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WO R K I N G T O G E T H E R P R O T E C T I N G V I C T O R I A ’ S E N V I R O N M E N T

Confronting Climate Change Can Victoria become a global leader in the fight to save the planet?

PLUS Thousands Turn Out to Walk Against Warming!

ISSUE 6 Z SUMMER 2008


THIS ISSUE Confronting climate change

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Securing our climate: one product at a time

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Green Action News Issue 6, Summer 2008 Design 2Fish Productions Print Print Bound Contributing writers Fraser Brindley, Michele Burton, Daniel Clarke, Leonie Duncan, Vicki Kyriakakis, Juliet Le Feuvre, Sacha Myers, Kelly O’Shanassy, Domenica Settle Editor Vicki Kyriakakis (03) 9341 8125 editor@envict.org.au Advertising sales enquiries Vicki Kyriakakis (03) 9341 8125 editor@envict.org.au Membership enquiries Jennifer Jordan (03) 9341 8124 jennifer.jordan@envict.org.au Media enquiries Sacha Myers (03) 9341 8113 sacha.myers@envict.org.au Green Action News is an Environment Victoria publication. For more information, visit www.environmentvictoria.org.au Environment Victoria would like to thank Print Bound for its in-kind support.

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Our vision for Melbourne’s water future

Thousands turn up to Walk Against Warming

Mother-of-Three an eco-model for the future

Andrew Booth: nature’s ally

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EnviroWatch: two years on

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Families Go Green in Ballarat

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Your River Gellibrand

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Beat climate change? We can with your help!

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Wishing you a happy festive season This time last year, Environment Victoria was gearing up for a massive 2008. What a year it turned out to be. THERE HAS BEEN an incredible explosion in mainstream awareness on environmental issues and we knew that to meet the new challenges ahead we would need a new vision. The result has been a year spent speaking to our supporters and the community, and re-imagining our future. Your feedback has helped us set a path we believe will lead us to a greener and greater Victoria. Next year marks Environment Victoria’s 40th birthday and will

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kickstart twelve months of celebration. And we feel we have a lot to celebrate. In this edition of Green Action News, you’ll read about our new report on climate change (page 3). Developed by the Nous Consultancy Group and financed with the help of generous supporters like you, the report shows that we can slash our greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2020. If the Walk Against Warming is anything to go by, we have the community will-power to make it happen. Over 15,000 people turned up to walk in support of real action on climate change. In the coming year we’ll be mobilising this community appetite for action through the PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN to slash greenhouse emissions. We’ll be demanding that political parties adopt the community’s plan in the lead up to the 2010 state election. We’ll also be mobilising the community to get behind our vision for

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Melbourne’s water future (page 6). We feel we have the right strategies to secure our environment for our children and, with your help, we believe we can recreate our future. On behalf of all of us here at Environment Victoria, I’d like to sincerely thank you for your support and ongoing commitment to safeguard our environment. I wish you a prosperous, safe and happy festive season. — Kelly O’Shanassy Chief Executive Officer

PS. We need to raise another $100,000 to deliver the next stage of our PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN to slash greenhouse emissions. Will you consider helping us out? You can make your donation by using the form on the back of this edition of Green Action News or just visit us at www.environmentvictoria.org.au. Thanks for helping us lead the way!


climate solutions

Confronting climate change: Can Victoria become a global leader? > Vicki Kyriakakis, Communications Officer & Sacha Myers, Media Officer

Victorians could begin reducing their ecological footprint immediately, according to Environment Victoria’s new report.

“BY ENSURING THE GOODS WE BUY ARE DURABLE, RECYCLABLE, NECESSARY AND HAVE A MINIMAL CARBON FOOTPRINT, WE COULD REDUCE EMISSIONS BY 12 MILLION TONNES PER YEAR BY 2020.”

While the threat of climate change looms large, the political will to solve it often seems non-existent. But what if we had the technology and knowledge to halve our emissions in just 12 years? Could we become a global leader in the fight to save the planet? Environment Victoria’s ground-breaking new report lights the way. WE’VE ALL HEARD about the catastrophic threat of climate change. We’ve heard that it is the greatest challenge facing our generation. And we’ve heard what will happen if we fail to act. What we haven’t heard much of is what the government plans to do to about it. And as the scientific warnings get more dire, the opportunity to act narrows. Enter the Nous Report. Commissioned by Environment Victoria with the help of generous donations from Environment Victoria supporters, the report was produced by the Nous Consultancy Group and is the first of its kind in the country. It considers the crucial question of whether it is possible to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to the

