Conservation community and creativity at the heart of the Volunteering Innovation Fund

Friday 26 November, 2021

Victorians with vision impairments, Indigenous youth and heritage landscapes will benefit from the 12 winning project applications to round two of the Volunteering Innovation Fund.

More than 5,800 Victorians voted on their favourite projects with over $444,000 awarded in funding, supporting people from all walks of life to volunteer in and for parks and forests.

With up to $50,000 in funding per project, the winning applications include creative plans to provide breeding habitat for native wildlife, digitally capturing, publishing and recording the heritage huts of the Australian Alps and revitalising areas of environmental and social importance.  

Here’s a snapshot of some of these great projects.

Person sitting down and sharing cultural knowledge

The Connecting to Country program, Dandenong, Melbourne.

With a vision of sharing knowledge for future generations, the Connecting to Country program is reconnecting youth with community, land and waterways.

Held on the Kulin Lands of the Dandenong Creek and Police Paddocks, local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and youth are breaking down barriers and working together to heal Country by embedding culture into skill development for traditional land and environmental management. 

Volunteer participants will be offered work experience, tertiary training, qualifications, cultural access and cultural practice. Participants will be helped to pursue further studies in these areas, ultimately leading to paid employment. 

Person gardening with two young children

The Friends of Newlands Reserve and Edenhope Flora and Fauna Reserve Committee of Management, Edenhope, Western Victoria.

The two groups that make up the Friends of Newlands Reserve and Edenhope Flora and Fauna Reserve Committee of Management are working together to engage local communities and visitors into the unique local environment. Located within townships, these reserves are home to the endangered South Eastern Red-tail Black cockatoo and a unique range of threatened and endangered native orchids. 

The project group is dedicated to protecting these areas for future generations through tourism, education and the promotion of quality interactive walking trails. These creative trails will engage with local school groups to develop interactive QR codes for information, mosaic stepping-stones crafted by local art groups, workshops on native flora and fauna and the installation of wildlife cameras for social media and website promotional content.

Person holding tray of seedlings

Cairnlea Conservation Reserves Committee of Management, Cairnlea, Melbourne.

Cairnlea Conservation Reserves Committee of Management’s project is reconnecting the community and restoring the endangered wildflower grasslands of Melbourne’s West.

Colourful native wildflowers such as Chocolate Lilies, Blue Devils and Billy Buttons will be grown in volunteer’s home gardens, collected and matured in the Iramoo Native Plant Nursery, before being planted in the wild.

These wildflowers become habitat for locally endangered animals such as the Striped Legless Lizards and Tussock Skink. 

Person standing near a Victorian Alps hut and recording data

The Victorian High Country Huts Association, Alpine, Howqua, Lake Eildon, Eastern Victoria.

The Victorian High Country Huts Association is working to conserve, maintain and rebuild these heritage buildings. 3D modelling camera equipment and software will be used to create a permanent record of the huts, which will be archived and published online.

This technology will also enable virtual tours to take place with interpretive materials such as drone footage, videos and historic information. This gives the community the opportunity to visit and experience the history and stories of these huts in a unique and accessible way.

This $2 million investment is part of Victoria’s Great Outdoors to encourage innovation, inspire more Victorians to volunteer for nature, and attract a greater diversity of people volunteering in parks and forests.

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