2019 NSW Landcare Awards celebrate outstanding Landcare champions

Winning Landcare projects were announced on Wednesday night at the NSW Landcare Awards at Broken Hill Civic Centre, where Landcare champions from across NSW came together to celebrate impressive achievements in the Landcare community.

Hosted by Chris McCulloch, Business Partner for Landcare at Local Land Services, the awards celebrate incredible efforts to protect NSW land, water and biodiversity.

Last night’s ceremony saw award winners from diverse categories, including farming, Coastcare and Indigenous land management, announced by representatives of award sponsors and NSW Landcare community champions/stalwarts.

Stephanie Cameron, Chair of Landcare NSW together with Richard Bull, Chair of Local Land Services paid tribute to award finalists and champions.

‘Last night’s Landcare Awards Gala Event in Broken Hill was a great celebration of Landcare in NSW. The awards recognised individuals, groups and partnerships across the state as well as, and most importantly, First Nations custodians caring for country,’ Mr Bull said. 

Mrs Cameron added: ‘On behalf of the Landcare NSW community, I congratulate all the nominees and recipients of the awards. Landcare is about communities working together to create positive outcomes for the environment and the agricultural landscape across NSW.  It has never been more important that we continue to support and recognise the dedication and commitment of our Landcarers and recognise their tremendous efforts.’

Grand champions of the NSW National Award categories will go on to represent the whole NSW Landcare Community at the 2020 National Landcare Awards in Sydney.

Landcare Australia CEO, Dr Shane Norrish, commended recipients of the NSW Landcare Awards on their outstanding accomplishments.

‘It’s an honour to be able to recognise the great work being carried out by our Landcare champions in NSW,’ Dr Norrish said.

‘The Landcare Awards program provides landcarers the ideal opportunity to get together and celebrate the individual and collective achievements of landcare in the community.

He added: ‘Landcarers across Australia deserve to be acknowledged and we’re looking forward to seeing NSW winners represent their community at the National Landcare Awards next year.’

Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award – (l-r) Finalist Don Durant, Kygole Landcare Group Inc; Winner Nerida Choker, Upper Lachlan Landcare; Jane Ireland, Coffs Harbour Jetty Dunecare

Indigenous Land Management Award – Doug Humann, Chair of Landcare Australia with Aunty Francis Bodkin

Australian Government Landcare Farming Award – Doug Humann, Chair of Landcare Australia with Justin and Lorroi Kirkby, Amarula Dorpers

Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award – Teachers and students of Megalong Valley Public

Young family behind Margaret River Organic Farm offering ‘low-food-mile, carbon positive produce’ set to represent WA on national stage

The young family are all involved in the work-life of their farm; here Lawson is pictured with his eldest daughter Phoebe Armstrong after collecting eggs from their hand-raised pullets

A growing family of five offering ‘grass-fed-and-finished beef and vegetables for sale within a foodshed of fifty kilometres’ is set to represent the state after winning the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award at the 2019 Western Australian Landcare Awards.

With their three kids – including a newborn – Lawson Armstrong and Laura Bailey employ practices that nourish soils, water systems, and biodiversity on the 120 acre property.

Aiming to sequester carbon and restore a healthy water catchment & abundant productive pastures, the family move their high-welfare beef cattle and laying hens, daily. While using minimum till methods and planting native species to increase diversity, they also restored creekline vegetation along a tributary of Margaret River that flows through the property and preserve existing remnant bushland as a biodiversity sanctuary.

On top of that, the family connect with the local community by offering educational tours, workshops & events, from sustainable farming and eating to educating kids about native bee hotels.

‘As low income earners, we must look to low-input, low-cost solutions,’ said Laura. ‘Daily animal rotations have been our most successful management technique, and when finances allow, we are enriching pastures to encourage the next level of plant succession.

‘But the realities of having another baby have meant we’ve had to take a philosophical attitude to our farm’s growth.  Flying solo with our farm and young family of five, we do not have the luxuries of a team of staff or extended family nearby to help, so often our challenges involve restricted human and capital resources.  Our days are jam-packed nurturing our toddler, tween and teenager as well as our livestock and environment. 

‘But using regenerative agricultural methods aiming to re-connect the dots between healthy country, healthy animals and healthy communities has helped us work at our own pace.’

