Learning from the past and looking ahead
Researching and compiling the Regional Catchment Strategy was a major responsibility of the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (now Melbourne Water). This Strategy builds on three previous editions published in 1997, 2004 and 2014. It draws on the growing understanding of how region-scale strategy can foster collaborations to pursue a shared vision for healthy and resilient environments and well-managed natural resources.
Much was learned from writing and implementing the previous editions. In developing this fourth edition, the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (now Melbourne Water) has:
- Continued to improve the Strategy’s presentation as a website so it can be updated as required and is accessible to virtually everyone, anywhere, on demand
- Strengthened the Strategy’s recognition of Traditional Owners, their role as the voice for Country, their ecological knowledge, aspirations and status in planning and action
- Positioned the Strategy as a high-level document that compiles over 100 natural resource management policies and plans from across the region and expresses them as long-term condition targets that people and organisations can adopt and pursue together
- Created a Prospectus of projects and investment opportunities from many organisations that will contribute to achieving the Strategy’s targets
- Made this Strategy part of a ‘boxed set’ of ten, consistently-presented strategies for integrated catchment management across Victoria.
The development of this strategy has been undertaken with the following steps:
Developing a draft strategy with key partner organisations
A working draft of the strategy was developed through 2020 and early 2021 in consultation with key stakeholder organisations including Traditional Owners, Government agencies and authorities, municipal Councils, non-Government organisations and community networks.
Research and consultations focused on making sure the draft met Government guidelines and provided a complete account of the policies and plans most relevant to natural resource management in this region.
The draft strategy was released for a 4-week period of public consultation in July 2021. The consultation period produced significant feedback from over 100 organisations that led to improvements in the Strategy’s completeness and clarity. Many respondents said they appreciated the Strategy’s contribution to shared knowledge and understanding of the region’s environments and natural resource management challenges.
The public consultation was supported by:
- Distribution of a Regional Catchment Strategy e-newsletter
- Promotion in social media
- Notification in the public notices of The Age newspaper
- Direct communication with various community and partner organisations
- Continuing close consultation with major Victorian Government organisations and the 38 councils in the region.
Public comment was facilitated by the Inclusion of a “Have Your Say” button on each page of the draft Strategy. It was a valued advantage of presenting the Strategy as a website.
Revisions to the draft in response to the consultations were completed through August and September 2021. Direct contacts were made with numerous respondents to clarify comments, ensure accuracy and secure further information and data. Confirming ‘Partner Organisations’ for the Strategy and collecting Prospectus projects also continued.
The final strategy was approved by the Board of the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (now Melbourne Water) and submitted to the Victorian Minister for Water in late October 2021 for consideration within Government and, when appropriate, formally approved.