I wish to make some comments about the Gardiner Foundation annual review 2008.
In doing so I draw the attention of the house to the comprehensive work the
foundation undertakes throughout Victoria. For those who might not be all that
familiar with the foundation and by way of background, the foundation was
established in 2001. Its brief was to bring about progress in the dairy
industry, not just in research and innovation but also in support for dairy
communities, as well as strategies for engaging younger people in the industry
to stay in the industry and be equal partners.
The foundation is named after Geoffrey Gardiner, who was a
Victorian dairy farmer and a very prominent dairy farmer leader. He passed away
in 1999. It was seen as fitting that the foundation adopt his name as he was
heavily involved in a whole range of dairy industry organisations.
The primary premise of the foundation is essentially to
encourage and inspire dairy families to engage in and be advocates of the dairy
industry and to develop strategies to have a future within the industry.
As we know, most of our primary producers have been doing it
tough, not just over the last couple of years but beyond that. In the last few
years we have seen the impact of climate change, the global financial crisis and
increased competition and how that is affecting our primary industries. We have
also seen the devastating impact on our dairy industry of a decrease in milk
The particular features of the foundation are
in the area of innovation and research. It also has a funding program to assist
local communities in their specific needs. It has programs that knit together
dairy families who are stressed so they can seek assistance, and it has programs
to assist with the next generation.
In terms of the innovation program, in this reporting period it
had an enormous number of projects. I will not go into all of them, but there
were four projects it entered into with the Department of Primary Industries.
They ranged from developing management tools to improve feed conversion to the
development of industry guidelines on dairy cattle feed pads and free-stall
barns. In terms of community development, as part of the Gateways 4 Sustainable
Communities program there was a partnership with a number of councils to address
the needs of young people for training and skills development while maintaining
health and wellbeing.
The foundation also sponsored involvement in the Australian
Rural Leadership Foundation, and five young people were successful in gaining
Gardiner Dairy Scholarships in 2008.
The program that assists young people in the dairy industry,
the Young Dairy Development Program, is now under the stewardship of a number of
dairy industry programs, not just the Gardiner Foundation. It strikes me more
and more that it is incredibly important for people to be very aware and to hone
their skills and networks towards that next generation.
In the time I have left, can I encourage people, particularly
those in the agricultural sector, to look at the work this foundation does. I
draw people’s attention to the fact that the next funding round for the Gardiner
Foundation opens in February 2010 and closes in March 2010. It offers an
enormous amount to our dairy industry for the future.