Aus Government Landcare Farming Award – Margaret Organic Farmer. (L-R) Lawson and Laura with Keith Bradby OAM, Chair of WA Landcare Network

Margaret River Organic Farm will go on to represent WA while competing for the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award at the National Landcare Awards in 2020.

Dr Shane Norrish, CEO at Landcare Australia, commended the family on their outstanding accomplishments.

‘It’s an honour to be able to recognise the great work being carried out by Margaret River Organic Farm,’ said Dr Norrish.

‘A hugely deserved winner, they have not only significantly contributed to the protection of native flora and fauna species through on-ground, grassroots activities. But through their tireless work, Margaret River Organic Farm is nurturing the voices of international environmental leadership and we’re incredibly proud to help shine a light on their inspiring, important efforts.’

Group protecting Arnhem Land turtles from ‘highest densities of plastic pollution’ set to represent NT

Helicopter turtle rescue
Photo credit: Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation 

An Aboriginal environmental group safeguarding the vast Northeast Arnhem Land marine wildlife from plastic debris is set to represent NT on a national stage after winning the Virgin Coastcare title at the Northern Territory Landcare Awards.

Established by Yolngu land-owners in Northeast Arnhem Land, Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation look after 70 kilometres of beaches tarnished by marine debris within their Indigenous Protected Area.

Rangers and ghost net.
Photo credit: Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation 

‘The Yolngu people are at the frontline of the international marine debris problem,’ said Luke Playford, Project Facilitator for Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.

‘Dhimurru and its Rangers are on the ground facing a tide of plastic pollution from foreign sources that threatens to destroy the cultural, natural and tourism values of the Arnhem Coast.’

‘And the rubbish has historically been waste from fisheries, these days it is increasingly domestic: hairbrushes, shampoo bottles and cigarette lighters from the Indo-Pacific region, mostly Indonesia.’

Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation has been safeguarding the Northern Arnhem Land coast from plastic debris for the past 20 years (L-R) Gathapura Mununggurr (Senior Ranger), Luke Playford (Sea Country Facilitator), Rowan Ewing (Head of Landcare Services, Landcare Australia) 

Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation will go on to represent NT while competing for the Virgin Coastcare title at the National Landcare Awards in 2020.

Andrew Sellick, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Manager for Virgin Australia, commended the corporation on their outstanding accomplishments.

Marine clean up
Photo credit: Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation 

‘Virgin Australia is proud to celebrate the inspiring work of community groups across Australia protecting and preserving our precious and vulnerable marine environments,’ said Mr Sellick.

‘A hugely deserved winner, Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation has significantly contributed to the protection of Australian turtles and international shorebird species. Through their tireless work, they have helped safeguard a significant breeding ground and we’re incredibly proud to help shine a light on their important efforts.’

Zali Steggall MP regenerates the dunes for Landcare Week

Zali Steggall MP, the Federal member for Warringah, stepped out at Curl Curl Beach to support a community-planting event to mark Landcare Week, facilitated by Northern Beaches Council.

It came after a successful event at Wentworth NSW on Tuesday to mark 30 Years since Bob Hawke launched the national Landcare movement in 1989.

And while planting local flora species to protect the biodiversity of the dunes, Ms Steggall praised the national Landcare movement for ‘countering a sense of environmental despondency.’

‘We are all feeling a sense of despondency with the intensifying pressures against the environment. But having the opportunity to counter that, and make a difference, with your local Landcare group is crucial and necessary,’ Ms Steggall said on Friday.

‘Landcarers are doing and have been doing an extraordinary job at securing and protecting a vast variety of environments around the country, from the bush to the beach

‘And the effect Landcare – and caring for the environment in general – has on the community is so far-reaching. There are so many positive aspects on health and well-being by getting outside, doing something active and contributing to the community. The benefits for personal well-being are significant

Joined by Michael Regan, Mayor Northern Beaches Council and Bob Hawke’s granddaughter, 30 Years of Landcare ambassador Sophie Taylor-Price, Ms Steggall recalled memories of the late PM during the 1989 launch.

‘I was a young teenager and I quite vividly remember the images on TV of Bob Hawke planting and talking about the bush and regeneration and that sense of responsibility, of caring for our environment for future generation and our environmental legacy. It is great to know that 30 years on, the movement is so strong.’

A staunch campaigner against climate change, Ms Steggall remarked that the strength of the Australian altruistic spirit will help combat the issue.