point that scientists say we must if we’re to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. And the answer appears to be a resounding yes. Using the same modelling tools employed by the state government, the report takes the proposition much further than any before it. It shows that by using a mix of technologies and policies we can reduce our emissions by 60 per cent by 2020. Environment Victoria Campaigns Director, Mark Wakeham said the reduction could transform the state from one of the world’s most polluting populations (per capita) into a climate change leader. “The report illustrates what real leadership on this issue could look

like,” Mark said. “As the warnings become more urgent, it’s great news that we can slash our emissions in line with what scientists say is necessary.” But he cautioned that there were no magic bullets. “We’ve got to throw everything we have at climate change, starting right now.” Though it would require transformative change, the report says the solutions are within our grasp. With greater policy intervention from governments, greater community commitment and more industry investment the report suggests that a safe climate future is possible. Mark said a broad range of technologies and polices were needed

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climate solutions

to combat the problem. “For example, if Victoria’s entire building stock was given a green makeover to improve water and energy efficiency, we could cut Victoria’s emissions by more than 8.6 million tonnes per year by 2020, as well as cutting energy bills.” “After energy efficiency we need to clean up our energy supply by replacing coal-fired power with gas and renewable energy generation. With around 95 per cent of Victoria’s electricity coming from coal, it’s a smart move to diversify our electricity supply.” He said the surprise finding in the report was just how much emissions could be cut by altering how we produce and consume as a society. “By ensuring the goods we buy are durable, recyclable, necessary and have a minimal carbon footprint, we could reduce emissions by 12 million tonnes per year by 2020. This is an area that has been paid little attention in the past but offers so much potential,” he said. The reduction would essentially mean that Victoria’s population of 5 million people would behave more like a population of 4 million, easing the stress on Victoria’s environment. And the report identifies several ways this might be achieved, including manufacturing goods more efficiently and minimising the amount of waste produced during the production process. It also measures the savings to be made from buying goods that use less water and energy to produce and from buying more recycled goods. Mark said the combination of community action and good government policy in this area could help Victorians live smarter and avoid

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waste and single-use products. “Through sustainable production and consumption, we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions without adversely impacting our lifestyle,” he said. And it doesn’t stop there. The report identified many different ways in which greenhouse gas emissions could be slashed. “Emissions from transport could be reduced by driving more fuel efficient cars, reducing the number of singleperson vehicle trips and increasing the use of public transport. These measures combined could help us save 10 million tonnes of emissions by 2020.” It’s a multi-pronged approach that Mark believes just might help us move past the negotiations and deadlocks that have stalled international action on climate change. “To have any chance of dodging the climate change bullet, we’re going to need leaders who are prepared to break the impasse of international climate negotiations,” he said. “Victoria could be that leader.” Environment Victoria CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy said the results of the study were very exciting.

“Our next step will be to engage communities and business leaders to develop the policies we need to deliver these cuts. We’ll then bring these together in a PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN and use it to put pressure on our government to show real leadership. We’ll demand that political parties adopt the policies as part of their 2010 state election platform.” Kelly said Environment Victoria’s many years of experience, showed this community approach could work. “At Walk Against Warming last month, thousands of people came from across Victoria to demand a safe climate for our future. This shows the enormous community appetite for real action on climate change. Through our grassroots community work, we aim to mobilise these communities around the PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN. This is vital if we’re going to make politicians serious about tackling the issue.” Kelly said it wouldn’t be possible, however, without the continued support of our donors. “Despite the importance of our climate change campaign, we don’t receive any external funding for it other than the incredibly generous donations of our supporters. We need to raise a further $100,000 to take these incredible results and turn them into a plan of action.” “These are critical times for the future of the planet. Together our actions now will determine the extent to which we secure a safe climate, or alternatively bequeath ourselves and our children to a dangerous and unpredictable future. The time is now. Environment Victoria has a clear plan of action to tackle climate change and the energy and drive to make sure this plan becomes a reality. We’re the only dedicated Victorian group working on climate issues and we believe, that with the help of all Victorians, we can recreate our future and secure the future of our planet.”

HELP US MAKE SURE THIS PLAN BECOMES A REALITY! Donate to our PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN online at www.environmentvictoria.org.au or by using the form at the back of this edition of Green Action News. Download a copy of the report, ‘Turning it around: climate solutions for Victoria’ online at www.environmentvictoria.org.au. For more information on the study or the PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN, contact Kelly O’Shanassy on (03) 9341 8119 or Mark Wakeham on (03) 9341 8127.

