Friends of Back Creek (FOBC) - Annual General Meeting

Presidents Statement 12 May 2009 

The 2008 year was a successful year although not without some change and potential turmoil for FOBC. Membership has declined slightly largely due to reduced focus by FOBC on pushing for new members. Similarly while proceeds from donations have increased slightly the number of donators has declined. This is also due to lack of active drive by FOBC to seek funds from the community. Nevertheless acceptance and overall support of FOBC’s activities remains strong. Our financial position also remains strong. It maybe as we enter our 10th year that the level of familiarity and acceptance from the community has resulted in the group and its activities becoming somewhat taken for granted. The creek and its pathway is now a significant part of the community and regarded as an accepted asset which is well used. While the work that remains to be done is substantial, the job of engaging the community to participate in finishing the job will be harder still. 

During the past 12 months FOBC published 3 newsletters maintaining a distribution of 500 households. We conducted 13 working bees involving over 500 volunteers. Total contribution of participant time exceeded 1000 hours of work.  Wattle Park Primary School participated in Arbor week planting of nearly 2000 seedlings involving all students and teachers over 2 days in June. The plantings conducted along the walkway south of Cornell St have spurred our local council to continue with further landscaping and planting along this section of the old creek. It can be expected that this year coinciding with Schools tree day another opportunity for planting by local school children will occur in this area.. 

Clean-up Australia day continues to be successful with the volume of rubbish collected earlier this year being greater than previous year. Approximately 25 people participated collecting nearly 30 bags of rubbish.  

Relations between FOBC and Melbourne Water became strained during the middle of last year as they asserted their control over the waterway. Their concern centered round the need to ensure the safety of volunteers while working along the waterway which remains the responsibility of Melbourne Water. The risk perceived by Melbourne Water of activities performed by FOBC during working bees threatened to scuttle our activities. Following a couple of meetings in conjunction with City of Boroondara, FOBC was able to submit a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) encompassing all typical working bee activities. The JSA satisfied both Council and Melbourne Water and as a result we are able to continue our activities along the creek. There is no doubt however that many of the remaining sections along the creek yet to be rehabilitated our outside of this group’s capability to participate in rehabilitation due largely to the terrain encountered and the extensive overgrowth of willows.  

Fortunately Melbourne Water have gained access to capital funding to proceed with a major willow removal project along the creek. FOBC have been an integral part of the community consultation process and to date has participated in 3 community meetings along the creek since November last year conducted by Melbourne Water and Council. The project has just commenced and is expected to take 4 years, undertaken in 4 stages. Work commenced on Monday 11th May 2009 at the Riversdale Rd end of the creek. 

FOBC participated in community education with presentations to the local Linden Park Scout group about the creek. This was followed by planting of seedlings along the creek bed reserve entrance to Linden Park and a creek walk. The children were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute to improving the creek surrounds and they enjoyed seeing and hearing about the wildlife that exists in the area.  Last year working bee participation was sporadic but did see new levels of interest from some local residents. The drought has made the planting difficult at times and reduced the season.  

FOBC’s subsidiary group operating south of Toorak Road in Glen Iris has made significant progress in rehabilitating their section of the creek. The area since they started work early last year has improved considerably. Thanks to Albert Toet for keeping the group focused and running. 

The 2009 year ahead: 

FOBC will continue to keep the local community apprised of the progress of work performed by Melbourne Water and Council.   

We aim to do the following: 

  • Finish planting along Riversdale Rd end of the creek
  • Progress and complete planting along the west embankment just north of Cornell St entrance.
  • Complete planting along the east embankment south of Quinton Rd.
  • Follow up with infill planting along the Quinton Rd end after Melbourne Water has completed stage 1 of their project.
  • Participate in and supervise planting by local school children and scout groups along the walk way towards Linden Park as well as the nature strip along Quinton Road.

Thank you once again to our local Councilor Heinz Kreutz who provides the group a voice to council as well as his personal contributions to working bees. Thanks also to our local member for Burwood Bob Stensholt for continuing to support FOBC by printing our newsletters as well as assisting with conflict resolution in our dealings with Melbourne Water. The Parks and Gardens department of the City of Boroondara, in particular Janyce McMurtrie and Adrian Hotchin continue to provide our group much needed assistance in supplying mulch, jute matting, removing rubbish, spraying and coordinating maintenance and capital works along the creek. Last year they were also active in ensuring our relationship with Melbourne Water remained constructive and mutually beneficial.  

Thank you to our committee members for their commitment, enthusiasm and support this past year.   Chris Walta, John Cott,  Jim Breen,  Eleanor Stephenson, Bob Strickland, Barry Gallacher and Rosemary Buchanan and Albert Toet (FOBCS) 

Robert Brierley

12 May 2009