Message from the Acting CEO
Together, we continue to face great challenges this year with the daunting task of recovery and clean-up from devastating floods in March ahead of us and other incidents like the major fire at the Wickham Wool Store in Newcastle
Acting CEO Jacqueleine Moore
We approach these incidents and events with the same dedication to protecting the community and our environment that we always have, since the EPA was created. This year, the EPA marks its 30th year of caring for and protecting the environment. Our work responding to environmental challenges and working with you to address the issues that come up has always been a central part of our role.
I started my journey with the EPA two decades ago and after other roles in legal, corporate and government organisations, I was energised to return to the EPA in 2019. I knew that I was coming back to a place filled with capable and dedicated staff, experts in their fields.
Our modern EPA now has stronger powers, tighter regulations, and a prosecution record unmatched by any other EPA across Australia. Today we regulate around 40,000 licenses from pesticide application to radiation, processing of materials, waste, sewage management, power stations and the mining industry. We work to ensure that risks to the community and environment are prevented or minimised.
Through our programs, grants and behaviour change initiatives we have worked with industry and government and enabled our community to become dedicated recyclers, to clean up their environments and to find new uses for our waste and resources. We want to enable their growing passion for creating a more circular economy. The 7 billion containers that have made their way back into re-use through Return and Earn is an incredible marker of this success. We are making sure contaminated sites are getting cleaned up and valuable land can be put back into productive use.
I am also proud of how we have changed the way we now work and engaged more directly with communities when there are pollution incidents or other issues that affect them. This can often involve visiting peoples’ homes and backyards and speaking to them personally. Our staff are right now working in flood recovery centres in northern NSW, talking to community about clean up and helping them to get back on their feet, we are working to keep community informed about asbestos clean-up in Newcastle and legacy lead in Lake Macquarie.
Other changes you will see from us include our formal commitment to acknowledge and work with Aboriginal peoples as the enduring Custodians of the land, sea, waters and sky of NSW. The building of this year’s State of the Environment report incorporated information and advice from an Aboriginal Knowledge Working Group to guide our work.
And, we are looking at new ways to engage with youth – to capture the ideas, engage with the issues and listen to the interests of our young people – our environmental leaders of the future.
Lastly, between rain spells in Sydney in March, Minister Griffin joined me and our Chair Rayne de Gruchy and some of our new graduates in planting a Tallowood eucalypt in Centennial Park, to commemorate our 30 years of protecting the environment. We will very much enjoy watching our tree grow, as the EPA continues to grow, over the next years and beyond.