Caring for the Environment
Action for Agriculture
Overview of Year One
“The tolerance of nature today is threatened by pollution and the destruction through our own disregard of many of the species of plants, beasts and fowls recorded by Cook and Banks. There could be no better way of commemorating the discovery of this land than by developing a national consciousness for the preservation of our natural heritage.”
– Sir Vincent Fairfax, Opening address of the 1970 Royal Easter Show, in the presence of members of the Royal Family.
The Caring for the Environment focus area reflects two areas of interest for Sir Vincent Fairfax: youth leadership and environmental protection.
Overwhelmingly, both the literature and VFFF’s own consultations, point to young people’s increasing awareness and understanding of environmental issues, their causes and effects. Young Australians appreciate their own future wellbeing is dependent on addressing environmental challenges, and VFFF appreciates that as part of a Backing Young People strategy, advancing youth driven approaches to these challenges is crucial.
Through the Caring for the Environment focus area, VFFF aims to support young people to turn their concerns for the future of the environment into action, by participating in and leading environmental projects. Specifically, the outcomes being sought are:
- For young people to gain new environmental knowledge, skills and networks
- To advance youth driven approaches to environmental challenges.
Within this context, in the first year of granting under Caring for the Environment, VFFF emphasised building the capability of young Australians to engage in and drive change, particularly in rural and regional communities where the impact of environmental changes can be more visible.
From inspiring action through the programs of Cool Australia and Take 3 for the Sea, to deepening the knowledge and networks of future environmental leaders through the work of OzGreen, Young Farmers Connect, Action for Agriculture and Bush Heritage’s Seeding the Future program, all VFFF’s grants recognised that when given the tools, resources and encouragement, young people are eager to take action to care for Australia’s unique environment.
Bush Heritage Australia, $754,819 over three years
Seeding the Future
A pilot program which seeks to grow the capacity of Bush Heritage to support aspiring conservationists and improve their career outcomes by providing practical on-the-job experience and mentorship at a leading conservation not for profit.
VFFF Grants Committee
Action for Agriculture, $50,000
Empowering Young Environmental Champions
Delivery of a youth driven action learning program that unites the agriculture sector and young people.
Cool Australia, $48,180
Engaging young people in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report
To design, develop, host and promote free education resources based on the latest IPCC Report.
Regional youth leading and succeeding
To employ a young person on the Mid North Coast of NSW to engage regional youth in environmental initiatives.
Sustain: The Australian Food Network, $50,000
Building the capacity of Young Farmers Connect
Supporting Young Farmers Connect to catalyse their impact by supporting strategic development governance, planning and organisational resilience.
Take 3 for the Sea, $49,685
To transition two core operational roles from volunteers to part-time, paid positions to support the growth of the organisation.
Highlight: Seeding the Future
Bush Heritage Australia represents a special part of both our past and future as a Foundation. VFFF first supported Bush Heritage in 2006, approving $850,000 towards the purchase of Scottsdale Reserve. In FY22, Bush Heritage became VFFF’s largest grant in the Caring for the Environment focus area.
Over the course of Bush Heritage’s 30-year history, the organisation has transformed from a small landholder in Tasmania to a national not for profit committed to conserving biodiversity across Australia. The organisation now protects 1.2 million hectares of land through its network of reserves and helps manage a further 10.1 million hectares through partnerships with First Nations people and other landholders. And the organisation’s growth ambitions are not slowing down.
Bush Heritage recently released its 2030 Strategy, outlining an ambitious plan to deepen and double its impact across 30 million hectares. For this to be achieved, Bush Heritage needs to significantly grow its workforce and train the next generation of Australian conservationists – and that’s where the Seeding the Future program comes in.
There is significant demand from young environmentalists to secure practical experience in the conservation sector to complement their studies. This demand, coupled with Bush Heritage’s recognition of their growing workforce needs over the next decade, meant that the historic ad-hoc approach to internships and student placements was no longer serving the organisation well. Bush Heritage identified the need to not only increase their capacity to host students, but also take the administrative and mentoring pressure of managing internships and placements away from field-based staff. A $754,819 grant over three years from VFFF has enabled a dedicated program team to be established to achieve these goals.
The Seeding the Future program will provide more opportunities for early-career conservationists to gain paid work experience through internships, traineeships, including Aboriginal-identified positions, and PhD placements across all areas of Bush Heritage’s work. This program will not only help provide Bush Heritage with a pool of passionate, job-ready young people to meet their growing needs, but also help fulfill the needs of other organisations in the sector. Eventually, we may even see one of these emerging conservationists work at the Scottsdale Reserve that marked the beginning of VFFF’s relationship with Bush Heritage.
Thank you Camilla!
We would like to acknowledge the work of Camilla Chapman who led the development of the Caring for the Environment focus area in 2021. As part of this work, Camilla conducted a consultation with more than 20 environmentally-focused organisations to better understand how to engage young people in Australia to lead environmental activities. This process shaped the funding pipeline for the Caring for the Environment focus area.
We thank Camilla for her thoughtful approach to building the framework for how VFFF will grant in this area and her many contributions to VFFF during her time as Grants Manager.