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smart production, smart consumption

Securing our climate, one product at a time > Fraser Brindley, Production & Consumption Campaigner Other initiatives have also been identified in the Nous report and are up for consideration. These include an eco-labelling program for consumer goods, responsible approaches to advertising and the promotion of green-procurement. The most obvious strategy, however, remains unstated. By continuing to reduce, recycle and reuse we can learn to live better with less.

One of the most important findings of Environment Victoria’s new report, ‘Turning it around: climate solutions for Victoria’, is also one of the most obvious: the goods we produce and consume are a big part of our climate change problem. FOR MANY OF US, it’s not news: we live on a finite planet and we’re fast running out of resources. What is news, however, is just how much we stand to save by changing the way we produce and consume. And it’s not just our hip pockets. Commissioned by Environment Victoria, the Nous report (see page 3) identifies for the first time the role that sustainable production and consumption can play in the fight against climate change. It is a role that could see our greenhouse gas emissions begin to fall almost immediately, and at a relatively small cost to the community. What’s more, it doesn’t rely on new technologies or investments but rather on a communal change in behaviour. The report found that Victorians could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tonnes simply by being smarter about the way we manufacture and consume goods. The finding is at the heart of Environment Victoria’s revitalised Zero Waste campaign. Now called Smart Production, Smart Consumption, the campaign has shifted its focus upstream, from where the waste comes out to where the

Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival in February 2009, will showcase many sustainable options for Victorian consumers.

DUMP AWARDS ARE BACK FOR KEEPS

goods are actually made and sold. It is here, the report says, that the deepest and fastest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be made. Still central to the campaign is the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR). Environment Victoria is continuing its call for a national EPR scheme for electronic waste. The scheme would see manufacturers of products like televisions and fluorescent globes take responsibility for the recovery and recycling of their products. It would challenge both manufacturers and consumers alike to consider where their products end up. Environment Victoria believes that by including the cost of disposal in the product price, the quality and lifetime of that product will become more important.

Environment Victoria’s DUMP Awards will be back in early 2009 to report on Damaging and Useless Materials in Packaging. Contestants will be drawn from leading brands and manufacturers, and judged by a panel of design and packaging experts. This time around, however, we’re offering a carrot as well as a stick. To acknowledge manufacturers who are doing the right thing, we’re launching the KEEP Awards for products that are Kerbing the Environmental Effects of Packaging. So the next time you’re shopping, keep a sharp look out. If you see any goods that resemble a pass-the-parcel game or notice a product that is making an effort to reduce its packaging, let us know. If we get enough input, we’ll award People’s Choice Awards for both. Send your suggestions to Fraser Brindley at fraser.brindley@envict.org.au or via phone on (03) 9341 8103.

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our water future

Water security, healthy rivers: OUR vision for Melbourne > Leonie Duncan, Healthy Rivers Campaign Manager

Environment Victoria supporter, Kirsten Blair, is one of a growing number of people frustrated at the Victorian Government’s handling of Melbourne’s water woes.

IN A LETTER to The Age early last month, Kirsten had this to say to Water Minister, Tim Holding: “Water Minister Holding stated back in September that retrofitting existing homes with rainwater tanks is of limited use. Having recently fitted two tanks with a total capacity of 5500 litres to our 80 year old house, I’d just like to let the Minister know that it turns out they are pretty useful, even in spring. Both tanks are full to the brim after being in place for just under six weeks. Stop kidding yourself Minister Holding, there’s no reason to cut back on tank subsidies and every reason to increase them — the more households collecting and using rainwater, year round, the better.” Kirsten and her family are demonstrating the kind of community leadership that will help Melbourne transition to what’s been coined a ‘water sensitive city’ — the sort of city Environment Victoria envisages for our capital. Such a future would see Melbourne use a more diverse range of water sources

SPEAK UP FOR NORTHERN VICTORIA! > Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaign Manager

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in an integrated way, including urban stormwater and recycled wastewater, and at a range of scales, from household to suburb to city-wide. Such diversity reduces the vulnerability that comes from over-reliance on a centralised water supply. While we worry about dwindling water storages, an amount of water equivalent to Melbourne’s total annual use falls on the city each year and then runs away unused through our stormwater drains. Taking an integrated approach to water management will deliver a wide range of benefits, including supply security, flood mitigation and protection of our city’s creeks and rivers. And, importantly, it is made up of ‘water sensitive communities’ who provide the social capital for positive water-saving decision-making and behaviours. While the Victorian Government continues to defend their economically and environmentally risky desalination and pipeline plans for Melbourne,

