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  • The Cairns maritime/marine sector is one of four key Queensland regional sectors to receive more funding support by the Palaszczuk Government to help with the implementation of locally focused and led workforce planning initiatives.
  • The Queensland Government – through Jobs Queensland – is partnering with regional industries and communities to develop workforce plans and action-based initiatives through a new ‘Grow Your Own’ program.
  • The program’s budget is $4.5 million over three years.


The Palaszczuk Government’s new Grow Your Own program will support the delivery of comprehensive workforce plans in Cairns to ensure key industries in the region remain competitive – with ready-access to suitable training programs to attract new workers and upskill existing workers.

Other Queensland regional industries partnering with Jobs Queensland and receiving initial funding and support are:

  • the Far North Queensland water sector
  • the Bundaberg food and beverage manufacturing sector
  • the Wide Bay forestry sector

The Grow Your Own program enables local key stakeholders and industry representatives in Cairns to identify workforce needs, plan what skills will be required, and map how the region and industry can meet the needs of the sector and support the region’s economic goals.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Employment and Small Business, Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer:

“The Queensland Government is helping regions to ‘grow their own’ strong workforce – supporting tailored plans which will help regional industries address workforce risks and challenges.

“The first four regional industries supported by the ‘Grow Your Own’ program are all essential to local economies and job creation.

“There are an estimated 4,600 jobs supported by the Cairns region’s maritime sector.

“The Bundaberg economy is worth $8.2 billion dollars and local food and beverage manufacturing contributes approximately $686 million dollars toward this – or 8.3% total region production. In Wide Bay, the forestry and timber industry – Queensland’s third most valuable agricultural processing industry – plays an important role, supporting jobs in the Gympie and Maryborough communities.

“With the support of Jobs Queensland, Cairns industries will be encouraged to think differently – to fill skills gaps and tailor their approach to attraction and retention to the communities in which they operate.

“‘Grow Your Own’ will ensure regional industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, at the right time.”

Quotes attributable to the Member for Cairns Michael Healy

“In Cairns, securing a strong maritime and marine workforce is essential, with the Port of Cairns currently servicing 15 per cent of Australia’s registered vessels.

“And we know water is critical to many businesses and livelihoods across Far North Queensland – so maintaining an operational water workforce is a priority.

Quotes attributable to Donna Bonney – Chair, Jobs Queensland Board:

“Changes in technology, workforce demographics, and the evolution of hybrid work practices are reshaping the way we attract, recruit and retain workers with the required skills. We will continue to work with local industry leaders and provide support so they can ‘grow their own’ regional workforce to meet their current and future needs.”

Quotes attributable to Tamilyn Brennan – Jobs Queensland Board Member and Cairns Project Sponsor:

“Jobs Queensland is engaging with local maritime/marine industry leaders to gather local intelligence that will identify local workforce challenges and opportunities and support them to ‘grow their own’ regional workforce to meet their current and future needs.Quotes attributable to Michael Kerr, FNQROC Chair, Mayor, Douglas Shire Council: “With a land area equivalent to the size of Victoria, and a population of approximately 280,000, water security is critical to the growth of both the population and industry in Far North Queensland.

“With a mature workforce based in regional areas, understanding how best to attract, retain, reskill and upskill our future workforce is pivotal to safe and consistent water supply.”


Published Friday 29 September, 2023 at

Last updated 3 January 2024