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 150 more regional jobs across the entire Reef catchment.

Reef Assist 2.0 projects

Six projects are now being funded under Reef Assist 2.0, spanning the entire Reef catchment from Cape York to Bundaberg.

Funding is expected to be allocated in the Burnett Mary region before the end of 2022. An additional $10 million has been made available for the program, with projects from the current application round being assessed and funding to be allocated by early 2023.

Cape York region

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

  • remediation of eroded gullies in the Normanby catchment
  • practical and theoretical machinery operation training on Normanby and Melsonby Stations to repair gullies, 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.

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 Reef water quality
  • undertaken in partnership with Wanyurr-Majay Aboriginal Corporation and Mulgrave Landcare, providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working 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 (DIN) pollutant loads
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working 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 Indigenous participants in working on Country.

Mackay Whitsunday region

Reef Catchments: Mackay Whitsunday Streambank Stewardship Program

  • riparian revegetation, bank stabilisation and gully erosion remediation to halt sediment run-off, undertaken in partnership with three Landcare organisations, Traditional Owners and First Nations people
  • supporting the development of a Healthy Country Plan for Koinjmal Country
  • providing opportunities for Indigenous participants in working 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 Indigenous participants in working on Country.

Burnett Mary region

  • **assessment still underway**

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, First Nations 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.