Key Aims and Objectives
Declaring a Climate Emergency & developing a Climate Action Plan
Respecting and working in partnership with Bunurong and Gunaikurnai community and community organisations in support of cultural land management practices and fire management
Commitment to mitigation and adaptive strategies, including reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Collaborative action required by all levels of government and civil society and people
Fostering community resilience and emergency response planning, including mitigation and adaptation to climate change
Restoring the integrity of the natural environment
Delivering a year-on-year increase in the proportion of private and public land set aside for biodiversity conservation
Developing a Sustainable Land Use and Biodiversity Strategy
Promoting a circular economy, including Waste and Resource Recovery
Promoting a shift to regenerative farming
Encouraging the sustainable use of water for industry, households, and irrigation
Adopting participatory democracy and committing to extensive community consultation in the development of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy
Developing sustainable processing of food locally
Shift to a low carbon economy through a collaborative smart sustainable innovation system and capitalising on low carbon options (regenerative farming, renewable energies, biofertilisers etc,)
Embracing the clean energy transition to use, produce and store energy while rapidly decarbonising the local economy and an active shift in the coming 5 years towards renewable electricity generation
Targets for zero-carbon transport energy infrastructure including EV charging system
Low carbon logistics return of rail. Working with transport and freight to reduce carbon emissions
A reevaluation of the vital role that health and care professionals play in our community
Sufficient supply of decent and affordable housing for all
The complete set of Aims and Objectives can be discovered in the JTSG Strategy.
JTSG’s journey so far has seen extensive conversations with people across our community. JTSG has hosted two public Assemblies. The first identified the challenges we face and determined a way forward, creating several working groups to focus on key issues. These groups have been meeting regularly since January 2021.
At the second Assembly, in May 2021, working group feedback confirmed how interconnected the issues are; the need for a holistic approach, and the need to rebuild our community’s confidence in local democracy through increased participation.
We are convinced that the revitalisation of community-council relations requires the adoption of the principles of participatory democracy. This will ensure wider public deliberation and decision making on the most critical issues for South Gippsland, while making the Council truly representative, transparent and accountable.
Specifically, we see an important continuing role for Advisory Committees in the development and endorsement of Council policies and strategies such as those already used for the Visitor Economy Strategy and for Council budgeting, along with community consultation.
We also see the need for a major joint-investment by Council and people of South Gippsland in preparing a vision of our region’s economic future in a time of climate change and rapid technological transition. To that end, we will be looking to endorse candidates for Council who support a Citizens’ Assembly that looks at how we build a future that promotes local resilience and protects people, livelihoods and the environment.
We also expect a greater role of modern media to engage, inform and interact with residents.
'We call on the Council to commit to extensive community consultation in the development strategies and plans, such that all South Gippsland residents are presented with an opportunity to contribute'.
The JTSG Strategy, which is being finalised in time for local council elections in October 2021, will propose the first steps toward the equitable low-carbon economy of South Gippsland region through infrastructure, policy-building and community engagement.
Tackling climate change is our highest priority.
Action on the Climate Emergency
Developing a Climate Action Plan is a great place to start. Council has recently endorsed its Environmental Sustainability Strategy Framework 2021, which includes the development of such a Plan.
'We call on the Council to declare a Climate Emergency and commit to an emissions reduction pledge under the Victorian Climate Change Act 2017'.
Headlining the plan must be the Declaration of a Climate Emergency followed by an emissions reduction pledge. In doing so, the Council will formally commit to take measurable action on the causes and impacts of climate change and commit to a community advisory role in the development and endorsement of a Climate Action Plan.
As well as the Declaration of a Climate Emergency and development of a Climate Action Plan, JTSG will insist that the council call a Citizens’ Assembly to develop a long-term vision for the South Gippsland economy.
Local government has a key role to play in developing a plan to transition South Gippsland to a low-carbon region.
Responding to climate change and the impact on biodiversity from the ground up, we see a Just Transition as a chance to set the agenda and begin framing our own future.
