Corporate plan 2019-22 - Parks Victoria

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Corporate plan 2019-22 - Parks Victoria

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Parks and Reserves Trust Account

Parks and Reserve Trust Account funding is used to support parks, trails and public facilities across Melbourne.

Revenue collected from the Metropolitan Improvement Rate, commonly known as the parks charge, is paid into the Parks and Reserves Trust Account (PRTA).

Allocations from the PRTA primarily support Parks Victoria, Zoos Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the Shrine of Remembrance to deliver on core obligations relating to the access, safety, utility and environmental quality of their managed estates. This PRTA funding ensures that our world-class network of large urban parks and trails is maintained and staffed for the enjoyment of future generations.

Where is the PRTA’s revenue and expenditure information published?

Information on the parks charge and PRTA is reported in the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action's annual report . A summary of PRTA revenue and expenditure over the past 2 financial years is in the table below:

What recent strategic projects has PRTA funded?

Significant annual allocations are issued from the PRTA to key park managers including Parks Victoria, Zoos Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, and the Shrine of Remembrance.

In addition to the core operational funding to key entities, the following projects were funded from the PRTA during the 2022-23 financial year.

What is the parks charge?

The parks charge is an annual levy on commercial, industrial and residential properties in the metropolitan Melbourne area (as specified by Order of the Governor in Council and published in the Victorian Government Gazette).

The retail metropolitan water corporations bill and collect the parks charge on behalf of the Minister for Environment. The levy appears as a separate annual charge on the water bill. The parks charge has been included on the water, sewerage and drainage bills for residential and commercial properties since 1958.

The parks charge is levied on the Net Annual Value (NAV) of the land. For 2023-24, the parks charge rate is 0.497% of NAV with a minimum annual charge of $84.86.

What activities are funded through the parks charge revenue?

The Water Industry Act 1994 provides for the disbursement of PRTA funds for the following purposes:

  • Management and control of open space, parks and waterways, within the metropolitan area, for the purposes of conservation, recreation, leisure, tourism and navigation.
  • Acquisition of land by the Crown in the metropolitan area for the purpose of conservation, recreation, leisure or tourism.

During the 2022-23 financial year, a total of $195.315 million was disbursed from the PRTA for:

  • park, waterway and bay management in the metropolitan area (including maintenance and asset construction) at national and state parks, zoological parks, state gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, and Committees of Management
  • purchase of public open space for conservation, recreation, leisure or tourism
  • management and maintenance of public beaches and renourishment works.

How is the PRTA governed?

The Water Industry Act 1994 provides for the Minister for Environment to approve allocations from the PRTA on the determination of the Secretary DEECA. The Minister and Secretary are supported by the PRTA Governance Committee.

Contact David Sheehan, Manager Governance Unit, Land Management Policy, for information about PRTA on  9637 9479 .

Page last updated: 13/11/23

What’s the plan?

PARK WATCH December 2017 |

National park management plans are noble in ambition, but they are short on commitment and lack a true landscape context, writes Phil Ingamells.

With the Victorian Government’s new Biodiversity 2037 strategy in the starting blocks, it might be a good time to fix some national park management planning dilemmas.

While the strategy’s four-year implementation plan is being developed, Parks Victoria might be in a position to put park management plans into a more usefully comprehensive planning framework. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘crosstenure’ or ‘landscape-scale’ planning over the last few years, a process that recognises that pest species, for example, don’t recognise park boundaries. But national park, state forest and any other public land plans (let alone agendas for private land) have no clear, overarching biodiversity management context in which to sit.

This is an odd situation to be in. Although fire management has been planned across all public land for some time, pest plant and animal treatment plans have been less frequently inclusive. And while tourism has a rough statewide context, things like new mountain bike trail ideas lack cross-tenure context or, more frequently, simply lack plans at all.

Giving everyone a go

One significant problem with the current highly-consultative national park planning process is that a park plan is generally the only process inviting public participation in a region. So tourism developers, sporting shooters, trail bike or mountain bike enthusiasts, or anyone else wanting access to public land, is more or less invited to put pressure on Parks Victoria for access to the park or parks in question.

If Parks Victoria’s plans were truly landscape in scale (rather than simply planning for several parks in a broader landscape), decisions could be made to allocate activities incompatible with the conservation priorities of parks to suitable public or private land nearby.

Or, even better, if we had overarching statewide or regional land management plans, park plans could fit into that framework, allowing their important minimal impact recreation priorities to proceed unchallenged. It’s fair enough that people should have access to public land for many activities, but it’s not very sensible if the only land for an activity is the land most valuable for the protection of nature.

It might also be time to be clear about what a park plan should actually contain.

A plan should be a plan

Some years ago a fisheries management plan was challenged in court because it lacked clear prescriptions. The judgement was simple and clear: a plan has to say what you actually ‘plan’ to do.

I was reminded of that judgement recently, when the High Court ruled on the remarkable case of some of our politicians’ countries of origin. The court’s unanimous judgement relied on a ‘plain language’ interpretation of the Constitution.

