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Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry - Final Report November 1993

Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993
ISBN 0 64429457


9.01 The third of the four key elements of the National Coastal Action Program is systematic community and industry involvement in coastal zone management. Action by governments alone will not be enough to achieve the objectives of the Program: it is necessary for all stakeholders to become more involved. The role of community groups and industry in national and state institutional arrangements is discussed in the previous chapter; this chapter examines their role in the management of resources in local areas and proposes ways in which this role can be enhanced. Chapter 10 considers in greater detail the interests and involvement of indigenous communities.

9.02 Many community groups currently provide voluntary help in managing coastal zone resources. The Inquiry found that interest in and affection for the coast are widely shared in the community. An important objective of the National Coastal Action Program is to further galvanise the volunteer spirit and enthusiasm in the community, and to harness it to help implement the Program.

9.03 One important facet of community involvement stems from participation in consultative processes; Section 9.1 discusses the role of communities in consultative processes in local areas. Another important contribution local groups can make is by participation in local committees of management; this is discussed in Section 9.2. Communities also play important roles in 'hands on' management activities, as discussed in Section 9.3. Education is another extremely important aspect of community participation in management; it is considered in Section 9.4. Industries operating in the coastal zone are responsible for management of many of its resources. Section 9.5 discusses industry's role in local areas. Conclusions are reached and recommendations made in Section 9.6.


9.04 When public policies affect communities, organised consultation with those communities can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of management responses. Consultation helps community members learn more about the issues in question and generates a higher degree of community confidence in and identification with management actions. The management agencies are better informed about the attitudes and interests of the community and about the impact of their policies on the community.

9.05 The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development and the United Nations' Agenda 21 both stress the importance of community involvement in resource management by local authorities. One of the objectives of Agenda 21 is '... By 1996, most local authorities should have undertaken a consultative process with their populations and achieved a consensus on a "local Agenda 21" for the community' (see Box 9.1).

9.06 There are several facets to consultation. It can include promotion of public awareness about resource use and management, provision of opportunities for comment on policies and proposals, participation in formally constituted committees, and less formal participation in other aspects of management. Consultative processes can be facilitated by creation of committees containing representatives of the community. Standing committees can provide continuing advice to resource managers and ad hoc committees can provide advice on particular issues. Public meetings, workshops and community attitude surveys provide other opportunities for community involvement in consultative processes. In several states 'total catchment management' groups have been created; they contain representatives of industry, user groups and other community groups in particular catchments and they provide advice on management of land and water resources (RAC 1993f, 1993s).

9.07 Community participation is well developed in some local authority areas in the coastal zone, and in some areas management programs have been developed in conjunction with relevant state government agencies. Examples are the Trinity Inlet Management Program in Queensland, the coastal management plan for Horrocks Beach in Western Australia, the strategy being developed for foreshore management by Flinders Shire Council in Victoria, and the Johnstone River Catchment Coordination Committee in Queensland (see Box 9.2).

9.08 There are many instances in which community groups have expressed great dissatisfaction with existing arrangements for their involvement. Among examples provided to the Inquiry were the development of proposals for ocean outfalls for sewage at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales (Coffs Harbour Environment Centre, Submission 481), inadequate public participation in the early stages of the approval process for the Club Med tourist resort proposal at Byron Bay in New South Wales (Byron Environment Centre, Submission 387), and the limited scope for public involvement in the approval process for mariculture developments in Tasmania (Tasmanian Department of Environment and Land Management 1993).

Box 9.1 Agenda 21 and the community role

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development culminated in the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during June 1992. The meeting of 176 nations and 112 heads of state was the final phase of two years of negotiations centred around a plan of action for the 21st century, known as Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a 700-page document dealing with a range of environment and development issues. In relation to community involvement, it deals with issues such as the role of local authorities and non-government organisations, and the roles of women and indigenous groups. Chapter 28, which deals with local authorities, includes the following:

Basis for action
28.1 Because so many of the problems and solutions being addressed by Agenda 21 have their roots in local activities, the participation and cooperation of local authorities will be a determining factor in fulfilling its objectives. Local authorities construct, operate and maintain economic, social and environmental infrastructure, oversee planning processes, establish local environmental policies and regulations, and assist in implementing national and sub-national environmental policies. As the level of governance closest to the people, they play a vital role in educating, mobilising and responding to the public to promote sustainable development.

28.2 The following objectives are proposed for this program area:

(a) By 1996, most local authorities in each country should have undertaken a consultative process with their populations and achieved a consensus on a 'local Agenda 21' for the community...

(d) All local authorities in each country should be encouraged to implement and monitor programs which aim at ensuring that women and youth are represented in decision making, planning and implementation processes.

28.3 Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organisations, and private enterprises and adopt a 'local Agenda 21'. Through consultation and consensus-building, local authorities would learn from citizens and from local, civic, community, business and industrial organisations and acquire the information needed for formulating the best strategies. The process of consultation would increase household awareness of sustainable development issues. Local authority programs, policies, laws, and regulations to achieve Agenda 21 would be assessed and modified, based on local programs adopted. Strategies could also be used in supporting proposals for local, national, regional, and international funding.

