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...

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The Port Phillip & Western Port region has a high number and diversity of stakeholders active in the management of the region’s native vegetation, waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity assets, and marine environments. Almost 5 million people call Melbourne and its hinterland home.

Key audiences for RCS:

  • The RCS in development and implementation must engage the regional partner agencies and community members, to guide investment and activity in the region. 
  • Another key audience for the RCS is the relevant responsible Ministers on behalf of the Government of Victoria, since the CaLP Act requires CMAs to submit RCSs to the responsible Ministers, for information and approval.
  • The RCS will also inform the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and other Government Departments. 
  • The RCS will also take into account the requirements of the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships program for Natural Resource Management (NRM) plans. 
  • Different documents or other products arising from the RCSs may be prepared to target and engage with a range of other groups.

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.

Background

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.

The Victorian Catchment Management Council have now released guidelines for the development of the next iteration of Victoria’s Regional Catchment Strategies (RCSs), covering the period 2021‐2027.

The guidelines 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 ’.

The RCS plays an important role in providing integrated catchment management outcomes across the state. These guidelines are a departure from previous guidelines in that they prescribe consistency across Victoria for many elements of the next RCSs.

Over the next few weeks we will breakdown the guidelines and discuss what it means for the Port Phillip & Western Port region.

New Board members were appointed at the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA on 1 October 2019, leading to one change on the RCS Committee. Our RCS Committee is now made up of (left to right) Neville Goodwin OAM, Susan Anderson, Nicola Ward and Dr Sandra Brizga (RCS Chair).

Neville is a primary producer at Woodleigh and has a long history of community representation and public service. He is a former Councillor and Mayor of Bass Coast Shire Council and before this served as Commissioner at the City of Wyndham. Neville is a long-serving community representative on the Bass Coast Shire Council Major Events Committee and a member of the National Vietnam Veterans Museum Board. He is also the Chair of the Grantville Community Market and Grantville Recreation Reserve Committee, and previously sat on the Board of Bass Coast Regional Health.

Susan is a primary producer and small business owner in Bunyip with conservation qualifications and extensive Landcare and environmental community contacts through the Western Port catchment. She is also a life member and President of the Bunyip Landcare Group. Susan is actively involved in several local organisations, including reserve management, and is an advocate for increased awareness and conservation of natural values.

Nicola has over 20 years’ senior experience in State and local government and brings strong skills in policy, strategy and implementation, particularly in natural resource management and land use change. Most recently, as Manager City Planning at the City of Casey, Nicola oversaw the strategic development, land use and infrastructure planning of one of Australia’s fastest growing and largest cities. Her portfolio of responsibilities included stormwater and water sensitive urban design, environment and heritage management, and recreation and open space planning. Nicola has managed a property for conservation and small-scale food production.

Sandra has over 30 years’ experience in river, catchment and coastal management, working as an independent consultant since 1995. Sandra has qualifications in geography, geomorphology, environmental law and finance and is the President of the Australian and New Zealand Geomorphology Group. Sandra also Chairs the Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management and is a Trustee of Trust for Nature. She is also a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust and an Honorary Life Member of the River Basin Management Society.

The RCS Committee is responsible for monitoring the strategic directions for the Regional Catchment Strategy, recommends any changes to the Board, and oversees maintenance and ongoing development of the RCS.

The RCS Committee is working to ensure that the current renewal of the RCS is managed in ways that meet requirements of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, and that stakeholder and public involvement in RCS development and implementation is met or exceeded.