Green Army: Rebekha Wants You!
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says it’s time to re-enlist the skill training and environmental action program the Green Army.
Photograph: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, back row, attends a Green Army graduation ceremony at Woorabinda in Stirling in the Adelaide Hills in July 2017.
The local MP has called on both the major parties to re-introduce the program which was rolled out by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2014 and then axed two years later by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“The Green Army was highly successful in engaging young jobseekers in meaningful work, providing them with practical on-the-job skills and training while providing our community with the hands-on labour needed for valuable projects to improve our local environment,” Rebekha said.
“Nationally the program delivered more than 1000 projects and engaged with over 11,000 young Australians while Mayo benefitted from 37 projects over four rounds of funding.
“I was disappointed when the announcement to shut down the program was made in December 2016 and I know from talking with many of the supervisors and young people who worked on local projects how disappointed and perplexed everyone was at why such a practical and meaningful skills program was coming to an end.
“After I wrote to the then Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg at the time, we were able to maintain the final eight planned Green Army projects and see them through to completion.”
Those projects included two 2016 election promises valued at $400,000.
These projects involved improving bandicoot habitat in the Adelaide Hills under the auspices of Landcare SA and rejuvenating wetlands in the Lower Lakes region under the guidance of the Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association (GWLAP).
“Climate change is the biggest long-term risk to our environment and the economic livelihood of our communities,” Rebekha said.
“We will experience its effects locally and we will have to mitigate and address its effects locally which is why practical programs such as the Green Army are an essential adjunct to the ongoing work of local environmental groups.
“That said, I am also calling on the major parties to commit to long-term funding arrangements for well-established local environment groups so they can continue their vital work and harness that local knowledge.”
Green Army projects undertaken in Mayo (including locations that overlapped with other electorates) included:
- Round 1:Habitat improvements in new conservation areas at Monarto and Lauwari; building GWLAP team networks; environmental projects including seed collection and weed management in GWLAP area; and grassy woodland restoration in Field and Sturt Rivers catchments.
- Round 2: Threatened species recovery actions in the SA part of the Murray-Darling Basin; encouraging community use of parks in the basin; habitat restoration work in GWLAP area; habitat restoration in Landcare SA Central Hills region; enhancing Kangaroo Island ecosystems; building connectivity of Kangaroo Island habitat; enhancing biodiversity at Goolwa and Strathalbyn; implementing the Southern Fleurieu Coastal Action Plan.
- Round 3:Two projects to restore Murray Mouth Estuary areas on Hindmarsh Island.
- Round 4:Two projects to restore coastal catchment in the GWLAPA area including Ramsar zoning of Coorong and Lower Lakes; Two projects to reconstruct priority ecosystems in Mount Lofty Ranges including Kyeema Conservation Park; two GWLAP projects to connect endangered peppermint box woodlands in southern Mount Lofty Ranges; two Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers projects to improve recovery and linkages of bandicoot habitat in Central Hills; two Kersbrook Landcare Group projects to enhance biodiversity in the South Para region; two Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers projects to improve the condition of endangered swamps and wetlands on the Fleurieu Peninsula; two Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers projects to control weeds in the Mount Lofty Ranges including areas affected by the Sampson Flat Bushfire; two Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board projects to restore habitat and manage feral pests on the island; two Friends of Black Hill and Morialta Conservation Parks projects to improve habitat for the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Chestnut Rumped Heathwren; and a Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers project with the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board to conserve estuaries around the Hindmarsh and Inman River systems and the coastal dune areas between Goolwa and Cape Jervis.