Southern NSW Innovation Hub

Project Manager/Knowledge Broker: Frances Lomas

Background and Overview:

MFS entered into a Collaboration Agreement with the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub for the period Jan 2022 to 30 June 2024.

The SNSW Hub is one of 8 across Australia funded by the Future Drought Fund – an Australian Government Initiative. It is a partnership led by CSU including University of Wollongong, University of Canberra, Australian National University, NSW DPI, NSW Local Land Services, First Nations Governance Circle, Rural Aid and Farming Systems Group Alliance (comprised of Farmlink, CWFS, Riverina Plains, Southern Growers, IREC, ICC, Holbrook Landcare Network, MFS and TBC)

The Executive Officer, Frances Lomas, continues to hold the position of Knowledge Broker for MFS.

Reporting and Outcomes:

As part of its obligations under the Agreement, MFS has a targeted set of activities to deliver for each 6-month period, a report of which is submitted to the Hub including project co-design, identify priorities and projects for development, networking and relationship building with Hub partners, stakeholder engagement and communication and promotion of the Hub’s activities amongst its networks.

Since the inception of the Hub eighteen months ago, MFS has benefited greatly from its partnership through increased and improved access to research and knowledge sharing, collaboration and more recently, project participation.  Projects to date include the Resilient Pastures trial and a Return-on-Investment Calculator which, at time of writing, was being developed and will be distributed throughout the network for testing.  

A co-design approach is central to the hub’s philosophy and helps ensure all activities and projects are responding to real needs and opportunities on the ground. “Co-design is one way we ensure we are enabling real changes with positive impact for the people, farms, communities and landscapes of Southern New South Wales” Cindy Cassidy, CEO Southern NSW Hub.

Planning is underway for the next iteration of the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub with listening, stakeholder input and co-design continuing to play a key role in the future vision. Significantly, the Productivity Commission is part way through its review of the Future Drought Fund (and, by extension, the eight drought hubs). The interim report from this review suggests that it is too early to definitively assess the hub impacts – but the early indications are positive. They suggest that the hub operations be extended for a further four-year term so the impact can be properly assessed, and additional effort can be invested in climate resilience more broadly.

Taking this opportunity to reflect on the hub’s past performance and people’s experience with it will be critical to making the hub even better and more effective for the next four years.