East Brunswick’s Sarah Day has been crowned the first Environment Victoria Local Heroes Award winner as part of World Environment Day celebrations.
Ms Day – who operates Eco-Shout environment centre in Collingwood – was crowned Environment Victoria’s Conservation Employee and Local Hero for Victoria for impressive efforts to protect the environment through personal action and educating the wider community.
Ms Day has spent several years campaigning to protect forests in Victoria, Tasmania and Canada and was the founder of Eco-Shout, which aims to provide information, resources and support to people and groups working to conserve the environment.
Run as part of World Environment Day celebrations, the awards are given out by environment groups in each state to honour local heroes working to protect our unique natural environment.
As overall winner Sarah will receive a $500 prize.
Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation will also hand out the Tassie Tiger Anti-Award to a group or individual who has done serious damage to Australia’s environment over the past year.
“Local heroes across the country are working to secure Australia’s future and we wanted to acknowledge their efforts,” Acting Environment Victoria executive director Dr Paul Sinclair said.
“Choosing an overall winner was tough because there are so many individuals and groups throughout Victoria doing a tremendous job in caring, nurturing and fighting for a better environment whether targeting river health, climate change, inappropriate local developments, reducing waste, sustainable living or improving public transport.
“Sarah is a shining example of the significant work being done at the grassroots community level to educate people and lobby governments to provide significant environmental outcomes that benefit the whole Victorian community.
“These awards show Australians are passionate about the environment with thousands of people doing their bit.
“It’s time the Federal Government did its share by setting a national target and roadmap to reduce our greenhouse emissions – which are some of the highest in the developed world – by at least 60 per by 2050,” Dr Sinclair said.
Ms Day said she was honoured to be part of a broad community of people working towards environmental and social justice. “There are so many people who spend all their time and energy working towards these goals, who get very little recognition for their amazing work,’’ Ms Day said.
“Before creating Eco-shout I’d been involved in forest campaigning for three years, especially in the Central Highlands, East Gippsland and The Tarkine in Tasmania and before that I was involved with EquiTerre in Montreal, Canada.’’
“Other campaigns I’ve taken part in include the Save East Gippsland forest campaign, Blue Wedges Coalition against channel deepening; The Gunns 20, Forests and Free Speech, Lake Cowal, The Black GST and CorpWatch Australia.’’
Ms Day said Eco-shout had been designed as a catalyst to action for Melbourne’s green campaigners and wider community, specifically those campaigning for environmental and Indigenous justice and a sustainable future. The service is about to expand to other states, starting with NSW and Tasmania.
It includes a directory of active groups; a list of sustainable small businesses; and a corporate `greenwash’ watchlist to expose companies that falsely claim their products are environmentally friendly.
Ms Day also created an eco-friendly share housing network and online forums for swapping resources and car pooling.
To help other groups, Eco-shout has constructed websites for: Treedomfighters, Constructive Criticism and Forest Action Trust.
Local Heroes category winners:
Community Group Conservation Award – Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council. For more than three decades they have campaigned against environmentally unsound development and have extensively worked over six years for the preservation of a precious 1000hectares of land and water at Devilbend that will now be retained in public ownership as a Conservation Reserve.
Volunteer Conservation Award – Yarra Riverkeeper Ian Penrose. Ian has spent extensive time fighting for greater protection and increased flows of one of Victoria’s significant waterways – the Yarra River.
Conservation Employee Award – Sarah Day of Eco-shout. For her extensive work assisting community groups with additional resources and knowledge to help fight their local campaigns, as well as regional and international initiatives.
Stop Montrose Quarry Expansion group. SMQE are fighting a proposed expansion of the quarry which could have negative effects on Montrose and surrounding environment. Also Goulburn Valley Environment Group for their work on salinity, drainage, urban planning, native vegetation and lobbying for the establishment of a Barmah-Millewah National Park.