2nd Apr. 2015 - Letter to the Apollo Bay News Editor
Thank you to Ross Hadley for his recent letters to the editor in the Apollo Bay News Sheet; they display a concern that may exist in the community. Hopefully the information below will provide greater understanding of the work of the OCC.
The OCC has never lost any State government funding; in fact over the last 9 years the Foreshore Committee has completed over $2.47 mill of capital projects; securing $1.41 mill of external funding on an investment by the committee of only $1.07 mill. The breakdown of these figures and the details of the 38 projects involved have been available on the OCC's website since 2013. It is included in the OCC's Coastal Management Plan (CMP) that was approved by the Minister for the Environment & Climate Change in May 2013. The CMP also includes the audited financials for the committee from 2006 to 2012.
Of note in the last year or so the OCC has constructed a Sewage Treatment Plant at the Wye River Foreshore Camping Ground and installed a new modular amenities block at a total cost of about $550k. At the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve a new BBQ area, adjacent the netball courts, and new amenities block has been developed to serve local sporting clubs as well as campers at peak times; total cost for both around $180k.
Regarding function; the OCC is a committee in name only; because of State government policy it actually operates like a board.
There is no requirement for an AGM and there are no office holders as would be expected in committee operating under the Associations Incorporations Act 1981; rather executive officers, employed by the committee perform those functions, reporting to the committee.
The committee is appointed by the State government, via an Expression of Interest process for 3 years; the Chairman is then appointed by the Minister.
The term of the current committee finishes June 30th this year and the Department has just completed a widely publicised expression of interest process for the next committee.
The committee is required by government to supply audit financials each year. Since last year the committee has been required to publish an Annual Report that details its work and report against the committee's primary strategic planning document the CMP.
The OCC expects to publish its Annual Report by the end of June.
Regarding future works, the CMP identifies Foreshore Master Plans for the six township foreshores under its management as the next high priority work. The OCC began planning for this important work in late 2013 and sourced about two thirds of the funding required ($150-60k) by early 2014.
Further State funds were applied for through the 'Putting Local's First Program' in late 2013; however the State required a financial contribution by Local Government for the application to succeed. Initially the then COS CEO refused to support the project; in mid-2014, after much lobbying he agreed to contribute $5k toward the development of the six plans. The Government went into caretaker mode and now that program no longer exists.
The delay in accessing funding for this work has hamstrung the committee over the last 12 months.
The OCC will continue to work toward gaining the funding required to complete this important work.
It is expected the Master Plans will define and detail all works on the foreshores of Marengo, Apollo Bay, Skenes Creek, Kennett River, Wye River, & Separation Creek for the next 5-10 years. The strength of their success will rely heavily on comprehensive community input; as did the CMP.
The OCC, with COS support, continues to lobby at a State and Federal Level for an improved funding model that could benefit all coastal communities.
Chair, Otway Coast Committee