Children at a waterway

Waterways are places where we can come together as family, friends and community to connect with each other and to the waterway.

The strategy will consider opportunities to enhance aspects of community connection through initiatives that improve opportunities for people to connect to waterways. This might include new community based education and awareness programs, and other activities that enable community groups to care for waterways.

Key facts

Waterways provide settings for people to:

  • Come together for social interactions
  • Connect with place
  • Participate in caring for and learning from the environment
  • Engage with art and culture
  • Understand the significance of places

The design of waterways, waterway corridors and assets can be used to create places for community connection along waterways, and to provide physical connections between communities situated along a waterway. Similarly, providing support for participatory events and programs contributes to a sense of community connection.

Current status

The status for community connection is based on data from a Melbourne Water survey, Community Perceptions of Waterways, where participants from greater Melbourne gave feedback on how and why they use waterways, and their level of satisfaction with the waterways.

The values are assessed by correlating respondents primary reason for visiting waterways with community connection – for example, picnicking, with community connection - and then taking the average satisfaction score for those activities.

Scores for satisfaction are generally between 6 and 8, with little variation between catchments.

Key threats

  • Lack of appropriate facilities
    BBQs, areas to picnic, interpretive signs and art, and sites that are suitable for citizen science activities or events are examples of the types of facilities that improve community connection. Different facilities are appropriate at different sites. For example, barbeques and toilets allow larger groups to get together in an urban park, but would be inappropriate in a natural forest area.
  • Poor environmental condition detracts from the natural environment.
  • Lack of opportunities/experiences
    When there are a range of experiences on offer, from picnicking to conservation, more people with diverse interests can connect to the waterway.
  • Poor access
    Opportunities to connect are decreased if people can’t access the waterway.

Potential management actions

  • Conduct engagement and education events e.g. citizen science programs or bush kinder.
  • Provide education and interpretive signage to help people understand and engage with the environment and history of local waterways.
  • Support community groups, groups that use the waterway corridor for community benefit.
  • Support art and culture events and installations for waterways.
  • Enhance access e.g. remove barriers to access; improve pathways, signage, wayfinding.