The Environment Association
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~ Some History of TEA ~


A Potted History, from a speech by Annemaree Woodward

World Environment Day, June 5, 2005.

We chose this special day to celebrate the 15th birthday of The Environment Association to give full recognition to the importance of the work of this community environment group. Here is an illustrative - while far from complete - story of The Environment Association.

Early years
In 1989 the idea was born to establish an environment centre in Deloraine to provide a resource base and a greater degree of respectability for local forests campaigns. So this association began its life as the Deloraine Environment Centre (DEC). A small group of people started to meet and work on issues through the Centre, and in January 1990 the Deloraine Environment Centre Inc. became a legal entity. The DEC assisted in the establishment of Deloraine House, including taking a room for rent at $30 a week. Despite a focus on protecting forests, one of the first things the DEC did was to set up a recycling depot in the old shed at Deloraine House. This wonderful initiative paved the way for the Tasmanian Trash Transformers (TTT) to establish its full-scale recycling centre at the Deloraine Tip site. DEC helped TTT to prepare its successful proposal to the Deloraine Council.
   Nevertheless forests were, understandably, a primary focus for the DEC, particularly the Great Western Tiers For several years DEC managed the Jackeys Marsh Forest Festival. This major event provided a community social hub, and vital funding for both the association and the Great Western Tiers National Park Campaign. Other events, like market stalls, raffles, trivia nights and Dutch auctions also brought in much-needed funds. In 1995, DEC left Deloraine House, and for several years had no home. Conservation campaigns continued, but there was no place that identified as an environment centre.
   In November 1998 the DEC changed its name to The Environment Association Inc (TEA) to reflect both the expansion of our municipal area from simply Deloraine to the Meander Valley and the fact that our membership base and campaigns go far beyond just the local area. Then in 1999 we took the plunge and rented an office space at 90 Emu Bay Rd to once again have a visible "shopfront" presence in the community. TEA has never worked entirely in isolation of other conservation organisations; but last year, recognising the need for a more cooperative and collaborative effort from the environment movement, we participated in the establishment of the umbrella group, Environment Tasmania. Anyone who wants to know more about that initiative can speak to Andrew Ricketts.

Environment House Trust
   In 1999, TEA designed Environment House Trust and approached members and other supporters to purchase units in the trust to buy Environment House to provide security for TEA and its work. The response was wonderful and the house was purchased, with some of the money being a donation. Considerable renovations have been carried out and there are long-term plans to use Environment House as an environmental showcase, demonstrating such things as solar-heating, composting toilet, alternate power among others. Units in the trust are still available now. If you are interested in investing in EHT or simply knowing more about it, please see Ross Ulman who is one of the trustees.

Looking back through financial records, I found that DEC had received three grants between 1990 and 1991. Firstly there was $500 from the federal Department of the Environment to promote World Environment Day. Then in 1991 came $1,600 from the Tasmanian Department of Environment and Planning to hold a seminar on water issues. In the same year a grant for $25,000 was received from the National Estate program to produce a heritage package, including the publication Plains to Plateau. Many funding applications were submitted in years to follow but these were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until 1999 that the association first received a grant from the Meander Valley Council Community Grants’ Program, with two further grants from MVC since that time. All these funds were directed to renovations of Environment House to bring it to the standard you see today. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank MVC for the latest grant of $860.00 for the purchase and installation of a low-energy hot water service which will be installed in the near future. Nevertheless, TEA continues to be primarily financed by its members and supporters.
   Membership subscriptions, fundraising events and donations are TEA's financial mainstay. As well, many variations on market stalls, raffles, dinners to name a few activities continue to raise funds to keep TEA alive.

Submissions, Objections & Appeals
   Much of the work of the association is in the form of making submissions, objections and appeals to government processes and bodies. Sometimes we wonder if it’s worth the energy expended, but from time to time we have a win. We contributed to the debate over the proposed new road to Lorinna, and the industrial area proposed for the area opposite Bowerbank Mill at the eastern entrance to Deloraine. Neither of these proposals went ahead. We made an objection and then an appeal on the development proposal for Dismal Swamp, the world’s only Blackwood Swamp Polje. Unfortunately this development did go ahead but with some serious modifications due to our input. TEA was one of five appellants against a development application for logging in the heritage landscape of Wesley Dale at Chudleigh. This was another success with the development application being withdrawn prior to the appeal being held. We also objected to the Meander Dam Proposal. You probably all know that even though there was strong community opposition and that opposition was successful in overturning the proposal at appeal, the Tasmanian government simply redrew its legislation to allow the dam to go ahead regardless. The project is plagued with problems and the dam remains unbuilt. We can only hope the problems continue into a time of greater enlightenment. Just now we are working on a submission to the Aerial Spraying Code of Practice, calling for a ban on this unacceptable and dangerous practice. We have made so many other submissions I couldn’t talk about them all now. Please feel free to browse the folder that holds many of them. If you’d like a copy of a particular document, please ask me.

