Queensland Government — Reef Assist program

The Queensland Government’s $33.5 million Reef Assist program delivers priority environmental projects and creates regional jobs in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

As part of the initial Reef Assist program, ‘Reef Assist 1.0’, Townsville City Council’s ‘Business Activity and Environmental Restoration’ project was delivered in collaboration with three First Nations and two not-for-profit local businesses.

The first phase of the project, launched in late 2020, achieved a range of outcomes for Townsville waterways, including riparian vegetation restoration, foreshore restoration, bank stabilisation, flood debris removal, soil health remediation, and weed removal and humification (see Weeds to soils) — much of which benefited the Bohle River basin.

The later phase, conducted over 2021-2022, targeted a riparian corridor upstream of the Bohle Wetlands.

“Community groups like Conservation Volunteers, Coastal Dry Tropics Land Care, TIDY Up Townsville and OzFish have cared for the natural areas of the Bohle for years,” says Adam King, Townsville City Council’s Sustainable Water Coordinator (Water Sensitive Cities).

“Collaboration with these groups has contributed to the success of the Reef Assist program, helping Council identify 13 hectares that will begin the process of stabilisation, rehabilitation and remediation of weedy and eroded waterways.”

Working with industry partners Ausfield Services, Biodiversity Australia, and Three Big Rivers, Council’s Reef Assist project has planted more than 1,000 trees within the Bohle basin, in addition to works at other sites. Over the next two years this work will expand, with Council receiving an additional $2 million for a new Reef Assist 2.0 project.

Skills development and connection to Country

Townsville City Council’s new Reef Assist 2.0 project, ‘Townsville Landscape Regeneration through First Nations Knowledge and Delivery’ seeks to enhance longer-term environmental outcomes for the region, building local skills and restoration capacity through employment, training, and creating opportunities for circular economy outcomes.

First Nations people will have the opportunity to connect to Country and deliver environmental outcomes in key areas. The training programs will boost Townsville’s natural resource management industry and build the region’s capacity to undertake rehabilitation works in the future.

“Reef Assist has been great for Ausfield Services to build our staff skills and capability in the delivery of environmental restoration projects,” says Sharon Marks from Ausfield Services.

“Working collaboratively with the Townsville City Council Sustainability Team, community stakeholders, Indigenous groups and other small businesses has led to profitable relationships and made us a stronger company with knowledgeable crews.”

Learn more about the Reef Assist program here.