August 2023 AGM Presidents Report

President’s Report August 2023

I start this report by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gubbi Gubbi and Jinibara People and the Joondabarrie People of Bribie Island.

I pay respect to the Elders, past present and emerging and their care of the land for generations.

I acknowledge the learning I have personally received by association with the Gubbi Gubbi People and through TAPP connection with work performed by Bunya Bunya Aboriginal Corporation (BBCAC) at Ts Onslow and Bells Creek.

Writing this report gave me an opportunity to reflect on the history of TAPP and my experience with the group. I realized that many of our members have little real knowledge of the reason TAPP was created or much of our history. This is an incentive to write a brief history, although this report may not really be the place to do it, but you will get some anyway.

Having this recollection, however, leads to wondering if the original purpose of TAPP is still legitimate and if the Aims and Objectives hold true today. We no longer print those on the membership form, and we spend little if any time explaining any of these for our new members. Perhaps that needs to be reviewed.

TAPP’s mission was to ´Enhance and protect the environment of the Pumicestone Passage and its catchment”. How well have we achieved this goal to date?  It is only necessary to look out the window to see the dramatic changes resulting from the Bribie Island Breakthrough. Should we look at this as a failure or should we be content in knowing that we made every effort to address the potential for this event and the general welfare of the Passage before and since?

When TAPP first formed, the breakthrough was only considered likely in the distant future. Our attention focused on impacts created by developers in the near catchment, impacts of human activities such as speeding recreational vessels and buffering the area against future tide range changes with projects such as the Onslow Mangrove planting and shoreline vegetation and erosion management for Bells Creek. TAPP also became active with Bushcare and weeding and revegetating the dunes along Golden Beach.

These projects fitted well with our Mission and our Objectives which were to “Have  effective ongoing environmental monitoring to ensure that future changes to land use in the catchment, (including urban development) will not jeopardise the long-term future health of the Pumicestone Passage and its catchment”, and “Ensuring that world’s best practice standards apply to any development that does occur within the catchment”.

Our influence has achieved changes to the way development has been conducted in the vicinity of the Passage, however the mangrove erosion management at Ts Onslow failed due to its immaturity at the time of the Bribie Island breakthrough. This would have been a great disappointment to those that had worked to establish the area. Similarly, damage occurred at Bells Creek with the loss of almost all the new vegetation planted and too soon for the erosion control processes intended for the shoreline.

Such are the disappointments that the members have experienced but perhaps the successes are not too hard to see either. Consider the changes to construction management employed by Stockland at Aura resulting in a reduction of 300 tonnes per month of sediment that would have entered the Passage.

The relationship with Henzell’s improved and TAPP were invited to be involved with the design and planning stage for Jensen Park. Henzell’s provided advice and support for the restoration work planned for Bells Creek. TAPP have been involved with vegetation planting in Jensen Park.

TAPP were foundation members of the Pumicestone Passage Catchment Network, a co-operative of the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Councils. TAPP were instrumental in driving the changes that allowed Stockland to be awarded a 6 Star Greenstar Rating for the Aura Masterplan. TAPP were involved with the creation of the Community Engagement group to assist in the next phases of planning for the Aura development. This group was founded at a meeting led by SEQ Catchments, later to be Healthy Land & Water on 8th November 2013. Ultimately the Community Engagement Group won an award from the Building Industry Australia for Excellence in Innovation, something not previously granted to a community group. This foundation Stewardship Group created the Document, “Settling into the Landscape” which detailed the framework for optimizing community involvement in Caloundra South, later to be named Aura. It should be remembered that under the direction of the ULDA, community consultation and input into Aura was severely limited so this outcome is an overall community, Coup.

TAPP were a major contributor to the Stockland Welcome Pack, provided to new residents at Aura. This document provides details of the history of Aura, the value of the Passage, environmental protection of the area and how to be involved in landscape opportunities. It explains frog habitats, wildlife found in the area, how to save power, water and responsible pet management and much more. It became a document of information and education rather than the usual welcome packs which are primarily developer promotion information. The Welcome Pack can be found on the AURA website

During this last year, the community is still recovering from the impacts of the Covid pandemic. Members have been affected and suffered from illness, communication and meetings have been disrupted or delayed. Planning has sometimes been inadequate to gain the optimum benefits. For some of these issues I can accept responsibility, and some potential projects have therefore been on the back burner for some time. Having said this, new and different issues have arisen in the same period.

TAPP have not yet been able to reactivate the Bells Creek project as we are dependent on Healthy Land and Water for partnership, funding and guidance. They have been without a Northern Area Manager since the retirement of Susie Chapman, with whom TAPP had a good relationship. A new work relationship is now established with a new staff member assuming the role vacated by Susie. With this we should soon be able to review our original plans for Bells Creek and amend as required to compensate for the impact following the Bribie Island breakthrough. A period of stabilisation was required to assess when a reasonable state of equilibrium has been reached with the change in tidal dynamics.  We cannot, however, return to the Onslow project which has been subject to immense damage and the area will now be rock walled, a fate we desperately tried to prevent.

