Refugee planting program restoring Kororoit Creek and building skills

Refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan are helping to restore indigenous vegetation to Kororoit Creek in Sunshine as part of a four-month pilot project.​

The project is a joint initiative between Melbourne Water, the Friends of Kororoit Creek, Conservation Volunteers Australia and AMES Australia, and is being conducted along a 100 metre section of the banks of Kororoit Creek in Sunshine.

Melbourne Water Manager, Regional Services, (West) Emily Phillips said the program was an exciting first step towards a longer term approach to helping new Australians gain valuable skills.

“We’re only in week six of a four-month project, but we can already see the value in the work being done, not only in what the replanting is providing for Kororoit Creek, but in terms of the skills this work is providing for the volunteers themselves,” she said.

“This work is part of a broader project in the same area, to restore a section of the Kororoit Creek reserve which until recently was just mowed grass.” 

The project has been spearheaded by the Friends of Kororoit Creek who have received a community grant from Melbourne Water to assist. 

The volunteers work one day a week, supervised by Conservation Volunteers Australia. 

The project runs for four months, by which time it is hoped the crew of volunteers will be sufficiently trained and equipped for the workforce while gaining familiarity with the Australian environment.

The volunteers are planting a dense (five per square metre) cover of indigenous plants including tussock grasses (Poa labilliardieri), sedges and rushes (Juncus spp and Carex spp) saltbushes (Rhagodia candolleana, Atriplex semibaccatta, Einadia nutans), and native wildflowers.

These specific plants have been chosen because they are likely to have occurred in the creek valley naturally before European settlement and farming, and because they are resilient species which can cope with the pressures of weeds and human activity in an urban setting. 

“When the plants are mature they will not only look beautiful for users of the shared path running through the site – they will also be habitat for the various native animals that use the creek corridor, including white faced herons, Eurasian coots, Black ducks, blue tongued lizards and many others.

“We are very grateful for the support we receive from the community to help look after Melbourne's waterways and we thank all of our wonderful volunteers.”

Other aspects of the project include:
  • construction of steps from the adjacent street for public access
  • Works to prevent trail bike access 
  • complementary tree planting for 2kms upstream and downstream of the site 
  • Replacing an old fence of the adjacent church car park with cyclone mesh to bring light into the reserve, improving visibility and accessibility
Media contact
Joseph Keller, Senior Media Advisor. Ph. 0430 219 287 | 03 9654 3234