Northern Victoria faces an urgent crisis. Our climate is drying rapidly and the impacts of continuing low inflows to rivers like the Goulburn and Campaspe are obvious for all to see. In writing a sustainable water strategy for the Northern Region, the Victorian Government has the opportunity to create a vision for the region’s future. Instead, the Government has drafted a 50 year strategy that shores up ‘business-as-usual’ and condemns the region’s rivers to a waterless future. A future that they openly admit will bring death to Victoria’s iconic red gum forests and wetlands. Though the submission period for the draft strategy is now closed, you can still let the Government

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Environment Victoria has released a new report demonstrating how Melbourne’s water crisis could be tackled in a much smarter way. Water Security, Healthy Rivers: Environment Victoria’s Vision for Melbourne is a 10 point action plan which calls on the government to: • Transition to a ‘water-sensitive city’ by improving stormwater management and dramatically improving the water efficiency of our building stock and industry. • Implement sustainable alternative supplies such as purified recycled water. • Cease logging in Melbourne’s water catchments. • Deliver environmental flows to Victoria’s rivers.

Water Security, Healthy Rivers can be downloaded from our website at www.environmentvictoria.org.au. Alternatively, contact Leonie Duncan, Healthy Rivers Campaign Manager on (03) 9341 8120 or at leonie.duncan@envict.org.au for more information.

know that this is not good enough. We want a more positive future for northern Victoria! Write to the Minister for Water, Tim Holding, or your local MP, and tell them you want an integrated approach to water management across northern Victoria. We need a strategy that will tackle the current over-allocation of water, support regional communities in adjusting to a water-constrained future and provide water for our precious rivers and wetlands. You can write to the Minister at Level 26, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000 or via email at timothy.holding@parliament.vic.gov.au.


turning up the heat

Two years in: Brumby Government needs to get cracking > Sacha Myers, Media Officer

Almost 40 per cent of the Victorian Government’s 2006 election promises on the environment have been broken or are at risk of not being delivered by 2010, according to an audit released by leading environment groups. PRODUCED BY ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Friends of the Earth (FoE), The Wilderness Society (TWS) and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), the audit assesses the Brumby Government’s progress in meeting the ALP’s 2006 election commitments to the environment. Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria’s campaigns director said findings from the report, EnviroWatch: Two Years In, show that 11 per cent of the government’s election promises have been broken, while a further 27 per cent were in jeopardy of not being delivered. “While 62 per cent of the election commitments have been delivered and there has been some good news, like the creation of the Cobboboonee National Park, the Brumby Government needs to get cracking on delivering the rest of its election commitments,” he said.

“Victoria’s environment is in dire straits and desperately needs environmental leadership – this starts with delivering on 2006 election commitments.” Mark Wakeham, Campaigns Director, Environment Victoria

“With two years left of its term, the government has so far failed to protect our rivers and wetlands. They are pressing ahead with the environmentally damaging pipeline and desal plant instead of securing our water supply through accelerating efficiency and recycling programs.” Paul Sinclair, Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager, ACF

“The government promised to immediately protect old growth forest if elected. It’s not too late for the government to protect these precious National Estate listed forests.” Luke Chamberlain, Forest Campaigner, TWS

ENVIROWATCH: TWO YEARS IN Highlights include: • The decleration of new Cobboboonee National Parks • The extension of the 5 star housing standard to renovations and extensions. • Introduction of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target • Progress towards meeting Towards Zero Waste targets.

“Environment groups [are] looking forward to the government's announcement on the River Red Gum national parks. We strongly urged the government... to deliver on the promise to protect Red Gum forests.” Matt Ruchel, Executive Director, VNPA

Key broken promises: • Commitment to significantly improve the health of Victorian rivers by 2010 • Commitment to deliver increased environmental flows to major stressed rivers • Commitment to pay a fair price for householders and small businesses that feed solar and other renewable energy into the grid • Recent logging of Brown Mountain forests, which had been scheduled for inclusion as part of the promised Old Growth walking trail near Goongerah in East Gippsland.

“Environment groups strongly urge the government to reconsider their legislation on [solar] feed-in tariffs before it enters Parliament and make good on this broken promise.” Cam Walker, Campaigns Coordinator, FoE

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walk against warming 2008

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Thousands turn out to Walk Against Warming Thousands of Victorians flocked to Federation Square to join Environment Victoria’s Walk Against Warming on Saturday, November 15, 2008. The event drew over 15,000 people who stepped out to demand immediate action on climate change and send a wake-up call to our political leaders.