Ms Steggall said: ‘Australian volunteers are so dedicated and passionate and that self-sacrificing spirit to protect our environment is stronger than ever.

‘We can all feel a sense of despair because the facts are dire but I’m a glass half full kind of person and I believe we have great innovation and technology and have the smarts and the willpower to make a difference.

‘I look at the climate strikes coming up on the 20th of Sept and look at the engagement of the schoolkids, especially in the electorate and I know they care about our environment. They want us as adults to take responsibility and I will do my best on their behalf.’

Meanwhile, after launching the national Landcare Youth Summit on Tuesday, Sophie Taylor-Price remarked being part of the community planting ‘filled her heart with joy.’

‘Surrounded by volunteers dedicating their time and tremendous effort to restore vegetation along these coastal dunes in order to protect Curl Curl dunes from the impacts of coastal erosion, epitomises the heart, strength and passion of the Landcare spirit. And being a part of this today, fills my heart with pride and joy.’

Friday’s event is a culmination of Landcare Australia’s Landcare Week media campaign ‘From the Bush to the Beach.’ Honouring the inspiring work to protect our waterways and coast, the event comes days after a similar event at Wentworth in rural NSW to commemorate the efforts of those to preserve the Bush.

Securing the future of Bob Hawke’s Landcare legacy: Late Prime Minister’s granddaughter Sophie Taylor-Price announces Landcare Youth Summit

Thirty years ago on the riverbanks of Wentworth NSW, where the Darling meets the Murray, the late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke delivered his speech to launch the national formation of the Landcare movement. His iconic address marked an unprecedented union between farmers and conservationists coming together to form a national Landcare model to help protect the Australian landscape for future generations.

And retracing his steps to the same riverbanks at Wentworth on Tuesday morning during Landcare Week, his granddaughter and Landcare 30 Year Anniversary ambassador Sophie Taylor-Price honoured his ground-breaking address with a special tree-planting and unveiling of a commemorative historical sign.

And while celebrating the thirty-year anniversary during Landcare Week, Ms Taylor-Price announced the first national Landcare Youth Summit.

‘Young people are more passionate than ever about the preservation of the environment, the Australian landscape, Indigenous culture and community wellbeing,’ Ms Taylor-Price said. ‘While Landcare offers everyone the opportunity to make a difference in their local community, we want to provide a platform specifically dedicated to the younger generations of Landcare and how getting involved with the national movement can positively develop their ideas and concepts to help protect the environment for the future.’

The Landcare Youth Summit will provide young people with an interactive platform to amplify their voice and opinions on how Landcare plays a leading role in changing Australia’s approach to sustainable agricultural practices, environmental protection, conservation of land and waterways, coastlines and biodiversity.

‘In my role as ambassador for 30 Years of Landcare, I am particularly focused on giving young people a means to channel their aspirations and frustrations into action and leadership. And the Landcare Youth Summit is a golden opportunity to hear and listen to their powerful roar.’

The summit will offer a mixture of keynote speakers, panel discussions and project presentations featuring young members from sustainability and Indigenous perspectives, biodiversity protection and climate change.

Australia’s Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said engaging a new generation of passionate Landcare champions was critical to the iconic program’s continued success.

‘Landcare is a great example of the breadth of issues a sector like agriculture can offer those working in the sphere,’ Minister McKenzie said. ‘Agriculture is about more than agronomy and animal husbandry; it’s about caring for the land and ensuring it’s managed sustainably so that we can pass it on in good shape to the farmers of the future. That’s why this youth summit is an important initiative – we need to keep the fire alive.’

Meanwhile, Ms Taylor-Price added the Landcare Youth Summit will ensure the future of the grassroots movement, boasting over 6,000 groups nationwide and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

‘At this spot in Wentworth, 30 years ago, my grandfather dedicated his State of the Environment address to the children of Australia and their ecologically sustainable future. And today, as we mark this significant milestone during Landcare Week, we are placing their future in their hands with the Landcare Youth Summit.’

Later this year in front of a small audience of school and university students and young professionals, the Landcare Youth Summit will deliver a series of addresses, panel discussions, presentations and special guest appearances to inspire and motivate the next generation of Landcarers.

Livestreamed via online and social media channels, registration will be through Landcare’s social platform app, Landcarer where young people can engage and interact with the summit from across the country.