Landcare Australia Response to the AAP Article September 2023

Landcare Australia is referenced in a recent media article and is disappointed in its content. We wish to restate what we do to support landcare.

The unjustified negative comments about Landcare Australia and the work we do to support landcare at all levels not only impacts the good work of our organisation, but potentially reflects poorly on landcare and the on-going great work of the broader landcare volunteer community.

It’s clear that funding arrangements have changed over the last few decades and all involved in landcare, including Landcare Australia, are operating in a more competitive and accountable funding environment. It is of significant concern to see excellent groups such as Hindmarsh Island Landcare group, a previous winner of a National Coastcare award, struggle to secure funding.

Rather than ‘the corporate arm of landcare’, Landcare Australia is an independent not-for-profit organisation with a volunteer skills-based Board, which was created almost 35 years ago to support the landcare movement. Through our long history of developing partnerships and funding arrangements, Landcare Australia has been able to provide a small but important portion of the total funding and services available nationally for landcare groups. Landcare Australia, just like all supporters of landcare, would like to see more funding available and hitting the ground.

We will continue to work hard with our partners and stakeholders to deliver services, funding and projects for landcare just as we have done for decades.

Anyone interested in knowing more about the role of Landcare Australia and how we support landcare is encouraged to review our website and Annual Reports.

Details of Landcare Australia’s responsible financial position, funding and expenditure, including salaries, are available in our Annual Reports and on the ACNC website: Landcare Australia Limited | ACNC.

Landcare Australia secures funding through our partnerships with multiple corporate organisations and other stakeholders that support the services we provide to landcare and on-ground projects.

Over the last four years Landcare Australia has:

  • delivered more than $26M in funding to landcare
  • supported 877 landcare projects
  • supported 4,650 Junior Landcare projects involving more than 300,000 school children.

In the last two years alone, our partner funded landcare projects have involved more than 19,000 volunteers.

That’s a great result for the recipient groups, schools and their local communities.

Landcare Australia works with volunteer groups and organisations on an almost daily basis and we have long been recognised as a trusted delivery partner for supporting landcare. Our efforts to successfully promote landcare achievements and grow support for grassroots groups have been appreciated by most landcare stakeholders since 1989. Groups typically welcome the support, funding and services Landcare Australia provides. Our regular interactions ensure we are well connected to people on the ground.

Landcare Australia acknowledges that we can always do better, but we are unaware of widespread ‘volunteers’ gripes’ nor ‘tensions simmering for years between Landcare Australia and grassroots volunteers’.

However, we do recognise some challenges trying to create a single national organisation with the National Landcare Network (NLN) in recent years. The NLN is a small advocacy organisation responsible for representing the interests of its eight state and territory members. Landcare Australia previously invested significant time and organisational funds over more than three and a half years trying to create a single national organisation with the NLN.

In 2020, after some fundamental issues remained unresolved, we recognised that the time was not right. This was affirmed in June 2023, when representatives of the NLN and Landcare Australia Boards agreed that we would not be attempting to create a single national landcare entity now or in the near future. The unresolved issues related to membership, governance, decision-making processes, cost-effective delivery of funding, and the ability for the new organisation to grow support for landcare. Unfortunately, it seems that some people remain disappointed with this outcome.

The eight members of the NLN are an important part of landcare, and Landcare Australia tries to work with them as much as practicable. As an example, in the successful delivery of the Landcare-led Bushfire Recovery Program Landcare Australia:

  • provided almost $1M to the NLN and five of its members to assist with delivering the program
  • boosted the NLN’s capacity by seconding a key experienced member of Landcare Australia’s management team to the NLN to oversee the program.

We want to make it clear that Landcare Australia does not compete for Australian Government funding with volunteer groups. Instead, we are contracted to deliver specific services on behalf of the Australian Government to support volunteer groups and others involved in landcare. We are appreciative of the government’s commitment and support for landcare. Landcare Australia has a long track record of successfully delivering services including conferences, awards, publications, restoration projects and large programs. We particularly welcome the upcoming opportunity to submit grant proposals for consideration in a competitive Australian Government process to enable continued support of landcare.

Our approach to supporting landcare includes many organisations and individuals around Australia. In addition to landcare networks and groups, our support extends to farming groups, First Nations organisations, individual landholders, youth groups, other environmental community groups, and of course, schools.

Landcare Australia is committed more than ever to continue supporting grassroots landcare volunteers, sustainable management of biodiverse natural areas, restoration of environmental assets, productive agricultural landscapes and community well-being in Australia.

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