Pilot agricultural capacity building program

The third recommendation of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce report (PDF, 3.82KB) calls for more effective, targeted and coordinated extension to support large scale land management practice changes in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments. In response a review of existing services (PDF, 1.39MB) has been undertaken by an independent consultant, Coutts J&R.

In anticipation of the review, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Department of Environment and Science partnered with Queensland Farmers’ Federation on a pilot agricultural capacity building program that supports the Taskforce recommendations. This program consists of two components: a training program for new and existing extension staff, and an agricultural extension work placement program. The program will be delivered between March 2017 and September 2018.

What does the program do?

The training program will:

  • Address knowledge and skill gaps – through the delivery of workshops to regional extension and advisory personnel across the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
  • Provide professional development – through participation in workshops tailored to address identified skill and knowledge gaps.
  • Enhance extension coordination – by providing an opportunity for extension staff to come together and build stronger extension networks.

The work placement program will:

  • Attract and train new employees – to address the current extension staff shortage identified by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Task Force and the Coutts J&R consultancy review of the gaps and needs for extension.
  • Implement successional planning – for the experienced extension staff that are nearing retirement and have built strong relationships with farmers that are important to retain.

Combined, they will:

  • Improve agricultural capacity – so that producers advance or maintain their sustainable management practices, resulting in water quality improvements for the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchment – through increased uptake of improved land management practices, resulting in the reduction of excess nutrients, pesticides and sediments flowing from the catchments into the reef.

Where is the program located?

The program is located across the Great Barrier Reef catchment. Workshops are strategically located and timed to obtain the highest level of participation from extension staff and trainees from the work placement program. The pilot project has employed six trainees across the Great Barrier Reef catchments.

Who delivers the program?

The Queensland Government has partnered with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation to deliver this program. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation has used their extensive networks and expertise to identify host organisations that meet the program requirements for hosting a trainee. Trainees, recent graduates or early career professionals, are provided with employment and training opportunities in the regional communities. The work placement program will take place over the course of one year.

More information

For more information, please contact the Office of the Great Barrier Reef, Department of Environment and Science at

Organisations who are interested in participating in the training program or the work placement program are encouraged to contact Queensland Farmers’ Federation.