case study

Lisa McKenzie

Lisa McKenzie was raised on an irrigated farm. After many years working as a rural reporter and in community leadership roles – currently at the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Foundation – she understands exactly how reliant Shepparton, nearby towns and associated industries are on agriculture.

“In 2008, the Connections program commenced bringing not only a major overhaul of infrastructure but a much-needed investment of hundreds of millions of dollars of cash into the floundering region.”

Why Connections modernisation was needed

“In the early 2000s years of drought brought many proud and successful Goulburn Valley families at least temporarily to their knees. Farming families and the many towns and businesses that supported them were given a taste of what it was like to live in our region with little or no water. And it was a frightening prospect,” Lisa said.  

“Corresponding with the drought was the realisation that our irrigation infrastructure was in a sad state of disrepair and badly needed a major overhaul and investment.  The region faced dire circumstances and the situation required strong leadership.

“A group of leaders took up the mantle and lobbied the State government with extraordinarily successful results. In 2008 the Connections program commenced bringing not only a major overhaul of infrastructure but a much-needed investment of hundreds of millions of dollars of cash into the floundering region.

“With community services already struggling to keep up with demand from vulnerable families battling poverty and generational disadvantage, it is hard to fathom the situation our region could have faced at the end of this period of structural adjustment without this massive and visionary investment.”

What Connections means for the region

“Dozens of people were given work, many of them from the small communities and farming families most impacted by the drought. Many families had been brought to the brink of failure and were struggling to put food on the table and the massive flow of capital sustained our region in a way that cannot be underestimated,” Lisa said.

“On the whole, the benefit to our region has been vast and continues to be experienced.

“Not only has the Connections investment helped sustain our regional economy for many years, it has set it up to tap into the continued expansion of our markets and growth in demand for our products.

“Our biggest challenges now are to align our educational offering with the many jobs on offer in the agricultural sector If we can hold onto our water and align our workforce to the opportunities, the future of our region looks very bright indeed.”

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