TAPP Inc President Ken Mewburn’s Report 13th August 2019
Writing the Presidents Report each year is a great time for reflection, not only on the previous year but on the organisation of TAPP and the contribution of members and associates. TAPP Inc is an unusual group but which has shown a very strong commitment to its Aims and Objectives.
TAPP First Grant
TAPP are the recipients of their first ever grant an amount of $50000 from DES (Department of Environment & Science) which is to be used for the restoration of erosion at Stage 2 of TS Onslow site at Golden Beach. Our first payment was received in August 2018 and preparatory work was able to begin. We contracted OMTREK to provide engineering design and advice and we also contracted BBCAC to harvest and propagate mangroves for the project.
The receipt of the grant has also been the start of a fast learning curve and an introduction to the complexities of the political system of application and approvals. We have been in constant contact and consultation with the Authorities from DES, DNRM, (Department of Natural Resources and Mines), DAF, (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) and the SCC (Sunshine Coast Council). The grant, issued by DES is to be used on land owned by DNRM and leased by TS Onslow. This required approval from DNRM by TS Onslow. TAPP required approval from TS Onslow to work on the lease site when we applied for the grant and we originally believed this was all the approval required.
As the planned work would cover some vegetation along the shoreline, we required a permit from DAF for this action. We then discovered that as the work comes under the definition of Tidal works in a Coastal Management district. We were required to apply for a Development Application. This is a slow process and can take several months and required a payment prior to application process. Luckily for us the process was fast tracked and we obtained the approval in about a month.
These issues have been frustrating and confusing and it is lucky that someone with the experience of Susie Chapman from HLW was on the team to wade through the administrative minefield. We suffered much angst knowing that some of the Grant funding was being returned to the Government in the form of Application funding. We have appealed for not only the NFP concession, to which we are entitled, but consideration of refund of the fee in its entirety, however, we have been advised a full refund is not possible.
Approvals for Mangrove harvesting was required early in the project and this task was contracted to BBCAC who have a permit to do such work.
As TAPP’s first grant, we selected a complex project. This has been an experience that had we known the complexities fully, perhaps we could have encouraged the Government to pass their election promise to another organisation. Alternatively, we may have selected a different project, however, this one is of benefit to the local community. Ultimately it will provide benefits to all and the Golden Beach area in particular. There will be a need for ongoing monitoring and recording of the outcome and the possible removal of the experimental “Oyster Triangles” at the end of 12 months. Any failures of the project will need to be reported and rectified.
Since commencement of work in July, there have, however, been a number of complaints from local residents regarding the nature of the work and insistence that their preference was for a rock wall. It is unlikely that there would be any beach remain in the area if a rock wall was installed as the profile of the shoreline is artificial due the reclaimed site.
A lesson for future consideration is we must ensure that we have a full understanding of the potential problems and responsibilities that will result from a project proposal. Stage 1 was a simple
and a relatively low cost project, funded piecemeal by small funding donations. It had none of the complex issues that have been identified for Stage 2 and required few of the detailed approvals and applications needed for Stage 2. The design criteria for Stage 2 was also far more complex and the process can be considered little more than experimental although we should be confident that we have a very solid outcome. Monitoring should identify any potential weaknesses.
Stage 2 was also hampered by the additional and severe erosion from Cyclone Oma which
undermined most of the shoreline of the proposed work area. This required urgent restoration which was over and above the original project cost. The installation of coir logs to retain the shoreline was a task eagerly undertaken by members who attended in force. We also had assistance from a member of Night Eyes. The work provided a substantial barrier against further erosion pending the SCC being able to pump sand onto the shoreline for us. The result of the stabilisation was a credit to
those who took part and more so because it is not something that we get much experience doing.
The process of providing sand for the restoration is also a task subject to frustrating regulations. It could only be performed by SCC and only after a seagrass mapping exercise between April and May each year so we had to have the sand prior to our approval to commence work. We were advised that we needed to pay for the sand provided as it would not have been in SCC budget for this years work schedule. Council are providing considerable value of work free of charge to TAPP as their contribution to the project so in all, we are not too badly impacted and appreciate the co-operation and support we have received.
TAPP members would all agree, irrespective of the work it is much better than having a rock wall!
Concerns about Water Pollution
We have of course, still been involved with other issues during the year. TAPP have been in communication with MSQ in regard to the release of sewage from boats into Pumicestone Passage. We have been advised that they believe adequate controls are in place and supervision by Queensland Boating and Fishing is maintaining required standards. They did set in place, however, a review of the MSQ Regulations regarding waste from vessels and regulations in respect of the type of toilets allowed on vessels. These regulations were changed in September 2018.
