I do believe that the tide is finally turning with respect to worldwide action on climate change - sadly, not so much in Australia, because of the inability of the major political parties to comprehend the urgency of the problem. We can only hope that businesses will continue to modify their enterprises towards low carbon models, and that this will drag Australia in the right direction.
Climate scientists have been telling us for some time that this is the critical decade in tackling climate change, so BSFG needs to ensure that this message is heard by our community and its leaders. To this end, we organised the Climate Science talks in late February, with Dr Leanne Webb (CSIRO), Dr Lynette Bettio (BOM), Dr Helen Haines (Independent MHR, Indi), and Cr Jenny O'Connor (Mayor of Indigo Shire) as guest speakers. Approximately 130 people attended, including Benalla Mayor, Danny Claridge and Councillors O'Brien and Gunaratne, as well as the Benalla P-12 College student leaders. These student leaders have subsequently participated in the BSFG presentation to Benalla Council in March, as well as leading last Friday's Student Climate Action rally at the Ceramic Mural, with approximately 80 people taking part. This has been really encouraging for me personally, that finally there has been some engagement with our youth, and a real willingness on their part to become informed and take action. I have requested a meeting with the P-12 College Administration to discuss the level of school engagement on the issues of climate change and sustainability. The other aspect of this engagement, I believe, is that the student's involvement has possibly influenced a shift in attitude of our local Councillors towards climate change - we will know more in the coming weeks when Council deliberates on whether to declare a climate emergency - an action that would require Council to focus its planning more acutely on sustainability issues.
Since resuming our meeting schedule after Covid, in November we screened the movie "Kiss the Ground", highlighting land restoration projects from around the world, and in March, we watched the Bob Brown Foundation documentary, "Forest Defenders", followed by a talk from Bert Lobert, giving us an update on the Strathbogie State Forest situation.
Renewable Energy Benalla continues to work towards its goal of making Benalla into a net zero carbon emissions town. It has reverted to being an action group of BSFG again, but as convenor, John Lloyd says in his report, they need more people to come on board to help in their endeavours. I urge all BSFG members and supporters to consider being involved in this work, as transforming our energy systems and becoming more energy efficient, are the major ways in which we can reduce our emissions and help avert the worst effects of climate change. Congratulations to REB for securing the funding to complete their first project of solar panels at Munro Ave Kindergarten.
I am extremely proud of Christine Holmes' work over the past ten years in planning, setting up, and coordinating the operations of the Benalla Food Co-operative. Christine, along with the people who have helped in the planning and operation of the Co-op, have through countless hours of volunteer time, established an organisation that has provided the community with choice, an opportunity to meet new friends, and of course to reduce food packaging and food miles, and support local producers where possible. Having successfully negotiated their way through the Covid problems of 2020, the Co-op can now look forward to expanding its membership base, and help spread the message of sustainable use of our resources more widely in the community. I wish Susanne Bennett all the best as she takes over Christine's role as coordinator.
I would also like to commend Larissa Montgomery for the many years she spent as the Environmental Officer of Benalla Rural City and thank her for the support and advice she gave to BSFG over that time. In recent times, Larissa worked extensively with REB to help them formulate their vision and action plans. We wish her well in her new position with DELWP.
Finally, I again wish to thank, and congratulate a number of members who have contributed greatly to the work of BSFG this past year. Thankyou to all committee members for your open and frank discussions in organising events, formulating submissions, and in keeping records, handling finances, sending out messages. Thanks to Ian Herbert for again editing and publishing our newsletter (and to all who have contributed articles), and we also thank Ian for his efforts in putting together the program for the Swanpool Environmental Film Festival (Sat 19th June) which we all eagerly anticipate, after the disruption of 2020.
In this era, no organisation could successfully reach out to its community without the assistance of technology, and we owe a great deal of gratitude over the past 6 years to Bev Lee and Peter Maddock especially, and more recently to Heath Whiley, Kim Lukey and Karen Nankervis, for the marvellous BSFG and REB websites, where events are publicised, interesting articles are posted and reports archived."
Thursday 27 May 2021