Healthy Communities: Healthy communities are the basis of our physical, mental and social well-being. And the basis of healthy communities is a healthy environment. (Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2014)
A healthy community is resilient and adaptable. By getting involved in your local community you can become climate ready together, helping and learning from each other. This will make a huge difference to how well your neighbourhood deals with climate change.
Neighbours aren’t just a collection of houses or the people next door. Anyone within walking distance of your home is your neighbour.
Getting to know your neighbours can be the easiest and one of the most important steps to becoming Climate Ready. The advantages of having good relationships and friendships at your doorstep are many:
- Share knowledge, ideas and information.
- Share tools and equipment you may need for carrying out your Climate Ready action plan.
- Help each other do the work – it’s likely your neighbours are facing similar climate change risks as you are.
- Those less able or most vulnerable can get help from you and others nearby.
- In times of extreme weather and emergencies, you’ll be able to help, advise and protect each other.
Neighbour Day happens every March across Australia, but of course you don’t have to wait until then to hold one in your neighbourhood.
The aim of Neighbour Day is to improve community connections, especially for the benefit of the elderly and vulnerable in your community. In other words, those people who are most at risk from the effects of climate change.
See the Neighbour Day website for tips about getting to know your neighbours and how to start a local Neighbour Day.
By getting involved in a community group, attending community education seminars or becoming a volunteer, you will get to know people in the wider community not just your immediate neighbourhood. You’ll also develop new skills and learn from other people’s point of view and experience.
Many community groups focus on the environment and climate change topics, so you’ll learn much more about being Climate Ready than on your own.
There are many types of community groups that may suit you or your circumstances, such as local community gardens, Positive Ageing groups, Landcare, Coastcare or sustainability groups. There are also many educational programs and events in your region where you can learn about sustainable living and preparing for climate change.
Many groups also have an online presence. It’s worth searching the web to see what climate action groups are in your community.
Community garden groups
Community gardens are a hub for people to gather and grow fresh food, learn and share gardening skills, and to relax and make friends. Growing food locally improves food security, which is important because climate change may affect the regularity or predictability of food supplies in the future.
To find or start a community garden, try these links:
Join or start a local sustainability or climate readiness group
Follow these links to find out about your local conservation groups and activities:
Bayside City Council list of environment and conservation groups.
Bayside Climate Change Action Group (BCCAG) is a non-profit, community organisation that works to reduce climate change risks by influencing decision makers through research, information and direct action. BCCAG operates mainly in the Bayside council area, but does get involved more widely.
Kingston City Council's list of Environmental and Residents groups and its Sustainability Workshops Calendar are worth checking. For more information email: email@example.com or telephone 95814713.
Mornington Peninsula Shire also publishes the Green Directory.
The Community Fireguard program managed by the Country Fire Association (CFA) is specifically for people who live in high risk bush or grass fire areas. By joining or starting a Community Fire Guard group, you will make the right connections and gain skills to reduce the risk of bushfire on your home and neighbourhood. The CFA helps small groups of neighbours plan how to work together and reduce the risk for everyone in that neighbourhood. Check the CFA website for community information guides, factsheets, workshops and fireguard groups in your area.
Landcare is a grassroots movement dedicated to managing environmental issues in local communities. Landcare groups work to protect, restore and manage the natural environment and its productivity. There are about 6,000 groups across Australia where volunteers from children to senior citizens are creating a positive change in their communities. Staying in touch with others and caring for the land together is a good way to become climate ready. To join a group nearest to you, visit the Port Phillip and Western Port region Landcare website.
Coastcare community groups protect and improve our marine and coastal environment. Volunteers get involved in a range of activities, such as revegetating and landscaping coastal areas, building boardwalks, fences and tracks, monitoring native shorebirds and animals, protecting cultural sites and running educational sessions.
Watch this short video (1:25m) to find out how to get involved:
There are many free or low cost educational opportunities in the region to learn about becoming Climate Ready. You can find these through your local library, council, community groups, community learning centres and at events or festivals.
Attend community events, festivals and demonstration projects
Free educational sessions about being Climate Ready are often held at community events and festivals.
The Sustainable Living Festival is a three week program held annually across Melbourne and Victoria to raise awareness and offer solutions for ecological and social issues, especially those we expect from climate change.
Your Council also holds community events and festivals regularly through the year. Visit the local library or visit your Council’s website at the links below to find out what’s on in your area.
Eco Living Display Centre (Mornington Peninsula Shire)
The Eco Living Display Centre at The Briars in Mount Martha, is a retrofitted building that illustrates a range of sustainable design principles, energy and water efficiency products and materials, and alternative technologies such as wind and solar power. The Centre’s garden shows how to be water efficient by using no-dig beds, wicking beds and raingarden designs.
The Centre is also open to school excursions complementing the Grade 1 to Year 8 level school curriculum, with a focus on water, waste, energy and sustainable living. Sustainability workshops are held monthly from September to May, and free tours and personal energy efficiency consultations are available throughout the year.
Location: The Briars, 450 Nepean Hwy, Mount Martha.
Opening hours: Wednesday and Friday: 1 – 4 pm. Every first Saturday: 11 – 3 pm.
The Briars itself is a 230 ha property including a historic homestead and many walking tracks through wetlands and woodlands. The site also includes a farm run on sustainable practices with heirloom breeds and a seed savers garden.
Sustainability Workshops (Kingston City Council)
Kingston City Council offers Sustainability Workshops for residents. See the Sustainability Workshops Calendar for details. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 95814713 for more information.
There are a number of local emergency services groups to get involved in. You’ll not only be part of protecting the yourself and the local community should an emergency happen, but also learn about the kind of climate change risks we’re expecting in the future.
Visit these links to find out which groups are available in your area.
According to Volunteering Victoria, volunteers are the power behind more than 600,000 not for profit groups in Australia. To learn more about volunteering of any kind, visit the Volunteering Victoria website.