Four universities and five farming systems groups will target strategic drought management across Victoria through an innovative new ‘Hub’ funded through an $8 million Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund grant.

Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson joined researchers from Deakin and Melbourne Universities set to work on Victorian Hub to be based at Melbourne University’s Dookie campus when it opens in coming weeks.

“Victoria was hit hard by the recent Australia-wide drought, which took a massive toll on individual household income and had run on effects across entire industries and communities,” Senator Henderson said.

“This new Hub will empower agricultural businesses and communities to become more resilient to the impacts of future drought, connecting these sectors to innovative technologies and practices.”

University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Hub Co-Director Professor Ruth Nettle said this investment will make a real difference to managing future droughts on farms, in the management of our environment, and in our communities.

“This hub brings together a great team focussed on delivering real impacts for the agri-food sector in Victoria, in terms of enhanced drought resilience and greater adaptation to our changing climate,’’ Professor Nettle said.

Deakin University Professor Rebecca Lester said, “The new Drought Hub offers an opportunity to build upon the strengths of our regional and rural communities and to ensure a sustainable future for our agricultural regions economically, socially and environmentally.”

Southern Farming Systems (SFS) will lead the South West regional node of the Hub.

SFS CEO Scott Chirnside said the aim is for individuals, businesses and communities can make informed choices about how they might tackle the next drought.

“By making those critical decisions and creating well documented plans now, not whilst in the sleep deprived and highly stressed, anxious state, that drought induces in rural populations,” Mr Chirnside said.

23 April 2021