The future is in good hands

To mark the milestone of Landcare’s 30th anniversary in 2019, Landcare NSW held an event on 13 November to launch the booklet, ‘Caring for Land and People – A History of Landcare NSW 2007-2019’.

The occasion brought together, for the first time, current Landcare NSW Chair, Stephanie Cameron, and three previous Chairs David Walker, Mandi Stevenson and Rob Dulhunty.

Also present were a dozen of those involved in the founding or early years of the organisation: Bob Jarman, Bill Pigott, John Hughson, Sonia Williams, Karen Zirkler, John Dalton, John Carter, and apologies were received from Fergus Job, Chris Scott and Chris Cumming.

Most of these individuals have been involved in Landcare since it started in NSW 30 years ago. Collectively they have come to be known as the ‘Landcare Elders’.

The event kicked off with a contribution from the author, professional historian Virginia McLeod, who explained the value of recording history, particularly the stories of the people who were there.

“It is these small histories that make up our national narrative,” she said.

Reflecting on the past, the Landcare Elders commented on tough battles that were fought and won over the years to build a future for the Landcare movement.

One of the founders of Landcare NSW and its first Chairperson, David Walker, said he was pleased to have helped Landcare progress in NSW and to see Landcare NSW grow in its role as peak body for the community.

“Since 2007, when the organisation was formed, the need to represent Landcare and Landcarers has grown but I can look back with pride at what we have achieved,” he said.

“There have been many changes, but one constant has been the strength, resilience and sense of community within Landcare in NSW.”

David commented on the passion, intellectual firepower and dedication of Landcarers and how rewarding it is be part of a movement which continues to attract and retain “wonderful people and fantastic communities”.

Chair of Landcare NSW, Stephanie Cameron, said she was proud to work with her colleagues on the Landcare NSW Council to represent the Landcare community and make the case for its growth and development.

“In 2007 a group of NSW Landcarers decided we needed our own state organisation to give Landcarers in NSW a voice.

“Looking back, we can see that this idea grew and we now have a flourishing peak body. We sincerely thank the people who stepped up to ensure the voices of Landcarers in NSW were heard,” said Stephanie.

Among the stories shared at the event, it was recalled that Landcarers sometimes had to assert themselves in the face of ignorance, indifference and occasionally hostility. It was an experience described by the founders as a test of endurance and courage, persistence and patience.

Sonia Williams, former NSW Landcare Coordinator and key figure in the development of Landcare NSW, noted the experience of working for Landcare was both challenging and rewarding.

“There were stressful times and sometimes detriment to individual health of those involved but there has always been a huge amount of support for each other and solidarity in being part of a group doing something positive for the environment,” she said.

Clare Vernon, who represents young people on the Landcare NSW Council, also participated to ensure the messages of the Elders were heard by the next generations.

Some words of advice she received from John Dalton were: “Don’t be bullied, remember there is strength in numbers, there’s nothing like being part of a community to withstand inertia and make change,” said John Dalton.

Rob Dulhunty, Chair of Landcare NSW from 2012-2018, said it had taken many years to build the credibility of Landcare and this was achieved by always acting with integrity in order to build community trust in Landcare.

“These are our core strengths and must be protected,” he said.

Clare Vernon assured the Elders the future is in good hands. “Young people are self-organising in schools, universities and accessing support from Intrepid Landcare.

“Landcare offers a pathway for the thousands of children and young people who are participating in climate rallies and looking for ways to protect the environment,” said Ms Vernon.

In a final word, current CEO of Landcare NSW, Adrian Zammit, said Landcare continued to provide a way for local communities to get involved in managing natural resources and that the many ‘wicked’ problems we face cannot be resolved without the active involvement of local communities.

The publication of the history of Landcare NSW was supported by a grant from the Create NSW Cultural Grants Program, a devolved funding program administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government.

The booklet has been placed in the State Library along with copies of oral histories recorded for the purpose of research.

A new edition will be developed to fill in gaps and provide missing pieces – please send in your comments, suggestions, reflections and ideas to: