Welcome to our July newsletter, where you can find news, updates and events from the many faces of FoE.
We hope you are attending NAIDOC events in your local area this week -- learning more about who's land you're on and joining First Nation's ongoing fight to protect their lands, waters, totems, stories, language, and culture from ongoing colonisation.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day of Observance committee, it has activist roots, built on years of protest and radical resistance.
As Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung & Dhudhuroa woman Ngarra Murary writes on @IndigenousX: “The roots of NAIDOC Week can be traced back to the 1920s & 30s, when Aboriginal rights groups took formation and staged boycotts and marches on the [Australian] government. Instrumental in these actions were the likes of William Cooper, Jack Patten, Tom Foster and William Ferguson.” Learn the full history here.
Like every week, we are being asked to listen to First Nations voices, amplify their work, attend events and commit to the #NAIDOC theme, Heal County.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal land!
Gas drilling moratorium is gone, but opposition remains
A strong five year campaign saw Victoria adopt a ban on all onshore gas drilling in 2014. While the ban on fracking (hydraulic fracturing, used to access unconventional gas like CSG) is permanent, the moratorium on conventional gas has now been lifted.
Our reaction is here: We say that the decision by the Victorian government to reopen the state to gas companies is bad news for regional communities, for our farmers and for the climate.
Meanwhile, the good news is that Friends of the Earth has been developing a digital resource called DrillWatch to support impacted communities.
Attendees will hear from the leaders of the successful campaign that won the moratorium, be among the first to see how DrillWatch can be a platform for the resistance, and find out about next steps.
Kimba Nuclear Dump: Premier Marshall must enforce SA legislation
By accepting amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill, the federal government recently abandoned its year-long attempt to shield its plan for a national nuclear waste dump in SA from judicial review.
"The Morrison government's disgraceful efforts to override the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners to the proposed nuclear dump will be challenged in the courts and politically. Barngarla Traditional Owners are expected to launch a judicial challenge.
"Friends of the Earth welcomes SA Labor's policy that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects given the sad and sorry history of nuclear projects in this state.
"Premier Steven Marshall's support for a nuclear waste dump that is unanimously opposed by Barngarla Traditional Owners is unconscionable, crude racism and Friends of the Earth calls on the Premier to support Traditional Owners ‒ and all South Australians ‒ instead of shamefully falling into line behind his federal colleagues.
Full Release here.
Support Barngarla Traditional Custodians in paying for the lawyers that will be taking on the legal challenge for judicial review:
Conservationists raise alarm over logging in Swifts Creek on Gunnai Kurnai Country
The Victorian government is targeting forests in Swifts Creek on Gunai Kurnai Country for logging despite being an important refuge area for wildlife after the bushfires.
Conservation groups and East Gippsland locals have recently visited the area and are shocked at the scale of destruction in forests which have never been logged. Two areas have already been clear-felled, and the whole hillside is up for logging. Despite being critical habitat for Greater Gliders, Sooty Owls, and Yellow-bellied Gliders, the state government commenced logging two months ago.
The area is a key refuge for wildlife after the bushfires identified by GECO and other conservation groups earlier this year. These and other important forests are still being targeted for logging, despite a federal review into the fires and how they affect the controversial agreements between the state and federal government which give logging an exemption from environment laws.
The government acknowledged last year that logging would have serious impacts on wildlife and forests following the fires, but additional areas were earmarked for logging last year. Swifts Creek has been heavily impacted by logging and past bushfires. But the area now up for logging is largely untouched and luckily wasn't impacted by the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires.
Head to geco.org.au/take_action to get involved
More native forest to be added to Brataualung Forest Park
Since the 1990’s, together with Friends of Gippsland Bush (FoGB) we campaigned for the protection of rainforest catchments in the Strzelecki Ranges in Agnes River, Franklin River, Dingo Creek, Albert River and College Creek which resulted in the creation of the Brataualung Forest Park in 2018.
