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Innovation for Community Resilience

By Jessica Jones, Director Business Development, Peak Services

Cloncurry is a community of many firsts. The first Qantas passenger flight took place in Cloncurry in 1922. Cloncurry is where the Royal Flying Doctor Service started with the opening of the Mission in 1928 by John Flynn. Cloncurry will now carry on in aviation history as this will be the location for the first commercial drone flight testing facility in Australia - what a win for the community!

As we all know local councils play a huge part in rebuilding and also advocating for their communities. This is evident with Monday’s announcement of the new drone facility for Cloncurry - this is off the back of a huge effort by the Mayor Greg Campbell and CEO David Bezuidenhout in ensuring that Cloncurry was selected as the location for such a significant investment - $14.5 million is a big deal in a small community. This means more industry, more jobs!

Earlier this year my colleague Brian Jackson and I were travelling the Flinders Highway following the monsoon that hit our northern part of the state. Remember that inland sea stretching 60kms wide and could be seen from space! The resounding impacts of the floods have left communities having to rebuild, the recovery of infrastructure and the recovery of industry.

This trip was to help us understand what the immediate impacts were and also where the needs were, this helps our team understand where we need to focus our efforts and how we can support councils and their respective communities. Needless to say, it was fairly confronting seeing the devastation first hand, hearing the stories and witnessing how everything had come to a grinding halt.

Despite this, what we also found were the incredibly resilient communities of the north. Cloncurry used the recovery as an opportunity to do something different and set about building an innovation platform that would not only bring ideas in from staff, but also from the community. These ideas are then fed into the platform to further determine on whether they progress as business improvements or as projects for further development. Just in business improvements alone, council has seen over a million dollars in saving - that means a lot to a small, regional and remote council.

Part of this initiative was to then host councils first Innovation Forum. Minsters, a Senator, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, ex-Commando war veteran, mining, graziers, racing all coming together to kick off the first of these forums. And what a great day!

To have all of these stakeholders in one room, sharing ideas, discussing projects and collaborating is innovation in its truest form. Innovation is about taking ideas and turning them into something of value. It is about where the ideas start and how those ideas are nurtured to make something happen.

Council showcased with their community some of the projects that have been earmarked for development. These included a local housing project in collaboration with the mines, redevelopment of council’s racetrack, and an Eco Trail incorporating Chinamen Creek Dam. The 'Curry' has been in racing 150 years next year and was once known as the 'Randwick of the North' and through vision, partnerships and a lot of hard work plans on returning to once again pick up this legacy.

Out of every disaster comes hope and this was highlighted by the springs that now flow in the region and the rare bird life now being seen. The Eco Trail will take these sites in and provide a reason for tourists to stay in town for an extra day or two - providing opportunity as all of this impacts economic development for the community.

Peak Services, through the Local Buy and Telstra Industry Development Fund provided the necessary funds to support the Innovation Forum. With a strong focus on supporting communities, this was a great initiative to be part of. This is about finding different ways to develop economic activity and ultimately build a sustainable future for Cloncurry.

We look forward to continuing to support Cloncurry in realising the outcomes that will be achieved from this program.