Cumnock’s Christine Weston will make the most of a captive audience of politicians and economists at the Australian Regional Economies Conference (AREC) this month.
Mrs Weston has been invited to speak about the successful Cumnock Rent a Farmhouse project at the conference, to be held in Parkes from July 26 to 28.
Since offering run-down farmhouses to families for $1 a week rent last October, the project has been instrumental in bringing 20 new families to the village, boosting local businesses and saving the school bus run.
Mrs Weston said she would talk about the project’s impact on her community.
“It doesn’t need a statistician to calculate that small towns are going backwards,” she said.
Several others towns around NSW and one in Victoria have borrowed the idea with the aim of addressing their own dwindling populations.
Mrs Weston hopes to convince decision-makers at AREC that government funding for the scheme could help to mitigate a nation-wide housing shortage and boost struggling country towns.
“Hopefully I can try to encourage them to help the farmers to improve their farmhouses. It would be great to get some government support,” she said.
“There are still another six empty farmhouses around here.”
Mrs Weston said a $5000 grant would be needed to help bring many empty farmhouses up to a liveable standard.
Representatives from government, business, transport, agriculture, tourism and community development will attend the conference.