On state budget day, the Transport Minister pulled our funding to engage communities on sustainable transport issues. The following day, the EPA ended over 12 months of negotiations with us to develop new ways to help them effectively engage with Victorian communities. Since then, we’ve been trying to get a clear answer from the Victorian Environment Minister regarding the state’s intention for our funding but still no luck.
We don’t know what is coming next but it appears the government has singled out Environment Victoria and we fear that all our state funding will be lost.
Our fear was compounded when The Age reported that the Coalition accused Environment Victoria of running a campaign against them and when the Herald Sun reported that the Victorian Treasurer is reviewing Environment Victoria’s funding. The same article accused Environment Victoria of being critical of the Baillieu Government and said that senior government members are furious with Environment Victoria’s support for a price on carbon.
We don’t know if the Coalition is trying to quash environmental activism by coming after not-for-profit groups like Environment Victoria. We hope not. But the fact remains that the Victorian Government funds other peak bodies representing Victorian industries and communities, so why is the environment sector being singled out?
For over 40 years we’ve received funding from successive state governments to train and educate community leaders to engage in government environmental planning and decisions. And we receive funds to help the most disadvantaged Victorians, including newly arrived refugees, save water and energy. Our campaigns are not funded by the state nor are our core expenses such as rent and administration. So if we lose state funds, it’s our environment and the most disadvantaged amongst us who will bear the brunt!
Since being elected, the Victorian Government has taken many regressive environmental actions – returning cattle to the Alpine National Park, stymieing wind farms while supporting coal and ending discussions to replace Hazelwood with clean energy. Reducing our funding is another clear signal that action toward a healthy environment, clean jobs and a low-carbon economy is not on the Coalition’s agenda.
The Baillieu government has come to power at the most crucial time in history for our environment. They have a responsibility to take care of our environment, not make it worse! And we’ll keep prodding and poking them so they live up to their responsibilities as caretakers of our environment.
We’re not going anywhere.
Our campaigns and advocacy work is independently funded by concerned Victorians who want a healthy future and they will continue. But our education work is funded by the state and if these funds are slashed, we’ll be forced to cut our programs until we can find new funding sources. One thing is for certain, education is key to a healthy environment and active communities and we must continue this work.
As for our finances, over the past few years we’ve put in place the Green Future Fund and boosted our fundraising activities to fast-track our transition to financial independence. We’ll still take a hit but thanks to the help of our donors, we’ll survive any funding loss.
We hope the Baillieu government is not targeting the environment by defunding us. We urge the government to look at our award winning programs they fund and judge them on their merit. When they do, they’ll see that they are amongst the best in the country.
We’ll keep you posted on any further movements at the station regarding our funding.
In the meantime, we wanted to thank you for your ongoing support for Victoria’s environment. We are proud of the work we’ve done with Victorian communities over the past 40 years with your help. Together, we’ve helped make our state a better place to live.
At the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?