Z-NET Uralla Inc.
President’s Report for 3rd AGM, 24 October 2020
It is with much pleasure that I provide the following report on Z-NET Uralla activities since September 2019. With the drought, contaminated drinking water and then the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a momentous year for our community, State and Nation. With rain and good health policies life is returning to normal in our Shire, while we stand in solidarity with our Victorian friends still coming out of lockdown and watch with trepidation the progression of the pandemic overseas.
While the restriction on movement and gatherings has curtailed a number of our normal ZNET activities – e.g. the very popular curtain making workshops for instance, the shutdown was used to good ends to develop and fund new initiatives.
ZNET Plus canvassed community interest in broader sustainability issues through a number of workshops and presented these to Council in November 2019. From this we were invited by Council to help manage the communications during the period of sever water restrictions. This culminated in a public information night hosted by ZNET Plus at which Council was able to give an update on water supplies and arsenic, and our community was able to ask questions and raise issues in a safe and well facilitated forum.
From this deeper engagement in water security, ZNET decided to apply for funding from the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Community program and was successful in obtaining a grant for $30,000 to undertake community consultation on water security options. We hosted Matt Kean, the NSW Minister for Environment, in July to update him on ZNET overall and the new water project.
The Uralla – Let’s Talk About Water project commenced in July 2020 and to date has produced two of a series of eight information fliers, done a workshop with Councillors, visited stakeholders such as Ted and Sonia Williams on whose property the dam is sited, and planned out the community engagement activities that will commence early in 2021. The ZNET team now supported by our new Project Officer, Heidi McElnea, and colleagues from UNSW – Stuart Khan and Matt Kearnes.
Our community will be able to join the conversation about water security through a number of channels – through ZNET social media platforms, online and hard copy surveys, individual stakeholder interviews, focus groups and community workshop. We will be reaching out through as many avenues as possible to give our community the opportunity to have their say about our water future.
The ZNET Plus team has initiated several great sustainability activities this year including the local food stall at Little Birdie, tours of the Banded Bee Farm at Saumarez Ponds (lots of interest in the amazing enterprise that Jane, Peter and Ray have set up that is providing Alternate Root with fresh organic produce), and tree planting.
The period has seen Z-NET continue with key activities in the area of energy efficiency and solar PV for homes and businesses – some of them have even moved online with COVID-19! School activities were curtailed but over the last few weeks we have picked up activities on sustainable firewood with 3 final biodiversity assessments being done at some of the first sites we visited. Such a wonderful contrast to the bare dusty ground two years ago! The Elephant in the Woodland project will finish at the end of February 2021 and we have met our deliverables very well, thanks to Trish’s great efforts.
Progress Towards the Z-NET Goal
Many thanks to our fantastic Executive, Project Officers and Members who have contributed their time, innovation, support and skills to the Z-NET Uralla adventure. These contributions have made the role of President exciting, satisfying and fulfilling, and I look forward to everyone’s contributions in the future in whatever role works best for each of us.
Z-NET Uralla President