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SPEAKING TO THE crowd via a pre-recorded message from his offices in New York, NASA climate scientist Dr James Hansen said the public was going to have to become involved if the global warming problem was to be solved. “It’s much easier for government to go along with business as usual, [but] if we do that it will be disastrous for future generations.” Dr Hansen said the effects of climate change had already begun and called on governments to put a moratorium on new

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coal fired power plants. “The real issue is coal… yet the governments don’t get that. The public is going to have to get involved and it’s going to have to draw a line in the sand.” Dr Hansen said he was very glad to hear of the Walk Against Warming. “You’ve elected a government which says that it understands the problem and yet they’re not taking the actions that are needed to solve the problem. I wish you luck in your attempts to make the government understand that small actions will not solve this problem.”

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7 1. Brazilian band Melsamba warms up the crowd as thousands congregate for the Walk Against Warming 2008. (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 2. The crowd ďŹ nds much to agree with as speakers call for real action against climate change. (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 3. IPCC Scientist, Dr David Karoly, speaks to the crowd about the dramatic impacts to come should we fail to act on climate change. (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 4. Victorians of all ages unite in their call for less talk and more action from political leaders. (Photo: Tricia Phelan) 5. Melsamba’s dancer points the way. (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 6. People power comes to the steps of Parliament. (Photo: Peter Campbell) 7. Solutions start at home for a global problem. (Photo: Peter Campbell)

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walk against warming 2008

1 1. Sending a clear message: urgent climate action now! (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 2. Humans are not the only ones who stand to beneďŹ t from quick action against climate change. (Photo: Jesse Marlow) 3. Leader of the Greens Party, Senator Bob Brown, walks the talk. (Photo: Peter Campbell) 4. The countdown begins: will our political leaders heed the wake up call? (Photo: Peter Campbell) 5. All we want for Christmas is a safe climate future. (Photo: Jesse Marlow)

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sustainable living

Families go green in Ballarat

> Domenica Settle, Sustainable Living Project Officer

Ballarat families saved over 1 million litres of water with the showerheads and shower timers Environment Victoria gave them.

Earlier this year, 52 people from Ballarat and their children, came together to find out what they could do to help take care of the environment. ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA’S FAMILIES Go Green workshop series targets lowincome families in regional areas and helps them reduce both their environmental impact and their energy and water bills. Nine months later, participants of the program came together at the Ballarat swimming pool to share their stories and tell Program Manager Murray Irwin of their progress. “Not all the families were able to make it, but those who did said that not only had they changed their own behaviour as a result of the program, but that they’d also started encouraging others to take action too,” he said. Murray said all the participants had put their learnings into practice in the

months after the program. “All of the families have taken on board what they learnt and implemented at least three of the actions they had learnt about. Most, however, went further and have implemented at least eight to ten different initiatives to reduce their impact on the planet – everything from changing their light globes to starting to compost.” Murray said he was particularly impressed by the number who had purchased some level of Green Power, despite the fact that they came from low-income communities. He said that if all of the families involved saved as much as those who came to the event, then collectively the participants of Families Go Green Ballarat would have managed to save

over 1.1 million litres of water annually with the water saving showerheads and shower timers they received as part of the program. “That’s roughly the same as 11,000 full baths.” And the energy they’re saving as a result of using less hot water has reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by almost 96,868 kg. Together with actions like using less plastic bags and switching to Green Power, the Ballarat families are now saving 233,303 kg annually. That’s the equivalent of 4.6 million black balloons of greenhouse gas. Murray said the results spoke volumes about what was possible. “If every Victorian household saved as much as these Ballarat families, we’d reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That’s 220 billion black balloons! And we’d reduce our water use by 12.6 per cent. That’s 56,752 million litres that could be put back into our ailing rivers.” Murray said this philosophy, of driving change from the grassroots up, was at the heart of Environment Victoria’s community work in Sustainable Living. “We believe that if we can help people in our regional communities, like these families in Ballarat, make changes that help our environment then we can convince all 5 million Victorians to take action. That’s a future we can’t wait to create.” Families Go Green Ballarat was run by Environment Victoria in partnership with the YMCA and volunteers from Ballarat. Funding was provided for the program from the Victorian Government as part of the Regional Sustainable Living program. Environment Victoria will be recruiting families for Families Go Green in Colac in January 2009.

For more information on Families Go Green Colac, ring Liza Price on (03) 9341 8105.

