Food & Fibre – Great South Coast Inc.
The Great South Coast is going from strength to strength as we work to implement our growth strategies into 2021. It is with great pleasure that I provide an update on our strategic commitment to grow and support food and fibre production in our region.
Our mission, for the Great South Coast to become Australia’s most productive, innovative, and sustainable food and fibre region, continues to break significant ground as we move into the new financial year.
Our region faces significant challenges and there are some tall barriers we are striving to overcome.
I am delighted to present this FY20-21 update to you. I look forward to increased food and fibre production and prosperity in the Great South Coast.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
The dedication, determination and drive of the food and fibre community in the Great South Coast has been well and truly on show over this busy and rewarding year.
We’re creating pathways to capitalise on our competitive advantage in groundwater, striving to achieve fit-for-purpose and sustainable energy solutions to power our businesses, and showcasing the variety of rewarding careers on offer.
Without you [our network] and your goodwill, feedback and generous inkind and financial partnership, we simply could not succeed.
An enormous thank you to our Board, ably led by Georgina Gubbins, connections and the people of the Great South Coast for the warm welcome you have extended to me in my first year as part of our incredible food and fibre family.
I look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve our purpose of greater wellbeing and prosperity for all.
Established in 2017, Food and Fibre Great South Coast began as a community council operating under the auspice of the Great South Coast Group. Supported by a one-off grant from Regional Development Victoria (RDV) and local government area (LGA) investment, the Council took measures to address the Food and Fibre Strategy and Action Plan 2015 which identified that the region needed to take urgent action to retain its position as Victoria’s agricultural powerhouse.
This period saw the organisation focus on research, analysis and planning, much of which still informs our work today. However, with the expiry of the RDV grant, Council members recognised that the deep-seated nature of the challenges we were set up to address required a new, long-term strategy.
Food and Fibre Great South Coast Inc was incorporated as an association in its own right on 28 June 2019. We developed a new strategic plan, called Growing Our Regional Futures, in consultation with a wide network of food and fibre industry participants and the regional community. Launched in April 2020, the Growing Our Regional Futures plan laid out our vision, purpose and values-led approach.
View our board here.
Food and Fibre Great South Coast knows that our stakeholders deserve transparency, accountability and good governance.
Over the last year, to ensure good governance at Food and Fibre Great South Coast, we have:
- Adopted an Acknowledgement of Country to reflect the importance of our First Nations peoples.
- Managed accounting and financial reporting in-house, giving us day to day oversight of our financial position.
- Completed board inductions for our new Directors, and a Board ice-breaker session.
- Achieved dynamic organisational momentum despite a tight operating budget, small team and limited resources.
- Developed a value proposition based on the feedback of existing partners, who have committed to retain their involvement in the new financial year.
DRIVING REGIONAL INVESTMENT, VALUE-ADD AND SUSTAINABILITY
Lifting regional productivity, sustainability and prosperity by working together to attract resources and enable business transition to first-stage processing.
Three phase power
We’re addressing infrastructure inequality by advancing the case to upgrade single-wire earth return lines to more reliable three-phase power.
We’re dialling up our advocacy and efforts because we know the people of the Great South Coast deserve more than energy infrastructure from the ’50s.
As a result of our advocacy and the 95 letters of support from our community, the Food and Fibre Great South Coast Three-phase Power Initiative has been recognised in Parliament by Victorian Energy Minister, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP.
Hycel at Deakin and COALAR partnership
We’ve helped Hycel at Deakin University, a hydrogen energy innovation hub, secure a grant of $50,000 from the Council on Australia Latin America Relations to partner with another global hydrogen leader, Uruguay, in piloting a new strategy for dairy transport using hydrogen in the Great South Coast.
In FY20-21, we submitted extensive policy recommendations to Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Priorities plan.
We’ve called on Federal Minister for Energy, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, to fix the inequality embedded within regulatory frameworks that mean regional communities miss out on critical energy upgrades.
Growing Our Regional Futures Strategy Launch
The successful launch of the Growing our Regional Futures Strategy in April, sponsored by Moyne Shire Council, Deakin University, and NAB Regional & Agribusiness, saw over seventy people come together to celebrate our future strategic direction.
