As Chair of Birrarung Council, the statutory body established under new legislation in 2018 as a ‘voice of the Yarra River’, our Strategic Director Engagement, Chris Chesterfield, has been busy discussing the Council’s work and priorities.
The role of the 11-member Birrarung Council is to advise the Victorian Government about how to best use the Yarra for community and recreational purposes and protect the river’s health. The Council was established in response to recommendations of a Ministerial Advisory Committee, which Chris also chaired in 2016.
As part of new governance arrangements, the Birrarung Council provides advice to government to ensure the ongoing protection of the river and that it delivers on key priorities under the Water for Victoria plan and the Yarra River Protection Act 2017. Its members include several Traditional Owners and representatives from environmental and agricultural industry groups, and local community .
As Chair of Birrarung Council, Chris gave a keynote address at an Engineers Australia seminar in May, along with his colleagues on Birrarung Council, Dr Erin O'Donnell from Melbourne University and Dr Jane Doolan, a Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.
At the seminar, Chris spoke about the history of the Yarra River, particularly since the establishment and growth of Melbourne, and ‘how our booming population threatens the legacy of past visionary planning and investment in establishing a corridor or parkland along the River’.
‘The Yarra River Protection Act establishes new governance arrangements and embeds new management principles, including ‘net gain’ that all public entities must have regard to,’ Chris told the seminar participants.
‘It is the first Victorian legislation to include Woi-wurrung language in its title and preamble, and Wurundjeri Elders participated in the second reading of the legislation for the first time in the history of the Parliament,’ Chris said.
At the CRCWSC, Chris is Strategic Director Engagement and leads our IRP3 (Guiding integrated urban and water planning) team.