National Volunteer Week (NVW) is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution more than 6 million Australian volunteers make to communities across the nation.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee are grateful for the support environmental volunteer groups contribute to help preserve the natural coastline for future generations. This week we would like to showcase some of our dedicated volunteers and say thank-you for their ongoing contributions to the environment. Read more →
Local volunteers Ian and Roma Edwards are just two of 6 million volunteers being celebrated as part National Volunteer week this May.
The couple, who founded local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) in 1994, have been working to protect and restore the Jan Juc cliffs since they moved to the town in 1990.
The Edwards began by removing debris and rubbish along the local foreshore and their dedication was recognised by the Victorian government which awarded the couple a $30,000 grant to form the JJCA group and continue their conservation work.
The JJCA’s first major task was to remove the woody weed from the Jan Juc cliffs before revegetation works commenced.
The Edwards are pleased at the progress the JJCA group has made over the past 20 years.
“One of our biggest achievements has been seeing the return of many birds and native animals around the Jan Juc cliffs.
“The indigenous flowers have attracted the rare Rufous Bristlebird back to the area which is very encouraging,” Mr Edwards said.
The Edwards have loved learning about coastal conservation and enjoy sharing their skills and knowledge with others.
Mrs Edwards admits their passion for indigenous flora and fauna has become an obsession that has extended to her own garden.
“Our garden only has indigenous species because they are easy to look after and bring lots of birds and wildlife to the area.
“The results of our work is difficult to gauge because if it is done correctly then it should be impossible to tell that any work has been done at all,” Mrs Edwards said.
JJCA holds working first Sunday of each month and everyone is encouraged to help out – even if they only have an hour or so to spare.
“It is great to see more young people getting involved. They still have their original hips and plenty of energy which keeps our work going.
“It is possible to make a difference and even small actions can make a big impact,” Mr Edwards said.
This year, National Volunteer Week runs from 11th to 17th May. This year the theme of the week is ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ – promoting the increased happiness of Australians who volunteer and are active in their community.
Have you ever thought about how you can help the environment? Check out our website to find your local volunteer group today.
Three environmental groups were winners of the Coastcare Award last month as part of the 2013 Corangamite Landcare Awards.
The Bellarine Catchment Network (BCN), Swan Bay Environmental Association (SBEA) and the Borough of Queenscliff (BoQ) all received the award in recognition of the hard work and dedication to conserving the environment.
The Corangamite Landcare Awards celebrate the contributions many individuals and organisations make to the environment and the Corangamite region.
The LandCare Awards booklet indicated over five years a strong, energetic partnership project flourished between the three groups inspiring many to become involved in the protection of the Narrows Dunes Coastal Moonah Woodland.
Since 2007, BCN, SBEA and BoQ have done on-ground works and facilitated community awareness, involvement and research.
Geoff McFarlane, a volunteer from the Bellarine Catchment Network, was also inducted into Corangamites Landcare Honour Roll.
A group of young environmental protectors are taking conservation action as part of their community connections class at Surf Coast Secondary College and are set to become guardians of the coast into the future.
The year 10 students have planted over 400 trees as part of various conservation projects which have included the removal of noxious weeds at Whites Beach, planting within Moonah Woodlands at Spring Creek and litter patrols near Jan Juc.
SCSC community connections teacher Shane Elevato said many of the students were now looking to study biology and outdoor education in 2013.
“The students are demonstrating not only a passion for the environment but an interest in conservation as a potential career path for the future.”
The students have been undertaking the work in partnership with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) through the organisation’s Coast Guardians program.
“The program tied in with our community connections class, which gives students the opportunity to get out into the environment, demonstrate direct activism and put what they have learnt in the classroom into practice,” Mr Elevato said.
He said the year-long program taught students about the impact rubbish has on bird life and marine life and specifically looked at how removing plastic and bottle tops from the coast can help to save animal life.
“The program makes students more appreciative of how special our local environment really is. When they get out into the community and see the impact littering can have they learn to appreciate the environment and have a greater sense of ownership of the environment.”
GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale said topics covered with the group over the last term included plant communities and dune ecology.
“Throughout the year the students have covered a range of theory topics including plant communities, dune ecology, sustainable fishing, environmental weeds, and marine debris. Planting and weeding is also an important part of the program and helps to ensure noxious weeds do not invade Indigenous plant species,” she said.
The Coast Guardians program also includes work and partnerships with environmental volunteer groups such as Torquay Coast Action, Friends of Queens Park and ANGAIR who have been working with students on various sites throughout the year.
A little known orchid is existing on the Jan Juc cliff top, its precarious survival an unexpected and happy surprise for local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA).
JJCA has been working to ensure the orchid’s survival. In 2010 the group pollinated the flowers and collected seed. The delicate operation consisted of members getting down on their hands and knees to pollinate the tiny orchid flowers with tooth-picks.
JJCA member Ian Edwards was one of the volunteers assisting in the project.
“We simulated the action of the tiny native bees or wasps that may be the natural pollinator and by late summer it was possible to collect some of the dust-like seed,” said Mr. Edwards.
Last year JJCA volunteers also found large numbers of Sun Orchids (Thelymitra spp.) and Onion Orchids (Microtis spp.) in the remnant native grassland of the Jan Juc clifftop, these also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.
JJCA Chairman Luke Hynes said like the Swamp Diuris, the Sun Orchids and Onion Orchids also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.
