The forum generated various ideas for the next steps that could be taken towards realising our future aspirations as coast carers. These ideas could be grouped into four key themes.
In the conversations we have from now onwards, we need to:
- continue to talk about the BIG questions that we hold and find ways of communicating the key messages simply – with each other and with others (e.g. Why is our work important? What does it matter?)
- create opportunities for more conversations between our community and the various agencies involved in coast care
- look for opportunities where people are gathering to talk about related topics (e.g. fire management) and draw links to our purpose and activities, and
- reframe the language we use when communicating with others (e.g. refer to ‘vegetation’ as ‘habitat’ – see Birds Australia publications for good examples of simple, accessible language).
We also need to use the stories we share as a foundation to:
- create an ‘interpretive story’ for visitors to experience on the soon-to-be-built Surf Coast Walk
- set a mission that everyone shares the stories (i.e. what we do and why) with as many people as we can and then invite them to join us in taking action
- capture and share the great stories that we all know about (and start to actively collect these stories in words, photos and video), and
- use our broader network to create its own online space that is accessible and simple, and allows local groups to upload and share stories, photos, event details, questions and video.
In the work we do together, we can start to:
- fund and prioritise ongoing monitoring programs to inform our learning and outcomes
- make our activities more visible to other people, starting with working bees and other activities on the Great Ocean Road (Note: during the forum, Coast Action/Coastcare provided a sign template that groups could use to promote their activities)
- start to research and document (e.g. in a story) the extent to which we are ‘winning or losing’ the battle to save key ecosystem species/the war against environmental weed species, and
- begin looking to the philanthropic sector as a possible funding source for our projects (e.g. www.ourcommunity.com.au).
By networking more we could:
- find a central point of contact that works across all the agencies (e.g. Coast Action/Coastcare)
- update our own lists of all current volunteer groups, starting with centralised information sources (e.g. Surf Coast Shire, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee), and
- make the effort to do more ‘volunteer exchanges’ when doing on-ground works.
If we focus on implementing some or all of these ideas as we talk, share, work together and network, we will move forward together and achieve more on-ground success in caring for the coast!