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 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 Local Areas section will focus on the integration of the themes and related topics in a way that is relevant to local communities.

There are seven local areas and two major bay systems within the Port Phillip and Western Port region.

  • Bass Coast, South Gippsland and Islands
  • Casey, Cardinia, Baw Baw
  • Macedon Ranges, Hume, Mitchell, Whittlesea
  • Moorabool, Melton, Wyndham, Geelong
  • Mornington Peninsula
  • Yarra Ranges, Nillumbik
  • Greater Melbourne
  • Port Phillip Bay
  • Western Port.

The Port Phillip and Western Port region is home to almost 5 million people, so for simplicity these local areas have been defined by local government areas. 

This section may include consideration of important matters such as: planning; land use change;  landscape values; climate change; sustainable agriculture, water and land use planning; resilient and liveable cities and towns; recreational use; demographic changes etc.

 Each local area will include the following headings:

  • Introduction
  • Assessment of current condition and trends
  • Major threats and drivers of change
  • Vision and outcomes
  • Priority directions, including reference to any strategies, plans and action plans, in which  targets, outputs and priority actions are described in detail.

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.)

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.