The Australian Government is a signatory to Agenda 21 and is currently preparing a report to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, detailing the steps it is taking to give effect to Agenda 21. In addition to a number of relevant existing programs, the Commonwealth is also funding a Local Agenda 21 campaign to help local authorities interpret Agenda 21, to encourage the development of local strategies, and to assist in establishing a comprehensive consultative process at the local level.

Source: UNCED (1992), ICLEI (1993).

9.09 If effective community involvement in consultative processes is to be achieved the community role must be well defined and well publicised and the information necessary for developing informed views must be provided in sufficient time for it to be considered before responses are required. Processes used to involve communities need to be developed in consultation with those communities.

Box 9.2 Community involvement in consultative processes: some examples

Trinity Inlet Management Program, Queensland

Increasing demands on resources have placed additional pressure on fragile coastal environments in the Trinity Inlet area near Cairns. A management steering committee of relevant local and state government representatives sought public involvement for a plan aimed at reflecting community concerns about development in the region and alternative uses of Trinity Inlet. Public comment was requested from individuals and interest groups before and after the release of an alternative strategies report and draft management plan for the Inlet. A consultative committee was established and a community survey carried out. Submissions and consultations revealed strong community concerns about environmental issues and a desire to protect the Inlet's natural values and ensure future development is sustainable. The consultations have been used to ensure management of the Inlet achieves long-term community aims.

Foreshores beyond 2000, Victoria

Flinders Shire Council undertook a study to stimulate discussion about long-term foreshore use. Preliminary discussions revealed strong community interest in the future direction of foreshore development and a willingness among interested parties to collaborate with the Council on longer term issues. A working party was formed, which included water-related recreation and sporting groups, commercial interests, the general public, recreational users and conservation groups. Public input was sought at each stage of the preparation of the report. The report aimed to deal with issues raised in consultations, including balancing development needs, environmental protection, and the competing demands of conservation, recreation, tourism and industry groups. Recommendations included increased public involvement in coastal management and development of performance standards for each committee of management.

Horrocks Beach coastal management plan, Western Australia

Community concern about the coastal management issues affecting Horrocks Beach prompted Northampton Shire Council and the Department of Planning and Urban Development to develop a coastal management plan for the area. A community workshop was held to assist in the identification of priorities for the region. Participants were Horrocks Beach residents and leasehold cottage owners. A second workshop was held to discuss the draft report that had been produced; this was followed by requests for individual submissions. Among the major coastal issues identified in the workshop were environmental degradation, a need for improved community facilities, and maintenance of the residents' relaxed lifestyle. Public participation was a major component in securing community support for the plan.

Integrated catchment management: Johnstone River pilot study, Queensland

A pilot study was conducted to investigate local land and water resource management deficiencies, which had been exacerbated by poor consultation with the local community. A community-based catchment co-ordination committee was established, including representatives of primary industry, conservation, Landcare, recreational, development and tourism groups. The committee aimed to raise community awareness of environmental catchment issues, coordinate interest groups' land and water resource management activities, and provide a forum for community and government discussions. Public involvement occurred through community workshops, information distribution and community involvement in strategy reviews. Outcomes of the pilot project have included a strategy for water quality management and greater community and industry awareness of water quality and land management issues.

Sources: Trinity Inlet Management Program (Submission 276), Shire of Flinders (1993), Western Australian Department of Planning and Urban Development (1991), RAC (1993s).


9.10 In a number of parts of Australia responsibility for managing selected coastal areas has been delegated to representative committees of local citizens. Such committees are an important means of involving communities in managing the coast. In Victoria, local foreshore committees of management operate as delegated managers of many Crown reserves. Formalised committees also operate in some other states (for example, reserve trust and precinct committees in parts of New South Wales) and ad hoc committees assist in managing coastal resources in other places.

9.11 It is generally true that when people are given full responsibility for management, including the authority to raise funds for that purpose, they will exercise that responsibility conscientiously. For example, foreshore committees play an important role in the management of many coastal resources in Victoria. They raise funds from rentals charged on such assets as camping and bathing facilities and they provide an opportunity for interested members of local communities to play an active role in management, thereby supplementing the assistance available for this purpose.

9.12 Another example is provided by Brisbane City Council's experience with the Boondall Wetlands Management Committee, which demonstrates that committees can make important contributions to resource management. Particular features of the Boondall Wetlands approach were as follows:

9.13 These types of local management committees are not without their problems. For example, the Victorian system mirrors general problems of coastal management. Criticisms include the reported parochialism of some committees, difficulties associated with enforcing regulations, lack of specialist knowledge, and in some cases a poor record of public involvement in committee work. The committees counter by pointing to lack of support from state government agencies (see Rogers 1992). One way of overcoming these difficulties might be to have only one committee in each local government area and to associate the committees more directly with the council (Wescott 1993). A number of recent changes are designed to improve cooperation between committees in adjoining areas and with state management agencies.