Victoria’s National Parks Act (1975) states the obligations of a park’s managers (“preserve and protect indigenous flora and fauna”, “exterminate or control exotic fauna” etc.), and then adds:

“… prepare a plan of management in respect of each national and state park”.

That wording is plain and unambiguous, and it’s there for good reason. Victorians have a right to know how our natural heritage will be looked after, and Parks Victoria can’t be expected to manage that heritage if it doesn’t have a clear, well-informed strategy to work to.

But that’s not always what we get.

The recently released River Red Gum Parks draft management plan, for example, contains some good initiatives. But there are at least 60 instances where the ‘plan’ is to ‘investigate options’, ‘review current management’, or several other vague statements of ambition. Those decision-making processes should have already taken place during the development of the draft.

Management actions have to be adaptable, but you can’t adapt (or monitor the implementation of) management prescriptions if you don’t have them in the first place.

A confusion of layers

In recent years, Parks Victoria has claimed that, while the park management plans are designed as 15-year overarching objectives, the detail will appear in three-yearly ‘corporate plans’ setting out what ‘will be done’, and annual ‘business plans’ detailing works programs. That trilogy of planning layers (the claim is still on their website) might answer obligations under the Act, but we are yet to see either a corporate or business plan.

In a new twist, Parks Victoria is now producing ‘conservation action plans’ for some high profile national parks such as Wilsons Promontory, which follow another path: ‘Parks Victoria’s cyclical ten-step conservation action planning process’. A conservation action plan for the Prom is welcome, but the overall planning strategy remains confusing.

A clear role for expertise

One of the inevitable effects of a steady reduction in park funding over the last decade or so has been the loss of experienced park managers. That situation has improved somewhat under the current state government, but building workable levels of expertise will take more time and money.

When the Alpine National Park was proclaimed in December 1989, five experienced staff, all with a good knowledge of the park, could be spared from their duties to draft the management plan. A comprehensive four volume plan emerged by September 1992, firmly establishing a management regime designed to put the much-abused alpine landscape on the path to recovery.

In 2008, when a revised alpine plan was initiated, the availability of expertise was greatly reduced. Even though four more national parks, the Avon Wilderness and several historic areas had been added to the Alpine National Park’s planning area, not one experienced park manager could be spared to take the job on. The process inevitably struggled until a much depleted plan appeared eight years later, towards the end of 2016.

Traditional Owners and park plans

In recent years a series of native title determinations have been made, and others will appear in the near future. They require national parks within the areas determined under Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act, or a federal determination, to be jointly managed between the Traditional Owners and the Victorian Government. The Act establishes various rights of access to Country, and other cultural rights, but the overall objectives of the National Parks Act remain, including the obligation for a plan.

In practice, the Traditional Owner organisations develop a draft in consultation with the government, which then goes to the public for consultation. This could well be the breath of fresh air our parks need.

Gippsland’s draft Gunaikurnai and Victorian Government Joint Management Plan (due for public comment by 15 December) is the most recent. It demonstrates, once more, the considerable contribution Indigenous voices can bring to park management.

Hopefully, future plans will also give park managers the clarity and clear direction required to ensure our natural heritage survives and thrives for the benefit of future generations.

Bringing back coastal nature

Victoria’s coastal nature on both public and private land needs greater protection and restoration. Photo: Chris Smyth

Victoria government logo

  • Regional parks and recreation areas

Every family deserves the chance to get out and kick a ball, go for a run, walk the dog or enjoy our great local parks.

Family of four on outdoor nature walk

And as regional Victorians spend more time outdoors with the people they love, this Budget invests in creating and improving local community spaces.

We are funding new and upgraded community sport and recreation projects across regional Victoria, including:

  • $32 million for the Go Fishing Victoria program, maintaining fish stocks and expanding fish hatcheries at Arcadia and Snobs Creek. We will support recreational fishing by investing in local clubs, kids’ angler programs and other initiatives.
  • $21 million to rebuild St Leonards Pier improving fishing and boating infrastructure on the Bellarine peninsula.
  • $16 million for recreational boating infrastructure improvements to increase recreational opportunities for Victorians and visitors.
  • $11 million to upgrade visitor facilities and infrastructure at the You Yangs (Wurdi Youang) and Serendip Sanctuary precinct to enhance and protect the natural and cultural precinct.
  • $8.7 million for Community Sport and Recreation Participation Programs. Many programs are in regional areas and will provide further opportunities for priority groups, support grassroots clubs and build sector capacity.
  • $8 million to open up the Tarago Reservoir for On Water Recreation by providing water treatment capacity upgrades at the Tarago, Neerim South and Warragul treatment plants.
  • $3.9 million to halve camping fees at parks across the state, encouraging more Victorians to get out and explore everything regional Victoria has to offer.
  • $2.5 million for the Country Football and Netball Program to develop community sport and recreation infrastructure. This will increase participation opportunities and improve accessibility for the community.

Reviewed 19 May 2023

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