The Regional Catchment Strategy for the Port Phillip & Western Port region
23 September 2020
The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA) is charged...
31 January 2020
Approval The final RCS will be signed off by the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment...
23 January 2020
The Port Phillip & Western Port region has a high number and diversity of stakeholders...


The RCS 2021-27 will consist of five major themes that are in line with the State Government’s ‘Our Catchments, Our Communities’ Integrated Catchment Management Strategy (2016).

The major themes are Water; Land; Biodiversity; Coasts & Marine; and Community. It is recognised that these broad themes are inter‐connected, and also align with the way governments and other investors often plan and roll out their investment programs. 

The themes could be divided further into the following sub-themes:

  • Water (waterways, wetlands and estuaries; groundwater)
  • Land (land use changes; soil health; sustainable agriculture)
  • Biodiversity (habitat; native vegetation; native animals; threatened species)
  • Coasts & Marine (coastal vegetation; intertidal communities)
  • Community (traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians in ICM; Communities in ICM)

Each theme will include the following headings: 

  • Introduction
  • Assessment of current condition and trends
  • Major threats and drivers of change
  • Desired outcomes for the future i.e. long‐term SMART outcomes i.e. proposed to be achieved in 20+ years; and medium‐term SMART outcomes i.e. ‘stepping stone’ outcomes proposed to be achieved in 6 years
  • Priority directions, including reference to any strategies, plans and action plans, in which targets, outputs and priority actions are described in detail.

(Note that SMART outcomes are: specific; measurable; achievable; relevant; and time‐bound.)

The core principle when developing the next RCS will be to adopt a whole‐of‐system approach for land, water and biodiversity planning and delivery. This is often referred to as integrated catchment management (ICM).

Why is ICM so important?

As well as being a whole system approach, it also captures the values and priorities of regional communities and brings together partners from across the catchment region to identify and respond to challenges that cannot be solved by one organisation or stakeholder alone. The next RCS will explain how ICM is implemented in the Port Phillip & Western Port region.

ICM enables partners and the community to collaborate on ideas, and gives opportunities to deliver on a range of benefits, including:

  • leveraging effort and resources;
  • making informed decisions across ‘silos’ through trade‐off discussions;
  • working towards a shared long‐term vision.

ICM establishes strong links between communities and the natural resources within a catchment, and its characteristics are: 

  • Place‐based
  • Whole‐of‐system/landscape
  • Delivers a mix of multiple benefits – across land, water, biodiversity, coasts and marine
  • Flexible in planning and delivery
  • Captures community values and priorities
  • Right scale and scalability (local and regional)
  • Enables Traditional Owners partnerships
  • Leverages all partners’ contributions.

Principles for development of RCS 2021-27

  • Integrated catchment management (ICM) approach
  • Regional ownership, embracing the regional delivery model, including co‐delivery from committed partners
  • Place‐based systems approach, at regional and local levels
  • Built on strong community engagement and stakeholder partnerships
  • Regard for Aboriginal cultural values and traditional ecological knowledge
  • Triple bottom line approach, including consideration of socio‐cultural, economic, and environmental factors
  • Evidence‐based, supported by science and defendable data
  • Flexibility to adopt new technologies and new information as they arise.

In the first installment of our summary of the recently released Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) guidelines from the Victorian Catchment Management Council, we take a look at what exactly is the RCS and the purpose of the guidelines.


The Port Phillip & Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) is the primary integrated planning framework for land, water and biodiversity for our region and also for each of the 9 other CMA regions in Victoria. It is an overarching succinct and high‐level strategy, with reference to more comprehensive, targeted and detailed supporting information.

The RCS guidelines were recently published by the Victorian Catchment Management Council and have been established under the provisions of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, Schedule 2, Clause 2.2 which states that ‘A management plan must be prepared in accordance with any guidelines established by the Council’.

Purpose of the guidelines

The RCS guidelines will assist the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA in preparing the next Regional Catchment Strategy (2021‐2027), the fourth since 1997. The guidelines prescribe consistency across Victoria for many elements of the next RCSs for all 10 CMAs, and intend to generate the following significant improvements for integrated catchment management (ICM):

  • Consistent presentation of all 10 RCSs to form a coordinated set of ICM strategies covering the whole state.
  • Regional‐scale strategies developed collaboratively with Victoria’s communities, enabling effective local delivery of Government programs, designed to improve catchment health.
  • Improving the accessibility of the RCSs, enhancing communication, engagement and awareness in Victoria’s communities about catchment issues and opportunities. 
  • Supporting ease‐of‐use of RCSs for all stakeholders, particularly state-wide and multi‐region organisations that bridge multiple CMA regions.
  • Providing the ability to aggregate appropriate information from RCSs to enable a state-wide or multi‐region view of a set of common overall outcomes and indicators.
  • Providing a consistent outcomes framework across all regions.
  • An opportunity to promote and support Government policy and targets including  consistency in demonstrating how the local‐scale and regional‐scale strategies and actions  outlined in the 10 RCSs contribute to state-wide outcomes and targets.
  • Aligning with Traditional Owners and their ongoing connection to Country, acknowledging  the importance of Indigenous Whole of Country Plans and Joint Management Plans. 
  • Providing the basis for the Natural Resources Management plans required under Australian Government programs such as the National Landcare Program.
  • Providing a clear rationale for securing funding resources from regional partners, Australian Government, private sector and philanthropic organisations for the ICM priorities of Victoria.
  • Aligning the RCSs to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.