From the desk of Luke, Chief Executive Officer.  

I hope you are enjoying the season of Djeran, full of change and exciting opportunities. At South Coast NRM we are in a significant period of renewal, and it’s exciting to be a part of deepening relationships with our partners, community, and Government.

Our Songlines and Sustainability project came to an end, celebrated with a weekend gathering of Elders and youth to connect and share stories on Country. It was a privilege to be involved with the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project in appreciation of the legacy being created. I look forward to ongoing and deepening engagement and collaboration with our First Nations people and communities across the South Coast region. 

In April our Ecologists, Bronte and Hannah, coordinated the first Wildlife Quiz Night, an evening of fun and learning that was so well received we plan to make it an annual event.

Also in April, I travelled to Canberra to attend the NRM Regions Australia Natural Capital Accounting and Financing workshop to better understand the possibilities of using this framework to drive further investment in the South Coast region and community. Networks and knowledge gathered from such forums help us to embrace innovation in a way that continues to prioritise our region in an ever-changing economic environment. I am positive about the role Natural Capital Accounting will play in diversifying investment across the region and look forward to working with our partners over the next 12 months on this new initiative.

Looking forward, we celebrated National Volunteer Week, 15th – 21st May 2023. It is easy to talk about the value of volunteers but for us, like all NRM and conservation organisations, they are an integral part of how we connect and learn from our community. Our ability to drive real change is enhanced by each person who chooses to spend their time on one of the many amazing community projects. Past feedback has led us to consider ways to streamline connections between volunteers and community organisations.

We are committed to an inclusive approach to supporting and encouraging growth in this area and our South Coast Enviro-Experiences team, supported by Lotterywest, have worked hard to create a central platform to make environmental volunteering easier. The web-based platform is now live combined with a mobile app that connects volunteers with all the available opportunities across the South Coast. Anyone can register, choose their interests and availability, and there is no obligation to volunteer if you register. On the flip side, any organisation and/or community group with an opportunity needing volunteers can list details on the platform and get advice around how to create a valuable volunteer experience. If you have an opportunity for a volunteer project and haven’t been sure where to start, please get in touch with the South Coast Enviro-Experiences team.

The theme for Volunteer Week is “The Change Makers” and our hope is that this ‘one stop shop’ will bring all change makers together, enhance the experience for all involved and increase the potential for further impact. I have volunteered on many environmental projects over the years as it helps me remain grounded and connected to my local environment.  I started my volunteer journey many years ago with the Rutherglen Landcare Group in North East Victoria where I was the Secretary for several years. This experience showed me how critical local community is in leading natural resource management. There is so much you can learn from volunteering that helps with your personal and professional life so I encourage everyone to register, have a browse, and see where you can get involved.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered with us previously, your contributions to our community and nature are highly valued. We are confident this new platform will help us continue to provide rewarding volunteer experiences, expand participation, and utilise our expertise to help others do the same. As ever, we are here to support your NRM goals and are always open to collaboration with anyone who has an interest in the region.

IMAGE: Carmichael Reserve, Fitzgerald National Park. CREDIT: Annie Leitch, Fitzgerald Biosphere Community Collective.