The winners of the 2018 Australian Coastal Awards were announced at the Australian Coastal Councils Conference, held at the City of Greater Geelong, Victoria, on Thursday 22 March.

Barry Sammels, Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said the Awards were established to acknowledge the achievement of individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the Australian coastal environment, settlements and sustainability.

“The Awards are intended to raise community awareness of the importance of the coastal zone and to encourage coastal planning and management practitioners to strive for excellence,” he said.

Barry Sammels said the standard of nominations for the 2018 Australian Coastal Awards was particularly high.

Winners of the awards were:

  • Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (VIC) for the nomination of the Natural Systems Team, which won the Australian Coastal Award for Community Engagement.
  • The City of Greater Geelong (VIC) and the Borough of Queenscliffe (VIC) for the nomination of the ‘Our Coast’ program, which won the Australian Coastal Award for Climate Adaptation
  • Glenelg Shire Council for the nomination of ‘Growing Beaches‘: Sand Harvesting Techniques, which was awarded a Commendation for Planning and Management.
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (VIC) for the nomination of the Rye Township Plan, which won the Australian Coastal Award for Planning and Management.

Barry Sammels said the judges had also decided to present a Special Award for Individual Achievement to Rosemary Birney OAM, President of the South Sea Foreshore Reserve Committee, at Somers.  “They further recommended that this additional category be added to the Coastal Awards in future years,” he said.

“Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world – more than 36,000kms – but it faces many challenges,” Barry Sammels said. “These include coastal erosion, the impact of extreme weather, and loss of coastal environment due to rapid urbanisation.

“Fortunately, Australia has a number of dedicated people and organisations who are passionate about safeguarding the coast for future generations. The Australian Coastal Awards are aimed at acknowledging their efforts.”

Winners – 2018 Australian Coastal Awards

Award for Community Engagement

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (VIC) – Natural Systems Team

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s Natural Systems Team has worked in partnership with the Friends Group Network on the peninsula for more than 20 years. The Team currently has 61 Friends Groups registered, with 21 of the groups working on the peninsula’s iconic coastal reserves. The judges noted that the Team had systematically undertaken an engagement program in working with and coordinating multiple friends groups, encouraging volunteerism, providing extensive training in education and skills sets for volunteers, developing quality induction practices, and engaging with members of the indigenous community

Award for Climate Adaptation

City of Greater Geelong and Borough of Queenscliffe – ‘Our Coast’ program

The ‘Our Coast’ program, established by a partnership between the City of Greater Geelong and the Borough of Queenscliffe, focuses on 190km of shoreline around the Bellarine Peninsula, including Point Wilson, Swan Bay and Breamlea. It involved three stages – a coastal mapping project; coastal climate change assessment; and coastal adaptation pathways. In the view of the judges the nomination had considerable merit and represents a good example of a climate adaptation program which is based on the 2014 Victorian Coastal Strategy.

Commendation for Planning and Management

Glenelg Shire Council (VIC) – ‘Growing Beaches’: Sand Harvesting Techniques

The Glenelg Shire Council developed a Master Plan to improve the beach amenity at Nun’s Beach, near Portland Harbour. The works involved were completed in 2011 and the 2018 nomination was submitted based on proof that the innovative design concepts have been shown to work in the long term. A shade structure was constructed on the beach which was designed to harvest sand on the beach and to assist with dune reinstatement. In the view of the judges the innovative design involved in the project was deserving of recognition.

Award for Planning and Management

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council – Rye Township Plan

In the view of the judges this project successfully addressed urban encroachment and the impact of peak visitor demand along a widely-used stretch of coastline on Port Phillip Bay. It removes a series of barriers that have developed over decades between the coastline and the town, which had resulted in the township of Rye losing its connection with the coast. The judges considered it was a good example of how a coastal council could recapture the appeal of a destination coastal township which had been eroded by development.

Special Award for Individual Achievement

Rosemary Birney OAM, President of South Sea Forshore Reserve Committee

Eurobodalla Shire Council (NSW) – Reconciliation in the Grasslands project.

Rosemary Birney initiated the coordination and implementation of multi-agency programs for the restoration of the Somers Foreshore, which involved collaboration between Parks Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, the Green Army, Somers Residents Association and local Friends Groups. She successfully secured grants involving significant funding for habitat restoration programs and has been an active participant in providing a considerable number of ‘in kind’ voluntary hours on the programs.