For over two decades, Victoria’s CMAs (Catchment Management Authorities) have delivered land, water and biodiversity programs that not only protect and enhance landscapes but support thriving communities.

The past 12-18 months have challenged us all in so many ways and the CMAs have been proud to use their trademark reliability, leadership and innovation to support organisations, communities and individuals to keep moving forward.

The Victorian CMAs’ Action and Achievements Report 2019-20 highlights the impact that this work is having in local communities and within local ecosystems. It’s a great read, full of stories of the people we are proud to work with.

In 2019-20, CMAs:

  • Undertook 969,652 hectares of pest plant and animal control
  • Planted native vegetation across 3,508 hectares
  • Worked with landholders to improve environmental outcomes covering 27,084 hectares of agricultural land
  • Built and maintained 568 kilometres of fencing
  • Established 298 waterway structures to stabilise banks and improve habitat
  • Attracted 67,281 people to events and workshops that focused on environmental education, sustainable agriculture and community action
  • Maintained and established 1,464 partnerships with organisations, businesses and landholders
  • Provided advice and approvals in response to 9,695 requests for permits, licences, leases and planning referrals.

All past versions of the Victorian CMAs’ Action and Achievements Report 2019-20 are available at https://viccatchments.com.au/resources/publications.

A big change for the PPWCMA has just been announced – we are going to be integrated into Melbourne Water as of 1st January 2022. 

PPWCMA’s responsibilities will be moved into Melbourne Water, so this means that the catchment management and waterway management roles for our region will be brought together under one organisation. Our staff will also transition into Melbourne Water.

There’s lots of planning to be done to ensure this happens smoothly, but we are very positive about the change and the benefits that will be achieved, knowing it is building on the strong relationship we already have with Melbourne Water.

We know the relationships that the PPWCMA has built with partner organisations and community groups will be preserved and the expertise, connections and projects that the people of the PPWCMA are known for will become an integral part of Melbourne Water.

Of course, we won’t stop doing all of the great things we are involved in. We will continue to deliver our existing services and projects throughout 2021 while also preparing for the transition into Melbourne Water.

We will keep you informed as the transition process progresses so stay tuned and sign up to our enews for regular updates.

Back in 2019, the PPWCMA supported researchers at The University of Melbourne to develop a world-first field trial of temperate mangroves grown in purpose-designed pods that were designed to reduce wave energy to help small mangroves grow.

Like in any good trial, follow up maintenance is a must, and our Western and South Eastern Environmental Work Crews were there to lend a hand.

In January 2021, the crews recently assisted the research team to plant new seedlings at the trial sites at Altona Coastal Park, Grantville and Lang Lang foreshore in Western Port, which are all part of internationally-significant Ramsar wetlands.

The original mangroves were installed via direct seeding, while the latest batch were hand planted with nursery-grown seedlings. Different species were also planted, allowing the research team to assess the impact of different approaches and techniques.

We look forward to seeing the mangroves progress over the years and continuing to support this great project.

The PPWMCA’s Work Crew project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Working for Victoria initiative.

Thanks to by Works Crew Member, Melissa Tuliranta.

Over the last few months, our works crews have been supporting many landholders and organisations to complete agricultural and environmental projects that were delayed due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

While it’s always great to view the results on the ground, the positive impact this work has on people is particularly special.

Our Central Agriculture Work Crew team recently spent four days at Odyssey House in Lower Plenty to help revamp the gardens and riverside vegetation surrounding their fire circle and First Nations Art Room.

Odyssey House is a community-driven residential facility that supports people to break patterns of addiction. The gardens provide residents with a place for learning, sharing and connecting to Country.

Fire circle and fire pit.

The fire circle is used for Smoking Ceremonies and other cultural activities, such as a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents called “Buladu Ngarrgu” which means “grow knowledge”. Aboriginal staff and residents also invite the whole community down for significant events and celebrations or acknowledgements such as NAIDOC week or Overdose Prevention Day.

The crew was welcomed with a powerful smoking ceremony led by Wurundjeri Elders, Uncle Dave and Uncle Ron, and with the help of residents, who were eager to learn more about indigenous plants and conservation work, the team removed 10 trailer loads of weeds.

