The number of people looking for work in the Illawarra and South Coast region has leapt by 119 per cent since the start of the year, and environmentalists say hands-on land care work, funded by the government, is both a popular and smart way to help the recovery.
Polling by data company Dynata, commissioned by the National Landcare Network, found 86 per cent of people in New South Wales would support publicly funded land care work as a job creation initiative.
Hands-on green jobs were the second-top option for government employment spending, after increased training and apprenticeships, the polling found.
These projects require minimal infrastructure and offer quick start-up potentialTerry Harkness, Landcare Illawarra chair
Landcare Illawarra chair Terry Harkness said he had met with members of federal and state parliament Stephen Jones and Gareth Ward, and told them there were several projects that were ready to go if the funding were made available.
In particular, working with landowners to help preserve threatened ecological communities on farmland, bush regeneration and lantana removal in Illawarra rainforests, and weed removal around sand dunes and coastal environments, would be ready to go.
"These projects require minimal infrastructure and offer quick start-up potential," Mr Harkness said.
Figures from the Federal Government's Labour Market Information Portal showed 16,192 more people looking for work under the JobActive program at June 30 than there were on January 1.
More than 70 green and farming groups have supported the call, including Landcare, the National Farmers Federation and Pew Charitable Trusts.
National Landcare Network CEO Jim Adams said the polling indicated broad support nationwide.
"Australians are overwhelmingly supportive of COVID-recovery initiatives that can keep people in work while also helping damaged landscapes recover," he said.
"They see that practical initiatives to help plant trees, restore degraded river systems and eradicate noxious weeds and feral animals are an ideal way to help improve our landscapes while also ensuring communities survive this tough period."
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