9.14 A range of factors affects the success of local committees, among them the commitment of individuals, the extent of resources provided to the committees by local government and state government agencies, and the extent to which the local authority concerned actively encourages community involvement in resource management.

9.15 In many cases, if committees are to have a greater role in implementing local resource management strategies they will need better access to professional and technical advice as well as secretarial and facilitation resources. The capacity for committees in other states to function in a way similar to the committees of management in Victoria-to raise funds through charges for the use of local resources and facilities, for instance-and their capacity to enforce regulations relating to resource uses will be dependent on delegation of such powers and responsibilities by local and state governments.

9.16 The Inquiry considers that greater use should be made of local area management committees. The roles and management responsibilities of the committees must be carefully considered in light of the degree of local interest in management problems, the extent of support received from local and state governments, and the existing network of community groups and other bodies with interests in the area concerned. In addition, the committees' actions must be in accord with local and regional strategies for coastal zone management (see Chapter 11).

9.17 Membership of local area management committees should generally include representatives of local interest groups and industries. Coordination with other agencies would be improved if representatives of local, regional, state and Commonwealth agencies with interests in the area were also included. Broad membership allows for interaction between different interests and spheres of activity in the general community and the public and private sectors, and it provides a focus for the many industry and community groups that are already contributing to elements of coastal zone management.


9.18 In addition to the contributions made by local area management committees, a striking example of public willingness to take part in hands-on management at a national scale is the widespread participation in the Clean Up Australia program (Clean Up Australia Ltd, Submission 168). There are many groups of volunteers who participate in beach clean-up days and other coastal management activities. The Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers has an extensive network of volunteers who participate in activities such as tree planting, track construction, dune stabilisation and heritage restoration (Fenton 1993). And a range of recreational users of the coast, such as surf life-saving clubs, surf riders, scuba divers and recreational fishers are active stewards of coastal resources. Many of these groups told the Inquiry they were willing to participate further in management activities.

9.19 Voluntary community organisations make a valuable contribution to the resources available for management of the coastal zone. As an indication of the magnitude of the overall community contribution, one study estimated that over $1 million worth of unpaid work is provided by the board and staff of Greening Australia in its revegetation efforts (Jensen 1992). An analysis of the activities of the Blacksmiths Beach Dunecare group in constructing timber vehicle barriers and removing bitou bush showed that, if costed at commercial rates, the activities would have been worth five times more than was actually spent on basic raw materials and equipment; a community benefit of $5 resulted for every $1 spent by the Lake Macquarie City Council and this estimate did not include the benefits derived from the community awareness generated by community involvement (Watt & Murphy 1992). A review of the effectiveness of government support for voluntary conservation organisations noted that 'a number of government agencies indicated that the actions of [these organisations] directly saved them substantial sums of public monies by successfully promoting conservation activities that negated the need for government action' and that the organisations 'are generally more cost effective, responsive, innovative, have excellent community networks and are more trusted by the Australian community than governments or the private sector' (Henry & Olsen 1992, p. 2).

9.20 State government agencies with responsibilities for coastal zone management provide advice and limited financial assistance to local authorities and community groups for the preparation and implementation of coastal management plans and for data collection. Some states have also encouraged community involvement in water quality monitoring. In Western Australia the Department of Agriculture has produced a Coastal Rehabilitation Manual (Oma et al. 1992) and government support has been provided to help local groups implement coastal management plans and carry out dune rehabilitation work. Another source of support has been through land conservation district committees, where the emphasis has primarily been on private agricultural land. The Queensland Beach Protection Authority involves the community in monitoring sand movement at sites along the coast, through COPE (the Coastal Observation Program, Engineering).

9.21 The Commonwealth funds a number of programs supporting community involvement in natural resource management (see Table 9.1); some of these funds go to coastal projects. Key national programs such as Landcare and Waterwatch are implemented in collaboration with state government agencies (see Boxes 9.3 and 9.4). A number of Commonwealth programs also provide to local government authorities funding for employment, which can be used to assist community involvement in management: Job Skills, the Landcare and Environment Action Program and the Contract Employment Program for Aboriginals in Natural and Cultural Resource Management are examples (see Box 9.5).

9.22 In New South Wales the Soil Conservation Service of the Department of Conservation and Land Management established the Dunecare program with the assistance of the National Soil Conservation Program (which has since become the National Landcare Program). Dunecare is based on voluntary group efforts to restore coastal dunes and surrounding areas through projects such as bitou bush removal, propagation and planting of native vegetation, stabilisation of eroding dunes, construction of fences and access ways to designate beach tracks, planting of trees along river banks, and community awareness activities (RAC 1993f, p. 46). There are currently about 90 such groups involved in protection and rehabilitation of coastal dune areas.

