Federal Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, is continuing to champion the Green Army program for its environmental benefits and effectiveness at helping young people into jobs.
She has been joined in that support by the organisations that have benefitted from Green Army teams.
Bundanon Trust Chief Operating Officer Richard Montgomery said the Green Army participants had made a “substantial” contribution to caring for the 900 hectare property.
“They’ve been vital to us as an organisation to advance the whole resource management of our property,” Mr Montgomery said.
“The program has provided us with some fairly significant input.”
Green Army participants had been “very effective” at revegetating 200 hectares of degraded grazing land, setting up the possibility of utilising bio-banking to “get natural resources working for us,” Mr Montgomery said.
Future Green Army assistance had even been included in resource management planning at the property gifted to the nation by artist Arthur Boyd.
At Killalea State Park, reserve manager Nathan Cattell said Green Army participants had built more than 2km of walking tracks, removed weeds and revegetated 50 hectares of the reserve, built two lookouts, opened a nursery and even propagated their own plants to use in the park.
They had also identified two new endangered ecological communities of the Illawarra zieria (Zieria granulata) and the white-flowered wax plant (Cynanchum elegans).
“They’ve done everything,” Mr Cattell said.
While the environment had gained from the Green Army, so too had the participants, he added.
“I’ve seen some kids really turn their lives around because of this program,” Mr Cattell said.
He estimated about 80 per cent of the participants had found jobs after going through the training, social skills and sense of direction the Green Army offered.
“They’re getting jobs left, right and centre,” Mr Cattell said.
“I’m 100 per cent behind this program.”
Mrs Sudmalis said she knew of many instances when the Green Army had led to participants finding full-time work, and had “even pulled a couple of young people out of depression”.
She has vowed to fight for the program’s continued funding, contacting both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison to point out the Green Army’s successes.
“I have given fair warning I will be agitating for it,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“If it’s not in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) being delivered next week, I’ll be pushing like crazy to get it back in the 2017 budget.” Media Release