Landcare Victoria Inc. 2022 Year in review
As we wrap up another year and look forward to a well-earned rest and time with our loved ones, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months. 2022 has been hectic to say the least, with many Groups and Networks playing catchup following the difficulties posed by Covid. Landcare depends on social action, using our networks to engage with members to hold events and share knowledge with both landcarers and the broader community, somehow you have managed to hold the line through some challenging times.
The collective achievements of the thousands of dedicated volunteers in 600 Member Groups make an enormous contribution to the health and restoration of our landscapes, waterways and coasts. You are quiet achievers who show dedication, tenacity and innovation in your vital work.
At Landcare Victoria Inc., it is our privilege to work in support of your efforts and our core purpose is to facilitate the work of our Member Groups and their volunteers and project staff. Our goal is to achieve a strong and stable landcare system that is properly resourced and recognised by partners and the wider community.
I am excited about the development of the Victorian Landcare Plan and gratified by the level of interest and engagement it has attracted. This important project will map the future development of landcare in Victoria and is our opportunity to develop a collective and coordinated response to the opportunities and challenges ahead of us. There is still opportunity to engage in the project, I encourage you to visit the Landcare Plan page on our website, to ensure your voice is heard.
Sharing knowledge is at the heart of landcare and Landcare Victoria plays a role in this knowledge exchange. The strong attendance at our recent fundraising workshops indicates the value we can provide to the landcare community, and we look forward to delivering more activities like this in 2023.
It has been several years since we held a Victorian Landcare Forum. We are excited that this popular and long overdue event will be hosted by the North East landcare community in Beechworth on March 23-25, 2023. Please mark it in your diaries and keep an eye out for further details, for what looks to be an inspirational and engaging schedule.
Communication is a key priority for landcare. We welcomed Sarah Vella onto the team as our Communications and Engagement Coordinator in October. Sarah has settled in quickly and is continuing to improve our communications performance and impact. Our new website went live early in the year, and we are steadily adding new information and resources with the aim that it will become a valued resource for the landcare community.
We have recently had the very good news that the Ian Potter Foundation and the Natural Resources Conservation League are committed to supporting a large-scale project that we hope will attract long-term investment in landcare. The Landcare Victoria team is in the early stages of planning and will have more to announce in coming weeks.
I became the Victorian representative on the board of the National Landcare Network (NLN) in November 2021 and have enjoyed learning about the activities of each of the members states and territories and the vital advocacy work of the NLN. As the peak national organisation representing and supporting community landcare throughout Australia, the NLN has a key role working closely with the Australian Government while they design the next version of the National Landcare Program.
Looking ahead, there is reason to be optimistic. The new Australian Government has adopted an energetic approach to environmental protection and management, creating new funding opportunities and a positive policy context for landcare. The Victorian Government has also made some important changes. Moving the agriculture portfolio into the environment department may lead to better integration, a likely benefit to landcare.
The Landcare Victoria Public Fund was established in 2021 and provides for tax deductible donations to landcare. Donations have now started to flow into the fund and very shortly, it will be accessible to Member Groups to assist your own fundraising.
I would like to acknowledge and extend my sincere thanks to our partners. The generous philanthropic support from the Rendere Trust (Phillipson family) and Upotipotpon Foundation (Crothers family) over the last three years has underpinned the growth in our capacity and led to many of our new initiatives. This support has facilitated the development of important new relationships. We are grateful to the RE Ross Trust, Ian Potter Foundation and Natural Resources Conservation League for the support they have provided through their project funding. Our partnership with the State Government through DELWP continues to strengthen and we are grateful for their financial support that enables us to run capacity building activities for member groups and landcare professionals. The Australian Government also supports community landcare through the Enabling Landcare Grant, which we use to support our own governance and administration costs.
We have many other important partners with a critical role in building our capacity. Chief among these is the Victorian Catchment Management Authorities that collaborate with us in supporting community landcare. We have also been pleased to develop partnerships with Regen Farmers Mutual, the Landscape Finance Lab, ANU Sustainable Farms, the Atlas of Living Australia, Greening Australia and Landcare Australia.
Like all active landcare groups, Landcare Victoria has a very hard-working Board and I take this opportunity to thank them for the many voluntary hours they commit to their roles. I would also like to thank the Landcare Victoria staff – CEO Andrew Maclean, Amanda Grace, Claire Hetzel, Sarah Vella and Ana Pimenta, who are all equally devoted to the landcare cause.
But most importantly, thanks to you once again for the work you do for our landscapes and communities. To all in the Victorian landcare community, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and safe holiday season.