There are millions of volunteers working for the Australian environment, Coastcarers, friends groups and Landcare members. Many community groups had been asking the Myer Foundation to help care for and protect their waterways. At a series of forums attended by community groups in 2003, the Foundation identified support in social and legal advocacy as a need.
Waterkeepers Australia have taken on anglers, farmers and environmental activists as members and are looking for groups to work with them as advocates for creeks, estuaries and bays. They do not take on government groups as their forum process very clearly determined the need for independence from government if the body was to be effective.
Wherever there is a waterway with an active community group Waterkeepers would like to hear from them if they could benefit from their services.
Waterkeepers Australia services include:
-Becoming incorporated and gaining tax exemption
-Board recruitment, insurance and risk assessment
-Writing funding and other submissions and reports
-Assesing the health of rivers and waterways
-Carrying out an environmental audit
-Access to expert knowledge, research and analysis
-Planning, environmental processes and laws
-Delivering community education
-Dealing with the media
-Planning and consultations
-Resolving conflicts, negotiation and mediation
Waterkeepers Australia is a national body. Its coordinator, Greg Hunt, is based in Carlton, Melbourne. He believes that with the economic implications of issues such as water for irrigation and environmental flows, and coastal and industrial development, we need to be confident that community groups have all the assistance they need to protect their waterways.