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South Coast NRM New Board Member

South Cost NRM  welcomes newly elected Board member Debbie Millard, who was unanimously elected at the AGM on 14th November 2019 by South Coast NRM members.

Debbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant with 27 years experience; 10 years as an auditor, and 17 years in commerce. Debbie's commercial experience has been supplemented by her role as Treasurer and Chair Finance and Risk Committee for a number of not-for-profit organisations over the past 9 years.

As a result of Debbie's election as a member of the South Coast NRM Board and her vast experience and knowledge in finance, Debbie has also been elected as the Deputy Chair of the South Coast NRM Audit Committee.

South Coast NRM Annual General Meeting

The South Coast NRM  AGM  was held this year on the 14th November at the Albany Surf Life Saving Club. The Chair Carolyn Daniel opened the meeting acknowledging Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledging the land of the Menang people. Chair acknowledged fellow board members and CEO Justin Bellanger and his team who have been working tirelessly to improve the management of our environment in the South Coast and beyond, which includes all contractual agreements with partners.
The Chair went on to acknowledge retiring board member Joanne Gilbert and also as Chair of the Audit Committee, highlighting the recent Australian Institute of Company Directors awards with Joanne winning the PWC director award for excellence in the Western Australian not-for-profit sector. Joanne has been with South Coast NRM for 11 years and on the Audit Committee and 6 years of the Board.

The reports for the Chair and CEO can be found in the new version of the Annual Report at

South Coast NRM Key Stats 2018 - 2019

Funding support for community groups warmly received

South Coast NRM’s initiative to provide $160,000 equally shared among eight of its community partners has been warmly received. The funds were in response to calls for greater capacity to meet communities’ needs. The recipients of the funds included the Gillamii Centre, Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, Oyster Harbour Catchment Group, North Stirling’s Pallinup Natural Resources, Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network, Torbay Catchment Group, the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee and the Esperance area. South Coast NRM CEO, Justin Bellanger said “It’s been great to hear the plans of some of the groups who will use the funds to support staff and other functions of their organisation.” “The initiative practically demonstrates our commitment to support our partner organisations at a time that they are most in need, and unable to secure help like this from other groups or sources” Mr Bellanger said. Contracting of the funds has progressed in a simple manner, with the aim to transfer the funds prior to Christmas.

South Coast NRM advocates for more funding with Federal Environment Minister Susan Ley

South Coast NRM CEO Justin Bellanger used the opportunity of a private meeting with Federal Environment Minister Susan Ley to highlight the need for more funding to deliver large landscape-scale projects. Reflecting on the lack of opportunities elsewhere, Mr Bellanger thanked the Minister for the resources provided through the Regional Land Partnerships program but reinforced the need for greater ongoing funding to address issues at the scale which can make a real difference in WA. “Since the conclusion of State NRM program’s Strategic Priority Projects in 2016, the Australian Government has been our sole provider of resources at the scale that can really help our natural resources” Mr Bellanger said. “It was great for Minister Ley to reflect positively on South Coast NRM’s strong role in partnering with the Australian Government; we’ve highlighted that there is significant unmet capacity to do more in the South Coast” he said. Mr Bellanger also took the opportunity to highlight the needs of sub-regionally based groups that are managing natural resources in their areas, in some cases without enough support from government.

Bush foods create opportunities to talk about reconciliation and Aboriginal empowerment

The Merinj Kaartdijin - Aboriginal Food Knowledge Forum was held on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November at the Albany Entertainment Centre with over 100 people from across the State attending over the two days.

Attendees heard from local, national and internationally recognised experts about the common ground created by sharing bush foods, as well as the complexities of managing traditional cultural knowledge, protecting intellectual property and growing local native plants.

The bush food field trip into the Albany hinterland was a guided tour with local Noongar experts from Kurrah Mia. The trip included viewing oyster beds at the culturally significant Kalgan Fish Traps, complemented with catering prepared by local Noongar business, the Kinjarling Indigenous Corporation. After a scenic bus ride north participants enjoyed a foraging tour at Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve which culminated in a remarkable bush food inspired gourmet lunch hosted by the Friends of the Porongurup Range.

