Shelley Scoullar

Shelley Scoullar

Shelley Scoullar, Australia.

My name is Shelley Scoullar. I am a rice farmer while my husband works off farm, a mother of three and passionate about my environment. I have a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Graduate Diploma of Education. I am currently chair of West Berriquin Irrigators and delegate to Southern Riverina Irrigators. I am also co-founder of NAPREC (National Agricultural Productivity and Reconciliation Ecology Centre).
I love my job, and the fact I can produce enough rice for 2.7 million serves off a 40 ha planting inspires me, as does the ecological outcomes that the crop provides.
I would like the opportunity to discuss how community engagement is needed to ensure that multiple outcomes are met with river flows. I would also like the chance to highlight the impacts of environmental flows on our community.

Presentation Title:Achieving Multiple Outcomes with Local Knowledge.

Humans around the world, including in Australia, have changed the natural course of waterways. To ensure that food and water security needs for future generations are met this is a necessity. However, what has been lacking in water reform in Australia is the recognition that community engagement, specifically in a participatory planning role, is essential. Community knowledge and experience can help provide solutions that deliver outcomes which meet the needs of communities and their natural environments and ecosystems. For a long time, local experts in land and water management, farmers and local community members, have improved their practices and taken pride in finding opportunities to meet ecological outcomes while producing food and fibre to feed the nation and the world. Currently the approach to water reform is from the top down, which has resulted in practical knowledge and understanding of local systems not been utilised in the planning of water management or reform. This approach has resulted in a haphazard water recovery process that has divided and decimated rural communities. Working and engaging with communities in this process would have allowed a more strategic method to take place, reducing the damage that we have seen. Unfortunately, the current belief is that we can have one or the other, and there is a focus on the need to return the environment to a pristine state. There are many opportunities that exist which provide win:win outcomes, however to identify them we need engagement at a community level. To ensure food and water security into the future, multiple outcomes must be met with environmental flows. Achieving ecological, economic, cultural and social needs with managed releases is achievable. To do this community engagement and community knowledge is required. Through this bottom up approach win:win solutions can be identified, especially valley specific needs.

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