9.23 Some local governments actively support community involvement in hands-on management through Dunecare-type programs. For example, the City of Henley and Grange in South Australia initiated the establishment of a Dunecare group (Submission 370), which, in addition to engaging in activities such as revegetation and fencing, is drawing on the wide range of expertise among its volunteer members (including a marine scientist, a geologist and a surveyor) to conduct a resource survey of the council's coastal area, including a physical and geological survey of dunes and a vegetation survey.

Table 9.1 Commonwealth programs assisting community involvement in resource management

Program               Funding      Funding Administering    Operating      
                     1992-1993a     agency agency           organisation   


Save The Bushb            1 768       DEST ANCA (Landscape  ANCA           

One Billion Treesb        5 240       DEST ANCA (Landscape  Greening       
                                           Conservation     Australia      

National Landcare       14 223        DPIE DPIE (Land       State/territory
Program-Community                          Resources         land         
componentb                                 Division)        conservation   

Murray-Darling            5 700       DPIE MDB Commission   MDB            
Basin Natural                              & community      Commission &   
Resources                                  advisory c'tee   community      
Management                                                  advisory       
Strategyb                                                   c'tee          

Waterwatchc                 800       DEST ANCA (Landscape  Projects to    
                                           Conservation     be             
                                           Unit)            state-based    

National Threatened         250       DEST ANCA             World Wide     
Species Network                            (Threatened      Fund for       
                                           Species Unit)    Nature         

Marine and Coastal         165d       DEST ANCA (Landscape  Australian     
Community Network                          Conservation     Littoral       
(Ocean Rescue 2000)                        Unit)            Society        

National Marine             100       DEST Great Barrier    Great Barrier  
Education Project                          Reef Marine      Reef Marine    
(Ocean Rescue 2000)                        Park Authority   Park           

Greenhouse                  463       DEST DEST (Climate    DEST (Climate  
Information Program                        Change and       Change and     
(including                                 Environmental    Environmental  
community, local                           Liaison          Liaison        
government and peak                        Sub-program)     Sub-program)   
professional body                                                          

a Funding figures provided by agencies or budget papers; funds are for Australia-wide programs and
are not necessarily limited to coastal zone activities.
b Component of the National Landcare Program.
c Funding for 1993-94 (new program).
d Figure is for calendar year 1993.

9.24 The Dunecare groups in New South Wales were cited by a number of Inquiry participants as a model of how to engender community involvement in coastal management. Dunecare and urban landcare projects have relatively low priority within current funding arrangements for the Land and Water component of Community Landcare, which is primarily oriented towards control of land degradation on agricultural and pastoral land (National Landcare Program 1993). A small amount of support is available for coastal projects through the Save the Bush component of Landcare.

Box 9.3 Community landcare groups

The landcare group movement has been one of the most significant developments in natural resource management and conservation in Australia. The movement arose in the mid 1980s, when rural communities began informally forming groups to tackle their local land degradation problems.

Members of the rural community and the conservation movement provided support and the impetus for the development of the landcare movement. Governments are providing financial support to assist in the formation of groups through facilitation and coordination and for landcare group's projects, through the Community component of the National Landcare Program. The Landcare philosophy is to foster cooperation and coordination between government agencies and those in the general community, to encourage community action on integrated strategies combating land, water and vegetation degradation.

The Community Landcare component integrates the four Commonwealth land, water and vegetation programs that have a community emphasis. The four programs are the Land and Water Programs, the One Billion Trees program, the Save the Bush program, and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission Natural Resources Management Strategy. Each program has its own budget and objectives but all community applications for funding are assessed by a single assessment panel in each state through a 'one stop shop' application process.

The Department of Primary Industries and Energy Land and Water Programs are mainly managed by state land conservation agencies. Projects focus on local or district scales to promote a feeling of community responsibility for natural resource degradation problems in their area. A self-help approach by locally based community landcare groups is promoted through extension, planning, research and training projects that are supported by state and local government agencies. In New South Wales Dunecare groups have been established with support from the Landcare Program, although in most states there is not a well-established network of specific coastal landcare groups.

Landcare groups are now moving beyond a solely soil conservation focus and are embracing broader social, environmental and planning issues. One significant advantage of Landcare is its potential to educate the broader community in the ways of sustainable land use. A measure of Landcare's success has been the extent of community involvement, with 1600 groups across Australia formed in the last few years, involving about 30 per cent of Australia's broadacre farms. Local-scale land degradation problems have been confronted and general awareness of the issues raised. To ensure Landcare is part of an integrated regional approach, the involvement of landcare groups in catchment and property management planning is increasingly being promoted.

The One Billion Trees program is specifically designed to encourage the community to participate in revegetation and protection of native vegetation. One Billion Trees is implemented by Greening Australia, a non-profit community-based organisation. Greening Australia aims to use its government funding as 'seed' money to a maximum of only half the dollar value of a project, with contributions of money, skills, voluntary labour, equipment and material coming from other sources. The program has been highly successful in motivating community action and tree planting.

