Executive Message – CEO
The 2015/16 financial year was SWCC’s first full year implementing the National Landcare Programme; a programme very well designed for our region. This was welcome stability and allowed a renewed focus on delivering quality projects and outcomes for our communities and environment, with much greater certainty.
The two previous years had seen a change of government, changes in programmes, the introduction of MERIT, and the separation of the Peel-Harvey Catchments to become their own region. A lot of effort went into managing this well, and it is only now we get to truly benefit from this hard work.
As the projects section of this annual report demonstrates SWCC delivers a diverse range of strategic projects across a broad range of themes. These include work to improve the viability of threatened species and communities; preserving and improving biodiversity; the Green Army; projects to reduce both urban and rural nutrients entering our waterways; sustainable agriculture trials and demonstrations to support innovative farmers; and the very important community support, engagement and capacity building, including the work we do with the local Aboriginal community. In this area SWCC has listened very carefully to the Noongar community, and as a result employed our first two Aboriginal Natural Resource Management trainees, Summer and Naydeene, which has been very rewarding. We are also very proud of the support we provide to the NRM community by way of funding through the Groundworks project, exceeding the requirements of the Australian Government.
Many of the projects SWCC has instigated have been innovative and industry leading, including the development of GRID and the Home River Ocean project. The Preston to Ocean Regional Park Project has achieved really positive outcomes this year for the Greater Bunbury community and our Coastal Community Engagement project achieves amazing return on investment both in terms of on-ground outcomes, and community engagement. The partnership with Western Dairy for the Western Dairy Research, Development and Engagement Hub is again industry leading and demonstrates that more can be achieved through working together and building on each other’s strengths.
In planning for the future, as well as ensuring we are always operating at the leading edge, the South West NRM community have collectively embarked on the South West NRM Collaboration – a project to ensure that “the whole” – that is, what we are and can achieve collectively, is greater than the sum of the parts. This has and will continue to be a robust process matching the complexity and diversity of the South West NRM community. With diminishing resources, the challenge is to avoid competing between ourselves and presenting a unified and effective sector to both the general community and to government. We have started the journey and I have every confidence that we will make real and tangible progress. I thank all those involved, especially the collaboration facilitators and supporters from the many groups.
SWCC is moving into a new era – David has been our long serving Chair for eight years and we are truly grateful for his effort, leadership and steady hand. In addition to a new Chair, we also have four new Board members, the biggest single change in our Board since 2010. The selection panel put a lot of thought into the make-up of the new Board and we look forward to new ideas and the different perspective a new Board will provide.
I need to say a heartfelt thank-you to David. I have learned a lot under his guidance. David your leadership has been instrumental in building the strong reputation of SWCC and you can take pride in the organisations’ many achievements during your time as Chair. I would also like to thank Steve Blyth. Steve is leaving the Board after six years and has been a strong and considered contributor, as well as a fierce advocate for the inland parts of our region. We are very sorry to see both David and Steve leave but thank them for their contributions and wish them every success in their new endeavours. I sincerely look forward to working with Christine Kershaw as the new Chair and the journey we shall soon commence. I need to also thank the staff of SWCC, who are a very professional, committed, and dedicated group of people who truly care about the work they do, and the region in which they both live and work.
Thank-you also to the Australian Government, our primary funder – the commitment to natural resource management and the National Landcare Programme including the support of Ministers, our local Member of Parliament and Australian Government staff is strongly appreciated. Thank-you also to our other supporters including the State NRM Office, Lottery West, and a key partner in the City of Bunbury.