“We had seen few previously, but with the regular rainfall this year there is a profusion,” he said.
JJCA Committee member Graeme Stockton said the introduction of foreign pasture grasses, and invasion by a host of weeds and escaped garden plants have crowded out much of the original vegetation.
“We are amazed that so many indigenous plants have survived the past century and a half and they deserve all the assistance we can provide,” he said.
Springtime brings an abundance of wildflowers along the coast – what have you spotted this season?
To get involved with JJCA contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438
Looking for activities for the kids these school holidays? Perhaps activities that are not only fun but educational and with an environmental message might be just what you are after.
There’s so many options for holiday fun on the coast- one example is Parks Victoria’s holiday program – with activities being held over the school holiday period between 7 July and 14 July at a variety of locations along the Surf Coast and Great Ocean Road (including Pt Addis and Urqharts Bluff) and across Victoria as part of their Junior Ranger program.
Activities include bushwalking and beach discoveries, and are suitable for primary school-aged children and their families. They also have some DIY activities for both indoors and out.
The Marine Discovery Centre is also running free activities with Rockpool Rambles being held on the coast, find out more here.
The coastal reserve above the Anglesea Surf Club has undergone a remarkable environmental transformation, thanks to a five-year project carried out by students and volunteers.
Year nine students from St Bernard’s College and Anglesea Coast Action (ACA) volunteers have spent more than 700 hours restoring the heathland back to its natural state. Students and volunteers met regularly at the site to remove the weeds with loppers and saws.
Why did this site need attention?
The site’s Indigenous vegetation was damaged during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and struggled to recover due to the quick regrowth of weeds.
Carl Rayner, secretary of ACA, said only small amounts of biodiversity remained in the reserve when the project began.
“The area has gone from a weed-infested coastal reserve with half a dozen species to a thriving heathland, which is now home to over 110 species of Indigenous plants,” he said.
“The result is amazing and I have never seen a transformation quite like it before.”
Vice president of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet Society for the protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR), Neil Tucker, said the weeding work meant smothered native vegetation was able to germinate again and grow naturally.
“A wonderful variety of native plants have bloomed in the area including orchids, which no one knew were there,” he said.
How do St Bernard’s students give back to the environment?
St Bernard’s campus director, Mark Smith, said the program taught the students about the need for everyone to take responsibility for the protection and preservation of the natural environment.
“We wanted them to contribute to an ongoing community project that fitted with our theme of environmental awareness – and the project was a perfect fit,” he said.
“The students are all from the city and spend four weeks at the school’s Santa Monica Campus each year. The students have benefited by gaining a better understanding of the coastal environment, especially in terms of learning about what plants are Indigenous and why it is advisable to plant them – and how invasive species have affected the coast and dunes.”
What other benefits have emerged from the project?
Mr Rayner said plenty of positive feedback had been received about the restored site.
“The view from the nearby lookout is magnificent and people have said to me that it’s now arguably one of the best views along the Great Ocean Road.”
Are you or someone you know unsure of what career path to take? Or are you just looking for a new way to increase your employability in the workforce? It seems that careers with a sustainable focus are the next big thing.
Higher education institutions are offering an increasing number of sustainability focused courses to meet the growing demand in the job market.
The Gordon Tafe is just one of the higher education institutions taking advantage of the trend, offering courses with an environmental emphasis such as a Diploma of Sustainability, Sustainable Tourism Management, and Carbon Accounting and Management.
All of these courses will prepare students for a greener future by incorporating valuable sustainability knowledge.
Skill centre manager for sustainable innovation Darren Gray is delighted with the Gordon’s cently accredited and certified Carbon Accounting and Management course.
“We are very proud of this course and it involves the critical skills needed in order to achieve a low-carbon economy,” he said.
The Gordon Culinary School
In 2010 and 2011, the Gordon worked in partnership with Sustainability Victoria in an Australian TAFE first to encourage environmental sustainability in their culinary school’s operations through the case study- A Life Cycle Approach to Sustainable Service.
Check out their case study here for more information.
This initiative was established to decrease the culinary school’s environmental footprint in several areas including reduction of waste, energy, packaging and water usage.
Program manager Wayne Chrimes said the Life Cycle Approach is at the fore front of sustainability design, becoming a strong focus within many industries.
“Whilst we are minimising environmental impacts across our training facilities, the culinary school is also educating students and industry on how to employ sustainable practices for both short and long-term benefit,” he said.
“By embedding sustainability across the Gordon’s culinary school, we are creating behaviour change with today’s students who are the up and coming industry leaders of tomorrow.”
Gordon TAFE Redevelopments
The Gordon also planning to undertake a $26 million redevelopment of its East Geelong Campus and is now seeking funding to support the project.
The redevelopment will house the Gordon’s Centre for Sustainability along with other new facilities that include a new training patisserie kitchen, which will integrate key ideas from the Life Cycle Approach.
If you are thinking of a career with a sustainable focus, some hands on experience might be just the ticket to boost your resume.
There are a number of environmental volunteer groups on the coast who would love to hear from you and you become a regular participant, or just help out when or where you can.
Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to build your skills and knowledge, as well as a hands on way to make a real difference to our precious coastal environment.
It’s a great addition to your resume, and for those interested in a career in environmental management or conservation, it’s the perfect way to gain experience and make valuable contacts.