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your stories

Mother-of-three, an eco-model for the future > Michele Burton, Green Town Project Manager

When Maha Abdel Rahmen migrated to Australia from her native Cairo, Egypt, over ten years ago she brought with her a respect for the world’s natural resources. “A PART OF our teachings in our religion is to appreciate the value of water and food,” Maha said. “Respecting our resources is central to our religion. It is why we fast for one month a year.” It is a lesson she is eager to pass on with the help of Environment Victoria’s Green Town program. The program took 12 members of the Arabic and Assyrian Chaldean communities through issues in sustainability, including how to conduct a household audit.

Green Town participant, Maha Abdel Rahmen, is keen to pass on her knowledge to members of her community. The Environment Victoria program began in late October, with training run by the Moreland Energy Foundation and Australian Lebanese Welfare Organisation. Maha said she was most interested in hearing about the new renewable technologies. “I couldn’t believe how polluting brown coal is,” she said. As a volunteer and leader of a ladies group for the Federation of Australia

Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY), Maha has already reached over 2000 people through her environmental work over the years. She is now keen to continue spreading her new knowledge through schools such as the Australian International Islamic Academy. “I have three children,” Maha said. “I want to make sure they have good role models and that we set a standard for them to maintain a low environmental footprint.” Program Manager, Michele Burton said Maha and her fellow assessors are a huge asset to the community. “They are really helping us foster the whole-of-community approach that is so crucial to the success of the Green Town program,” Michele said. She said Environment Victoria planned to replicate the results with other multicultural communities. “Eventually, four different Melbourne communities will benefit from the Green Town approach,” Michele said.

For more information on the Green Town Program, contact Michele Burton on (03) 9341 8123 or email michele.burton@envict.org.au.

s Book celebrates Ballarat’s dinki-di bush champions > John Sampson, Victoria Naturally Alliance

The Victoria Naturally Alliance has joined forces with the Ballarat Environment Network to create a book celebrating some of Ballarat’s best known bush heroes. LAUNCHING THE BOOK in October the network’s executive officer Hedley Thomson said the eight stories contained in Ballarat’s Bush Champions were just a small sample of the hundreds of similar stories taking place throughout the region. “These stories show the dedication people in the Ballarat region have towards looking after their natural environment,” Mr Thomson said. “From Ray Draper’s important work protecting Victoria’s growling grass frog from extinction to St Francis Xavier Primary School’s moves to build a wetland, these are stories of hope and vision at a time when our natural environment needs them most.” Victoria Naturally Alliance biodiversity campaigner Karen Alexander said the stories reflect what she’s known for

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years, that local communities across regional Victoria are leading the way when it comes to protecting and restoring the natural environment. “But there’s a limit to how much they can and should be expected to do on their own,” she said. “The Ballarat region alone is home to at least 45 of Australia’s most threatened species, including the southern brown bandicoot, swift parrot and growling grass frog. We need the State Government to get behind the spirit shown by Ballarat’s bush champions and commit to massive boosts in funding for environmental restoration.” To celebrate the launch of Ballarat’s Bush Champions the Victoria Naturally Alliance, a coalition of the state’s peak environment groups that includes

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Environment Victoria, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Victorian National Parks Association, has five copies of the book to give away.

For your chance to win a copy, simply contact Environment Victoria on (03) 9341 8125 or email The Editor at editor@envict.org.au. You can also read the stories online by going to www.victorianaturally.org.au.


your river

‘Reconnect with the land’ river guardians say > Daniel Clarke, Healthy Rivers Campaign

Those that live along the Gellibrand River can testify to its startling natural beauty. They also know what it means to try to safeguard a river rapidly diminishing under the stress of overuse. A greater connection with the land, they say, would make us all better caretakers.

Chris Tipler

Theo Barlow

A chance sighting of a newspaper advertisement more than 15 years ago led long time Malvern resident Chris Tipler to an Otway Ranges tree change property that would help him get back in touch with nature. But it didn’t take long for the strategy consultant to realise his piece of Chapple Vale paradise was under major threat. “Within a few months of living here I started hearing chainsaws in the distance. My part-time farm manager took me to a nearby clear felling coupe and I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Lifetime dairy farmer Theo Barlow says his 73 years have been governed by the Gellibrand River and that his forefathers would be shocked by its current condition. “The river is very important to this farm. It fertilises our flats in the winter time and we use the water for our garden and the stock. But it’s not the river I grew up on because they’re sucking it dry. For two months of the year we can’t call it a river because it doesn’t flow.” Theo says his whole life has revolved around the Gellibrand and each day he observes what the river is doing.