Before the work crews arrived the weeds had grown and non-native species were present
The work crew, with the help of residents, removed all of the weeds and mulched.

Gaining knowledge and skills such as these are an important part of the residents’ recovery journey and the crew were honoured to met them.

The PPWCMA’s Work Crews project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Working for Victoria initiative.

2 February each year is World Wetlands Day – a day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet. The day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention for Wetlands of International Significance on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. 

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA delivers a number of projects that protect and enhance the internationally important wetlands of Port Phillip (western shoreline) and Western Port.

Western Port cover more than 59,000 hectares and its wetlands are significant due to theirs extensive intertidal sand and mud flats, and areas of saltmarsh, seagrass and mangroves. Western Port also has high representation of marine species, and has important habitat for shorebirds, including migratory waders.  A total of 115 waterbird species have been recorded within the Western Port Ramsar site, including several threatened species and migratory species.  

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is involved in extensive pest animal control project on French Island, which is surrounded by the Western Port Ramsar site. Feral cats threaten the survival of wetland birds which forage and roost in the mud flats and saltmarsh surrounding the island. Feral cat management on French Island is aimed at protecting the significant fauna that live on the island and the surrounding Ramsar wetlands.

Camera traps set on the island help monitor the native fauna and how they are influenced by pest management. Some key wetland bird species have been spotted on these cameras, some of which are highlighted below. Visit our French Island feral cat and wildlife monitoring web page for more.

Latham’s Snipe 

The Latham’s Snipe is a migratory shorebird that breeds in Japan and the east Asian mainland, and then migrates all the way to south-eastern Australia. The Western Port Ramsar site provides non-breeding habitat during the northern hemisphere’s winter. They migrate from Japan in late July and begin to arrive in Australia in August. The Latham’s snipe then migrates back to Japan to breed in February. As you can see from the monitoring camera image, they are very well camouflaged and blend into their background.  

Black Swan 

The Black Swan is common waterbird in the wetlands of Victoria, and the Western Port Ramsar site is an important breeding site. In fact, the Ramsar site supports over 20,000 Black swans which is more than 1 per cent of the estimated population. Many individuals nest in the saltmarsh around the island, and in fresh wetlands on the island. We see many Black swans on the monitoring cameras, including young cygnets with their parents.  

White-bellied Sea Eagle 

The White-bellied Sea-Eagle is a large raptor (bird of prey), and is the second largest in Australia, after the Wedge-tailed Eagle. It has a wide distribution across Victoria but is rare, and listed as a threatened species in Victoria. These eagles form pairs for life, and the Western Port Ramsar site provides breeding habitat for this species. Only one breeding site was thought to exist in the Ramsar site in the early 1980s, but reports from 2014 found up to seven sites. Three breeding sites are located on French Island and we often see juvenile White-bellied sea-eagles on the monitoring camera traps.  Unlike the adults they do not have a white belly, but can be recognized by their pale, scruffy hairdo.  

Short-tailed Shearwater 

The Short-tailed Shearwaters is the most abundant seabird within Australian waters.  During summer, they breed in southern Australia mostly on small islands in Bass strait and Tasmania. The Short-tailed Shearwater then migrates to the Northern Pacific off Japan, Siberia and Alaska during our winter months. A significant breeding colony nests at Tortoise heads on French Island. Estimates of up to 250,000 birds have been made within the Western Port Ramsar site. Our camera set up on tortoise heads have captured nesting Short-tailed shearwaters.  

Buff-banded Rail  

The Buff Banded Rail is a ground nesting bird which is found in terrestrial wetlands and coastal wetlands. The Western Port Ramsar site provides breeding and feeding habitat for this species. The Buff-banded Rail prefers dense reeds and vegetation and can be seen when it dashes between vegetation clumps. It is often difficult to see, but the monitoring cameras make it easier to observe on French Island.  

Nothing makes us happier than seeing our staff passionate about their work.

Our Central Agriculture Work Crew is excited to be part of the Nillumbik Shire Council’s efforts to tackle Queensland Fruit Fly. Over the next 5 months the crew is undertaking Queensland Fruit Fly baiting, trapping and monitoring in Eltham.

Queensland Fruit Fly is one of Australia’s worst horticultural pests, and is serious threat to commercial fruit growers, hobby farmers and home gardeners.

Over the last few years, QFF sightings have increased in the Port Phillip and Western Port region, with Nillumbik being heavily affected. Reducing fly numbers now will allow home and commercial growers more time to modify growing practices in order to contain this pest.

The PPWCMA’s Work Crews project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Working for Victoria initiative.

Work Crew Supervisor Susanne Gildea and Work Crew Member Russell Cavanagh excited to get the job done with Nillumbik Shire’s Land Management Officer, Stephanie Orive.
Work Crew Member Russell Cavanagh undertaking baiting application in Eltham.

Do you want to be part of a diverse and dynamic team that is helping farmers, community groups and organisations deliver their agricultural and environmental projects?

Do you want to learn new skills in land management, environmental monitoring, health and safety, all while discovering Melbourne’s great outdoors?

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is seeking nine works crew members to join its six existing work crews undertaking agricultural and environmental services on public and private land around the Port Phillip and Western Port region.

Three crews focus on providing agricultural and environmental services on private land and three work crews focus on providing environmental services on public land. If you are shortlisted, your interests and locations will be considered when determining which work crew you join.

The positions will be employed by labour hire company, Chandler Macleod, on behalf of the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, and are funded by the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.

The positions are full-time for three months (1 February 2021 – 28 April 2021).

Applications are being accepted via Sidekicker. Interested candidates must register with Sidekicker and apply for the roles on that platform. The job listing can be found under the following category and sub-category:

  • Category – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  • Sub-category – Labourer

Applications will close as soon as there is sufficient applications from suitable candidates, so you need to register with Sidekicker as soon as possible (please note that registrations with Sidekicker can take up to 24 hours to activate).

For further information contact Natalie Natalie.Porter@chandlermacleod.com

From July – December 2020, the PPWCMA worked with local farmers and schools to deliver Farms2Schools. This agricultural education program connected primary and secondary students with farms and agricultural businesses, to highlight the diversity and importance of agriculture around Melbourne and the potential for farming to be a rewarding career choice.

Farms2Schools was supported by the Victoria Government through the Working for Victoria initiative and employed three full time staff for six months through the economic downturn associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The PPWCMA expresses their gratitude to the Farms2Schools officers – Camille Coleman, Narelle Debenham and Osman Sobrie – for their outstanding work throughout the program. They worked with 40 farmers to deliver 240 online incursions to 9963 students from 49 schools during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions (and 1 excursion once restrictions eased!).

Below is their personal reflections of the last six months.

Osman Sobrie

Before joining the program, I was looking for jobs in community development, as I worked voluntarily for many years in that area. I was so delighted to be part of a program focusing on creating strong connections between schools, farmers and locally-produced food and creating a financial opportunity for farmers.

The program faced many challenges caused by the changing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and its impacts, but I am pleased with how the Farms2Schools team came together and shared their knowledge and capability to adapt.

I was proud to be part of the program team, as we worked as a team, developing the online incursions, and supporting each other to deliver them. I had the honour of presenting the first online incursion of the program, and during the program’s implementation, I achieved a lot of professional development and training that I can use for my future employment.

Farms2Schools provided multiple benefits, such as improving students’ knowledge on farming and agricultural industry and farmer income, but it also positively impacted health, education, economy, and the community. It was a win-win situation as it is introduced a love of learning, improved student eating habits and brought new market opportunities for farmers.

Thank you to PPWCMA staff, Camille and Narelle, and our manager Karen, for their contribution to the program.

Camille Coleman

Farms2Schools has been a fantastic program to be part of. My key aim at the start of this program was to expand awareness about primary industries in Victoria and its importance in the Australian economy, environment, and community. This program has done just that.

Being able to support farmers in the region has been fantastic, and a valuable opportunity for our schools. The enthusiasm of the younger primary years in particular, to learn, ask questions and show their appreciation of the farmers and the program has been a rewarding experience as it makes you truly feel you are making a difference. I am sure the secondary students will show this appreciation at a later date!

I am proud of Narelle, Osman, myself and our manager Karen for being able to work so effectively together despite the constraints that coronavirus (COVID-19) brought on. As a team, we’ve been able to collectively develop a program which exceeded the schools’ expectations and gave our local farmers new opportunities during this difficult time.

Thank you to the entire PPWCMA team for their support and enthusiasm of us and the program. The way the whole organisation has adapted to the evolving constraints and new ways of working, while welcoming on multiple new employees, has been amazing.

Being able to host many incursions (and the only excursion) showed me the power of what introducing students to farms and produce at a young age does. Students saying that they will now look to purposefully buy local produce and re-visit the farmers they spoke to is an invaluable outcome for communities and Australian agriculture.

Lastly, I personally hope we have encouraged a number of young people to think of agriculture as a career path and in particular have shown the girls in class, how strong and capable women are in this male-dominated industry. 

Narelle Debenham

As a Farms2Schools Project Officer, I had the pleasure of coordinating virtual school incursions for young people to meet and connect with their local farmers. Through these experiences, students increased their awareness and understanding of the paddock-to-plate process.

At a time when innovation, creativity, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving are all skills future employers will seek in young people, it was an exciting challenge to develop and deliver a program that enabled these traits to be explored by students through local farms.

These vital experiences helped our young people develop so much knowledge and connection around where their food comes from. Feedback showed that students are also now motivated to explore potential careers in agriculture and land management. This, teamed with the fact that farmers and schools are pleading for the initiative to be supported in the future., shows that Farms2Schools is a beneficial and important community program.

A highlight for me was co-creating a video profiling jobs on farms for young people, with the aim of reducing the current average age of our farmers from 58 years. This, along with the other Farms2Schools resources, will leave a legacy that keeps the conversation going.

It was humbling to be part of the hardworking, friendly and vibrant PPWCMA team. Working in a role that encouraged collaboration between communities committed to contributing to environmental health is perfectly aligned with my personal core values. I am proud to have contributed to health and wellbeing of young people, farmers and the environment at such a pivotal time.

Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority’s Agricultural and Environmental Works Crews have had a busy month, working hard to rejuvenate many of the region’s iconic tourist attractions in preparation for the influx of visitors.

After an initial training and induction period, the work crews spent a few weeks undertaking works for Parks Victoria. Below are some highlights.

The crews have now moved onto landholder works requested through the EOI process. Please note that the PPWCMA is still accepting EOIs for 2021 and you can submit a request via the work crews web page.

The PPWCMA is proud of the outstanding outcomes the work crews have already achieved, and the feedback from land managers has been extremely positive. The enthusiasm of the crews has been fantastic and crew members (from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets) are working strongly together, learning from one another and sharing a positive view on what they can contribute to the environment.

The PPWMCA’s Work Crew project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Working for Victoria initiative.

Werribee Park (Western Crew)

The Western crew assisted Parks Victoria with weeding, planting, and general maintenance at the Point Cook Coastal Park (PCCP) and Werribee Park. These works have focused on maintaining amenities of the parks by weeding flower beds at the Victoria State Rose Gardens and Werribee Park Mansion, as well as cleaning car parks.

The crews have also focused on protecting conservation values with the removal by hand of thistles and African boxthorn from the sensitive wetland areas of the PCCP.

1,000 Steps (Central Crew)

The Dandenong Ranges region has provided the Central Crew with a variety of interesting tasks to sink their teeth into, including weed control works, closing down illegal mountain bike tracks, visitor facilities and track maintenance and installing new infrastructure on high visitation sites such as the 1,000 Steps.

Feedback from staff at Parks Victoria has been extremely positive, as they have managed to fast track all these works thanks to the extra help provided by the crew.

Bunyip State Forest (South Eastern Crew)

The South East Crew’s focused on closing around 15 kilometres of illegal trail bike tracks in the Bunyip State Forest  The team made the tracks impassable by burying them under tonnes of dead tree limbs branches and logs.

Trail bike riders blazed through the tracks across the forest’s blackened hills soon after a devastating wildfire in 2018. The forest is recovering but the trail bike tracks have gouged eroding scars into steep slopes and their creek crossings have become bare, tyre-tracked mud baths.