The Merinj Kaartdijin forum coincided with the Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak celebration gala dinner on 23 November at the Albany Entertainment Centre. Opened by Aboriginal Affairs Minister and Treasurer Ben Wyatt the dinner concluded a week of celebrity chef-led intercultural cooking activities with Aboriginal high school students from across WA. Nearly 200 guests enjoyed an extraordinary bush food dinner and marvelled at the achievements and the successes of the Aboriginal students and the unique educational catering program.

The forum was arranged by South Coast Natural Resource Management, through funding from the Australian Governments’ National Landcare Program in partnership with Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak and supported by Katanning Landcare, Great Southern Development Commission, City of Albany, and the Albany Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
More details are available at or through Peter Twigg (9845 8537,

Strong & Proud Wumbudin koul-yee-rah after school program

South Coast NRM has just completed another successful Strong & Proud program involving twenty two Aboriginal youth aged 12 to 16 in Albany. The program is developed around the 6 Noongar seasons and takes participants to culturally significant locations where Noongar people traditionally occupied. The program has assisted Aboriginal youth to connect to their community, culture and country while building their self-esteem, leadership skills and increasing school attendance.
The Aboriginal youth participants have been engaged through 10 weeks of after school activities and a weekend camp at Mt Trio Bush Camp which have involved a range of cultural, environmental and recreational activities including whale and dolphin monitoring with South Coast Cetaceans; tree planting at Lake Seppings for long-neck turtle habitat with the City of Albany; maintain biking to the Oyster harbour Fish Traps and Mt Melville Reserve with Albany Mountain Bike Club; cultural tour of Kalgan River and Quaranup with Kurrah Mia; beachcombing at Mutton Bird Beach; and exploring the lower Yakamia Creek on stand up paddle boards in partnership with the Regional Estuaries Initiative project.
This project is jointly funded through State NRM Community Stewardship Grant with Youth strong partnerships and support from the Department of Education, City of Albany, Wirrpanda Foundation and several community environmental and recreation groups.

Yorgas Bush Classrooms Camp

An exciting and much needed pilot project to engage Aboriginal women has wrapped up with a three day camp on country. The Yorgas Bush Classrooms project has engaged and supported over 20 Aboriginal women in five weeks of activities and a culminating bush camp to promote respect, connection to culture and education.
The bush camp held at Red Moort Field Station provided this group of Aboriginal women with further opportunities to reconnect to country and share culture, language and caring for country practices. The women were engaged in a range of environmental, health, wellbeing, art and team building activities. A highlight was seeing a Malleefowl tending to its mound on Monjebup nature Reserve and having a cuppa while watching the sun go down over the mallee country.
Getting away from town and being on country with much laughter has proven to be valuable for these women to heal and share their wisdom. The two way learning and relationship building has also enabled the women to consider how they can be involved in caring for country in partnership with environmental organisations in the future.
The camp was hosted by South Coast NRM and supported by Bush Heritage Australia, Great Southern Aboriginal Health, Palmerston, Albany Youth Support Association though funding from Department of Local Industries Sport and Cultural Industries.


Celebrating the rediscovery of the worlds rarest marsupial

Once thought extinct, the Gilberts potoroo was rediscovered at Two People's Bay east of Albany in December 1994. This year marked 25 years since the rediscovery of the rarest marsupial in the world, with less than 150 animals alive today, and is listed as Critically Endangered.Gilbert’s potoroo is endemic to the south coast, meaning it has not been recorded anywhere outside of Two Peoples Bay. The small marsupial predominantly eats fungi (especially truffles), and requires long unburnt, dense vegetation to provide refuge from predators. 

To mark the anniversary of the rediscovery, Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group (GPAG) hosted a series of events including a South Coast Threatened Species Forum, a truffle-themed dinner and a free BBQ lunch, talks and cultural walks at Two People’s Bay.

