Oral Presentation Australian Society for Limnology Congress 2013

Policy development and stakeholder engagement for the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy (#115)

Amber Clarke 1 , Sarina Loo 1 , Janet Holmes 1 , Jane Doolan
  1. Department of Environment and Primary Industries, East Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Victoria was the first state in Australia to develop an integrated policy framework for improving river health. The 2002 Victorian River Health Strategy outlined the vision for managing rivers in Victoria, statewide targets and a regional decision-making model with community input. Implementation over the past decade was highly successful, with the majority of statewide targets met or exceeded and the policy framework providing clear direction for regional agencies to identify priority management activities and guide government investment. As part of the adaptive management approach, a review of the strategy was undertaken in 2010. The review identified key areas requiring updated or new policy and a four-year process of policy development and stakeholder engagement was initiated. Management of wetlands and estuaries was incorporated into the existing policy framework for managing river health, along with significant legislative and policy changes since 2002. New policy was developed to ensure the involvement of Victoria’s Traditional Owners in waterway management and a more flexible management approach to enable better planning and response to climatic variability and extreme events such as flood and bushfire. The project incorporated a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program, including guidance by an Expert Scientific Panel, Stakeholder Reference Committee, the Victorian Waterway Managers’ Forum and an Internal Review Committee. The broader Victorian community also provided feedback on the draft policies and actions during a six-week public consultation period. The new Victorian Waterway Management Strategy provides direction for managing Victoria’s waterways over the next eights years.