High Achievers - Environmental Services Team City of Cockburn

Article image - High Achievers - Environmental Services Team City of Cockburn City of Cockburn Environmental Education Officers and volunteers during the 2016 WA Switched on School’s Summit, alongside National Schools Program Director Laura Sykes.

The City of Cockburn – 24kms south of Perth – is renowned for its pristine natural features. The City’s coastal communities are nestled close to protected beaches and offer a laid-back lifestyle. Port Coogee is an idyllic harbour in one of Perth’s newest seaside communities; Coogee Beach and the Woodman Point recreation reserve house a range of leisure spots and historic landmarks. Two chains of wetlands run north to south through the City as part of the Beeliar Regional Park – providing a natural oasis for local flora and fauna.

Protecting these surroundings is a key focus for Council and a dedicated Environmental Services Team helps to achieve this.
City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett nominated the team as Local Government Focus ‘High Achievers’ and praised their focus on community education.

The team is a service unit of the Parks and Environment Business Unit and consists of two part-time Environmental Education officers, two part-time Sustainability Officers, two Environmental Officers and an Environmental Manager. Operational team members include a supervisor, six Bushland Management Officers as well as an Aboriginal trainee.

The educational focus and community outreach is critical, the team said: “The Environmental Services team recognises the importance of not only preserving and sustainably managing our valuable natural resources, but also empowering the community to understand the importance of this and engage them in the process.”

In September the team worked with the City’s Youth Centre staff to host the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) WA Switched on Schools Summit, which uses a peer-to-peer approach to ignite students’ interest in climate issues.

“It helps them to understand sustainability and develop skills required to create change including managing groups and communicating issues and ideas.”

The Environmental Education Officers also work with the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre and Native ARC (Animal Rehabilitation Centre) to deliver several school holiday programs, including a popular program for families to attend a ‘walk, talk or night stalk’ and learn about native plants and animals.

In a Western Australian first, the council has secured a partnership with the Little Green Steps program, which offers early years sustainability training to its childcare centres and home day care services.

Another significant project is the Coogee Maritime Trail, an artificial reef system that has been installed along the Cockburn Sound coast.
The team has been recognised for its work: In 2011, the City won the State Environment Awards (WA) and in 2012 it won the National Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities award, which celebrates sustainability achievements of urban communities across Australia. In 2017, the City was also awarded a Gold Waterwise Council status.
The team members are varied in their skills and good communication is key to their success.

“Collectively, Environmental Services is a dynamic team with members bringing a range of skills and expertise to deliver an effective service.

“Importantly, team members provide support and encouragement to their fellow colleagues and extend this to broader City staff as well.

“Open communication is also a valued practice of the team; many initiatives have focused on engagement with staff members outside of the team and harnessing their enthusiasm.”

Into the future, the team is hoping to broaden its reach and further collaboration with other levels of government.

“Funding for programs that extend beyond the local government is challenging.  

“Seeking to work collaboratively on education initiatives with State counterparts is an area that can increase Council’s capacity to deliver meaningful environmental education initiatives and outcomes for a wide audience.”