Above Matthew Menhennet from Corrections Victoria checks the Landmate plantings along Birch Creek in central Victoria.
An important water catchment providing drinking water to towns in central Victoria is benefiting from a partnership between the North Central CMA and Middleton Prison in Castlemaine.
Landmate crews from Middleton Prison are working alongside the CMA at Birch Creek, a 40 kilometre-long waterway that connects with the Loddon River. Landmate is a Victorian Government program that sees prison crews assist with environmental management works on public and private land.
The crews have been planting trees, removing weeds and building fences to restrict livestock access to the creek. The works will help to improve water quality and reduce erosion and are part of a long-term commitment to restore and maintain the creek.
According to Matthew Menhennet, the Landmate and Agricultural Manager with Corrections Victoria, the crews have done more than 200 days of community work in the past 12 months.
“This work has delivered some great environmental improvements for many Landcare groups within a 100 kilometre radius of the Middleton Prison. The crews at Birch Creek are also learning some important skills to help with their rehabilitation, including environmental management, landscaping and pest control.
“By learning how to make a positive contribution to the community, these prisoners are less likely to reoffend after they complete their sentences, thus contributing to a safer community,” Matthew said.
Tim Shanahan from the North Central CMA said the partnership with Landmate was making a tangible difference to local ecosystems.
“We are seeing meaningful natural-resource benefits, thanks to the skilled labour provided by Landmate and the materials made available through the CMA’s projects,” he said.
Five prisons are involved with the Landmate program – Middleton, Beechworth Correctional Centre, Dhurringile Prison, Langi Kal Kal Prison and Hopkins Correctional Centre.
The program has operated for more than 20 years as a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and Regulation and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.