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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp

20 October 2003

Environment Volunteers the Winners as Facilitator Support Increased

Community-driven environmental projects around Australia will get additional on-ground expert support following the announcement today by Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, of up to 35 new facilitators to be employed through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust - to boost Coastcare, Bushcare, and Waterwatch.

"The new positions are an acknowledgement by the Howard Government of the valuable contribution made by local community groups and individuals to environmental work, and the important role of facilitators in providing the expertise and support to ensure the success of these Trust-funded projects," Dr Kemp said.

The new facilitators will be specifically appointed to work with Coastcare, Waterwatch and Bushcare groups.

Dr Kemp said a change in the format of the Natural Heritage Trust towards an emphasis on regional bodies, now charged with the overall responsibility of developing plans for investments from the Trust, needed to be supported at the grass-roots level by volunteers in these dedicated environment programmes.

"I have no doubt that the more strategic approach to dealing with environmental challenges, enabled by the new emphasis on regional bodies and regional plans, is the best way to go for the environment. This initiative will ensure the regional bodies pick up on all of the good work and enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of people who volunteered their time and effort during the first phase of the Trust," Dr Kemp said.

"The new Coastcare, Bushcare, and Waterwatch facilitator positions will provide direct support to community groups and individuals and bridge the gap between the regional bodies and volunteers.

"It has always been a priority of the Howard Government to sustain the social capital created through the first phase of the Natural Heritage Trust. By providing these additional facilitators, we are ensuring that the crucial work of individuals and groups continues whilst maintaining the integrity of regionally based natural resource management."

Dr Kemp said the Coastcare network of facilitators has made a huge difference to volunteer efforts to protect and repair our coastal and marine environments.

"Coastcare groups and volunteers are continuing their important work on dunes and headlands, removing weeds and replanting with native vegetation. Their efforts extend into the marine environment, monitoring marine species and educating the community about reducing their impact on our oceans," he said.

"Maintaining the Coastcare facilitator program, with 20 facilitators, will guarantee these achievements are continued.

"The new Waterwatch facilitators will ensure the Howard Government's commitment to support more than 50,000 volunteers in every state and territory in the monitoring of Australia's waterways is a reality."

Dr Kemp said technical support and resources will also be provided under the Bushcare program for volunteers and community groups undertaking projects aimed at conserving and restoring bush habitat.

"The additional facilitators will complement the network of approximately 650 natural resource management and 70 Landcare facilitators already announced as part of the Howard Government's natural resource management initiatives," Dr Kemp said.

"Funding for the positions stems from the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

Dr Kemp said the new positions would be filled quickly.

"Today's announcement is also timely with this week being National Water Week, as many of these new coordinator positions will provide valuable support for communities undertaking projects that focus on conserving and protecting our precious water resources," he said.

"I urge everyone to do their bit in conserving our water simply by becoming more conscientious about their personal water use and by participating in Water Week activities that are taking place across Australia."

Water Week fact sheet attached.

National Water Week - 2003

National Water Week is an annual event held in October (19-25th) across Australia, hosted by each State and Territory.

National Water Week was introduced by the Australian Government and was first held in 1993. The initiative is designed to help members of the community of all ages and walks of life to understand and take action to protect and conserve our precious water resources and habitats.

Many of the Water Week activities are coordinated by WaterWatch and Coastcare - two programs funded from the Federal Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

As a valuable resource, water comprises marine, estuarine, freshwater (rivers and lakes) and groundwater sources in both coastal and inland areas. Quality and quantity are two closely linked dimensions that make up water.

Agricultural development has continuously increased since European settlement. As our population grew, so did urban development in towns and cities. As a result, the need for water grew often at the expense of the health of our waterways. Now, Australia cannot sustain an ever-increasing use of water. We are reaching the limits of our available water resources.

There are things we can do every day when at home, at work, at school or on the farm to be more efficient with water to protect and help improve the health of our waterways. For example, the average home uses about 230,000 litres a year. That's about 63 buckets of water each day. If every household in NSW reduced their water use by just one bucket a day - by fixing a dripping tap or taking one minute less in the shower - it would save more than 23 million litres of water each day.

Other water savings tips are: sweep driveways and paths rather than hosing them down, put mulch on the gardens which helps retain up to 73% of water, plant natives as they use less water, water gardens and lawns early in the morning or late at night to avoid evaporation, have shorter showers, use timers on sprinklers to turn them off, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before every wash, and reduce, reuse and recycle.

Major National Water Week activities this year include:

For further information on National Water Week, visit the Waterwatch Australia website or phone 1800 803 772

Commonwealth of Australia