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5 Dec 2017

Recognising Centennial Parklands Volunteers

Volunteering is one of the life bloods of our organisations and has been a part of the way we work at Centennial Parklands for over 13 years. Every year we take the time to celebrate our volunteers and the work they have achieved over the last year to support and protect our wonderful Parklands.

From bird watching to growing plants, some of the most unique opportunities to give back while in a natural setting can be found, right here, across Centennial Park, Queens Park and Moore Park.

We are humbled and appreciative that 130 dedicated volunteers and 750 corporate volunteers have taken the time out of their day to come and make a difference in the community so on UN’s International Volunteer Day we say thank you!

Why is volunteering important?

As a self-funded public parkland, we are reliant on the community’s support and corporate volunteering contributions to help us carry out tasks that we are not always able to carry out through our own day-to-day operations.

We started to formally engage volunteers in 2004 but we have had members of the community donating their time and lending a helping long before that as well. It is our volunteers and their willingness to support us that ensures the environmental and social benefits of the Parklands continue to reach our visitors every day.

How do our volunteers contribute?

Over a year our volunteers contribute up to 8,500 hours of in-kind work across 15 different programs which wouldn’t be possible without the help of our Site Coordinator Volunteer Programs, Murray Gibbs. These programs vary from horticulture, litter patrol, visitor information services, habitat restoration, bush regeneration, carp management, wildlife monitoring and archiving.

Here are some other projects and their achievements to date we wanted to share with you.

The Parklands Beautification team

Two of our dedicated volunteers Tony and Dion have been collecting litter across the Parklands for 4 years and during that time collected over 20,000 litres of litter! We also have volunteer Luke who takes care of Kippax Lake in Moore Park and you can often see him collecting litter from both pathways and ponds to keep the surrounding areas plastic free. It is small things like these that can go unnoticed by the public but we love what they do!

The Guriwal Bush Trail

One of our newest volunteer projects that are really taking off in the south-west corner of Centennial Park is the regeneration of the Guriwal Bush Trail, which involves the restoration of a degraded 10’000 square metre natural site. This site is being developed into an Aboriginal cultural space, including bush tucker garden, cultural dance space and artwork in collaboration with local Aboriginal community.

What you may not know about this project is that this area is an important site for the Aboriginal community and popular area for volunteering with both community and corporate volunteer groups. One of the local community members, Ana-Maria, has worked nearly every session since the group started in 2016.

The focus of this project is on developing and connecting community, engaging the community and corporate volunteers, and ensuring excellent environmental, cultural and educational outcomes.

Growing Group

The Parklands Growing Group is an important volunteer group that was established in 2009 and who propagates plant material for planting within the Parklands to raise funds through plant sales. Each year these volunteers contribute around 900 hours of their time to propagate plant material in the nursery located at the Discovery Centre, which was funded and opened by the Centennial Parklands Foundation.

As a result of the work of their work we host three plant sales annually – one on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and a Christmas Plant Sale in December, which is taking place on Saturday 16 December this year. Money raised from these sales goes directly back into the group to enhance facilities and help continue the great work of our nursery volunteers.

The Growing Group volunteers focus on propagating and selling plant species found within the Parklands’ Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS) threatened species sites, and also the exotic species found growing within the Parklands’ horticultural displays.

The Native Vegetation Survey

The Native Vegetation Survey has one main volunteer who comes to the Park every Saturday. Diana recently completed a massive project by identifying and documenting all native Vegetation across Centennial Parkland and Queens Park –that is a lot of walking and a lot of plants!

Lachlan Swamp Habitat Restoration

Marylon Coate has been a volunteer since 2008 and recently completed a three-year long restoration of the endangered flying fox camp at Lachlan Swamp. She removed an invasive weed species by using a hand saw and fork! This greatly improved the strength and resilience of the native vegetation and eliminated the weed from the head of Sydney’s largest inner metropolitan wetland.

Carp Management

In addition to these programs we coordinate, we also have several ongoing partnerships with special programs such as Fishing 4 Therapy with our carp whisperer that changes the lives of the elderly, people with disabilities, stroke victims, or people with Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome, the freedom to express themselves after months or years of being locked inside their bodies and the young to experience a new side of relaxation and life that an electronic game set cannot offer.

Centennial Parklands Foundation

Our independent charitable arm, the Centennial Parklands Foundation, also assists in a variety of programs that raise money to support the projects including our new Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden and Celebration Steps now underway in Centennial Park.

Since October 2012, Centennial Parklands Foundation has provided funding for the role of Environment Officer at Centennial Parklands, currently held by Amara Glynn. Amara has a BASc (Hons) in Ecology and Environmental Science and is responsible for supervising and coordinating environmental initiatives, including vertebrate pest, noxious weed and aquatic vegetation management, water management including water quality testing, waste management, power management, coordinating research applications and monitoring environmental issues.

In addition to funding the role, Centennial Parklands Foundation funds a number projects managed by Amara, these include:

  • Pest and weed control
  • Bat and bird monitoring
  • Vegetation monitoring

We are lucky to have such individuals like Amara and our volunteers that love and respect our green spaces as much as we do.

Regeneration of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub

The Volunteer Bush Regeneration group in the Parklands undertakes important regeneration work in the endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub remnants at York Road and the Bird Sanctuary. This year has seen a great turn-out for this monthly weekend bush activity.

Bird Group

Our volunteer Bird Group do an amazing job of surveying the diversity of bird life that frequent or have taken up residency in the Parklands. Following the far-western flooding event of 2016, which saw the virtual disappearance of some common birds in the park, they have since come back to the Parklands.

Visitors are now able to see the return of the Eurasian Coot and Hardhead Ducks Nankeen Night Herons ducks to the ponds. Other more unusual birds have been seen by our volunteers including the Satin Bower Bird, brown and Rufous Songlarks and White Winged Trillers.

Why become a volunteer at Centennial Parklands?

Beyond the milestones and hours of service, 2017 is a proud moment for us because it showcased the impact people can make to one of Australia’s most loved outdoor spaces. Our volunteers are thanked in various ways throughout the year and during National Volunteer Week (8-14 May) with several events.

We believe that our volunteers are a vital part of the pure energy and enthusiasm that maintains the vibrant environment for the public to enjoy. Most importantly volunteering reconnects the community with nature, keeps you socially active and mentally healthy.

How do I sign up?

There are several established volunteer programs that have long-term volunteers and many short-term corporate volunteering programs across Centennial Parklands. Contact our team to find more information on how you can join our network of volunteers here.

In addition to programs that we coordinate, we have several ongoing partnership programs with third party organisations including:

  • Conservation Volunteering Australia
  • Birds Australia
  • Australian National Sportsfishing Association
  • Clean Up Australia Day
  • GreenFriends
  • Sydney Wildlife

If you are already a volunteer we would love for you to share your story with us and send in some snaps! Tag us with @centparklands #centennialparklands

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