Community clean-up provides local jobs while restoring bush and waterways

A new clean-up plan to remove illegally dumped rubbish from bushland near the Nambucca River will employ eight residents and create a better environment for the local community and wildlife.

The Bellwood community, on the NSW North Coast, will put their clean-up plan into action with the support of approximately $100,000 awarded from the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) Aboriginal Communities Waste Management Program.

EPA Acting Executive Director Engagement, Education and Programs Clair Cameron said the Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council will use some of the grant to remove dumped rubbish adjacent to the Nambucca River, which is home to waterbirds, sea turtles, oysters and dolphins.

“Pollution leaching from the dumped rubbish can have a real impact on the plant and animal populations in the adjoining Nambucca River,” Ms Cameron said.

“The community is eager to restore the bushland and make the environment safer, cleaner and healthier for local residents.”

Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council have been granted the funding under Stage Three of the Aboriginal Communities Waste Management Program, which aims to reduce litter and waste and improve the environment for local communities.

The Bellwood community clean-up plan includes clearing 10 tonnes of waste, setting up a recycling depot to upcycle dumped furniture, providing bins for community reserves, running school waste education workshops, planting a bush tucker garden and buying a trailer to assist the Bellwood community to remove rubbish year-round.

Ms Cameron said Aboriginal communities often faced barriers to disposing of waste and rubbish, due to lack of services, resources and limited access to waste management facilities.

“This program has already won a NSW Premier’s Award in November 2018 for the pilot Muli Muli Clean Up Country Project which took action to stop a 50-year-old dumping site encroaching on ancestral burial grounds,’’ she said.

“The key to the success of these projects is they are chosen by the community, for the benefit of the community.’’

The $4 million Aboriginal Communities Waste Management Program is funded by the NSW Government’s Waste Less. Recycle More initiative for four years until 2021.

“The EPA recognises the difficult and diverse challenges faced by some communities and is committed to helping local land councils improve their environment and create long-term change,’’ Ms Cameron said.

The program is an EPA initiative, in collaboration with Aboriginal Affairs NSW, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the NSW Department of Health, NSW Rural Fire Service and Local Government NSW.

More information about the ACWMP program is available on the EPA website.