Oakeshott concern over Landcare cutbacks

Federal election candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott has called for a new era of community Landcare to help re-engage and empower local communities.

Community-based Landcare has been treated as the ‘ugly duckling’ of environmental programs," said Mr Oakeshott.

"It has lived with constant name changes and funding cutbacks over the past decade, Green Army, Caring for Country, National Heritage Trust rounds 1, 2 and 3 to name a few."

There has also been an encroachment of government agencies into the funding space. Basically, government has been increasingly funding government to look good, and not necessarily do good fo local habitat and bush programs," Oakeshott said.

As an example, a new $1.1 billion National Landcare Program was announced last year, yet very little funding is guaranteed to flow back into projects and activities undertaken by community-based Landcare groups. Of the 195 projects funded so far, most have been associated with government agencies, not community groups," said Oakeshott.

Instead of increasing community engagement and involvement, the Government seems determined to direct funds away from local groups into larger, less effective government bodies. As a result critical Landcare programs are not being completed, or being under-valued.

Landcare is community driven — a vehicle for local groups to build relationships with relevant bodies and empower people on the ground to get things done. It is where partnerships and relationships and networks within community are formed. It is where connection with place develops," said Oakeshott

Fly-in fly-out politicians spending time in an artificially created city like Canberra may not fully grasp these key principles of connection and relationships, but they are deeply valued in many regional communities and are worth protecting.

My aim is to ensure funding from State and Federal landcare programs makes it to the community-based organisations in our local region, and is not lost along the way. I will seek greater transparency around the National Landcare Program and lobby for more funding to flow back into grassroots Landcare projects." Oakeshott said.


Background:

Landcare Australia relies heavily on Government funding to help manage crucial land and water assets. It also delivers key environmental and sustainable farming projects. However since 2013, funds have been consistently stripped from Landcare Australia and redirected to other Government projects.

A March 2015 Report from the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee stated:

The committee considers there is ample evidence that the reduction in funding for Landcare will have a detrimental impact on natural resource management in Australia. There will be less on-ground work, fewer resources for capacity building, loss of experienced staff in regional bodies, and disengagement of volunteers and landholders will continue to grow. These outcomes are significant; the benefits of natural resource management are built on a long-term commitment to improving environmental outcomes. The engagement of volunteers and landholders is vital to success.”


For further details, please contact Deb Spillane

E: media.oakeshott@gmail.com

M: 0418 603513