Paradise Dam has fed the Bundaberg region in Queensland for nearly 15 years. The primary producers of the region, which is one of the highest producing regions in Australia, have come to rely on its water security for their livelihoods. These farmers provide 25% of Australia’s food, countless jobs, economic contribution and an identity for the region’s population.
However, the Bundaberg region was used as farmland well before the Dam went in, and many of those farmers battled through years of dry land farming and fought for decades to get a dam in place.
With the Queensland Government's plan to lower the dam, the capacity would drop to 42% of its current level, putting conventional farming methods into question for much of the region.
What will this mean for such an important farming region and what lessons can we learn from the years before the construction of Paradise Dam?
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Bundaberg is a vital area for primary producers. Known as one of the three super growing regions for Australia with a huge amount of fruit and veg being produced. But this growing hub is under threat because the Paradise Dam, which has been the key to water security in the region has just been labeled unsafe and 100 000 megalitres was released from the dam late last year, dropping the water level to 42%. The Paradise Dam sustained damage in the 2013 floods and has since been repaired. Independent engineers have deemed the dam safe unless it endured a flood significantly worse than that, but the QLD Government and SunWater are continuing with the demolition. Bundaberg’s primary producers are outraged that the Dam they spent 100 years lobbying for is being taken away from them without a viable alternative. This could spell the end of conventional farming in the region, and put Australia’s produce industry under threat.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
1. Represent primary producers, local farmers and their families.
2. Convey the social-ecological importance and economic significance of Paradise Dam locally and nationally.
3. Drive stronger community stewardship, public engagement and awareness of the significance and threats to one of Australia’s largest agricultural producing regions.
4. Encourage public involvement at an individual, community and national level to address economic impacts.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
Give the communities of Bundaberg & Wide Bay-Burnett a film that showcases their history & their identity and watch with pride.
Raise awareness to the wider community to understand the kind of crisis that is about to hit our food production chain. The news about Paradise Dam has not reached major cities, so we want to inform them & lobby the government to at least provide a reasonable alternative to preserve the water security of one of Australia’s most important growing regions.
To increase public understanding of the broad value (social, economic, cultural) of a major growing region.
To preserve the memory of the farmers who worked the land for 100 years before the Dam was built. These men are growing older & we do not want their knowledge & memories to be lost to history. In 1978, author Janetter Gay Nolan released a book which chronicled the history of the Bundaberg region & its people. This documentary will bridge the gap between where this book left off & now.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
Our philosophy is always to connect with an audience through people, and this story is no different. Farmers who have worked the land their whole lives will be interviewed, and their passion for farming will be clear in the documentary. Their faces and bodies will tell the story along with their words. Faces that have seen everything the Queensland environment can throw at them and bodies that have adapted to the hard work that went into these farms before the Dam went in.
Empathy will be the key to engaging action from the audience, however, they cannot make informed decisions without information. Therefore, we will ensure that we provide the full story of the Dam’s construction, its uses, its impacts and how it affects the food supply chain and the Australian economy.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
We have made connections with many of the farmers in the region as well as those who are a part of the advocacy group to save the Dam. We have spoken to them at length about what this Dam means to them, and how the documentary could support their cause. There is nothing that means more to them than the water security provided by the Paradise Dam, and we will incorporate this passion into every element of our storytelling.
We have engaged with multiple retired farmers who remember what it was like before the Dam was built. They create much of the emotional connection to the Dam, as they can show the audience how difficult farming was before, and how much the region has grown to rely on it.
We also have consulted with local MPs and Councillors, to investigate what policy changes can be put into place and what information they want to see.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
We hope that the audience will be persuaded to support the Bundaberg growing region, and local producers more generally. They are likely to do this in small ways such as through their buying habits, supporting the tourism industries in Bundaberg and making more mindful choices about their use of precious natural resources.
Furthermore, we would like to see viewers take action to protect and improve the water security that so many Australian growers rely on. They could do this by supporting the NGOs and not-for-profit organisations which are already working hard for this cause, or by lobbying on behalf of these organisations.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
The best indicator of success would be for the Queensland Government to cancel demolition works on Paradise Dam, or postpone them until a suitable replacement water source can be found. This is integral to Australia’s food security, threats to which have already caused much panic among shoppers in recent months.
We will see more passionate and wide-spread lobbying to keep the dam wall up, especially from people who do not live in the Bundaberg and Wide Bay-Burnett regions. This would mean that our message is being heard by even those who otherwise would have no idea of the crisis that is underway in Bundaberg.