Reef Assist program

The $33.5 million Reef Assist program (the program) delivers priority environmental projects and creates regional jobs for Queenslanders in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

The program has created alternative employment opportunities in highly tourism-dependent regions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also delivered a range of environmental outcomes, including those linked to the Queensland Government’s ongoing priority of protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The initial stage of the Reef Assist program, Reef Assist 1.0 commenced in October 2020 with a total investment of $13.5 million delivered over a two-year period in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions. In total, 11 initial projects were delivered in partnership with local governments, natural resource management organisations and public and private organisations with a proven track record in environmental restoration.

Read more about the projects delivered during 2020–2022 under Reef Assist 1.0.

The Queensland Government is investing another $20 million into the program for Reef Assist 2.0, which is estimated to generate around 127 more regional jobs across the entire reef catchment.

Reef Assist 2.0 projects

New projects are being funded under Reef Assist 2.0 across the Reef catchment from Cape York to Bundaberg.

Cape York region

Cape York NRM: Cape York Gully Remediation and Creation of Indigenous Employment Pathways

  • remediation of eroded gullies in the Normanby catchment reducing sediment loss to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon
  • undertaken in remote Indigenous owned cattle stations, providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working on Country
  • practical and theoretical machinery operation training on Normanby and Melsonby Stations to repair gullies
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country on remote Indigenous-owned cattle stations.

Wet Tropics region

Greening Australia: Wet Tropics Wetland and Cane Drainage Water Quality Treatment Systems

  • repair and revegetation of wetlands and riparian cane drainage systems in the Mulgrave catchment to deliver improved Great Barrier Reef water quality
  • undertaken in partnership with Wanyurr-Majay Aboriginal Corporation and Mulgrave Landcare, providing opportunities for First Nations participants  to work on Country.

Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation: Daintree River Wawu Dimbi Riparian Revegetation

  • establishment of a substantial 630 metre rainforest corridor along the Daintree River at the culturally significant Wawu Dimbi “Place of Spirits”, providing habitat for marsupials such as the Bennet’s Tree Climbing Kangaroo, Spotted Quoll and Southern Cassowary, among other species
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Jaragun Ecoservices: Restoration of Wetland Function in the Russell River Catchment

  • revegetation of both natural and constructed wetlands for reductions in dissolved inorganic nitrogen pollutant loads to the Great Barrier Reef
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Johnstone Region Landcare Group Inc.: Cassowary Coast Propagation and Riparian Repair Project

  • revegetation of riparian sites along the Johnstone River reducing sediment and nutrient loads entering waterways and extending corridors and habitats for wildlife (including endangered species such as the Southern Cassowary)
  • collection of seeds and propagation of over 100,000 native trees for current and future projects
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Wet Tropics Management Authority: Atherton Tablelands Riparian Revegetation Project

  • NQ Land Management Services is continuing its successful partnership with the Wet Tropics Management Authority from the Reef Assist 1.0 Boots on the Ground project, focusing on new sites
  • revegetation of degraded Atherton Tablelands landscapes, including planting and maintaining 65,000 seedlings, plus 50,000 seeds collected and propagated
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Burdekin region

Townsville City Council: Townsville Landscape Regeneration through First Nations Knowledge and Delivery

  • catchment restoration activities in the Black-Ross basins, including gully, sheet and streambank erosion remediation, and soil and land improvement work
  • utilisation of innovative urban development erosion control products and techniques
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

NQ Dry Tropics: Healing Country 2.0: Burdekin Water Quality Outcomes through Indigenous Partnerships

  • building on the success of the Healing Country 1.0 projects by continuing the successful partnership between NQ Dry Tropics and Three Big Rivers, employing a First Nations environmental restoration team
  • water quality improvement in priority Burdekin sub-catchments through sediment reduction activities, including installing erosion control structures, targeted weed management, and revegetation
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Mackay Whitsunday region

Reef Catchments: Mackay Whitsunday Streambank Stewardship Program

  • riparian revegetation, bank stabilisation and gully erosion remediation to reduce sediment run-off, undertaken in partnership with three Landcare organisations: Whitsunday Catchment Landcare, Pioneer Catchment Landcare and Sarina Landcare Catchment Management Association,  Traditional Owners and First Nations people
  • supporting the development of a Healthy Country Plan for Koinjmal Country
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Fitzroy region

Greening Australia: Woorabinda Healing Country and Gully Remediation Program

  • water quality improvement through the stabilisation of a range of eroding gullies and streambanks across Woorabinda Aboriginal Council Land and Woorabinda Pastoral Company Land in the Fitzroy Catchment
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Burnett Mary region

Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management (BMRG): Elliott Heads Healthy Seascapes Wetland Restoration Project

  • restoration and management of natural coastal wetlands, including the construction of a specialised mangrove and freshwater nursery facility
  • development of a Healthy Seascapes training and education hub at Elliot Heads
  • co-design of a wetland trail that delivers cultural awareness and education of Sea and Land Country practices, local stories and song lines, delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners
  • providing opportunities for First Nations participants to work on Country.

Reef Assist 2.0 Program outcomes

  • Reef Assist 2.0 is being delivered across multiple locations in the Great Barrier Reef catchment in remote, regional, peri-urban and urban areas.
  • Works are being delivered in partnership with natural resource management organisations, local councils, Indigenous and First Nations organisations and environmental organisations.
  • Strong focus on First Nations employment and training, with approximately half of the jobs created expected to be filled by First Nations people.
  • On-ground activities include gully and streambank restoration, riparian revegetation, natural wetland restoration, constructed wetland development, cane drainage management systems, urban development erosion management and pastoral land management.