This has not completely solved the problem and continued contact with Unity Water requesting pump-out facilities be installed in the Passage, gave us hope of a better solution. This will be evaluated as a possible installation when the Jensen Park boat ramp is upgraded in 2021 -2022 financial year. A pump-out facility is planned for the marina at Pelican Waters Southern Lakes development and will be in service prior to the Jensen Park boat ramp upgrade. Many of the vessels in the Passage would be unable to access this facility due low level bridges across the canal. We will continue to campaign to Council and Unity Water for “dump points” at least for the disposal of waste from caravan type toilets now legal on boats. This has been one of our frustrating issues this year.
TAPP meetings have continued to be an arena for development of new ideas and solutions to issues raised. Meeting process has always been an attempt for inclusiveness and opportunity for open discussion. The “round the table” session at the end of each meeting has been a great opportunity for members to raise issues that have not been included in the agenda, provide information and updates on issues that are not directly included in TAPP objectives but may indirectly have an impact. There are a number of examples of good outcomes resulting from issues raised in round the table discussion.
Organisation and Membership growth
At the AGM in 2018, our membership was 36. During 2019, this increased to 47, a 30% gain. Attendance at meetings continued to increase and we found it necessary to change the venue for our meetings. We have since our inception, met at the Bribie Room at Caloundra Library. This room has always been free of charge as a Council provision for NFP community groups. Attendance at meetings has increased so we regularly have 18 to 21 in attendance and as this room is designed to accommodate 16 we needed to find an alternative. We have been lucky to be accommodated by the Caloundra Power Boat Club, who provide us with the Waves Room for free. It was a sad decision to relocate as the Bribie Room had been our home for so long, however, the need is evidence of healthy growth which has long been our goal. It has, however, been a necessity to increase membership fees this year. This will probably result in a number of members not renewing and is a consequence of the increase in cost.
TAPP has never been involved in fundraising and has maintained its’ expenses within the income provided by membership and donations. The alternative to an increase in membership was to actively commence fund raising, perhaps through such activities as Bunnings BBQ’s. It has always been my belief that this is an impost on time and energy better spent in activities specific to our objectives. Opportunity to change this policy has been provided on a number of occasions and met with general reluctance by members to offer to operate any external fundraising. There may be some form of fundraising that would be appealing or acceptable to members as we enter a new year and the opportunity to review past policies is never a closed issue.
TAPP has a reasonably extensive contact list of “non members” who receive our minutes and other notices of general interest and importance. There is sufficient feedback from this contact group to ensure that our message has been received. Over time, however, there have been a number of continuous rejections of emails from some on this list. It is possible that the recipient has changed email address or in an extreme, locked us out. Sometimes it is simply a full mailbox for the receiver.
I usually try these rejecting emails for about 2 – 3 months and then delete from the list.
I have had phone contact and other communication connections from people interested in our activities. Some from considerable distance from the Sunshine Coast so our message gets out somehow.
Involvement with Other Organisations
TAPP has continued its’ attendance at World Environment Day which generally results in a few more signatures on our email list. This external group of Associate Members is important and useful as it spreads our message a little further. WED this year was “rained out” as showers throughout the
day became rain and the grounds were subsequently very soggy. Our display and marquee became uncomfortably wet and we packed up about 3:00 pm, sadly making it the first year we have abandoned the site early.
We have retained our connection with the AURA celebration of World Wetland Day and National Tree Day where this year, for the first time, Baringa Primary School was also involved.
We continue to be represented at Aura Community Engagement Meetings, the annual audit presentations and other occasions when Stockland arrange for adhoc meetings. We have cemented our relationship with Stockland and the Aura team and as such are always in the position of gaining useful updates and given the opportunity for input to the ongoing Aura project. Generally the Community Engagement Group meet quarterly. Aura has always been classed as our “bread and Butter” issue, being the reason for our initial formation. The ownership of Aura has now been divided with the recent sale of a fifty percent share. We need to ensure this does not adversely impact the established controls on development on site and that current methodology continues.
TAPP are represented at the Pumicestone Catchment Network meetings held twice yearly at Beerwah. This is a good opportunity to learn of other actions in the catchment, meet a wide range of organisations ranging from Government and Council to landowners and community group members. It is an opportunity for networking and we also get a chance to present a report on our own activities from time to time which effectively keeps TAPP in the “loop” of activities in the catchment.