Community advice
Around 1995, we started receiving numerous calls from people who were experiencing problems related to environment issues. Most of these were due to logging operations and/or plantation establishments, mainly on private land. We were a little puzzled as to the number of calls and how they came about until we discovered most were referrals from the Tasmanian Greens. While the recognition was great and we were glad to help when we could, at times we felt overwhelmed by the number of enquiries and the degree of distress our callers were experiencing. Shortly after the RFA was signed in November 1997, the number of calls escalated till we were receiving up to a dozen every week. While the demand has slowed down a bit since then, we continue to provide assistance in this way.

   Recycled paper
From the outset the Deloraine Environment Centre made a commitment to use recycled paper wherever possible. It isn’t always easy but we have stuck to that commitment. People say —“Oh, but it costs more!” Firstly let me say, the paper component of any publication is the smallest part. As well the price of every single consumer item always bears the hidden cost to the environment. You can buy Canon 100, a 100% recycled, post-consumer waste copy paper from OfficeWorks in Launceston.
During the early 1990’s the DEC assisted the people of Jackeys Marsh in campaigning against the use of 1080 poison. This cheap and nasty practice continues. Who knows how many millions of native animals have been cruelly killed with this obnoxious poison or when 1080 poison will finally become a thing of the past, or indeed what will replace it. TEA supports excluding animals from production areas. If you are interested in working against 1080 poison please talk to Sue Walker.
The DEC grew out of the campaign to protect the forests of the Great Western Tiers. The campaign to protect the Great Western Tiers is a story in itself, spanning more than 2 decades of direct actions, awareness raising, publications and extensive lobbying. A great deal of good work was done, including David Bellamy declaring it a National Park on behalf of the community on November 15, 1992. That idea hasn’t filtered through to the government yet as we’ve seen in the latest round of inadequate conservation with the revision of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement. Also in November 1992, DEC was a partner with the Native Forest Network in establishing and running the first Temperate Forest Conference. DEC made an attempt to start up a campaign to protect the forests of Christmas Hills. Unfortunately this was short-lived due to lack of support. In 1995 the Reedy Marsh Forest Conservation Group was affiliated with the DEC and remains involved today. TEA and RMFCG have done a substantial body of work in the area of forest conservation, including RMFCG’s participation as a stakeholder in the RFA. The RMFCG also does considerable work in lodging complaints against breaches of the Forest Practices Code of which there are many more than can be covered by a few volunteers. If you are interested in doing some of this kind of work, please see Andrew Ricketts. TEA and RMFCG together have produced various leaflets to raise awareness of forests and the need for their protection including kits to advise people about the options for forests during both state and federal election campaigns.

Keeping in Touch - Newsletter
The DEC News started in 1990 and became TEA News in 1998. It’s TEA’s way of keeping in touch with its members. We are always looking for people to write articles, snippets, poetry, whatever, on environment themes so if you’ve got something to say please let me know.

   Today I haven’t mentioned the names of the people who have contributed to DEC. TEA & EHT over 15 years. There are so many and I would hate to leave someone out. Just let me say that none of the work of this association would happen without the great generosity of spirit of its volunteers. It is probably unique in that all its workers are volunteers. Volunteers provide advice to people who are facing environmental problems, manage and renovate Environment House, run campaigns, make submissions, hold events to promote issues, in fact, they do everything. There are so many environment issues facing our community today and TEA is here to provide a focus on those issues. Whatever The Environment Association does is done by the people who get involved. If you want to see improved environment outcomes, please get involved now.

World Environment Day theme: Organic food — good for you, good for the planet
   Today’s focus is on organic food. It seems to me that many caring people are yet to embrace food grown organically as part of their lifestyle. We want everyone to think about the connection between organic agriculture and a healthy planet. I often hear people say that organic food is too expensive. I think we all have to start considering the environmental cost of the things we do, including eating. When I was a little girl, television came to Australia. TVs were very expensive and not many people had one. We went each Sunday evening to our lucky neighbour's place to watch Disneyland. Slowly the idea caught on and more and more people bought a TV until today it’s considered very unusual - if not eccentric - to not have at least one TV in every Australian home. I think organic food can be like that. If we each choose organic whenever we can, the demand will grow, production will swell to meet that demand and soon organic food will be readily available and prices will level out. We can all play a part in making organic food mainstream and affordable for everyone.

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The Environment Association website. This page was last updated on 22/06/2009. All material is Copyright