WELCOME: IRRO Catherine Cookson will be based at Bowen.
WELCOME: IRRO Catherine Cookson will be based at Bowen. Contributed

Lessons in wake of Cyclone Debbie

CYCLONE-affected growers in the Whitsundays and Mackay are set to benefit from the appointment of an Industry Recovery and Resilience Officer (IRRO) in Bowen.

Recently-appointed IRRO Catherine Cookson comes from an agribusiness background, with experience in rural finance and insurance and agricultural recruitment. She has a BA of Agribusiness and has spent her working life in Toowoomba.

Catherine will work closely with Bowen Gumlu Growers as part of the Bowen Gumlu Project Coordination Committee which brings together expertise from a number of organisations to service local growers.

Catherine will network with growers to identify any areas of growth or improvement and lessons learned since Cyclone Debbie. She will be able to access government and private service providers who can provide professional advice for the region and for individuals. This may be in terms of soil and tree health, business planning, financial planning, mental health support or technical advice.

Officially, Catherine will facilitate the delivery of:

Assistance and support, through the federal government's rural financial counselling service and other providers

Professional farming systems, technical and advisory services

Mental health support services

Providing technical advice to support and encourage natural disaster resilience and preparedness activities

Services to improve the resilience of farm businesses

In the Bowen region alone, more than 60 horticulture growers have been operating in cyclone-affected areas, so this is an extremely worthwhile appointment. Growcom welcomes Catherine to the fold, and encourages any growers in the Whitsundays and Mackay regions who need support to contact her at ccookson@growcom.com.au or 0499355225.

This appointment bolsters the support offered through Climate and Resilience Coordinator Lene Knudsen to affected growers in south-east Queensland, and demonstrates the value placed on building resilience in our farming communities. It is heartening to see this appointment come to fruition after how hard we worked with the Queensland Farmers' Federation to secure funds for the Cyclone Debbie Agricultural Recovery and Resilience Project.

For more information, contact Lene on 0429000179.