Marina Lewis

That started Chris on a five year journey of discovery and political wrangling that eventually resulted in the protection of 150,000 hectares of Otway Ranges Forest. “I was determined to stop it – for the sake of the Otway forests and Gellibrand River.” The 61 year old now sits content with wife Carol on their stunning 130-acre property. “The Gellibrand is a beautiful, strong and interesting river. But it can’t possibly cope with all the demands people are putting on it. City people need to reconnect with the land and understand where our water and food comes from.”

Marina Lewis splits her time on her forested Gellibrand property watching platypus forage in the river, blue cranes feeding on the pond and echidnas shuffling through the bush. The social worker sees herself as a caretaker of the biologically diverse land, rather than an owner. “We’re just here because we love living in this environment and protecting its natural state. The Gellibrand River is such a presence because it’s an everchanging organic wonder.” Marina, who moved to the property from Canberra 12 years ago, says she has witnessed first hand how pollution from corporate mistakes can lead to massive stress along the Gellibrand River. “Barwon Water recently let a three to four day sludge down the river. We had great sightings of platypus on the river during that period because they couldn’t forage as usual under the surface. That sort of environmentally unaware act horrifies me.” Marina says she feels the need to speak up for places like hers. “We need to stop thinking about ourselves as the centre of the universe and start to prevent damage.”

He remembers being able to hear trout splashing in the river from 50 metres away. “Now you hardly hear a movement and it’s pretty hard to get a good fish. Hopefully the river can stay healthy and things work out for the best but I’ve still got a few kicks in me yet.”

Environment Victoria’s Your River Project aims to capture the stories of the people who care for Victoria’s rivers. For more stories from the Gellibrand River, visit www.environmentvictoria.org.au.

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environmental champions

ANDREW BOOTH:

Nature’s ally Whether its protecting small remnants of woodland on private land or fighting to save Victoria’s forests long-time Environment Victoria volunteer, Andrew Booth, says nature conservation was and always will be in his blood.

GAN: Thanks for talking with us today Andrew! When did you first become interested in nature conservation? Andrew: My interest in nature conservation issues started during my high school years in Bendigo, when I would often explore the surrounding Box Ironbark forests, and go on hiking trips to places like the Victorian Alps and Wilson’s Promontory. At University in Melbourne I became actively involved in conservation issues in the late 1980’s after seeing the destruction caused by industrial scale clearfelling and woodchipping.

GAN: You’ve been involved in nature conservation for 20 years. What’s changed in that time? Andrew: Community groups and government have paid greater attention to nature conservation across private as well as public land, and at a whole catchment level. This is a good thing and important new reserves have been established. However, some of the big threats that existed in the 1980’s, such as industrial scale clearfelling and incremental clearing and degradation of remnant vegetation, have still to be tackled. Climate change is the big new threat on a scale most of us had not envisaged in the 1980’s.

GAN: In your work as a voluntary activist, what’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to face? Andrew: Trying to generate some public awareness and community voice about issues such as clearing controls

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“I GUESS WE NEED TO BE PRAGMATIC ABOUT STEPWISE GAINS THAT WE CAN ACHIEVE GIVEN THE POLITICAL CONSTRAINTS OF THE TIME.” and Melbourne’s native vegetation, to help influence government policy and planning decisions. Also learning to most effectively focus my involvement in the different nature conservation issues I’m concerned about, where there isn’t an established campaign.

GAN: Many people can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the issues facing our environment today. How do you deal with it, especially when something doesn’t go the way you hoped? Andrew: I think it’s important to place things in perspective. As an individual its good to be part of a team of conservationists working towards the same end. As an environment movement I guess we need to be pragmatic about stepwise gains that we can achieve given the political constraints of the time. Whilst this may often fall short of what is needed on the ground for nature conservation, things would have been much worse without community environment campaigns.

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GAN: What do you think are the major obstacles facing Victoria’s environment in the coming years? Andrew: Climate change, inadequate resourcing and commitment by government, and development pressures are big challenges for the environment movement.

GAN: What advice do you have for people who would like to do something but don’t know where to start? Andrew: Find out if there is an established campaign dealing with the issue or threat that you’re concerned about, and if so link in with that campaign. If not, then link up with other local groups and individuals who are concerned about the same or similar issues and seek advice for experienced campaigners. Environment Victoria has a role to play in helping this networking between groups.