Since August 2020, the Farms2Schools program has delivered 102 online incursions to 5,586 students all across the region. They’ve learnt about the many aspects of agriculture, including production, farm life, food variety, technology and careers. 

Many of the participating schools have shared their experiences and the positive relationships they’ve forged with their local farms, so we’ve gathered together some of highlights.

Eastbourne Primary School

Image courtesy of Eastbourne Primary School

Last week the entire study body at Eastbourne Primary School in Rosebud West participated in their own ‘Farm Week’. Principal Stephen Wilkinson said it was an innovative way for students to experience life on a local farm and to raise awareness of the various careers across the region’s agricultural industry.

Through the Farms2Schools program, the PPWCMA organised five online virtual incursions with local farmers to teach the Foundation to Grade 6 students about the process of how agricultural products get from the paddock to their plate. Students investigated food and fibre production across a wide range of agricultural industries: sheep, chicken, beef, berries, market gardens, bee products and honey and commercially grown flowers.

The school also ran a range of farm-themed complimentary literacy, numeracy and STEAM activities and concluded the week with a playful farm dress-up day. Pictured is the Principal Stephen Wilkinson with one of his little chicks!

Altona Meadows Primary School

Image courtesy of Altona Meadows Primary School

Altona Meadows Primary School was recently treated to an online incursion with Velisha Farms which included a hand-on cooking session using fresh vegetables from the farm.

The students were treated to a virtual tour from Catherine of Velisha Farms and loved every minute of it. The students and teachers said of the incursion “It was so informative and the students LOVED the fresh vegetables you gave us- you’re pretty popular at AMPS now!

“We made San Choy Boy served in a lettuce cup with chicken mince, zucchini, spring onions & broccoli. The garlic, coriander & carrots used were from our school garden! Students also sampled some roasted cauliflower with the leaves left on, which was a hit!

“We know that farmer Catherine is passionate about growing cauliflowers and we could taste the deliciousness. The celery and cucumber given to us, were dipped in a roasted beetroot and tahini dip!”

Derinya Primary School

Image courtesy of Derinya Primary School

Derinya Primary School’s Grade Six students recently participated in an online incursion with Gippslamb. Gillian from Gippsland took 120 captivated students on a virtual tour of the farm, where they saw sheep, lambs, chickens and a pony and learnt lots of information about them.

The school said is was a very informative and interesting session and the students loved seeing the farm.

“Gillian was very friendly and easy to understand and gave all the information in a very clear and easy to understand way. She had a lovely manner with the students and certainly showed them some lovely aspects of her beautiful farm and its animals. It was also great to see and hear about the sustainable practices that operate throughout the farm.”

As an additional activity, the students were asked to imagine what it would be like looking at silhouettes of animals when the sun is setting over the rolling hills of the Gippsland properties they learnt about.

Dromana Primary School

Dromana Primary School was recently visited (virtually!) by Beekeeper Simon and his assistant Alex, who is studying science at Monash University.

Simon and Alex explained the role of an apiarist/beekeeper to 50 Grade One students and gave them a close up look at how a bee hive operates.

The students got to ask them lots of questions, such as “Is the queen the boss of the hive?” “How do bees make honey?” “Why are the girl bees the workers and not the boys? and “Can bees catch coronavirus?”

After the session the students were tasked with writing letters to Simon and Alex to tell them all about what they learnt.

Alex and Simon were touched by the influx of appreciation, with Alex remarking “The letters are so beautiful! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to teach these students about bees! I’ve love teaching science and agriculture to kids via the Farms2Schools program and I am definitely thinking about how that looks in a future career.“

Farms2Schools is delivered by the PPWCMA in partnership with AUSVEG VIC and is supported by the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.

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12 February 2021
Victoria's CMAs continue to get the job done
For over two decades, Victoria’s CMAs (Catchment Management Authorities) have delivered land, water and biodiversity...
9 February 2021
The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is changing
A big change for the PPWCMA has just been announced - we are going to be integrated into Melbourne Water as of 1st January...
9 February 2021
Work crews support mangrove research
Back in 2019, the PPWCMA supported researchers at The University of Melbourne to develop a world-first field trial of temperate...
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