$10m to grow reef pilot in next state budget

01 June 2022



Premier and Minister for the Olympics

The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk


Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs

The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon


A trailblazing program born out of COVID-19 and aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef will receive $10 million from the Palaszczuk Government following its success and the creation of more than 130 First Nations jobs.


Designed to support tourism-based coastal communities during the pandemic, the $12 million Reef Assist program pilot sparked 232 jobs across 11 projects throughout the state.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government would invest $10 million in the program in next month’s State Budget.


“This is great news because we want to see an extra 225 people employed right across the north and far north of our state,” the Premier said.


“This is about giving young people an opportunity to help with revegetation, water quality, crown of thorns starfish on the reef or other areas.


“Jobs will be created as they think about doing a course, and becoming a ranger. Reef Assist is a great program and it's worked so successfully.”


The Premier made the announcement during Reconciliation Week with Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford and Cook MP Cynthia Lui.


They met with rangers from one of the program’s success stories - a $2.09 million project, which employed First Nations and young people to improve habitat in Far North Queensland catchments.  


“A crew of 39 were able to get valuable training in land management, with 27 First Nations people, 14 youths and seven women employed as part of the project,” the Premier said.


And across the 11 projects, crews:


Collected 10,000 native seeds for propagation (some for use in later revegetation programs)

Planted 26,700 native seedlings

Planted 25 cassowary food species

Revegetated 13 kilometres of riparian vegetation zones

Carried out almost one kilometre of engineered streambank stabilisation works and

Built 125 gully erosion remediation structures, covering an area of 37.7 hectares


“We want to replicate that success across Queensland,” the Premier said.


“That’s why this will be expanded to all Reef catchment areas including Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy, Burnett Mary.”


Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the $10 million boost for Reef Assist was part of the government’s broader $271 million commitment towards the reef in the 21/22 Budget and would create a further 225 job opportunities.


“Queensland is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and what we do on land can impact what happens on sea,” Minister Scanlon said.


“That’s why we’ve invested close to $1 billion since 2015 to protect the reef, and why we’re putting the call out to rollout even more land-based projects.”


Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Reef Assist program had been a great success and welcomed the funding boost.


“This program was part of our economic recovery plan to not only create jobs and training opportunities in areas hit hard by the global pandemic, but to also deliver important land management projects to improve the environment and protect the reef,” Ms Lui said.


“More than 110 formal and non-formal training courses were offered in conservation and land management, first aid and workplace health and safety.


“80 per cent participants received training in conservation and land management, first aid and workplace health and safety.


“People learned things like identifying plants and weeds, undertaking coral restoration, learning how to drive boats and fly drones.”


Ms Lui said the call for tenders for the next round of Reef Assist will open in July.


“We want to hear from landowners and managers who are interested in streambank rehabilitation, gully remediation, soil condition improvement and threatened species habitat restoration,” she said.


“Other projects can include wetland restoration and tree planting.”




 Media contact: Jack Harbour 0419 620 447