ON THE LAND It’s about peo­ple and lives

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

This re­search gives some in­sight into the per­sonal cost and on the so­cial im­pact the Basin

Plan is hav­ing on the peo­ple and the com­mu­ni­ties in our north­ern Vic­to­rian ir­ri­ga­tion districts.

Cr Ch­eryl McKin­non, the chair of the Mur­ray River Group, said: “As coun­cils, we know the

Basin Plan is hav­ing an im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties. We see it and we hear it all the time from those liv­ing and work­ing in our re­gion.

“What we also know is that their voices are not al­ways be­ing heard in Canberra. The film and the re­port we are re­leas­ing to­day, are about peo­ple telling their own sto­ries; and we urge de­ci­sion-makers to lis­ten care­fully to them,” Cr McKin­non said.

The re­search high­lights im­pact on men­tal health, on phys­i­cal health and on fam­ily re­la­tion­ships due to the in­creased stress and un­cer­tainty for ir­ri­ga­tors deal­ing with higher wa­ter prices and in­creased farm­ing risk.

“It’s about peo­ple and peo­ple’s lives,” Cr McKin­non said.

“We have got farm­ers out there who are do­ing it re­ally tough. And we know when farm­ers are af­fected, the im­pact doesn’t stay on the farm, it flows right through our com­mu­ni­ties.”

An­other find­ing of the re­search is that many are con­cerned about the im­pact on commu- nity re­silience and that com­mu­ni­ties’ ca­pac­ity to adapt, es­pe­cially at times of stress, has been eroded.

“If you lis­ten to the peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties, they are wor­ried. They’re wor­ried about more wa­ter leav­ing the re­gion; they’re wor­ried about the next big dry. They see what is go­ing to hap­pen, es­pe­cially to dairy, but also to other sec­tors. It re­ally does have the po­ten­tial to dev­as­tate our com­mu­ni­ties,” said Cr McKin­non.

“What is clear also from the re­search is that our com­mu­ni­ties are not anti the Basin Plan.

We all want healthy rivers, wet­land, birds; but we need to im­ple­ment the Plan in a way that main­tains our way of life, our vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties; our abil­ity to grow healthy food for the na­tion.

“We al­ready knew, from the in­de­pen­dent eco­nomic re­ports into our re­gion that the Basin

Plan has re­duced pro­duc­tion and jobs par­tic­u­larly in the GMID. This new re­search sup­ports those find­ings and gives us in­sight into what that means on a per­sonal level. It doesn’t give us more num­bers, but what it does do, is re­mind us that be­hind the num­bers are peo­ple.

“This is just more ev­i­dence that you can’t take more wa­ter out of north­ern Vic­to­rian ir­ri­ga­tion districts with­out it hav­ing a detri­men­tal im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Our clear mes­sage to Min­is­ters is that it doesn’t mat­ter what bu­reau­cratic or le­gal­is­tic, clev­erly worded def­i­ni­tion of so­cio-eco­nomic im­pact you pick, the re­al­ity is that if you take more wa­ter from our districts it will have a neg­a­tive im­pact.

“And you just have to lis­ten to the sto­ries from this re­search to re­alise that those im­pacts are felt by in­di­vid­u­als and by fam­i­lies and they affect peo­ple’s lives.

“We hope that Min­is­ters will lis­ten and will bear these sto­ries in mind as they make de­ci­sions that will affect our re­gion for decades.”

The Mur­ray River Group of Coun­cils last week re­leased so­cial re­search into the im­pact of the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan on the com­mu­ni­ties in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

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