Returning home to help farming communities recover
OVERCOMING the impacts of the drought, and forging on during the coronavirus pandemic are the main priorities of most rural and regional communities at the moment.
That is why Hannah Leu, regional recovery officer for Southeast Queensland, is keen to start her new role, and return home to the South Burnett.
"I've always been inspired by the resilience of regional communities," Miss Leu said.
"I'm looking forward to hearing their stories of hardship, and there's lots of positivity to share in those stories too."
When the pandemic is over, Miss Leu will travel to various communities within her large region from the central highlands, Gladstone, the Fraser Coast area and along the NSW border to Goondiwindi.
"I'm looking forward to talking to farmers and communities and understanding how the drought has impacted the region," she said.
"It's not just the producers, but there'll be a strong focus on communities too."
Miss Leu will be one of 18 officers deployed across Australia by the Federal Government to help farming communities recover after the drought and pandemic.
"It ensures we can work directly with those communities and understand on a local level what is affecting the regions," she said.
Having conversations and listening will be the key to success in her job, according to Miss Leu.
"I think listening to the regions is really important, local understanding is really important," she said.
"When you listen to a community you can make meaningful change."
The recovery officers will help regional families and businesses to find out what support is available and how to access it.
The officers will work alongside other agencies like rural financial counsellors, community organisers and those in economic development.
Miss Leu is no stranger to the rural life and has worked with drought-affected farming communities during her previous jobs.
"I've seen and heard first-hand the impacts of the drought has had on them," she said.
"They've had widespread rain, but it's not enough, there's lots of families struggling."
The fourth-generation beef producer grew up in the South Burnett on her family property near the Bunya Mountains - the Taabinga Station has been in the family since 1887.
"My family property is really interesting, we're diverse in what we do here - Murray Grey cattle, our own vineyard, we make are own wine and offer a farm stay," Miss Leu said.
The recovery officer has been working in the agricultural sector ever since she studied agribusiness.
The South Burnett woman has worked with Clovely Estate Winery and the South Burnett Regional Council.
For the past three years, Miss Leu has worked with AgForce as their media and communications adviser and a regional manager for Southeast Queensland.
"It was a lot of stakeholder engagements and understanding what a region's needs are," she said.
"It really strengthened my understanding of the region and how diverse it is."
Miss Leu went to primary school at Kumbia State School and then moved to Brisbane for boarding school.
She loves the diversity the South Burnett produces and their community spirit.
In her spare time, Miss Leu enjoys running and recently completed her first half marathon.
"The South Burnett Rail Trail is great for training," she said.
Miss Leu will be based at the Taabinga Station, but will travel around the region.
For more information, visit www.droughtandflood.gov.au, email Hannah.Leu@pmc.gov.au or call Miss Leu on 0428 592 653.