The Save the Bush program is a national community-based conservation program of hands-on involvement by local communities in conserving and restoring areas of remnant native vegetation to assist the maintenance of biological diversity in Australia. In 1993-94 a focus of the program will be education about and protection of wetlands and mangroves.

Source: DPIE (Submission 728), Campbell (1992), Goss (1993).

9.25 The Metropolitan Seaside Councils Committee operates a Coastcare program which is modelled on the South Australian River Watch and Neighbourhood Watch programs. It facilitates reporting of coastal damage, distress or danger along Adelaide's metropolitan beaches (Metropolitan Seaside Councils' Committee, Submission 734).

9.26 There is some concern about the lack of facilitation and extension support for community involvement in hands-on coastal management activities, particularly in view of growing community interest in helping in this area. The Victorian Government is considering a proposal to establish a Coastcare program in response to the growing interest in facilitating community involvement in coastal landcare activities. There has also been support for the establishment of coastal and ocean conservation groups in Western Australia (Western Australian Municipal Association, Transcript, p. 784; Coastal Management Coordinating Committee, Submission 730).

Box 9.4 Waterwatch: a community-based environmental monitoring program

Waterwatch was announced in the Prime Minister's December 1992 Statement on the Environment. It provides a national framework for several existing programs in various states, such as Streamwatch in New South Wales and Ribbons of Blue in Western Australia and Victoria. Water quality monitoring was chosen because it is an excellent indicator of environmental 'health' and can be used to help communities focus their activities within catchments. Waterwatch has a number of goals, among them: development of a national network linking all existing and future community-based water quality and environmental monitoring programs; fostering linkages between water quality monitoring groups and funding programs that can support onground action; promotion of total catchment management and ecologically sustainable development concepts; and creation of closer links between communities, their local government representatives and the private sector.

Source: ANCA (1993).

9.27 Landcare has demonstrated that there is strong community interest in 'grass roots' community-based management programs. Given the extensive community interest in coastal management and the range of programs that are being established piecemeal to promote community coastal management, a national coastal program modelled on Landcare and aiming to promote community-based management of the coastal zone is required. Such a program could be called 'Coastcare'.

9.28 The experience of many government agencies involved in coastal management suggests that relatively small amounts of funding support to a Coastcare program could mobilise considerable community effort. Coastcare would, however, entail additional management costs to the sponsoring agency. It would also make demands on the time of local and state government employees as they assist Coastcare groups and ensure that their efforts are consistent with the objectives of management in the areas concerned. This is money and time that is often very effectively spent. Especially important is the use of local and regional facilitators, to provide technical, scientific and organisational advice, help establish links with other groups, distribute educational materials, and inform Coastcare groups about various programs supporting community involvement.

9.29 The provision of resources to Coastcare would facilitate continuing community involvement and improve the efficiency and continuity of coastal resource management. Efficiency gains accrue through increased coordination and communication between community groups, government and industry. Duplication of effort would be avoided, valuable lessons can be learned from the experience of others, and communication networks can be established and reinforced.

Box 9.5 Employment programs relevant to coastal resource management

Landcare and Environment Action Program
The Landcare and Environment Action Program, administered by the Department of Employment, Education and Training, helps young unemployed people aged 15 to 20 years to acquire new skills through training and practical experience in landcare, environment, cultural heritage and conservation activities. Examples of projects that operate under the program are conservation of natural heritage, such as construction of nature trails in national parks, revegetation of nature reserves, sand dune stabilisation, river and creek improvement, salinity and soil conservation, and waste recycling; preservation and restoration of built heritage such as significant buildings, bridges and other landmarks; and preservation of cultural heritage such as music, craft, customs and ethnic heritage. Program expenditure in 1992-93 was $55.6 million.

Contract Employment Program for Aboriginals in Natural and Cultural Resource Management
The aim of the Contract Employment Program for Aboriginals in Natural and Cultural Resource Management is to increase the number of qualified and experienced indigenous people in contract employment in the areas of nature conservation and cultural heritage. Examples of projects are recording of the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal elders, establishment of nurseries, and site management and rehabilitation work. Commonwealth funding, administered by the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, is provided to state, territory and local governments and indigenous community organisations. Figures for 1991-92 show that 697 contractors, 154 being women, worked for 24 government and non-government agencies, including Aboriginal land councils and community organisations. Resources allocated in 1992-93 amounted to $4.35 million.

Jobskills aims at improving the employment prospects of people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more by equipping them with new skills through work experience and training. The Department of Employment, Education and Training contracts suitable organisations to arrange work experience and training for participants. Work experience placements are primarily in the local government and community sector. Participants receive a mix of supervised work experience, structured training both on and off the job, and the opportunity to develop and practise new skills in a work environment over a 26-week period. Work experience placements can either be with continuing activities in organisations or in special projects of benefit to the community. These may include the maintenance or development of local tourism, heritage or recreation infrastructure, and conservation and environmental activities. Program expenditure in 1992-93 was $144.4 million.