Now, the Brataualung Forest Park in Gippsland is home to some of the most important koala habitat in Australia! These forests make up part of the habitat zones of the Strzelecki Koala, Victoria's only endemic koala population. With possibly only 1500 - 2000 Strzelecki Koalas remaining in the wild, every patch of forest matters. Without the work of Friends of the Earth and community groups committed to the protection of native forests, much of this forest would be converted to pine plantations. The new reserve will eventually provide habitat for hundreds of Strzelecki koalas.
The initial protection of 1600 hectares in the Brataualung Forest park in 2018 created a permanent refuge for koala populations in the region. Another 6,000 hectares has been promised by the State Government by 2027, a third of which will be added to the Brataualung Forest later in 2021.
We need to continue the work to ensure that future handbacks of bush can be added to the Brataualung Forest Park, and we need to make sure that koalas in the Strzelecki Ranges are protected under Federal Environmental Laws.
Support our forest & koala protection work with a tax deductible donation here
Read more about the Bratualung Forest Park and our campaign to protect the Strzelecki Koala here
Strzelecki Koala Action Team builds new collective
SKAT held its first online collective meeting last Thursday night and we were stoked to engage with 14 supporters calling in from a broad spectrum of land.
With much enthusiasm we cannot wait to discuss our campaign updates and continue to discuss and explore ways in which passionate people can help together to campaign and protect our threatened, endemic Strzelecki Koala.
Want to find out how you can help?
Earthworker Cooperative arose from the need to create alternative jobs and directions away from the fossil fuel industry in Australia. Within our Australian networks, and through powerful international alliances, we are working to increase the capacity of the cooperative movement to build a jobs-based alternative to climate emergency, species extinction and the growing, global war economy.
As world leaders return home following yet another G7 conference filled with hollow commitments to address the ongoing destruction caused by our greed-based economic system, it is as clear as ever that the change we require must come from below. Cooperatives provide a structure for that change, a blueprint for a humane economy.
SO, what's happening in each of our co-ops? Here’s an update, as well as information on how you can support or get involved in each one.
Time to get on with offshore wind energy
The ALP says it would back the development of offshore wind projects, which will ‘unlock billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs’, demanding that the Morrison government bring offshore federal wind legislation to Parliament as ‘a matter of urgency’.
Friends of the Earth welcomes the ALP's stance, and say that it is time for the Prime Minister to step in and deliver offshore wind legislation after years of delay by Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Our full reaction is here.
The idea of kickstarting a jobs-rich offshore wind sector has won the support of unions and the climate movement -- only Angus Taylor's is standing in the way.
Climate Change and Pacific Sovereignty
Current scientific information and predictions about the pace and impacts of climate change indicate that there may be limitations to resilience and adaptation measures in response to such impacts as rising sea levels, extreme weather events and ocean warming and acidification. This scenario is becoming an increasing concern for Pacific Island nations, especially Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, comprised almost entirely of atolls.
How are the impacts of climate change already challenging the cultural identity and sovereignty of the peoples of these nations? What strategies are being put in place to address them? How can their political autonomy and sovereign identity continue to be maintained if a significant proportion of their population is forced to move?
Join us to hear from outstanding Pacific Island advocates and their allies, from a range of political, academic and community perspectives, engage with these concerns.
Facebook Event here | Tickets here
Second toxic coal ash spill sparks outrage at Australia’s biggest polluter AGL
Australia’s biggest polluter, AGL, has been fined $15,000 following a spill of toxic coal ash at Bayswater Power Station, only six months after it entered a $1 million ‘enforceable undertaking’ with the NSW EPA following a similar incident in September 2019.
The recent spill, which occurred on April 5, caused coal ash containing a cocktail of heavy metals to enter Bayswater Creek, which was running at the time and forms part of the Hunter River catchment.
"AGL is the most penalised coal power station owner in the country, with over fifty non-compliances since 2015 leading to eight fines and two enforceable undertakings for Bayswater alone. That AGL is incapable of avoiding incidents like this leaves the community with little confidence that it is going to appropriately manage its future rehabilitation responsibilities, particularly with respect to its proposed expanded coal ash dam.” McGarity said.
Healthy Futures and EJA's full Media Release here.
Cane Toad Awards hosts an event to expose the Australian criminal corporations
The first edition of the Corporate Cane Toad Awards had more than 1000 votes and a night of music, drinks and awards to expose the nominees will happen on 8 of July, at the office of Friends of the Earth in Melbourne.
