Members and guests of Friends of the Barwon (FOTB) met on Wednesday 22 February in the Jeff Sykes Rowing Shed on the banks of the Barwon in Geelong. It was a very apt venue for our Annual General Meeting (AGM) given the views of the river from the meeting room. Our meeting was rescheduled from last year because of the flooding of the river at the time. 

After an acknowledgement of country and receipt of the apologies, the minutes of our last AGM were accepted. Our President, Trevor Hodson, gave his address and summary of what was achieved in the last year. A copy of Trevor’s talk is on our FOTB website. Significant achievements included:

  • the grant from the Wettenhall Environment Trust that allowed the employment of our Executive Officer, Liz Hamilton
  • an untied sponsorship agreement with Barwon Water for the next six years
  • the gazetting of Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO’S) by the State government before Christmas. These SLO’s will afford a greater measure of security and protection for the Barwon which was one our original goals when we participated in the Barwon Ministerial Advisory Committee deliberations four years ago. Much effort has been undertaken by our committee and other FOTB members over recent years to help achieve this outcome.

Thanks to the grant from the Wettenhall Environment Trust, sponsorship from Barwon Water as well as our membership, we are in good financial shape. We hope to have independent DGR status soon to allow for tax-deductible contributions to our Special Purpose Fund. Thanks to Hugh Stewart for all his good work.

Next we had the election of Office Bearers and a call for Committee Members. All positions were filled. Three long-standing Committee Members retired from their positions. These were Kaye Rodden, our first President, Stewart Mathison, Secretary and Phil Bade. We are grateful for their service.

Some changes were sought in our membership categories, to allow for Group, Corporate, Affiliate and Corporate or Agency Sponsors. Each groups’ rights are defined and will now be incorporated in our Model Rules after being voted for in favour. Some minor changes were also required to comply with requirements necessary for gaining DGR status. These too were voted for in favour.

Our guest speaker was Tracey Slatter, MD of Barwon Water. Tracey gave us a window into the innovative thinking and the way her organisation is listening to and engaging with the community to ensure our water supply is secure for years to come. There were ideas like the North Western Geelong Growth Area (NWGGA) which, through use of integrated water management principles, could become an exporter of water rather than an importer. Another was the potential for waste water instead of drinking water to be used for the manufacture of hydrogen to power heavy duty vehicles and the by-product oxygen to be used to increase the efficiency of treating our waste. Tracey outlined the steps so far to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and indicated ahead of time emissions now have fallen to one-third of those when the work started. It was inspiring in many ways to hear her message.

After the meeting, those present enjoyed refreshments and the opportunity to mingle with our speaker and other guests. It was a great night.

 Over thirty members and friends joined our AGM including Libby Coker MP, member for Corangamite, various councillors from the Surf Coast Shire and Golden Plains Shire and representatives of Barwon Water and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. Unfortunately, a clash with a meeting of the Colac Otway Shire meant Councillors from COS could not attend. Twenty apologies were received.

AGM attendees 2023
Post AGM drinks