Sources: Budget Statements 1993-94, ANCA (1992), DEET (1992, 1993).


9.30 There is a strong complementarity between community education programs and community involvement in coastal resource management; together they can provide considerable support for management. A number of educational initiatives relating to the coastal zone already exist; for example, Landcare and Waterwatch (See Boxes 9.3 and 9.4). These initiatives illustrate the importance of 'learning by doing', which characterises successful community involvement in such activities. There are also programs run by community organisations, including general awareness campaigns, campaigns aimed at specific groups, and visitor interpretation centres and materials. In many cases, these programs are supported by industry and government agencies.

9.31 Visitor interpretation programs are designed to enhance the understanding and appreciation of visitors to natural areas and centres such as aquariums and museums. Education opportunities include guided tours, displays and observation areas. School children, as well as tourists, are important target groups for visitor interpretation services and facilities. Examples of visitor interpretation programs are 'eco-tourism' operations such as tours accompanied by marine biologists on the Great Barrier Reef, the education displays that are part of the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island in Victoria, and walks, tours and events, many involving presentations by Aboriginal people, in Kakadu National Park and other places in the coastal zone. Specific user group campaigns are designed to raise awareness and change the behaviour of groups involved in identifiable impacts on or management of the coastal zone. Examples are campaigns aimed at recreational fishermen in Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef and the Sportfish Tagging Program in Queensland.

9.32 There is considerable scope to expand these activities and enhance the quality of the currently fragmented efforts in coastal zone community education. There are many gaps in public understanding of the effects of coastal zone resource uses as well as of management principles and practices. The ecological and biodiversity value of coastal heath or mangroves, for example, tends to attract less public attention than rainforests or endangered species. Even less well known are the functions performed by vegetation such as kelp beds and other life forms in the marine environment: lack of direct contact with much of the marine environment makes it less appreciated and understood by the general public. Large gaps also exist in the community's understanding of the importance of land and sea in the culture of indigenous people.

9.33 Educational initiatives should be undertaken to help foster a sense of responsibility and stewardship towards the coastal zone, principally by informing people, including user groups, of specific actions they can and should take to maintain the zone's diverse values. Building on an enhanced awareness, appreciation and understanding of the values of the coastal zone, it is important to focus on specific behaviour; for example, use of off-road and four-wheel-drive vehicles, harvesting of intertidal species for bait and food, trampling of vegetation, anchor damage, littering, and recreational fishing limits. Education programs can be a cost-effective complement to more costly enforcement and surveillance activities (see Chapter 15).

9.34 Education programs will also be needed to inform the public about the objectives of the National Coastal Action Program and actions they can take in support of it. Individuals, groups and organisations should be able to see where they fit within the overall context, and they should be encouraged to see how they can 'make a difference' in the management of coastal resources. They should also be made to feel that their actions in support of a national strategic approach are effective and are supported or reinforced by the actions of government agencies and others.

9.35 Education of school students about coastal zone issues is important for generating interest and enthusiasm among both students and parents. Students are often active participants in hands-on monitoring and management projects and they should be made aware of the importance of their actions.

9.36 In most states, reference to coastal zone issues is made only in courses external to the mainstream curricula; some reference to coastal zone resources is, however, made in primary and secondary curricula in the subject areas of biology, geography, science and social studies. Schools run their own programs and there are no formal curricula set by state education authorities. In some states, particularly Queensland and New South Wales, there are moves to develop courses in areas such as marine studies, bringing together subjects from a range of disciplines. In addition, there is a trend for state departments of education to encourage production of curriculum materials by the relevant subject associations (for example, the Marine Education Society of Australasia).

9.37 Various community and industry organisations provide to schools information about issues relating to the coastal zone. An example is school visits by Greening Australia, to provide information on subjects such as tree planting, propagation methods, and establishing, for instance, small rainforest ecosystems within the school grounds. Another example is the Kowanyama Community Awareness Program, which involves Aboriginal children in natural resource management programs and enables older Aboriginal people to pass on traditional knowledge. Resource kits, brochures, games and other materials are provided by a range of organisations such as Clean Up Australia, the Keep Australia Beautiful Council, Surf Lifesaving Australia, the Surfrider Foundation, the Australian Surfriders Association, and such industry bodies as the Australian Mining Industry Council and the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association.

9.38 Visitor interpretation centres are important venues for school education activities; examples are the Marine Discovery Centres at Queenscliff and Tooradin in Victoria, the Shortland Wetlands Centre near Newcastle in New South Wales, the St Kilda mangrove walk in South Australia, and the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary in Queensland. Aquariums, museums and botanical gardens also help school groups, organise talks and provide facilities to assist educational excursions. Government support includes, for example, support by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Victoria for visitor centres with coastal focuses and a Marine Education Caravan, and the Directorate of School Education has a summer school camp on Western Port Bay with an environmental centre and aquarium. In the Northern Territory the Department of Education runs a field study centre on Channel Island near Darwin.

