Above: Dr Andrew Lucas at Yaruk Tamboore, a restored wetland on the northern side of the Yarra River at Lower Plenty (pic Anna Carlile)
Saturday 20 February saw the first meeting of the Yarra Act Community Committee, attended by Bruce Lindsay from Environmental Justice Australia, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly, and representatives from local community groups.
The group is working towards creating a community vision for the Yarra River Protection Act legislation, which the Victorian Government has committed to. Environmental Justice Australia and Yarra Riverkeepers are working jointly with the community on this project to facilitate community participation in legislative design.
The meeting was well attended by community members representing groups from along the length of the Yarra and NGOs with an established interest in the River. It was particularly pleasing to see representatives of groups such as the ‘friends of’ groups for the various Yarra tributaries in attendance.
The meeting was spent identifying issues that the group feels the Yarra River Act will need to address. These include planning, land management and water management, along with biodiversity management, recreation, landscape, access, and governance issues.
Mike Scott, CEO of planning consultancy Planisphere, gave an interesting and powerful presentation on planning issues along the Yarra. He also outlined the issues that he believes a Yarra Act will need to take on to ensure a healthy future for the river.
The next steps are for EJA to synthesise identified issues with models for river management. This will allow us to create an options paper for discussion at the next meeting, as we progress toward a preferred approach to the proposed Yarra River legislation.
Three more meetings are scheduled in the run up to the preparation of advice to the Government by its Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Government’s development of draft legislation.