A Just Transition is all about moving away from the carbon emissions that cause global heating whilst ensuring the transition provides decent work, affordable housing, a dignified older age, and strong and resilient communities for the many rather than the few.
The ultimate goal for all these groups is the transformation of South Gippsland into a sustainable, democratically empowered, culturally rich and prosperous community that’s well positioned to respond to the current and future challenges of climate change and the impact on biodiversity.
What follows is an abridged version of the key conclusions and recommendations determined by our Just Transition Working Groups. The go-to place for greater details is the JTSG Strategy, to be released late August 2021.
JTSG recognises that these working groups currently act as a proxy for the whole community and many gaps remain. Commitment to extensive community participation by the newly elected Council will enable a Just Transition for the South Gippsland community. We are committed to working with Council, as well as business, community, sporting and arts organisations, and other levels of government. We are all volunteers from the local community with no financial backing. We can’t do this alone.
First Nations First
There can be no climate justice without First Nations justice. More than a slogan, we understand that ‘solving’ the issue of climate change isn’t about changing one aspect (carbon emissions) and leaving everything else to continue as it has been. That path was, and continues to be a disastrous one for First Nations people, including the Gunaikurnai and Bunurong.
There is no way out of the climate emergency without recognising that the challenges we are facing to our way of life (whatever that may be) are precedented. We are not an Indigenous led organisation, but we are committed to making space for First Nations self-determination.
Food and Farming
South Gippsland’s fertile soils, moderate climate, high rainfall, a skilled and experienced workforce and projected ability to adapt to climate change present a strong case for its preservation and development as a significant source of food production.
Through a JTSG survey completed by 28 South Gippsland farmers, and from conversations with more than 12 other producers, it was clear that many are already engaged in biodiversity conservation and sustainable land and water management practices. Other land managers must be encouraged to follow their lead through financial incentives and the collection and sharing of knowledge and resources.
'The JTSG Survey July 2021 completed by 28 South Gippsland farmers identified that on average 16.3% of their land area was dedicated to biodiversity conservation. The Council must implement some form of incentives to grow this percentage'.
There is an emerging farming sector in South Gippsland-‘micro farms’. These generally operate on less than 10 hectares and specialise in a narrow range of produce, either grown on the farm directly for market or grown and value added for the market. These farms are mostly based on principles of clean production and aimed at local markets.
'We support the Council's commitment to a planning scheme that promotes the responsible use of resources that can best maintain the affordability and sustainability of farmland in our region'.
Clearly, South Gippsland will continue to be a net exporter of produce, but we must aim to become as self-sufficient as possible through distributing locally. To this end we must enable local farmers to sell produce locally by supporting, for example, farmers markets and food hubs, while supporting community and domestic gardens (including school gardens). Council could provide leadership by committing to purchasing local food and produce where possible.
'Diversification of agricultural land use is important in building a productive region that is more adaptable to the uncertain trajectories of the future climate'.
The addition of new local processing hubs for milk, meat and vegetables would be advantageous to South Gippsland. The sustainable processing of food locally has a positive community impact by retaining and creating jobs, while at the same time reducing food waste, transport and their associated carbon emissions. These actions could include partnerships with Council, but could also explore support at other levels of government and community groups to conduct feasibility studies. Processing could be built on the successful Earthworker Cooperative model in the Latrobe Valley.
We must maximise the value of resources we use to minimise the waste created, cut emissions and create a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live. This includes addressing household waste, but also on-farm waste including packaging such as silage wrappers, and effluent and nutrient run-off. We must move towards a circular economy within our region.
The Council Environmental Sustainability Strategy Framework 2021 also includes the development of a new Waste Management Plan.
'We call on Council to adopt a circular economy approach in recognising that waste is merely a resource in the wrong place'.
JTSG recommends that Council instead develop a ‘Resources and Waste Strategy’ that is based on circular economy, moving the plan from tactical management of waste to a more strategic view of waste.
Again, JTSG expect significant community involvement in the Plan’s development.
