Success for Rivers of the West

This wonderful and welcome grant from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, together with seed funding from Melbourne Water, has allowed EJA’s Dr Bruce Lindsay to start work on this two-phase project in partnership with Friends of Steele Creek, the Werribee River Association and Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley.

WHY is the project needed?

This project focuses on reforming policy and governance of the major waterways in Melbourne’s west – the Maribyrnong and Werribee rivers – with a view to protecting and restoring biodiversity in these river corridors in the long term. These rivers are key environmental and amenity assets for communities in the metropolitan and hinterland areas, but are also degraded as a consequence of historic and current human impacts and pressures.

“Our waterway groups hope [the Rivers of the West project] will deliver integrated management and more cohesive, rigorous governance of the community’s natural assets, thereby arresting the trajectory of further decline to our historically abused, loved rivers of the west. Better governance can also deliver improved amenity for our communities. At present, we have limited opportunities to connect with nature and derive the known health benefits that such contact brings. We want to keep, not loose, our platypus and our fish, frogs and birds. We want a future for our Australian rivers of the West.”

- Helen van den Berg, Spokesperson, Friends of Steele Creek

Key components of the project

  • Research and review of existing and potential options for river management
  • Community workshops and site tours:
    • to canvass key issues, elaborate visions and consider draft proposals
    • inform the content of a report on governance reform
    • take a participatory approach to development of options and proposals
  • Expert report identifying reform proposals for governance of the two rivers

Community catchment-based workshops, similar to those held in the lead up to the Yarra Act, are taking place over November and December and the project’s reference group have been on site tours around Jacksons Creek, Deep Creek and the Lower Maribyrnong.

As the project gains momentum and support, it has the potential to expand to other key waterways in the west and consult more extensively with key community groups.