Up until about 2011 there was a lot of doubt and controversy about who was responsible for pest plants and animals along roadsides. After a lot of consultation and hard work in establishing a determination, local councils were deemed to be responsible for all roadsides that were ‘council roads’. VicRoads would continue to maintain all roads and freeways for which they were responsible.
As a result of this decision the Victorian Government provided funding to shire councils to address roadside weed and pest management. Shires could engage contractors to undertake the work that would then be approved for payment.
Our shire’s initial funding was $150 000 over the first three years: this was extended to a fourth and fifth year – total funding was in the order of $250 000.
The rate base for our Shire is small. There are not many on-ground staff. Recognising this as an issue, that in the past weed control had led to sub-optimal results, our local landcare groups developed a model to assist the Shire in delivering the program.
Our proposition was that if the Shire met all the regulatory requirements of the funding, the landcare groups would inspect the roadsides to locate weeds and rabbits. Each group selected an approved contractor to undertake the work; a landcare representative supervised the work and approved final payment by the Shire to the contractor on the basis that work was completed to the required standard.
Shire officers, agency staff and the landcare group representatives have met annually to review and improve the program.
There has been a significant impact on the extent of roadside weeds. The involvement of the landcare groups meant that community education is more effective and our community owns the project. A win-win for all.