Our natural environment is fundamental to our health and wellbeing and is essential for its productive industries such as the agriculture and tourism sectors. The maintenance of biodiversity is the key to healthy forests, waterways, and marine ecosystems, which are in turn central to carbon capture.
Council currently manages biodiversity and sustainable land use via its current Sustainability Strategy and through the implementation of the South Gippsland Planning Scheme. JTSG insists that more must be done to protect ecosystems and biodiversity. An opportunity exists to tackle this gap in a community-led development of Council’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2021.
'Simply maintaining South Gippsland’s biodiversity at its current levels is insufficient. Action to actively enhance and secure local ecosystems, particularly in the face of climate change, is essential'.
We must maintain South Gippsland as a relatively water secure area and biologically significant refuge compared to other parts of mainland Australia. We must encourage sustainable water management in urban and rural areas to reduce environmental impacts on South Gippsland’s waterways, receiving waters, flora and fauna.
This could occur through ongoing partnership with existing programs within the West Gippsland Catchment management Authority.
Managing stormwater runoff from housing development in urban areas should adopt best practices of water sensitive urban design and integrated catchment management in order to minimise pollutant loads and high flows in local waterways.
It is essential that Council support state-wide plans to ensure the use of fit-for-purpose water, preserving potable water for drinking purposes and encouraging the use of recycled water and stormwater.
Business and Tourism
South Gippsland is internationally known for its unspoilt environmental marvels.The South Gippsland region must be a leader in ecologically sound development, but to do so there must be a focus on climate change action and the opportunities offered by a transition to a low-carbon economy.
'The transition to a low carbon economy will provide many more opportunities for South Gippsland than costs'.
We need to be looking at the opportunities for the region that are already emerging as we transition away from a dependency on fossil fuels.
With things like sustainable tourism, low-carbon beef and dairy farming, and offshore renewable energy, there are several different avenues for making the transition.
We have the opportunity to become a more self-sufficient and self-contained region, whilst reducing our carbon footprint.
The provision of cheap, reliable and accessible renewable energy is fundamental to a just transition for South Gippsland.
Globally, history has shown that access to energy has powered the development and growth of cities and communities. Renewable energy technology has the potential to supply clean, renewable power to communities large and small throughout South Gippsland ensuring their economic, social and environmental development. Proactively embracing this technology will help ensure benefit sharing for people and communities.
'We must strive to improve equity in the community to meet the energy needs across demographic, wealth, health and education divides'.
Now is the moment to seize the opportunity and embrace the clean energy transition. To encourage innovation and ensure that South Gippsland citizens are fairly provided access to cheap and reliable energy sources for a prosperous future for all.
'We call on Council to incorporate the comprehensive transition to sustainable energy sources in its proposed Climate Action Plan'.
By 2030, the energy sector in the South Gippsland Shire can contribute significant progress towards a net-zero carbon emission target, with all stakeholders fairly and equitably contributing to and benefiting from the outcomes.
Health and Care
There are many in our community for whom the current health and care approach isn’t working, particularly Indigenous Australians, Culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQ, aged care, and all abilities groups.
'We must turn the notion of care on its head. Care underpins all aspects of family and community life, from being born and raised through to ageing and dying. But most care work takes place in the background, so is often underappreciated and undervalued'.
Climate change and its associated natural disasters are now compounding the failings of the health and care system, including mental health. This trend will continue to intensify. Community health services must develop resilience and emergency response plans that take into account the effects of climate change.
Housing is foundational to a just life. Without an adequate, affordable and safe roof over your head, everything else becomes a challenge. Disparities in housing accessibility underpin inequality.
South Gippsland is in a housing crisis.
Homelessness is a significant problem in the region, yet no one knows exactly how bad it is. Businesses are finding it difficult to find staff owing to the lack of rental accommodation. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive inflation in house prices.
'Everyone has a right to an affordable and decent home and any approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change in housing must be geared towards low-income earners'.