GAN: What are your hopes for the future? Andrew: That governments around the world take big steps to tackle climate change. I would like to see catchment and biodiversity strategies which have been started in recent years, being further developed and attracting growing government and community support rather than sitting on the shelf. Environmental planning controls should be better implemented to ensure ecologically sustainable development.


christmas appeal

Beat climate change? YES WE CAN! Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to conduct important research that shows how Victoria can become a world leader in the race to beat climate change. Our study, “Turning it around: climate solutions for Victoria” is the first of its kind in the country. And we found that it is possible to cut Victoria’s emissions by 60 per cent by 2020. That’s a reduction of 70 million tonnes in just 12 years! And all with existing technology! (See page 3 for more details). However, now the work really begins. We must raise a further $100,000 to deliver the next stage of our PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN to slash greenhouse emissions. With your generous donation, we will engage communities and

business leaders to develop policies that will deliver the cuts that the ‘Turning it around’ report promises. And we’ll bring these together in the PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN to slash greenhouse emissions. We’ll then take that plan to communities across Victoria and work with them to demand that political parties adopt our policies as part of their 2010 state election platform. Without your continued help, we simply will not be able to undertake the next stage of our work and the people’s voice will continue to be ignored. The time is now. We are the only dedicated Victorian group working on climate issues. And together with your support, we have the potential recreate our future.

YES! I WANT TO SUPPORT Environment Victoria to develop the PEOPLE’S ACTION PLAN and help slash greenhouse pollution. (All donations are tax deductible).

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BECOME A GREEN ACTION PARTNER NOW! Environment Victoria relies on your support. By becoming a Green Action Partner and making an automatic monthly contribution, you will be choosing one of the most effective ways to contribute to a healthier environment. Become a Green Action Partner online at www.environmentvictoria.org.au or complete the form below. YES, SIGN ME UP! I would like to donate $ __________ (min $15) per month until further notice and help Environment Victoria take care of our environment. Please charge my credit card as above or charge the following card: Amex Mastercard Visa







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PLEASE COMPLETE THIS FORM, TEAR OFF THIS PAGE AND RETURN IT TO REPLY PAID 12575, A’BECKETT STREET, MELBOURNE, VIC 8006 OR VISIT WWW.ENVIRONMENTVICTORIA.ORG.AU AND MAKE A DONATION ONLINE.

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notice this!

OUR CLIMATE. OUR PARLIAMENT. OUR FUTURE. Celebrate the festive season the green way!

Join thousands of people and community groups to form a human circle around Parliament on the first sitting day in 2009. Let’s stand together and demand urgent action on climate change, for a safe climate future.

Join the finale of Australia’s Climate Action Summit 8am Tuesday 3rd Feb 2009 For more info: www.climatesummit.org.au WHO’S WHO AT ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA Chief Executive Officer Kelly O’Shanassy Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham OPERATIONS Organisational Services Manager Ivan Kolker Administration Helen Vine Communications Officer Vicki Kyriakakis Media Officer Sacha Myers

Fundraising Officer Jennifer Jordan Finance Officer Despina Giannakis HEALTHY RIVERS Healthy Rivers Campaign Managers Leonie Duncan Juliet Le Feuvre SAFE CLIMATE Climate Change Campaigner Victoria McKenzie-McHarg

SMART PRODUCTION, SMART CONSUMPTION Smart Production & Consumption Campaigner Fraser Brindley SUSTAINABLE LIVING PROGRAM Director Annette Salkeld Senior Project Manager Murray Irwin Project Manager Michele Burton Project Manager Katelyn Fryer Project Manager Liza Price

Multicultural Leaders Program Manager Charlie Davie Project Officer, Domenica Settle Green Town Community Coordinator Natalia Valenzuela

With over-consumption eating away at the Earth’s precious resources, you can celebrate this festive season the green way with Environment Victoria’s sustainable Festive Season Guide. To help you celebrate, our guide includes tips, advice and inspiration on how to enjoy a greener, more relaxing and enjoyable festive season. And it comes free of cost! FOR YOUR FREE COPY, VISIT www.environmentvictoria.org.au and download your copy today or phone Domenica Settle on (03) 9341 8165 and we’ll send you a copy.

BOARD President Russell Fisher Vice-President Sue Noy Dr Sarah Bekessy Doug Gimesy Pam Keating Jo Tenner David Osborn Elizabeth McKinnon Amanda Nuttall

REGULAR VOLUNTEERS Andrew Booth Peter Flanagan Janet Gellie Colleen Guggisberg Ian Hazewinkel Pauline Ng Keshni Prasad Marion Silver Les Smith Thi Truong

CONTACT US PHONE (03) 9341 8100 FAX (03) 9341 8199 EMAIL admin@envict.org.au. PO Box 12575 A’Beckett Street, Victoria, 8006 www.environmentvictoria.org.au


Green Action News - Summer 2008