Stakeholders from across the supply chain, community and governments strongly endorse our bold plan for sustainable growth.
“I congratulate Food and Fibre Great South Coast for its leadership and commitment to Australian agriculture, demonstrated through the delivery of this strategic plan.”
The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture, Drought & Emergency Management
“Victoria’s Strategy for agriculture is intrinsically aligned with the Food and Fibre Great South Coast Growing Our Regional Futures Strategy.”
The Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Regional Development & Agriculture
“I am delighted to see Food and Fibre Great South Coast articulate the roadmap to achieve […] a prosperous future for all living in the South West Victoria.”
The Hon Libby Coker MP
Member for Corangamite
“Only through advocating with a coordinated, regional voice that represents every sector and supply chain, can we influence positive policy change in power, water and workforce attraction, which currently stand as barriers to realising the full potential of food and fibre production in our region.”
Councillor Anita Rank
Chair, Great South Coast Group
Mayor of Glenelg Shire
REALISE THE WATER OPPORTUNITY
Collaboratively capture the full potential of the Great South Coast’s water resource through sustainable management of ground and surface water, and effective drainage systems.
Our research shows increased productivity worth up to $54 million can be achieved by increasing groundwater usage by just 10 per cent.
Great South Coast Sustainable Water Roundtable
In June 2020, we held a high-level roundtable meeting with the Victorian government, business leaders and local government officials to discuss water opportunities in the Great South Coast.
We secured all of our asks, including the establishment of a formal, two year partnership featuring a quarterly water dialogue between Food and Fibre Great South Coast and DELWP.
Sustainable Water Statement
In consultation with all of our key water stakeholders, we have agreed the text of a sustainable water statement for the Great South Coast.
Food and Fibre Great South Coast & Southern Rural Water
We finalised a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Southern Rural Water (SRW). This formal partnership will bring a new perspective and significant resources to harness all the opportunities associated with the Great South Coast’s water resources.
NURTURE FOOD AND FIBRE CAREERS
Attract talented people to food and fibre by promoting our diverse range of opportunities, outlining clearer career pathways and supporting more integrated learning.
Food and fibre accounts for 21.6 per cent of jobs in our region. Our research shows that by 2035, our jobs market will have expanded by 30 per cent thanks to sustained growth in the sector.
With over 11,000 independent food and fibre businesses in the Great South Coast, many owned and operated by families, we have a responsibility to ensure they are well positioned to navigate the present and prosper in the future.
Succession Planning Event
Food and Fibre Great South Coast invested in the ongoing success of the region at the inaugural Succession Planning Event held in April 2021.
Guests walked away with a new understanding of the value that succession planning brings to food and fibre businesses and the importance of seeking professional advice early.
Australian School Curriculum Concept
We understand that connecting students to food and fibre content in the classroom pays dividends both now and into the future. In cultivating a better understanding of food and fibre, we inspire students to consider career opportunities in the Great South Coast’s exciting food and fibre industry.
Careers Advisory Panel concept development
We’ve developed a program that will leverage our skilled and experienced network to help share their stories and insight, inspiring students and graduates to choose a food and fibre career.
Targeted outreach activity
Over the course of the last financial year, we’ve presented at the Deakin University and SW Tafe Agribusiness Careers Program, delivered a well received social media showcase to celebrate Rural Women’s Day and partnered with Warrnambool City Council and Beanstalk to deliver The Ideas Place – an exciting innovation accelerator showcase for regional food and fibre businesses.
CHAMPION FOOD AND FIBRE ADVOCACY
Grow the awareness of the GSC’s food and fibre regional importance, professionalism, and achievements, positively influence food and fibre policy outcomes by advocating with a unified voice for our sector’s supply chains and improve internal and external communication.
We understand good advocacy has two components – keeping you, our network, in the loop, and giving our region an effective voice that fast-tracks the results we need to achieve.
High-level decision maker engagement
In May, our Chair attended a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade function for members of the Consular and Diplomatic Corps on a tour of the Great South Coast region.
Enhance internal and external communication
We’ve successfully achieved a voice for our issues and people in traditional media – with regular appearances in local newspapers across the region, and on local and national radio. We also had our key people profiled on podcasts shard nationally in the food and fibre community.
View the full report here.