Public and social housing can have many positive outcomes for individuals and communities. Housing should be available for people in the communities in which they already live, rather than being forced to move away.
'What would it take for the region to provide adequate and affordable housing for all'?
Sports, Arts, Community & Culture
Strong communities are built through the myriad of social interactions we have with our neighbours, our towns, and our regions, whether through the local footy & netball club, community gardens and neighbourhood houses, art spaces and churches, or any other congregations of people.
'We must strengthen community resilience by creating more opportunities for community engagement and connection through arts, sports, community centres, community gardens, and halls'.
Community associations and community centres (neighbourhood houses) have crucial roles to play in a just transition. They are the local governance mechanisms with capacity to mobilise community effort, plans and adaptation.
Transport is a fundamental element of the social and economic life of South Gippsland. With a scattered population, reliance on private vehicles for transport and commercial vehicles for goods and services is well established.
'A significant increase in reliable, sustainable public transport and car-leasing would allow people more flexibility to own fewer vehicles and drive less'.
A return of sustainable rail services connecting the region to Melbourne would contribute substantially to reducing the environmental impact of travel and freight.
The provision of a network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations would encourage residents and local industry to consider the switch away from petrol and diesel engines. In particular, the introduction of electric farm transport would have significant benefits across our Region.
The sustainable processing of food locally would yield a significant reduction in transport, transport costs and associated carbon emissions.
Work, Education and Training
The world of work is changing. The global economy is responding to the impacts of climate change, the pandemic and advancing technologies. Yet, several questions remain for our region: Are South Gippslands' youth set up for success in the new world of work? Are schools and employment services the best they can be? What are childcare services like? Do they allow parents and carers to continue in their careers? Is there a brain drain in South Gippsland? How is equity incorporated into work, education access and leadership?
The shift to renewable energy needed to limit temperature rise to below 2 degrees C has the potential to create millions of jobs globally. The transition to sustainable agriculture practices also will require new skills and the need for reviewed education and training.
The idea of a Circular Economy that limits the use of raw materials and waste by repairing, reusing and recycling goods would see jobs decrease in extractive industries and manufacturing, and increase in the areas of repair, reprocessing and renewables, which could all happen here in South Gippsland.
New jobs will emerge in sustainable industries such as biochar, replacing the need for fossil-fuel-based fertilisers; bioenergy production from organic waste sources; the emerging seaweed industry producing human and animal food and fertilisers while regenerating waterways and reducing greenhouse gasses; and renewable energy generation from solar, wind, tidal and geothermal sources. These jobs will need particular types of applied learning and on-the-job training, similar to other skilled trade positions. They need to be unionised, with proper pay and conditions.
If we are to make care a central tenet of the transition, there is also the opportunity to create jobs and generate economic activity through the provision of health and care services, which can be low carbon forms of activity that address the pay disparity in what have traditionally been considered ‘women’s work’.
These opportunities must be coupled, however, with a focus not only on ensuring jobs and good working conditions for all, but with improving the situation for those deemed surplus by the job market through an adequate social safety net and ending the war on the poor.
An Invitation to Join Us
Many of you will have seen a long list of strategies come and go, with little done to see them come to fruition. Our hope is that by flipping the script and working from the ground up, we won’t just have a piece of paper with a bunch of ideas on it, we’ll have a community who can see in the strategy their own work and their own path towards a South Gippsland that meets the needs of the many rather than the few.
The basic premise of JTSG is to create a platform that will bring together the amazing work and innumerable ideas already being generated across the region to chart a course that will help us mitigate and adapt to a changing climate together.
The expertise, the energy and the time that will underpin the transition can already be found in the South Gippsland community, and it’s these resources that we have tapped into and will continue to draw on as JTSG makes the move to start putting what we have on paper into practice.
We thank everyone who has been involved so far, and invite everyone else to get involved if you can.
'a place we are all happy to call home' South Gippsland.
Just Transition South Gippsland Roadmap August 2021
Created with an image by Couleur - "compost garbage biological"