Numerous agencies, organisations and groups have direct and indirect interests in the management of land and water 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.
Thus, helping the region’s land, water and biodiversity managers work together is important work. Below is a list of some of the region’s major stakeholders, with a description of the roles it is anticipated they may take in helping implement the 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 is a community-based Board appointed by the Minister for Water that is responsible for the development and implementation of this Regional Catchment Strategy. Other core functions of the Authority include:
- promoting cooperation in the management of land and water resources
- advising on regional priorities
- advising on matters relating to catchment and land protection
- advising on the condition of land and water resources, and
- promoting community awareness and understanding of the importance of land and water resources, their sustainable use, conservation and rehabilitation.
Following the development of the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 and associated policy and strategy, Melbourne Water and the Catchment Management Authority are also 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 will be integrated into Melbourne Water. Melbourne Water will then take on the responsibilities of the Authority including coordinating and reporting on the implementation of this Regional Catchment Strategy.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
The Department’s mission is to help prepare and lead the implementation of Victorian Government policy for the sustainable use of natural resources in ways that create environmental, social and economic benefits. It provides state-wide policy, administrative support and resources for catchment management, land stewardship, biodiversity and heritage conservation, and planning for sustainable cities and towns.
Parks Victoria (PV)
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.
Agriculture Victoria – Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR)
DJPR aims to support the sustainable development of primary industries for the benefit of Victoria. It is committed to driving the adoption of resource-efficient technologies and improving the environmental technologies capability of primary industries. DJPR plays a crucial role in policy development, identification of emerging issues, educating communities and helping them manage change associated with industry development, natural hazards (drought, disease, flood, fire), resource management and environmental issues.
Agriculture Victoria has made the following commitments to support the agriculture sector in responding to change and developing capability:
- Support farmers with information and tools to build resilience
- Position Victoria as a leader in low-emission agriculture
- Ensure Victorian agriculture is well-placed to manage climate risk and continues to be productive and profitable under a changed climate
- Deliver best practice regulatory systems to manage risk and respond to new challenges
- Deliver the agriculture skills of the future.
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.
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.
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) prepares and provides incentives and assistance for the implementation of national agricultural, food, fisheries and forest industry policies. It will be able to help implement the Regional Catchment Strategy through its:
- Expertise in setting national standards and helping fund sustainable use of natural resources across whole farm production and marketing systems
- Role as joint manager and investor for the Natural Heritage Trust.
The Department also plays a critical role in supporting implementation of the Regional Catchment Strategy through:
- Developing and implementing policy for the protection of environments and environmental assets of national significance
- Its role as joint manager and investor [with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] for Australian Government investment through the Natural Heritage Trust
- Its role in providing investment funds directly to community groups through Envirofund
- Its development and administration of the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Local councils and authorities
The local government bodies in the Port Phillip and Western Port region are major investors, planners and project managers in natural resource management, individually and collectively. Local government planning schemes, 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.
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.
Environment Victoria (EV)
Environment Victoria is an independent, not-for-profit environmental organisation established in 1969. EV works with member groups and individual supportors to campaign on a range of environmental issues of local and regional importance.
Greening Australia Victoria (GAV)
Greening Australia Victoria (GAV) is a not-for-profit community-based organisation which forms a federation of similar organisations throughout Australia. Greening Australia Victoria works in partnership with landholders, the community, government and business to tackle environmental challenges and opportunities in a practical, apolitical, scientific way.
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.
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.
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)
A non-profit, membership-based environment group that takes a solution-oriented approach to environmental issues such as natural heritage protection and sustainable cities, and seeks to form partnerships with community groups, governments and business to achieve ecologically sustainable results. It lobbies governments and works to raise the level of awareness of environmental issues within Australia.
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’.
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. 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 such as the former Urban and Regional Land Corporation (now merged with the Docklands Authority and known as VicUrban) 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 represent by the Fisheries Co-Management Council, Seafood Industry Victoria, the Victorian recreational fishing peak body VRFish and the Victorian Aquaculture Council.
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.