Numerous agencies, organisations and groups have direct and indirect interests in the management of natural resources in the Port Phillip & Western Port region. In terms of expertise and resources, this presents tremendous problem-solving opportunities. In terms of decision-making, it highlights complex relationships and sometimes competing interests. Helping the region’s land, water and biodiversity managers work together is therefore important work.
This Regional Catchment Strategy has the support of more than 110 “Partner Organisations” that have formally agreed to provide leadership and support to help achieve optimum results within their available resources, in ways such as fostering partnerships, sharing knowledge, seeking and securing resources and undertaking work that will contribute to achieving the visions and targets. Other organisations are expected to progressively join this group.
Below is an outline of some of the region’s key stakeholders and roles it is anticipated they may take in helping implement the Regional Catchment Strategy.
The Port Phillip and Western Port region is the country of the Bunurong, Wurundjeri and Wadawurrung people. They have lived in and been connected to the land, water, plants and animals of this area for tens of thousands of years.
The Bunurong, Wurundjeri and Wadawurrung people are acknowledged as the Traditional Owners of this land and we offer our respect to their Elders both past and present.
The Registered Aboriginal Parties for this region are the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. They are being closely engaged in the development of this Regional Catchment Strategy.
Victorian Government agencies and authorities
Melbourne Water and the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority
Melbourne Water manages Melbourne’s water supply catchments, removes and treats most of Melbourne’s sewage and manages waterways, floodplains, environmental water reserve and major drainage systems for the region. Melbourne Water is also the waterway, drainage and floodplain management authority for the whole of the Port Phillip and Western Port region, and also as the manager of the environmental water reserve for this region.
The Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority was a community-based Board appointed by the Minister for Water responsible for the development and implementation of the Regional Catchment Strategy.
Following the development of the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 and associated policy and strategy, Melbourne Water and the Catchment Management Authority were flagged to have a growing role facilitating local participation and coordinating relevant activities in marine and coastal management, and in the provision of coastal erosion advice for long term planning, management and adaptation.
From 1st January 2022, the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority was integrated into Melbourne Water. Melbourne Water has now taken on the responsibilities of the Authority including coordinating and reporting on the implementation of this Regional Catchment Strategy.
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA)
DEECA brings together Victoria’s climate change, biodiversity protection, resources, water, energy, land management, agriculture, forest and fire management functions. The department takes an integrated approach to creating thriving environments and communities and supporting Victoria’s economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19.
Parks Victoria is a statutory authority established to protect, conserve and enhance Parks Victoria managed land, including its natural and cultural values, for the benefit of the environment and current and future generations consistent with the Parks Victoria Act 2018.
Parks Victoria’s state-wide Land Management Strategy (in preparation) will set the direction for Parks Victoria’s land management including nature conservation, cultural heritage management and visitor management and services. Parks Victoria works closely with Traditional Owners, other agencies and the community to continuously improve its capacity to deliver large-scale programs and on-ground actions to protect and manage the best of Victoria’s natural assets, throughout the Parks estate.
Parks Victoria is also the Local Port Manager and Waterway Manager for Port Phillip Bay and Western Port:
- Making sure port operations are safe, efficient and effective
- Managing port infrastructure (e.g. piers, jetties, navigational aids, moorings and berths)
- Preparing and implementing Safety and Environment Management Plans.
Southern Rural Water (SRW)
SRW is responsible for rural water supply across southern Victoria, from the Great Divide to the coast. In the Port Phillip and Western Port region this includes the management of some large dams and two irrigation districts, as well as the licensing of surface and groundwater extractions and the establishment of water supply protection areas and groundwater management plans
The three urban water corporations (South East Water, Yarra Valley Water and Greater Western Water) operate the retail water distribution and sewerage systems for the Melbourne metropolitan area. Most of the water for retail sale is supplied by Melbourne Water, although some recycled water is supplied directly to customers by the urban retail water authorities. The rural urban water authorities (Western Port Water, South Gippsland Water and Central Highlands Water) are also responsible for water distribution and sewerage systems, but are different as they serve much smaller customer bases. Geographic areas are generally larger than the metropolitan retail territory and water supplies for non-metropolitan urban authorities come from a mixture of sources – bulk supply from rural authorities, significant storage areas of their own, and/or groundwater.
Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
The Environment Protection Authority has a responsibility to protect the uses and values of Victoria’s environment by employing a range of measures consistent with its responsibilities under the new Environment Protection Act 2017 which commenced on 1 July 2021. The Act creates duties for all Victorians to protect our environment and human health from the impacts of pollution and waste. Under the Act, the General Environmental Duty (GED) and other more specific duties will focus Victorian business, industry and the community on preventing harm.
The EPA also performs several activities aligned to the Regional Catchment Strategy themes of waterways and marine environments including:
- Monitoring recreational and marine water quality compliance with the Environment Reference Standard
- Regulating discharges to waterways and coastal waters through licences, permits and registrations
- Reporting annually on the condition of the bays and catchments through the Report Card, and the Beach Report and Yarra Watch programs.
Trust For Nature (TfN)
TfN is a statutory body established under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972 to conserve native vegetation and wildlife in Victoria. It purchases private land to preserve areas of ecological significance, natural, historic or scientific interest. It also enables private landholders to protect high quality remnant vegetation on their land by placing a conservation covenant on a specific property or piece of land.
and various others …
Other government organisations with important roles in natural resource management in this region include:
- Victorian Planning Authority
- Sustainability Victoria
- Victorian Fisheries Authority
- Victorian Environmental Water Holder
- Phillip Island Nature Parks.
Australian Government agencies
Various Departments and other agencies of the Australian Government own and manage land and infrastructure in this region such as parks, reserves and international airports.
The Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW)
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) protects Australia’s natural environment and heritage sites and helps Australia respond to climate change and carefully manage our water and energy resources. The new department has been established to deliver on the Government’s climate change and energy agenda and protect Australia’s environment and water resources.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) focuses on a more sustainable and prosperous Australia through biosecurity, production and trade.
Local councils and authorities
The local government bodies in the Port Phillip & Western Port region are major investors, planners and project managers in natural resource management, individually and collectively. Local government planning schemes, Council Plans and environmental policies and strategies play a key role in ensuring protection and enhancement of natural resources. Councils are also contributors to natural resource management through local laws and regulatory activities, community engagement and education, on-ground works employing Council and community resources, and monitoring and reporting of environmental change at a local level.
Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)
The MAV is an association of Victorian local government authorities that enables them to communicate and act cooperatively on relevant matters. It operates and supports various sub-groupings of councils, and forums on specific topics.
Various collaborations are in place that enable councils to work together on particular issues or places. These include:
- The Association of Bayside Municipalities that has representation from all of the Councils bordering Port Phillip Bay
- The Eastern Region Pest Animal Network that seeks to address the substantial issues of pest management in the areas to the east of Melbourne
- The Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action, Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action, Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action and the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance, all of which bring together council representatives to address issues associated with climate change
- The Merri Creek Coordinating Committee, the Darebin Creek Management Committee and the Moonee Ponds Chain of Ponds Collaboration all of which involve strong leadership and support by councils in their efforts to protect and improve the environments of those creek systems.
Landcare groups and networks
The region has around 85 Landcare groups, many of which are also connected as members of broader Landcare Networks. These groups mainly work in rural areas on private land. Members are generally volunteers focusing on sustainable land use and protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
Voluntary committees of management
Around 1,500 Crown land reserves in Victoria are managed by voluntary Committees of Management (CoMs). Valued environments in recreation reserves, coastal reserves, camping parks and nature/conservation reserves are in the care of CoMs in the Port Phillip & Western Port region. Examples include coastal reserves at Stony Point on Western Port and between Rosebud and Sorrento on Port Phillip, the Beaconsfield Nature Conservation Reserve and Phillip Island Nature Parks.
Other community and environmental groups
More than 400 community environment groups – more than in any other region of Victoria – are active in the region, generally working on public land and commonly with the backing of the public land manager/owner (usually local councils or Parks Victoria). They include ‘Friends’ groups, CoastAction/Coastcare and Waterwatch groups and Reefwatch.
Some have developed significant capability and status as environmental managers and leaders. The Merri Creek Management Committee, for example, employs a professional work crew to conserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Merri Creek and its tributaries.
Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA)
An independent, non-profit organisation formed to protect Victoria’s biodiversity through a representative national parks and reserves system. As well as its strategic campaigns for nature conservation and biodiversity it runs Victoria’s largest bushwalking and outdoor activities program.
Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA)
Conservation Volunteers Australia is a national organisation which involves the community in conservation projects in urban, regional and remote Australia. Projects include tree planting, seed collection, endangered species protection, weed control, flora and fauna surveys, walking trail construction, fencing and environmental monitoring. It organises volunteers to complete conservation projects across Australia each year, resulting in positive environmental outcomes, increased community participation, conservation skills and awareness.
Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation
The not-for-profit Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation was established in 2003 following the designation of the Western Port Reserve by UNESCO. Its nomination was supported by the Australian and Victorian governments, the cities of Casey and Frankston, the Bass Coast, Cardinia and Mornington Peninsula Shire Councils, and members of the local community. Today, the Western Port Biosphere Reserve is one of four Biosphere Reserves across Australia and one of 701 covering 124 countries worldwide. The purpose of all UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, is to ‘Inspire a positive future by connecting people and nature today’.
and many others …
Other environmental organisations active in this region include:
- The Nature Conservancy
- Gardens for Wildlife Victoria
- Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
- Western Port Seagrass Partnership
- Marine Mammal Foundation
- Dolphin Research Institute
- Birdlife Australia
- The People and Parks Foundation
- Environment Victoria
- Greening Australia Victoria
- Bush Heritage Australia
- Australian Conservation Foundation
Rural and urban businesses and industries
In the region primary producers make a significant contribution to regional, state and national economies as well as managing some 45 per cent of the region’s land. The condition of the catchment assets of this region is therefore significantly influenced by how primary producers and other landowners manage their land.
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF)
This body serves and advances the commercial, environmental and social interests of Victorian farmers. It seeks to do this by creating a favourable economic environment for agriculture, encouraging sustainable farming practices, increasing public understanding of the importance of agriculture and improving access to human and community services for farmers.
Agricultural industry associations
A number of these groups represent agriculturalists with similar requirements and pressures, such as strawberry growers, vignerons, beef producers and vegetable growers, and GippsDairy for the dairy industry in the east of the region. Some commodity groups are part of the VFF while others act independently. These groups have a variety of roles, but generally encompass market development, policy and lobbying, improving productivity, environmentally sustainable production and networking.
The harvesting of timber resources is carried out on public land (State parks) and private land. In both situations, there can be significant benefits for and/or impacts on catchment assets depending on the siting and management of forestry coupes and plantations.
Mining and extractive industries
The region contains mineral resources that are extracted, usually from quarries. Companies such as Barro, Boral Resources, CSR, Nubrik and Pioneer all have operations here.
The urbanised nature of the region means there are constant incremental changes from rural to residential, commercial or industrial land uses. Development companies range from government bodies to many private developers. Indications about guidelines for land use can be found in Melbourne 2030.
Fishing industry organisations
The region sustains a significant recreational fishery, a growing aquaculture industry and a commercial fishing industry targeting a variety of species in the region’s inland waterways, estuaries, Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and near-shore ocean. These industries are represented and supported in organisations and forums such as the Victorian recreational fishing peak body VRFish, Victorian aquaculture industry associations, Native Fish Australia (Victoria) and OzFish Unlimited.
Businesses and corporations
Around 180,000 business establishments, represented by a number of peak bodies, employ more than two million people in the region.
Education and research sector
Primary, secondary and tertiary education
Primary and secondary education organisations are the major source of education for the population, and reach or have reached most of the region’s inhabitants. This process provides a major opportunity to educate current and future students, and through them their parents, about the importance of environmental issues and sustainable behaviour.
Tertiary education provides more advanced knowledge on natural resource management issues as well as providing a research framework for students and staff. This comes in the form of research-based qualifications, encouragement
Research is carried out in the region under a number of organisational arrangements. The CSIRO is established purely for research purposes. The Cooperative Research Centre Program is a Commonwealth Government funding initiative to boost the competitiveness of industry and capture the benefits of research for Australians. The CRC Program brings together researchers from universities, research organisations, government agencies and industry for strategic collaborative research.
The citizens of this region, and visitors to it, undertake individual actions every day that collectively have a significant influence on the health and resilience of the environment.
Therefore, their contributions to environmental health literally begins at home and they can be important partners in the efforts to achieve environmental targets by minimising waste, using environmentally-friendly products, increasing recycling and becoming active in local efforts to enhance native flora and fauna.
Increasingly, this strategy will also provide an opportunity for citizens to be active monitors of environmental condition and collectors of data. It is envisaged that this strategy will evolve and enable citizens to input information and data on, for example, native vegetation extent and quality, native animal sightings and water quality in waterways, wetlands and marine environments.