Lu-Wei reflects on the 2019 South Australian Landcare Conference in Bordertown

Last month I was privileged to be invited as a speaker at the 2019 South Australian Landcare Conference in Bordertown. This year the theme was “Landcare Unearthed – Celebrating Diversity, Managing Landscapes”, and the three-day event brought together people from all around South Australia and the rest of the country.

I was extremely surprised and honoured to have been asked to be part of the panel! My involvement with leading a Young Enviro Volunteers Group last year to bridge the generational gap in environmental engagement was the reason for my invitation, and provided a great opportunity to share my perspective.

The panel session focused on the topic of “Unearthing Change”, and each speaker was invited to prepare a short speech on an aspect of change.

NGT’s Lu-Wei and her fellow panel members at the South Australian Landcare Conference, 2019. Photos: Dan Rogers (left), Doug Humann (right).

I was joined by a diverse panel, consisting of:

  • Anika Molesworth – Farmers for Climate Action
  • Fiona Rasheed – South East Natural Resources Management Board
  • Tracey Grosser – Migrant Resource Centre
  • Jason Alexandra – Farmer, Consultant and Researcher
  • Rick Callaghan – Yaran Business Services
  • Les Robinson – Changeology facilitator

I decided to talk about the need for change in our environmental engagement, highlighting the gap forming between school-based environmental education, and current volunteer groups that are mainly capturing the working, semi-retired and retired population. If you are interested, you can read my short speech here!

Through panel discussions and questions from the audience, we covered a range of topics, including farmers and climate change, migrant communities and the environment, changes in indigenous engagement, the future of Landcare and how we need to embrace but also address change. It was an incredible experience, however I definitely breathed a huge sigh of relief once I was off stage!

Thinking outside the box with Les Robinson: How can we make Landcare groups innovative, adaptive and sustainable? Photo: Lu-Wei Spinks.

During the Conference, I also attended a workshop led by Les Robinson on how to reinvigorate our environmental volunteer groups. Les helped us rethink the way we do Landcare and brainstorm ways to channel innovation and passion. Our main activity was getting into groups and writing down how a “standard” Landcare group operates: when and where do they meet? What kind of activities do they do? How to they communicate with members? What food is involved?

We were then faced with the following challenge: If we aren’t allowed to do any of those things, what else could we do? All ideas were acceptable, from midnight meetings to snags and saki events to encourage new members and keep current members interested. The take-away message was to find ways to combine shared interests such as food and socialising with environmental action.

As an added Conference bonus, Nature Glenelg Trust was also nominated as one of the finalists for the Australian Community Media Landcare Community Group Award at the South Australian Landcare Awards night.

Left to right: Jonathan Tuck, Mark Bachmann and Lu-Wei Spinks representing NGT as finalists at the South Australian Landcare Awards night.

Overall the Conference was extremely inspiring and motivating, and a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from a whole range of people doing amazing things for the environment all around the state.

What stood out clearly to me was that despite everyone coming from different areas and perspectives, we all shared many of the same views, in particular the need to engage the upcoming generations and the importance of partnerships, collaboration and environmental education. Most importantly, Anika Molesworth reminded all of us of the urgency to act now. Our environment is changing rapidly and all of us must be strong, bold and fearless, must speak up, and be the drivers of positive change!

Lu-Wei Spinks
Lu-Wei Spinks