eNews # 35

Landcare Inline Green on White

Hello Visitor,

In this edition, a special letter to all members from Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit, on the threat to Landcare at the National level.

Landcare NSW CEO's Letter to Members

Adrian Zammit 3 1080x675Dear Members - re the National Landcare situation,

As I settle into my third year as CEO of Landcare NSW, there is much to celebrate. Our community of dedicated Landcarers is doing a wonderful job. At the national level, however, Landcare faces a serious threat.

For historical reasons there are two national Landcare organisations: Landcare Australia Limited and the National Landcare Network. Landcare NSW is the membership-based peak body for NSW, working to represent, support, strengthen and grow community Landcare. Our equivalent organisations in every other State and Territory are members of the National Landcare Network, which works to ensure the voice and needs of grassroots Landcare is represented and supported. The National Landcare Network (NLN) has the mandate to act as the national body and voice for community Landcare.

On the other hand, Landcare Australia Limited (LA) was originally established to raise funds from the corporate sector and undertake marketing activities to support the work of grassroots Landcare. Landcare Australia does not have a representative function for Landcare and its members are limited to the Directors of the company. Importantly, it does not have the mandate to represent community Landcare groups across Australia. Landcare NSW is not part of Landcare Australia; nor are the other State and Territory Landcare organisations across Australia.

For the past three years, Landcare NSW, the other State and Territory Landcare peak organisations, and the National Landcare Network have been negotiating with Landcare Australia to create a single national representative body for community Landcare. This would have brought together the functions of fundraising, representation and consultation. Unfortunately, negotiations were not successful. Among the unresolved issues were Landcare Australia seeking to allow non-Landcare organisations to become voting members with their own representatives taking up director positions; not recognising the hugely important role the State and Territory Landcare organisations play in supporting Australia's 5,400 community Landcare groups; and a culture of unwillingness to genuinely consult and collaborate on projects, funding and communications that affect our members and our operations.

While Landcare NSW, the other State and Territory Landcare peak bodies and the National Landcare Network are all still keen to pursue a merger, this is highly unlikely to occur given the current leadership culture at Landcare Australia. Landcare Australia has a strong top-down culture and carries out its strategic and operational activities without reference to the Landcare community and its representative peak bodies. This is antithetical to the Landcare ethos.

For example, Landcare Australia Limited recently issued a ‘Landcare wellbeing’ survey. Landcare NSW is not connected with this survey nor were we made aware that this survey was being developed. We were not consulted on its design and content and we were not asked whether we were working on any similar initiative. We were not asked how the timing of its distribution would fit with other communications, surveys and activities that Landcare NSW may have in train. And we have not been offered the opportunity to share in the results of the survey for NSW so we can work better to support and represent the interests of our members.

We are disappointed that Landcare Australia has chosen to distribute the survey without these things having occurred. It is, unfortunately, the latest example of Landcare Australia’s top-down approach and its unwillingness to work with State and Territory Landcare peak organisations on matters of mutual interest.

Landcare NSW is here for you. We can and must do better for the benefit of our great 30-year old Landcare movement. Across the nation, Landcare has preserved landscapes, supported sustainable agriculture, saved endangered species, and built invaluable social capital in local communities. We have a proud history and we are ready to step up to the environmental challenges facing Australia.

But we must have organisations, structures and leaders that are fit for purpose. We have produced the attached resources [see links below] to help you understand the issue at a national level so you can discuss it in your communities. I hope that in the process of learning about how we got here, you will reflect on the question of what kind of arrangements we need to guide us through the next 30 years of Landcare.

I have written you this letter to help you understand the complex situation that exists with community Landcare nationally, to help you understand the roles of the different organisations, and to help bring about genuine consultation on matters that are of interest and benefit to the community Landcare effort. While the natural reaction for all of us upon reading this material would be to immediately act to try solve this intractable situation, all that I am seeking from you at this stage is to understand the situation at the national level and commence discussions with your groups for ideas how we may be able to redress this issue. Once Landcare NSW has gone through the process of informing the NSW Landcare community of this issue, we will undertake a new process in a few weeks’ time for discussing, collecting and collating ideas from all of you towards fixing this very damaging situation.

This is a big story to tell and a challenge to explain. For those who are interested to learn more, we are ready and willing to provide more detail and documentation. Please contact us with questions, feedback and comments: administration@landcarensw.org.au.

Yours sincerely
Dr Adrian Zammit
CEO, Landcare NSW

Attachments: Briefing Paper, PowerPoint, Key Messages

If your (Southern New England Landcare) group would like one of our Local Landcare Coordinators to facilitate a group discussion, please call us on 02 6772 9123 or email Karen Zirkler to book a suitable time for a group meeting.

The office of Southern New England Landcare is closed until further notice due to COVID-19.

All staff are working from home and we are still available on our regular work days to assist you. Please contact us by leaving a message on the office phone 6772 9123 or by via email on mail@snelandcare.org.au


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