It has been more than a year since we released our short film Regenerating Australia in March of 2022 and much has changed in that time - some for the better, and others experiencing some setbacks. All told, this past year has confirmed how important the idea of regeneration is and will continue to be.
What has happened since?
'Regenerating Australia' explored what Australia could look like in 2030 if we simply listened to the needs of its people. We partnered with WWF-Australia in the development of the film which was based on a four month interview process with a diverse group of Australians who shared their hopes and dreams for the country's future. Coinciding with the film's release, WWF-Australia launched an ‘Innovate to Regenerate’ challenge, providing $2 million in seed funding to help local communities, innovators and experts ‘bring the film to life’ and establish or scale up innovative solutions.
In the film, we laid out over 30 different proposals for how Australia can move towards a more regenerative way of life that considers the needs of all people, animals, and the planet.
Here's an update of 8 of these solutions that have really stood out.
1) A First Nations Voice to Parliament
In May 2017 the First Nations National Constitutional Convention released the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Delegates gathered in Mutitjulu in the shadow of Uluru and put their signatures on a historic statement. The Uluru Statement From The Heart is an invitation to all Australian people from First Nations Australians to come together to create a better future via the proposal of key reforms. It called for constitutional reforms to recognise greater sovereignty for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution that will give the right to give advice on laws that affect First Nations Peoples.
In 2023 Australia will hold a referendum on this proposal for a First Nations Voice to Parliament.
- Learn more and take action here.
- Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
- Follow Uluru Statement from the Heart.
2) Establishing a Federal Anti-Corruption Commission
The corrupting influence of money on Australia’s political system has been an insidious and growing issue at both the state and federal level. In response to this, all state level governments have had independent corruption bodies for several years now but there has been a lack of movement on this at the federal level. With the election of a new government last year we are finally seeing some development. The National Anti-Corruption Commission will commence operations on July 1st 2023. It will detect, investigate, and report on corrupt conduct in the federal public sector and we can’t wait to see it get into action.
3) Transitioning to Low Carbon Economies
Australia has recently taken a great step forward to making this happen by introducing a Net Zero Authority - an organisation that has been set up to guide the low carbon energy transition. The Authority will help coordinate and oversee this transition process by working with different groups like governments, industry leaders, unions, and Indigenous communities to make sure everyone's voice is heard. It will support workers in industries impacted by decarbonisation across all sectors, helping them transition to new jobs and learn new skills.
There’s lots of crucial work that needs to be done now but with its broad mandate and collaborative approach, it seems the authority is well-positioned to steer Australia towards a cleaner future while safeguarding the interests of workers, communities, and industries.
4) Exporting Solar Energy Overseas
Australia has an abundance of sunlight and, as a wealthy country, has the capacity to introduce new energy and technology systems at scale. One of the potential opportunities that this allows for is for the country to become an energy exporter (we recommend reading Superpower by Ross Garnaut!). An early project that was looking to capitalise on this potential was the Sun Cable Project, which aimed to export solar power from Australia to South East Asia via thick undersea cabling. Unfortunately progress on this project stalled as the businesses involved in the initial funding could not agree on the details of the operation, and it has now gone into receivership. We will have to wait a little longer to export our sun.
5) Mental Health Support
During the pandemic people became acutely aware of the impact of mental health on people individually and collectively. The increases in tension, stress, and anxiety was responded to by the government doubling the number of mental health sessions we could claim on Medicare (from 10 to 20 per year). Now, along with various other pandemic supports, these additional visits have been taken away, despite the ongoing mental health crisis that Australia faces. The anxieties and stresses that were made apparent during the pandemic have not gone away and issues such as climate anxiety are only set to become of greater concern. Finding ways to manage and work through these stresses as individuals and communities will only become more important.
6) Athletes talking about Climate Action
Australia’s cricket and AFL players have stepped up to join calls for greater awareness of sports washing by big polluters. The AFL Players for Climate Action and the Cricket for Climate groups are populated by some of the biggest names in Australian sport (including Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins) and, amongst other considerations, they are demanding that their sporting codes no longer allow themselves to be used by major polluters trying to clean up their image and that they move their organisations towards being carbon neutral.
7) The Protection of Native Forests and Wildlife
Lawyers, First Nations peoples, forest activists, community members, NGO's and the Greens party have all been calling for an end to native forest logging in Australia for decades. Native forests are not only vital habitat for wildlife, they are carbon sinks crucial for absorbing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In May 2023, it was announced that native timber logging in the state of Victoria would end by 1 Jan 2024 (six years sooner than the original end date of 2030) with $200 million in funding for a transition package for the industry. Now it's time for Tasmania and NSW to follow suit.
8) Support for Community-Led solutions
As we toured and screened Regenerating Australia around the country, we were heartened and overwhelmed by the sheer number of individuals and community groups who are calling for change and working to regenerate their communities and homes. We helped coordinate over 500 screenings hosted by community groups, schools and businesses, enabling thousands of people to see the film and get inspired to take action in their local community.
Furthermore, "Local Learning Labs" developed by WWF-Australia in partnership with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, supported communities to develop regenerative responses for their local area, and WWF's "Our Community Visioning" workshops run across the country, helped communities to develop a shared vision for a regenerative future. Through these, and other opportunities, more than 150 communities and entrepreneurs generated regenerative ideas and enterprises.
In conjunction with the film's release, WWF-Australia also launched an ‘Innovate to Regenerate’ challenge, providing $2 million in seed funding to help local communities, innovators and experts ‘bring the film to life’ and establish or scale up innovative and regenerative projects.
Twenty-five projects won the funding and are now being supported through WWF’s Innovate to Regenerate program. These projects span Indigenous-led aquaculture, participatory democracy, regenerative agriculture and forestry, community-owned energy, biodiversity credits, and so much more! Follow the links below to connect with the regenerative projects and networks that are growing and working to Regenerate Australia.
Towards 'Regenerating Australia'
The process of shifting our systems away from their extractive and destructive practices to more holistic and regenerative ways of being and operating will not be simple or linear. As this list shows, there are myriad interconnections and nuances that make changing our systems deeply complicated. However, all the developments that have taken place in this list have come about off the back of communities coming together, creating innovative solutions, and calling for change in a focused and coordinated manner, and that is crucial and inspiring element to recognise.
If you'd like to get involved, why not start by joining or building a regen group or network in your local area and clicking "Take Action" and the top of this page to create your own regenerative action plan.
Become a Regenerator
Join a growing movement of Regenerators who are ready to take action in their homes, workplaces, schools and communities. You can choose from a range of regenerative actions that are aligned to your passions and interests.