TAPP Community Education
During the year, I was again invited to speak with schools and also the U3A group where Helen and I addressed their meetings at Caloundra, Maleny, Nambour, USC and North Shore Community Centre. I also addressed one U3A group at Bribie island. I was invited to be guest speaker at a BIEPA meeting which I thought was an honour as they have been in the area for 40 years and I felt there was little they could learn from my address on the night. It actually was a good mutual
USC had a group of Students visit the TS Onslow site and it was my good fortune to have an opportunity to speak with them and explain the project. This particular visit may result in some long term benefits for TAPP as there is an interest by some students and lecturer to make the area a potential for a study as there are several aspects that could be viable for the necessary grant funding for USC. I have continued contact with the lecturer and am in the process of arranging a further meeting between him and members of TAPP to discuss opportunities.
TAPP Social Gatherings
We made a few attempts at having some social activity during the year. Picking Earth Hour as a good excuse this year, however, Mother Nature decided to create a wet and blustery day so very few braved the afternoon for a casual chat.
We held an end of year function at Ayliffe Park in December, 2018 and were treated to a cruise by Bills Boats, Kerrie and Craig and Michael who brought his houseboat along for the afternoon. This was an enjoyable occasion with those in attendance staying for some time after dark to enjoy the social atmosphere. It was an opportunity to recognise 25th anniversary of the Ramsar declaration for Moreton Bay which was actually declared in October 1993. We had some associates in attendance that day as well which was great to see.
I have always believed it is beneficial to community groups to have some time together when we
are not holding a meeting or conducting some organised activity. Hopefully this element of our group can be enhanced and developed as time goes on. This is also an opportunity to include family and friends which helps to make TAPP the community inclusive group it is meant to be.
During the last 12 months, we have been featured in the media due to some environmental concerns raised by the potential for a Bribie Island Breakthrough and the impacts of Cyclone Oma. With the issue of the Bribie breakthrough, there was only a desire to seek sensationalism by the radio stations who contacted me. I found that there was little reception for a statement of fact and even criticism of our group for not “taking action for the passage” and somehow preventing a potential breach. Such are vagaries of media although neither radio or TV reports have brought us any harm.
Award Opportunities & Nominations
TAPP were nominated for a Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award in the Community Group or Organisation category. We were in the finalist group which this year was a very large representation of organisations on the Sunshine Coast. It was an honour to be nominated and certainly to be a finalist.
Challenges and Outcomes
During the time that TAPP has been an Incorporated Association, nine years since our first AGM, I have been privileged to serve as the President for the group. I have had exemplary support from the
members and particularly those who have served on the Committee during the last nine years. This time has been an incredible experience and opportunity to meet like minded people in the community and to work to generate public awareness of Pumicestone Passage.
Because of the unusual nature of TAPP and our objectives, as I have previously mentioned, there is often no immediate evidence of outcome for effort and there have been times when I can understand impatience and frustration from the members. I have experienced it myself and have been guilty of wondering if it is all worth the effort. The answer of course is yes and the steady and positive outcomes achieved and the reputation the group has deservedly earned is the justification.
We can never achieve the impossible and cannot expect to do that. There are some issues that can never be stopped, however, they can be improved and ultimately a better outcome can be achieved. This will not satisfy all and that is understandable but be assured that without those small gains the outcomes would have been inevitably worse.
I want to thank all those who have served on the committee over the years for their support and achievements as part of TAPP. I particularly want to thank those who have served this last year when we have been thrown into a period of administrative and operational turmoil due the activities resulting from the grant and our task with Ts Onslow. I also want to thank all the members and associates, past and present for their support of the group and their support for me.
I believe TAPP now has the opportunity to seek new directions, utilise the benefits that will be provided by the new website and Facebook potential and grow the organisation with an increase in effective membership, not just numbers. This I think requires the overview of new leadership.
It is beneficial for any organisation to change the leadership if for no other reason than to provide different ideas for achieving the objectives of the organisation. It provides an opportunity for ambition and advancement and a necessary line of progression within the ranks.
It is my decision not accept nomination for re-election to the committee this year. I am not withdrawing my membership from TAPP and will assist the group in whatever manner I can in the future. I am not leaving the position with any ill feelings, in fact the contrary applies as it has been a hard but I believe, necessary decision. I am humbled to have been the President and to share the gains and growth of TAPP and I have felt proud to represent the organisation. I thank all the members for giving me this privilege.
I look forward to serving under a new committee and welcome those who accept the positions open to them.
13th August 2019