The brand-new award ceremony was launched by Friends of the Earth Australia, Jubilee Australia and ActionAid Australia and the public has decided which company will be crowned.
From BHP's Samarco dam disaster in Brazil to Mayur Resources' push for the first coal industry in the Pacific, Australian corporations are implicated in Human rights violations and destruction of the environment worldwide.
This year's inaugural nominees are BHP, RIO TINTO, THE JUST GROUP, ANZ, MAYUR RESOURCES and RESGEN.
The event will also celebrate Friends of the Earth's recent historic legal victory over one of the biggest Corporate Cane Toads of all time, Shell.
Politicians across Victoria Receive People's Climate Strategy
Friday 18 June was our statewide Delivery Day: the day community members met with political representatives from every political party in every region of Victoria to deliver them copies of our People's Climate Strategy.
From the coast, to the city, to the Murray, community members met with over 50 Members of Parliament to talk to them about the climate impacts they are already seeing unfold, and the local climate solutions they want to see rolled out.
We framed the climate crisis as something that is here and now for people in Victoria—not decades away, or only at the polar ice caps. And with personal stories and local community knowledge, we made climate change relevant to every MP.
Just days after receiving copies, the Leader and Deputy leader of the Victorian Nationals publicly noted the strong community support for tackling the climate crisis. Our message even made it into the federal parliament, with Labor MP Ged Kearney calling on members of the Morrison government to read the People's Climate Strategy (video).
New Campaign to Increase Australia's Climate Targets
Time is running out for Australia to increase its 2030 climate target for the critically-important COP26 summit. It's why FoE Melbourne's Act on Climate collective will throw everything at the issue for the next four months.
Act on Climate will be on the ground in Liberal heartland seats in the inner-east of Melbourne to ramp up pressure on Morrison government MPs. We need to see the Prime Minister match the targets set by the United Kingdom and United States or beat them!
We're going to need a lot of help to have impact in coming months, so please join us for two campaign info sessions to hear about our strategy:
- Thurs 5 Aug - Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 6:30pm to 8:00pm
- Thurs 12 Aug - Lido Cinema, Hawthorn, 6:30pm to 8:00pm
If you'd like to support the campaign in your local community, please email campaign coordinator, Leigh Ewbank: [email protected]
Lighter Footprints & the Fight Against Fossil Gas
The powerhouse grassroots climate group, Lighter Footprints, is ramping up its campaign against fossil gas.
On Wednesday 28 July, Lighter Footprints will host The Fully Electric Home & The Fight Against Gas at the Marwal Centre in Balwyn North. Attendees will hear from energy advisor Tim Forcey about transitioning to a fully-electric home as well as Friends of the Earth's own Cam Walker about resisting new gas developments.
'Good Grief' series starting soon
Climate grief, eco-anxiety, despair, dread, overwhelm, paralysis, guilt, frustration, anger... Just some of the heavy feelings that can be evoked by the systemic predicaments we find ourselves caught up in.
The Good Grief Network program "10 Steps to Personal Resilience & Empowerment in a Chaotic Climate" creates a space for us to lean into and move through painful feelings about the state of the world together.
Join the sessions to share, be heard, and listen, to deconstruct cultural narratives, build skills and knowledge, and reorient towards meaningful efforts while growing resilient communities.
Sunday afternoon sessions, weekly, in person in the Yami Lester Room at Friends of the Earth, starting 18 July. More info and bookings here.
Thursday evening sessions, fortnightly, online via Zoom, starting 22 July. More info and bookings here. Places are limited so book now.
Three days to make a submission for local renewable energy
As we transition from polluting fossil fuels to wind and solar power, it's essential regional communities benefit from the transition. You can find out more about the Bill by visiting the website of Helen Haines MP or make a submission directly to the inquiry here.
Volunteer with Friends of the Earth Melbourne!
Are you passionate about protecting our ecosystems and taking action on climate change?
Friends of the Earth Melbourne is working with communities across Victoria to stand up to big corporations and fight for a just and sustainable future.