The Riverkeeper Program was established as part of the Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, funded by the NSW Government and supported through the partnership between Local Land Services and Landcare NSW. The program aims to connect organisations, volunteer groups and individuals to develop opportunities for the community to learn more about and care for waterway health and the conservation of the local environment in the Parramatta River catchment.
About the Riverkeeper Network
The Riverkeeper Network is made up of individuals, community groups and organisations who care for the health of the Parramatta River and surrounding catchment. By sharing information and resources and creating opportunities to connect with and work together on projects and events, we can achieve better outcomes for the river.
Why join the Riverkeeper Network?
- To belong to wider campaign with real impact
- To receive support, resources and promotion
- To connect with organisations across the catchment
We currently have several amazing Riverkeeper Ambassadors who run their own community-based initiatives and support our plan to make the Parramatta River swimmable through related or collaborative projects and events.
Charlene Bordley runs Addventageous, a social enterprise that provides affordable and accessible cycling programs and services for all members of the community. In May 2020 Charlene also became a community captain for Cycling Without Age, a not-for-profit group that provides free rides for residents of aged and disability services. To date, Charlene has helped raise $8,000 towards purchasing an electric assisted tricycle (trishaw) that will allow people with limited mobility to get out on their own to connect with their community and local environment.
Kellie is one of the co-founders of ParraParents, an online community directory and service connecting families in the catchment. She can regularly be seen running clean-ups, bushwalking and nature engagement groups to inform and advocate for her community. Kellie has received several awards for her volunteering and community work, including being awarded as 2020 Parramatta Local Woman of the Year.
Through her volunteer group, Plastic Pluckers, Julia (Julz) Strykowski (pictured second from left) organises regular litter clean-ups at various locations in the upper Parramatta River catchment, including Toongabbie Creek.
Julz’s goal is to stop plastic pollution before it reaches the harbour and oceans. It is a practical and helpful way to learn about ‘creek care’, the natural environment, plants and animals while collecting litter along river banks, foreshores, estuaries, wetlands, and riparian edges. To find out about clean-up events happening in 2021, visit: Plastic Free Parramatta.
Julz was recognised for her efforts when she won the 2020 NSW Government Educator of the Year Award. Julz is a passionate environmental educator who works with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Budding eco warrior and Year 5 student Hannah Chalmers is our youngest Riverkeeper Ambassador. Hannah came to our attention when she won equal first place in the Young Scientist Awards for her Green Elephant app that reminds people to bring along their reusable bags when they go shopping.
In early 2020, Hannah and PLC Sydney’s Junior School Coordinator of Science, Annie Martin, met with City of Canada Bay’s Mayor, Angelo Tsirekas, online where Hannah presented her video ‘Down the Drain’, which looks at the impact of litter that ends up in our waterways, and the benefits of naturalising stormwater channels.
The Mayor was impressed with Hannah’s infectious enthusiasm for improving water quality and other environmental issues and invited her to attend a future PRCG full group meeting where she could share her ideas with other councils.
Watch Hannah’s video ‘Down the Drain’.
Parramatta River Changemakers Course
The PRCG held its first Changemakers Course for the Parramatta River from April to June 2021. Based on a program run by Cooks River Alliance, the free course provided an opportunity for local residents to connect with like-minded people to create projects that contribute to restoring catchment and waterway health. Twenty-two participants, ranging in age from 17 to 80 years, completed the full program.
The course commenced with a full-day catchment ‘crawl’ that included site visits to a diverse range of ecosystems to highlight some of the challenges and solutions for managing waterway health: Blaxland Riverside Park, Duck River, Blacktown Creek, Toongabbie Creek, Lake Parramatta, Baludarri Wetlands, George Kendall Reserve and Putney Park.
Over the following two months, participants took part in seven evening workshops that were held at the Shepherds Bay Community Centre in Meadowbank. Changeology facilitator Les Robinson ran initial project engagement and accelerator sessions to help participants establish and progress their pilot projects.
Throughout the course, the group heard presentations on various aspects of waterway management, biodiversity and community engagement. Guest speakers included: Judy Harrington from Birdlife NSW (link between shore birds and ecosystem health), Youth Riverkeeper Ambassador Hannah Chalmers (science communication projects), and Dan Bradley from Sydney Water (Riverwatch Monitoring Program).
Information sessions were also provided by Liz Locksley from Thrive Story on storytelling skills and the PRCG team on aspects of the Masterplan, sustainable water management and effective communications. The Riverkeeper Ambassadors not only took part in the course but also shared their considerable knowledge and expertise in running community-based initiatives.
Six projects emerged from the pilot phase, several of which were launched in June at community events across the catchment:
Greener Gatherings – promoting sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics for family riverside gatherings, particularly children’s birthday parties.
Map Hack – using open source mapping to deepen the understanding of the catchment
ParrAware – raising awareness of the Our Living River initiative and ways the community can get involved.
Parramatta River Heroes – focusing on the Parramatta River iconic species and their ecosystems.
The Diggers – mapping and promotion of community gardens in the catchment for the interactive map on the Our Living River website.
The Lollipop Ladies – reducing littering of plastic lollipop sticks and advocating for biodegradable alternatives.
These projects demonstrate the success of the Changemakers Course in building the skills and confidence of the participants, and helping to create a pathway for them to take meaningful action.
Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions the Changemakers Course finale could not be held. However, the project groups had an opportunity to present their ideas at the PRCG Full Group meeting in October.
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the course such a success, and particularly the City of Ryde for providing the workshop venue. We look forward to following the progress of the community projects in 2022.
If you are interested in taking part in a future Changemakers Course, please contact the Riverkeeper at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch a video on the Changemakers Course.