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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss

10 April 2003

Commonwealth Expands Future of Community Based Natural Resource Management

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, today pledged their continuing support for a network of government funded community-based environmental care and sustainable farming practice workers.

The Ministers announced that under new funding arrangements through the Coalition Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the existing network of local natural resource management facilitators and coordinators will now be employed by the communities they serve through Commonwealth support, rather than directly by the Commonwealth. Under the new arrangements, positions for facilitators and coordinators will also be created for the first time at a national and regional level.

"Community-based facilitators and coordinators have been an integral feature of the first phase of the Natural Heritage Trust, providing practical on-ground support through their work with groups such as Landcare, Bushcare and Coastcare," Dr Kemp said.

"Funding for the existing nation-wide network of 650 facilitators and coordinators was continued until June this year, to assist the wider community in the transition to new community-based regional delivery arrangements, which are a hallmark of the NHT extension.

"Following broad community input, a new model for facilitators and coordinators has been developed, which will provide support for communities at a state-wide and regional level as well as locally."

Mr Truss said under the new NHT 2 model, there will also be greater flexibility in the way local level facilitators and coordinators can assist in implementing regional activities and support community engagement.

"These positions will be identified at a regional level, with the Commonwealth supporting communities through a range of funding processes including investment in regional natural resource management plans," he said.

"The flexibility of the model also means funding for local level positions, as part of interim project bids, may be 'fast tracked' to ensure funding is available to the regions for required positions as of 1 July 2003.

"Where interim project bids are not in place by 1 July, the Commonwealth will seek to implement bridging arrangements with the State or Territory concerned."

Dr Kemp said regional communities are best placed to decide what resources are needed in their area, and how to best involve local people in activities to improve land and water use and management.

"This new model allocates up to $12 million a year to fund the new state-wide and strategic regional levels of this vital network. This funding will also provide training and resources for local level facilitators and coordinators," he said.

"National positions with a state-wide focus will be funded by the Commonwealth to promote the objectives of the Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality across regional and state boundaries."

Dr Kemp said funding has also been allocated to support Indigenous Land Management facilitators.

"This recognises the need to maintain a targeted and deliberate effort to raise Indigenous awareness, engagement and capacity in relation to natural resource management," he said.

"NHT facilitators and coordinators will continue to play a major role in creating direct links on-the-ground to generate greater community involvement in Australia's environmental effort."

Media Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Annette Healy (Minister Truss's office) (02) 6277 7520 or 0408 627 227

Commonwealth of Australia