TAPP community engagement through events and education projects reduced somewhat during the year. I have had the privilege of speaking with some local school students and one group from Bray Park in Brisbane. I also spoke with University Students from Moreton and Sunshine Coast USC. Public events, such as World Environment Day fell away this year. Attempts were made to celebrate WED at Fraser Park, however, perhaps due to an email issue, the response was inadequate to justify the cost and the event was cancelled.

SCEC commenced much of its planning for World Environment Day very late and there were limited events arranged this year. As an alternative, TAPP attended an event at Kawana organized by Visionary Ocean Warriors, a beach Clean-up organization. We have been invited to participate in a similar event in September at Happy Valley. Aura Environment Day will also be celebrated in September and TAPP have committed to attending and helping with this.  At these, and similar events, we can speak with the public, provide information in the form of brochures, photos and verbally. It is an effective part of the education objective of the TAPP Strategic Plan.

Following the breakthrough of Bribie Island, TAPP formed a Citizen Science Group to examine the visual consequences and the physical changes that have resulted. A letter identifying these issues and concerns was sent to the Government Environment Minister and copied to the Sunshine Coast Council CEO, Councillor Suarez, responsible for the Environment portfolio in Council, Councillor Landsberg from division 2 and Jason Hunt, Caloundra MP.

The response to the detailed information and questions was disappointing and effectively indicated that DES have limited concern about the changes impacting the area, the environment and cultural heritage site that have been damaged. There is no concern expressed about the impact on wildlife, migratory birds etc. The consequences have been explained as purely natural and as such new ecosystems will replace those that are lost.

TAPP have expressed concerns about the water quality since the dynamics of the north end have changed dramatically. Again, the response from both Council and Government has been that “no indication from regular monitoring has identified significant change to water quality”. This has inspired the group to create a subcommittee, very capably led by our new member, Dr Peter Kamen. He has conducted testing from stormwater drains entering the Passage and found concerning indications of Amoeba potentially dangerous to health and particularly so to children. The open drain at Bulcock Beach is an appealing play area for children and should be run through a pipe to the water where higher salinity will kill the specific Amoeba. There was some evidence of Cyanobacteria in early samples, possibly Lyngbya.

The subcommittee has met with USC and Council to discuss our concerns. There is indication that some response could result, however, this is generally too little too late.  TAPP will continue to check water from drains and other areas within the north end. There has been contact with CSIRO and others to identify the Amoeba from microscope analysis.

TAPP have purchased a Plankton Net intended to be used to collect samples from the water in the north end of the Passage in the vicinity of the stormwater drains and Pumicestone and North Creeks which also enter the north end.

The northern section of the Passage, since the old Caloundra bar has effectively closed, could be best defined as an ICOLL, (Intermittent Closed and Open Lake or lagoon). This is similar in nature to that which exists at Currimundi Lake. This is a problem simply because all the stormwater from Golden Beach and Caloundra City flow into the north end and there is now no effective tidal flushing, so sediment and nutrients are in suspension in the water until they eventually settle on the bottom. This process can reduce oxygen in the water and make the area unsuitable for marine life, particularly during times of low tides and wet weather. At certain temperature levels, blue-green Algae could form making the area unsuitable for recreation use and further exacerbates the above issues.

Official water monitoring is conducted for only nine months of the year. This is no longer adequate to ensure the water is still safe for primary recreational activity such as swimming. The Council publishes advice about Waterways recreation and suitability for swimming on their website. In their document that states; “Avoid primary contact in water during heavy rain and at least a day afterwards and 3 days afterwards in an Estuary or confined bays. Avoid primary contact near stormwater drains.”

These instructions would clearly apply to the north end of Pumicestone Passage and in fact always have done. It is now more critical that such advice is heeded. The area attracts a large tourist population. Community education alone would not be adequate to ensure optimum safety for recreation, so management of stormwater and effective monitoring is essential. All the above is a consequence of the Bribie Island breakthrough, although strongly denied by DES despite constant approach by TAPP and others concerned about this outcome. Information that has come to my notice, is that the test site for the north end which existed at the Coast Guard Jetty, has now been relocated to Military Jetty.

On current issues, TAPP are involved with a campaign to protect the Inter Urban Break between Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast. This area provides green space and is a protection from development that could extend from Noosa to the Gold Coast. The campaign will include the Caloundra Alliance, which loosely connects local community groups. It will also connect with other community groups within the Glasshouse Mountains and Hinterland area.

SCEC and TAPP have jointly produced a brochure to simply define the IUB and highlight the issues. SCEC have also produced a document that can be used as a more detailed explanation of the Regional Inter-Urban Break. This is intended as an introductory letter for approach to other community groups providing a tool for promoting campaign support.

The Council defined area is continually threatened by activities that, although perhaps considered acceptable as Urban Recreational activities, will have a cumulative impact on the integrity of the region. These issues need to be considered as seriously as the threat of development in the region. Some recreational activities, such as music festival site and motocross site which are requirements simply because of community support and involvement for such activities. Population growth and economic demands of society have created an almost impossible to prevent impact on the ecosystems and biodiversity of the region.

