Melbourne Airport, in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, have launched a three-year project at Organ Pipes National Park. The Cross-Cultural Volunteer Program will provide opportunities for adult migrants and refugees in the local community to participate in environmental projects, while providing practical experience in a work-like setting.
The program will focus on enriching the community’s social connections through engagement in volunteering opportunities for a diverse local community.
Whilst there are many existing programs that focus on volunteering to assist migrants or refugees, there are very few programs that offer migrants or refugees volunteering opportunities to help with their integration and inclusion into society.
This program will also support environmental restoration activities throughout Organ Pipes National Park.
“It is very fitting to celebrate the launch of this new and innovative project on Harmony Day. Our mission at Conservation Volunteers is to strengthen the health of the people in our communities and the ecosystems we live in. The Cross-Cultural Volunteer Program is a great example of how we can support both across our diverse community,” said Phil Harrison, Conservation Volunteers Australia at the launch of the program on March 21.
Conservation Volunteers Australia is working with community groups that provide services to local migrants and refugee groups to provide volunteering opportunities including Banksia Gardens. Banksia Gardens Deputy Chief Executive Officer Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon says “We often work with people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Having the opportunity to practice English, build social connections and learn about local flora and fauna while they contribute to the local community is priceless.”
Organ Pipes National Park is the closest national park to Melbourne, within 20km of the Melbourne CBD. The park is an important area for the conservation of native flora and fauna and is world renowned for a set of basalt columns that feature in the park. These columns were formed thousands of years ago by the cooling and cracking of molten lava.
Since the park was established in 1971, volunteers have played an important role in restoring the land and improving biodiversity in the park. Volunteers and park staff have reduced pest plants and animals, enabling native trees and plants to re-establish.
Today the focus of park management is to continue programs which rehabilitate the land, protect the geological features and provide a haven for the local community for recreation and enjoying nature. Volunteers will participate in activities including weed removal, tree planting, track maintenance, visitor facility enhancement and monitoring environmental health, including water quality in Jackson Creek and Sugar Glider and bat populations with the Friends of Organ Pipes National Park.
Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the airport is committed to finding ways to support the local community.
“Melbourne Airport operates in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the nation, so we are pleased to partner with Conservation Volunteers Australia to help migrants and refugees build their social network, while improving language skills,” said Mr Strambi.
Conservation Volunteers Australia CEO Phil Harrison welcomed the partnership.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Melbourne Airport on this new program providing ongoing support to Organ Pipes National Park and we encourage all members of the community to come and join in.”
Volunteers can register to participate on the Organ Pipes National Park project by visiting www.conservationvolunteers.com.au or contacting Conservation Volunteers Melbourne on 03 9326 8239.