This free online webinar was an opportunity for TWiA members and women working in the agricultural sector to share their challenges in the current COVID-19 environment and discuss plans for the recovery phase.
All our speakers talked about the significant impacts to on farm and off farm incomes. There was a recognised tension between getting back to normal and how to use this as an opportunity to change how things are done into the future. The TWiA hosted the “Let’s Talk Recovery” Paddock Talk webinar to discuss ways forward post COVID-19. There are lots of initiatives supporting buying local, including TWiA’s #BuyTasmanianFirst. Building local food systems will be important moving forward, creating avenues to create circular economies, where the produce that is created on farm goes into the health of communities and cities it feeds.
Daryl Connelly, CEO Cradle Coast Authority, was appointed in December 2019 to oversee a period of reform for the organisation. Including a renewed focus on council collaboration and economic development. Daryl spoke about the important role the Cradle Coast Authority will have in the journey of recovery. In the longer term the regional economy has to be rebuilt, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be created in the same image as what went before. Daryl spoke about the opportunity to engage communities in the discussions around what they might want from a revitalised economy. The Cradle Coast Authority have made a range of resources available through the regional restart hub, a ‘one stop shop’ for resources. Find possible funding opportunities, mentors and much more. Find out more at - www.cradlecoast.com/regional-restart-hub/
The CEO Rural Business Tasmania, Elizabeth Skirving talked about the work currently being done to support those in accessing financial counselling and assistance. Rural Business Tasmania are actively working with businesses to look at their model of business, COVID support measures.
Andrew Pitt from the Launceston Chamber of Commerce reflected that COVID-19 has hit different areas at different times e.g. tourism and hospitality immediately, retail a little later, while the building sectors are just now being impacted. Encouraging greater regional collaboration will be essential in overcoming the challenges that have presented themselves over the last few weeks.
Phil John from Safe Farming Tasmania made sure we were all aware that as of the 15th of June 2020 that requirements for demonstrating safe practices on and off farm will come into effect. There are a range of practical tools on the WorkSafe website, including a COVID-19 plan. WorkSafe will require that all businesses have a COVID plan. There is a template to download and utilise so that everyone can make sure they have a plan in place. Phil indicated that he is available to act as a workplace advisory service and can support farmers to make sure they have appropriate plans in place. He is able to visit farmers and everything is confidential.
John Clark from Rural Alive and Well (RAW) spoke about RAW’s increasing outreach into regional areas including into Circular Head. RAW is taking a holistic approach from supporting the unemployed with resumes to addressing issues around transport and mental health. There is still drought funding available for those impacted by the drought on the East Coast. It is important to support mental health now and into the future, seeking support whenever it is needed.
Through all the discussions it is clear that there are a range of resources and supports available, ready to be actioned.