The RIUB will be defined in the new edition of Shaping SEQ the (SEQRP) which will be open for public consultation in August. It is essential that TAPP and individuals make submissions to Government for the statutory protection of the RIUB. Members are encouraged to be actively involved with this campaign and to encourage their friends and family to also be involved.

A review of the submission sent to the Government for the review of Shaping SEQ in 2017, could almost be re-dated and sent again. Such has been the disappointing response to community input to the document and particularly in response to requests for recognition and protection of the RIUB. TAPP, other community groups and individuals need to ensure that the Key Values of the RIUB are the major emphasis of each submission.

TAPP have been closely aligned with the intention to create a Pumicestone Passage and Catchment Management Body, (PPCMB). This would have required the creation of an Act of Parliament and an elected board of directors to manage all aspects of the Passage and Catchment. With community support, approach to Government and councils were met with little support or encouragement. The objective was considered too expensive, too complex and perhaps would have diminished some existing authorities control, all of which diminished support. Such an organization may have prevented many of the past and present concerns impacting the Passage.

A new approach has been considered and agreed by members of the PPCMB to convert the objectives to a Pumicestone Passage and Catchment Advisory Body, (PPCAG). This would allow community input to the management of the Passage by formalised consultation between community, Council and Government. It would not change the current cost of management, the Authorities that currently exist or require legislation and an Act of Parliament. It would, however, create a designated protocol for meeting and information sharing allowing the community to have input into the management of the Passage.

Consultation for the creation of this group commenced with first contact with the local member, Jason Hunt. Meetings with both Councils are intended to happen in the very near future.

This report has covered several issues that will perhaps seem disheartening to members, however, it is worth remembering that very few community groups have existed simply because everything was running smoothly.


Community organisations are destined to have periods when the outcomes are less than wished for. Not all gains are big, newsworthy or have dramatic outcomes. TAPP have achieved considerable gain in the community and have gained the respect of Council and Government. Our impact within the community and our response to issues has earned that respect and will continue to do so. We have been nominated for community awards on several occasions, receiving the Caloundra Electorate Community Award for Environmental Contributor of the Year Award in 2016. We have been finalists for the Australia Day Awards from Council and were finalist for the Longman Environmental Award, which being outside our local Council area and local Electorate is indication our nomination was from outside this area.

This recognition is a tribute to the members of TAPP and proof of the reputation gained in the region.

An American author named Lewis Grizzard once said “Life is like a dogsled team. If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes”. It is my intention, and I believe that of the members, that TAPP will continue to be a “lead dog”.

My work this year has been supported by the Executive and I thank them for their efforts. The executive of TAPP has been small to avoid the issue of quorums at meetings not being met. That risk rarely exists now with regular meeting attendance and as such we are adding to the number on the executive. This will share the work more effectively and I appreciate the fact that existing executive members have had to meet their responsibilities during times of family and health issues that conflicted with their involvement with TAPP. Added executive numbers will reduce this.

I thank the executive for their involvement and support without which I could not have managed.

I also make mention of John’s time as a foundation member of TAPP and a continuing member of the executive. John now has decided the time has come to retire from the executive but not from TAPP. I wish him well in his future pursuits and hope that he can enjoy a peaceful retirement from his duties with TAPP. He will continue to lead the Regional Inter-Urban Break sub committee.

TAPP does not have a plan of progression, despite it being an issue discussed at many meetings. Positions on the executive are not necessarily arduous, they do not require a level of specific knowledge and duties can be shared. When TAPP first began, few in the group had much knowledge of some of the issues ultimately confronted. I look forward to having some additional members join the executive and welcome them to what I believe they will find a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. I hope this experience will encourage willingness to continue on the committee and accept an opportunity to advance to greater responsibility as time progresses.

I have reluctantly agreed to accept re-election as President for one more year. It is not because I have not enjoyed the position. It has been an incredible learning experience. Before holding this position, I was never comfortable speaking in public or meeting strangers and this has been a decade of change and personal development. For that, I can sincerely thank members. I thank members for the total of ten years I have been the President and for the amazing experience and a time for learning. I thank the members for their support over these years and even the years that I did not hold the position of President my opinion and input has been supported by members.

You might question why I want to move from the position. I believe that TAPP needs a leader that can guide the group, promote our objectives publicly, be active with modern day communication, social media, such as Facebook, Twitter etc and not be distracted by “nuts and bolts” issues. A leader that is perhaps younger and can better assess the changes in the community and spend time growing the organization. This growth should not just be to increase numbers, but to create an effective community group. TAPP should have a long and valuable future, with good leadership and member support.

Again, I thank all who have been involved with TAPP over the years that we have been active. I thank all who have actively participated, attended meetings, helped to promote campaigns, communicated information via email or participated simply by continuing as a financial member. Your interest and support have been the reason we are here and that we have the reputation we have.

I look forward to the future and sharing the challenges with TAPP and there will be many.


Ken Mewburn

August 2023