9.39 Among the general awareness activities focusing on students in Queensland are the 'Polyp' drama performances, which tell the life story of coral on the Great Barrier Reef. Associated with these performances is the production of kits sent to participating schools, visits to schools by staff of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of the Environment and Heritage, and production of a video to help schools develop their own drama activities relating to environmental issues.

9.40 Professional development is an important aspect of the production of material used by schools. The Victorian Institute of Marine Sciences, Melbourne Zoo and the Gould League conduct curriculum days with a marine and environmental education focus; teaching associations run coast-related workshops and lectures at their conferences; and the Victorian Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides information and support for the professional development of teachers. In Queensland extensive teacher training and qualifications-upgrading courses are available dealing with a range of coastal issues. There remains, however, a need for more in-service professional development and, more importantly, pre-service teacher training in coastal zone issues. There is also a need for specialists to develop curriculum materials that focus on coastal issues (Alcock 1993).

9.41 The success of the National Coastal Action Program will greatly depend on improved education programs. A range of community education initiatives should be undertaken as part of the National Coastal Action Program, to enhance public awareness of the diverse values of coastal zone resources, to foster a sense of responsibility and stewardship towards the coastal zone, and to inform the public, including user groups, of the objectives of the Program and actions they can take in support of it.

9.42 If community education efforts are to be effective and efficient they should be based on professional advice and systematic evaluation, and they should be designed to meet the needs of a wide range of groups with different levels of interest and different cultural backgrounds.

9.43 It is necessary to develop coordinated approaches to education about coastal issues. A considerable number of relevant initiatives are currently sponsored by the Commonwealth and state governments; it is essential that these be coordinated, not only to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing and that unnecessary duplication is avoided, but also to avoid confusion about the purpose of the initiatives and the connections between them (Cutts et al. 1993, Alcock 1993).

9.44 The National Marine Education Program, which is part of Ocean Rescue 2000, presents an opportunity for coordinating the design and production of educational materials dealing with coastal issues in cooperation with relevant government agencies and non-government bodies. A broad range of educational initiatives will be necessary to adequately cover all the issues associated with coastal resources.


9.45 As discussed in Chapter 2, many industries are directly involved in the management of important coastal zone resources. Examples are the management of land owned or leased by agricultural producers, exploration for and extraction of minerals, the manufacture, transport and distribution of goods, the provision of a wide variety of services, and the provision of major infrastructure, including transport, communications and energy supply systems and education, health and other social services. No estimate is available of the proportion of gross domestic product produced or consumed in the coastal zone, but the fact that more than 80 per cent of Australians live in the zone suggests that a similar proportion of national production and expenditure takes place there.

9.46 Although the industries involved in the coastal zone make a significant contribution to national income there have been many instances in which their activities have contributed to undesirable impacts on the zone's resources. Chapter 2 discusses some of these impacts and the ways in which they are currently being approached. Efforts to prevent undesirable impacts have intensified in recent years, not only because of the actions of governments in regulating industry operations but also because many industries have become aware that sustainable development of economic activity is dependent on sustainability of the resource base. As part of these efforts, industry bodies have played a prominent role in seeking to reach agreement about the objectives that should be pursued as part of ecologically sustainable development.

9.47 Many companies contribute towards the restoration or enhancement of natural areas of significance in the coastal zone. For example, Alcoa is actively involved in the restoration of the Spectacles Wetlands in Kwinana, Western Australia, working closely with government agencies and contributing funding. AMC Mineral Sands collaborated with the Royal Australian Ornithologists Union in the conversion of mined areas into wetland habitats for migratory and other bird species at Capel in Western Australia. The site now contains the AMC Wetlands Centre, a valuable research and educational facility. Another example is the provision by Caltex of funds for construction of the Banks-Solander Track in Botany Bay National Park.

9.48 Other companies sponsor organisations that contribute to the improvement of coastal environments. For example, several companies are sponsors of Clean Up Australia, and the New South Wales Fish Marketing Authority, the Master Fish Merchants Association of New South Wales and the Professional Fishermen of New South Wales are involved in the funding and direction of Ocean Watch, an organisation that seeks better management of aquatic environments through advising industry and lobbying government. Companies are also involved in sponsoring the National Landcare Program through Landcare Australia Ltd. Major corporations such as the ANZ Group and ICI assist the scientific research institute Earthwatch.

9.49 Effective communication between community and industry groups is required to achieve integrated management of coastal zone resources. Some companies have provided forums within which community groups can discuss the impacts of company activities. For example, at Kwinana BP operates a community forum that meets to discuss matters of concern to the community arising from its operations. Another Kwinana company, CSBP and Farmers, which manufactures fertilisers, is implementing an industry group Code of Practice on Community Consultation.

