Thursday 31 October 2013
Hansard of the Legislative Council
SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS
FRIENDS OF THE
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Just a question, Mr
President. What is a community without diverse volunteer groups? Not much of a
community. But there are numerous volunteer groups in everyone's electorate
around Tassie and I have a fairly dense concentration around where I live at
the southern end of my electorate of Rosevears - that is, around the West
Launceston-Trevallyn area. One of the more vigorous and effective is a group
called the Friends of the Trevallyn Reserve, of which I am a member - not
entirely as active as I would like to be. Members might have seen the media
coverage of the hugely successful Launceston-Trevallyn Gorge challenge last
weekend with Michael Klim as our ambassador.
I want to highlight the work of the Friends of the Trevallyn
Reserve. It was started in 2001 by a small group including Anna Povey, who is still a member of the four-person committee after 12 years.
I would like to quote from the group's website:
Greater Launceston is fortunate to possess an area of more
than 440 hectares of adjoining parkland and bushland known as the Cataract
Gorge and the Trevallyn Nature Reserve, respectively. This area extends along
the South Esk River gorge, through the western suburbs of Trevallyn and West
Launceston and through to the head of the Tamar Valley. The terrain of the
nature reserve is primarily a rocky plateau, and facilitates many leisure
activities such as walking, horseriding, archery, hang-gliding, mountain
biking, aquatic sports such as water-skiing or swimming, rock climbing, dog
walking, and orienteering.
Notwithstanding these activities, the Friends of Trevallyn
Reserve - FoTR - endeavour to preserve and promote the natural values of the
area primarily through weed eradication, species protection and revegetation
It has about 40 volunteers and holds working bees on the
second Saturday of every month of the year except January. The average attendance
at each working bee is about 12. In 2009, over 260 man-hours of work was
volunteered by FoTR groups in the Gorge Reserve area.
The Trevallyn Reserve and the gorge could be quite a mess
without the Friends. The Friends liaise closely with the Launceston City
Council and the Parks and Wildlife Service, which both help when specialised
tasks need professional contractors when, for example, there is a major weed
infestation of such magnitude that it requires professional spraying. Spanish
heath, boneseed, gorse and blackberries seem to the worst enemies and often
need professional spraying. Parks and Wildlife and council workers know their
spraying programs are worthwhile because the Friends can be relied upon to do
the follow-up control, which is very important.
I will come back to Anna Povey because she says that every
group needs one or two key people to enable the contributions of a much larger
bunch of people. She says these key people need to be encouraged and supported
so they do not burn out and they must not be overwhelmed with things such as
safety, fundraising and insurance. The Friends could not have come into
existence if Wildcare had not sorted out their insurance; they were fantastic.
The insurance burden is such that many potential groups do not get started
because of it. Apart from donations of herbicide from the Launceston City
Council, the West Tamar Council and Parks and Wildlife, the Friends received a
grant from Landcare Tasmania to buy tools and gloves. It needs practically no
funding so there is no diversion of effort to fundraising.
Anna Povey says if Parks and Wildlife and councils all had
Bushcare officers or volunteer coordinators who could help set up such groups,
there could be a lot more work done for very little money. She believes that
her group could tackle some bigger tasks if it had a facilitator to nudge it
along. The groups would only need occasional support, especially in their
start-up phase and, of course, it is very hard to quantify the value of
volunteer groups like FoTR but economists do not seem to want to know.
It costs very little and the 260 man/woman hours in 2009 can
be quantified. Let's say we call it $20 an hour, which is well over $5 000
worth of work, but how can you quantify that social interaction, the outdoor
exercise and the satisfaction and the wellbeing of being part of such a group?
At a meeting this morning with Chris Colley from Parks and
Wildlife, he told me that there are more than 60 groups around Tasmania
involved in those sorts of partnerships with Parks and Wildlife. I used the
template of FoTR to help a group with Mick Allen at the head as the
Friends of Redbill Point just near Beaconsfield. It was hugely successful. They
planted 460 trees recently, only two of which have been stolen. They really
have respect in their community. I will be helping another group in the near
future as well. I salute the work of the Friends of the Trevallyn Reserve.