A highlight of the vent included children from the Parklands School singing The Potoroo Song, much to the audience’s delight. Presentations provided insight into threatened fauna and flora, citizen science and threatening processes such as introduced predators, fire and climate change. The forum highlighted the amazing initiatives within our region to conserve many of our threatened animals, and the important role community volunteers have and continue to play in these efforts.  
The South Coast Threatened Species Forum was supported by South Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, The University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University, with considerable in-kind provided by GPAG and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. Ocean and Paddock, with truffle products supplied by the Truffle and Wine Company, provided an outstanding dinner and BBQ lunch for the events, showing incredible support for the cause.

22nd International River Symposium -  theme "Resilient Rivers"

South Coast NRM Yakamia Creek Project Officer Natalie Reeves recently attended the 22nd International River Symposium. Over 500 delegates from 30 different countries attended the conference with the theme “Resilient Rivers”.

Keynote speakers highlighted the need for resilient rivers to withstand and recover from problems that are not going away, there is no quick fix and efforts need to be sustained. It was noted that there is a slow unfolding disaster of drought, flood, pollution and climate change. 

Take home messages include need to love change; be daring, with less planning and more experimentation and although we need to engage youth it is not right to expect young people to fix problems, everyone has a part.
Conference graphic: Key note speaker – Mara Bun ACF President, Director ENOVA, Australian Ethical Investment and Food Agility
There was a strong Indigenous focus throughout the conference, acknowledging Aboriginal connection to waterways. The importance of bringing Indigenous people into decision making and recognising Indigenous science. This included the use of indicator species for community engagement and connection to Indigenous lore was also presented.Amazing examples from around the world using art, literature and theatre to connect people to waterways to encourage advocacy and stewardship.

Communicating science through “Report cards” and colour-coding publicly available waterway condition maps are being used for better extension and water quality outcomes by many projects throughout the world. Particularly, the Great Barrier Reef report cards can be found with real time data at

If you would like to discuss what work is happening locally to increase the resilience of our urban wateryways, please contact Natalie Reeves at

WA’s deadliest hitch hiker on the loose this summer holidays

With the summer holidays around the corner, we are all busy making plans for a getaway in nature with the family. Just one problem - there is a deadly hitch hiker on the loose and its looking for a lift.

With many aliases Phytophthora Dieback, or Dieback for short, is  a soil borne water-mould which thrives the in moist, warm conditions characteristic of a the south coast summer. You can spot this killer in a landscape through sudden deaths of species such as banksia, hakea, grasstrees, and jarrah. Sadly, these iconic plants have little hope in the face of the disease, with the pathogen remaining in the soil following infection. The disease also impacts garden plants and orchards if we bring it home. Despite its devastating effects, few people understand how widespread Dieback disease is in the south of our State..

Dieback can get around slowly on its own through natural processes, but humans are by far the main culprits for spreading the disease. We carry it on our vehicles, shoes and equipment such as tent pegs, recovery gear and trailers. But don’t panic! If you are out enjoying nature this school holidays there are things you can do to stop Phytophthora dieback from hitching a ride:
  1. CLEAN ON ENTRY, CLEAN ON EXIT –  remove any soil from shoes, car or bike with a brush. Vehicles should be washed thoroughly at a car wash before you go on your next bush adventure, and don't forget when you get back to town. It's good for your car and its good for the bush!
  2. ‘MUD STICKS – DON’T SPREAD IT’. Don’t go bush in wet conditions – avoid puddles and wet areas.  When it rains, the soil from tracks becomes sticky, increasing the risk that you will spread it.  
  3. STAY ON TRACKS – If you leave the tracks you could introduce Dieback into a previously uninfested area and cause some serious, irreversible ecological damage.
  4. BE INFORMED – There is plenty more information out there about how Dieback works and how not to let it hitch a lift with you and your family this summer. You can visit or ask for information pamphlets such as the Code Off-road guide at your local visitors’ centre. 
Have a happy holidays, and remember - EVERY STEP COUNTS, KEEP YOURS CLEAN!


Invitation to Balijup Eco Survey Camp and Science Jan 2020

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