The Regional Leadership Group provides oversight and aligns agencies to drive the achievement of Healthy Waterways Strategy outcomes - a key focus for the Group has been the planning and policy protections for natural wetlands.
What is the Regional Leadership Group?
The Regional Leadership Group (RLG) is an independent, collaborative advocacy group with oversight for for the Healthy Waterways Strategy (HWS).
The HWS has been co-designed with the community and requires co-delivery with partners in order for outcome to be met. It requires multiple partner agencies to each play their role in delivering works to achieve the strategy outcomes.
The RLG coordinates collaboration across the partners and meets regularly to create inter-agency alignment and discuss any barriers to implementation.
The RLG is chaired by Rob Vertessy and has senior representatives from Melbourne Water, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Parks Victoria, the Port Phillip Bay and Westernport Bay Catchment Management Authority, and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).
What does the RLG do?
The RLG is in the early stages of its work, with the focus of 2020 being to establish and understand the roles and responsibilities of the partner organisations and creating a sense of alignment with the HWS.
The RLG recognises the important role that communities and community groups play in the success of the HWS. The RLG is actively involving communities and leveraging their efforts through catchment forums.
While the 2020 Covid-19 global pandemic has dramatically altered the way we interact with each other, the RLG has been able to consult with communities, hearing stories about what’s working well and where there may be barriers to strategy implementation.
One of these challenges has been the planning, policy and regulatory settings concerned with the protection of wetlands which has been described in more detail in the wetlands case study.
The RLG also endorsed the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting framework that guides the tracking of implementation and outcomes over the next decade.
Covid-19 has increased community appreciation of waterways
A key priority for the RLG over the next 12 months is to ensure that it continues to leverage the enthusiasm for healthy waterways in the community.
Rob Vertessy believes that the community will have increased support for healthy waterways as they have been a sanctuary for many people during the pandemic.
“I live near a waterway and have noticed a huge upswing in the number of people out there enjoying and celebrating what these environmental assets can offer us,” he said.
“Particularly in times when we are under psychological stress, they are elevated in the list of important things in people’s minds. So I think that will provide additional impetus for the strategy, and motivation to implement important initiatives”, said Rob.
Effective leadership over the next decade is critical for the success of the RLG.
Rob adds: “We are motivated to keep this strategy alive and being champions for its success. There are great pressures on our waterways including a fast growing population, rapidly changing climate and dwindling environmental assets. We need to arrest the decline and make what we have more resilient to change”.