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A message from our Chair: Landcare Victoria Inc. 2023 Wrap-Up

As we race towards a well-earned break, I wanted to take a moment to consider the amazing progress of Landcare Victoria over the past 12 months. We are incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic and passionate team supporting our 600 odd member groups and delivering on the ambitious aspirations of the Board. I cannot thank them and my fellow Directors enough for their commitment under an intense workload and sometimes challenging environment.

On that note, the Landcare Victoria board is extremely pleased that Claire Hetzel has accepted the role of Landcare Victoria’s Chief Executive Officer. Over the past 6 months, Claire has demonstrated an admirable skill set and a deep empathy for the work of the volunteer landcare community. Claire’s highly developed engagement and partnering skills allow her to work across the broad spectrum of Landcare Victoria stakeholders to create new opportunities for grass roots landcarers to bring about real environmental change. We are excited to be working with Claire into the future and know the organisation is in great hands.

Landcare Victoria Inc. Chairperson, Jane Carney

Landcare Victoria Inc. Chief Executive Officer, Claire Hetzel

I also extend my sincere thanks to Andrew Maclean for his strategic guidance whilst our Chief Executive Officer. Andrew laid the groundwork from which we are now able to launch numerous initiatives. The development of our first complete Strategic Plan and Advocacy Guide for the 2022 election have provided us with clear purpose and the amazing team he put together will carry on his legacy.

After a prolonged hiatus due to various challenges, the Victorian Landcare Forum was successfully revived this year, with the North East Landcare Community playing host for the three-day gathering in Beechworth. The event garnered significant attention and participation, marking a triumphant return for the organisation's flagship gathering.

Preparations are already underway for the 2024 Landcare Forum, scheduled to be held in Bendigo in early May, with the working group putting together a fantastic program. This event promises to be a crucial platform for networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing among landcare professionals and volunteers.



Landcarers enjoying the 2023 Victorian Landcare Forum in Beechworth


The New Futures for Victorian Landcare project is an exciting leap forward in Landscape Planning. Anthony Gallacher was appointed Project Manager in August and has made great progress since joining Landcare Victoria. Anthony has a wealth of experience supporting landcare groups and exceptional project and stakeholder management skills. We are excited to have selected the first two landscapes for the project - set to commence in the upcoming year. Congratulations to Buloke and Northern Grampians Landcare Network and the Granite2Goulburn Group, led by Hughes Creek Catchment Collaborative on their selection.

Cover of the inaugural 10-year plan
for the Victorian landcare movement

After 16 months of meticulous development and extensive engagement with landcarers and stakeholders, the Landcare Plan for Victoria 2023-2033 was successfully completed and launched in November. The online launch event attracted 100 participants and garnered considerable media interest. Plans are in motion to develop the first implementation plan in 2024, marking a significant milestone for the landcare movement’s future.

Following the launch of the Landcare Plan, we have actively been advocating to the State Government to secure ongoing funding for Landcare initiatives, including the Landcare Facilitator Program. You may have heard us in the media? Fortunately we have managed to secure meetings with Ministers and Ministerial Advisors in the New Year to put forward our case. If you missed our advocacy workshop but want to help spread the message with your local media and/or politicians, I encourage you to check out our Advocacy guide or reach out to Claire and the team for support.

Another milestone in Landcare Victoria’s growth, is the recent partnership between ourselves, AgVic and the Victorian CMA’s in a successful application for the Carbon Outreach Program. Landcare Victoria Inc. will lead the coordination of Carbon Farming Outreach activities across the state. We will work with Regional Coordinators, industry associations and groups/networks to promote the project and pathways for participation. Trained Landcare Facilitators, based in regional Landcare Networks across the 10 regions, will act as trusted advisors within local communities, leveraging their connections across farming communities to coordinate in-person events, disseminate information, and enable on-going communities of practice.

The recent adoption of a revised Members Council Charter represents a crucial step in revitalising the Council's role within the organisation. This move solidifies the Members Council's importance, recognising its vital contribution to policy and strategy development for Landcare Victoria. This follows on from earlier engagement with our members to revise the Landcare Victoria rules, an important step to ensure Landcare Victoria is able to manage operational risk and to ensure a sustainable future for the organisation. The revised rules will be presented to our members for consideration in 2024.

The ‘Advancing Landcare’ webinar series has proven to be a success, with plans to continue the program next year. This initiative serves as a valuable educational tool, aiming to help strengthen landcare groups, by tailoring training to their needs in a meaningful and useful way. Some of the topics covered by the first year of the project include recruiting new volunteers, child safety, risk management, financial governance, and succession planning. You can find recordings of many of them here.

Landcare Victoria’s achievements and ongoing initiatives in 2023 reflect a resilient and forward-thinking approach. However, we cannot do great work without the support of our key partners. I would like to acknowledge and extend my sincere thanks to the Rendere Trust (Phillipson family) and Upotipotpon Foundation (Crothers family) for their commitment to supporting our work and future plans with their generous philanthropic support. We are grateful to the RE Ross Trust, Ian Potter Foundation and Natural Resources Conservation League for the support they have provided through their project funding.

Our partnership with the State Government through DEECA continues to strengthen and their financial support enabled us to run capacity building activities for member groups and landcare professionals. The Australian Government also supports community landcare through grant support to the National Landcare Network and State and Territory Organisations, including Landcare Victoria.

But most importantly, thanks to you all once again for the work you do strengthening our landscapes and communities. To all in the Victorian landcare community, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and safe holiday season.

Jane Carney

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