9.50 In most states the mining industry has developed codes of conduct for dealing with owners and occupiers of pastoral and agricultural land; the development of such codes or guidelines between mining companies and indigenous people has recently been recommended by the Mining Committee of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation 1993). The Chamber of Mines and Energy of Western Australia and the Australian Mining Industry Council have developed a guide to Aboriginal employment in the mining industry, reflecting mining companies' growing interest in this area (Chamber of Mines and Energy of Western Australia 1991).

9.51 Another important example of collaboration between industry and community groups is the alliance between the National Farmers Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation over land degradation issues; this resulted in the establishment of what is now the National Landcare Program.

9.52 Some state governments have actively encouraged industry groups to take more responsibility for environmental management. An innovative approach has been used at Kwinana: a cooperative arrangement has been established for setting ambient limits of sulphur dioxide and dust that cannot be exceeded by industry as a whole; new industries can operate in the area only if total emissions do not increase, and it has been left to industries to control their total emissions (AGC Woodward-Clyde 1993). There is potential for adopting this approach in other areas, possibly in conjunction with the tradeable permits system discussed in Chapter 13.

9.53 The Australian Manufacturing Council is actively promoting Best Practice Environmental Regulation, which involves the adoption of practices that have produced outcomes consistent with enhanced environmental performance and improved competitiveness (AMC 1993).

9.54 These examples of cooperation to achieve better resource management show how industries can contribute to the objectives of coastal zone management as well as avoid undesirable impacts on resources. Governments can facilitate greater commitment and involvement by ensuring that industries operating in local and regional areas take part in the development and implementation of strategies for those areas. Governments could also encourage industry contributions to the cost of community projects relating to coastal resource management by ensuring that such contributions are tax deductible. Currently the Taxation Office allows private financial contributions for these purposes to be tax deductible only if they include an element of advertising or corporate sponsorship or they are made to a charitable organisation.


9.55 Effective participation by community and industry groups is a critical component of the management of coastal zone resources; such participation can greatly augment the resources devoted to management by governments. Especially important is the provision of facilitation, extension and other services to support community involvement in activities such as dune stabilisation and rehabilitation, management and monitoring of the shoreline and near-shore marine environments, visitor management and education, construction of paths and walkways, wetlands management, and programs designed to minimise the impacts of urbanisation and associated development. Local and regional facilitators can assist in ensuring that this involvement is coordinated and maintains continuity and community enthusiasm.

R.13 The Inquiry recommends that

a Coastcare program be established by the Commonwealth Government to deal with the particular needs of coastal areas for soil conservation, maintenance of biodiversity, revegetation, and management and monitoring of the shoreline and near-shore environment;

the Coastcare program provide funds for the appointment of local and regional coastal community facilitators and extension services;

the Coastcare program be designed to extend and complement existing initiatives for community involvement in integrated catchment management.

9.56 Committees that help local authorities to manage the coastal zone can play a valuable role in supplementing the resources available to those authorities. Such committees are already formally established in Victoria and operate less formally in some other states. Extension of the committee system to deal with continuing management issues is dependent on state and local governments' views about the role the committees can play. Consultative committees are another important source of community involvement.

R.14 The Inquiry recommends that

local and state governments examine existing arrangements to ensure that community groups are provided with the opportunity to participate in the formulation of policies and programs relating to the management of coastal zone resources.

9.57 It is necessary to develop coordinated approaches to education about coastal issues. A considerable number of relevant initiatives are currently sponsored by the Commonwealth and state governments; it is essential that these be coordinated, not only to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing and that unnecessary duplication is avoided but also to avoid confusion about the purpose of the initiatives and the connections between them.

R.15 The Inquiry recommends that

the National Marine Education Program receive additional Commonwealth funding to provide educational materials on coastal zone management issues for community groups, user groups and schools;

the National Coastal Management Agency arrange for the production of educational materials explaining the objectives and implementation of the National Coastal Action Program;

the community education programs conducted by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and other relevant agencies be extended to include projects to increase understanding in the general community of the importance of land and sea in indigenous culture and to increase understanding in both the general community and indigenous communities of traditional and modern approaches to resource management;

the National Coastal Management Agency ensure that there is close liaison between the Coastcare program, the Marine and Coastal Community Network, the National Marine Education Program and the education units of other major national initiatives relevant to natural resource and indigenous issues.

9.58 There is considerable scope for industry to become more closely involved in coastal zone resource management. Companies and individuals should be encouraged to support projects designed to improve the quality of resources in areas of the coastal zone in which they operate. The Commonwealth Government can provide an important incentive for companies and individuals by allowing expenditure on such projects to be deductible from income assessed for tax purposes.

R.16 The Inquiry recommends that

the Commonwealth Government ensure that company and individual contributions towards the cost of projects designed to improve the quality of resources in the coastal zone be an allowable deduction from income assessed for tax purposes.