues are not facilitated through existing funding models, which have traditionally only had scope for a single discipline.”
The project is set to commence in 2018, with funding from the William Buckland Foundation.
Through his will, William Buckland aimed in his own words “to benefit a wonderful country and a wonderful people. Australia and Australians”, with a portion going to “public scientific or public educational purposes in Victoria”.
Ms Welsh explained that it isn’t the first time the William Buckland Foundation have believed in BCG’s vision.
“The William Buckland Foundation generously contributed to our current office building in Birchip, to which 19 full time staff now work.”
Mr Buckland had a passion for agriculture, owning multiple agricultural enterprises, and giving “preference to agricultural and related pursuits” in his foundation.
If you have questions about the project, please contact the BCG office on 03 5492 2787.