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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2002 ..

news is that surveys have shown that these frogs have persisted in their new home. Again, taking calculated risks will continue to be important as we grapple with the challenges in the years to come.

Next I would like to talk about the importance of environmental volunteers in caring for Namadgi country and share some of the new research findings showing how the country cares for them. Last Saturday, I had the joy of lending a hand, alongside a dozen or so other volunteers, the Southern ACT Catchment Group, in their work in improving habitat for birds and macropods that was impacted by the January 2020 fires.

The Southern ACT Catchment Group have been working with Landcare ACT and the ACT Parks and Conservation Service to organise and host a series of community volunteer events to enable the ACT community to help in the recovery effort of Namadgi National Park. This was the seventh volunteering event that the Southern ACT Catchment Group has hosted under the program, with the final event occurring in July.

I would like to extend invitations to other members of the Legislative Assembly because, as I will touch on next, this type of volunteering can help dissipate workplace stress and provide tangible improvements in health and wellbeing. We know that caring for country, helping to heal the charred landscape, has helped Namadgi National Park recover in some of the most amazing ways that my colleague Minister Gentleman has just spelt out. But it can also help us care for ourselves and build our own personal and community resilience.

I was delighted to hear from the ACT government that this program has been valuable for both environmental and wellbeing outcomes. Volunteers who participated in these events have described the emotional impact of seeing the park in its current state and appreciating the opportunity to work closely with Parks and Conservation staff, giving them a sense of agency and ownership in the park’s recovery.

I was also excited to read a recent study by KPMG that was titled, “Building resilience in local communities: the welfare benefits of participating in Landcare”, which looked at these benefits on a larger and more quantifiable scale. This study sought to understand the question: what is the impact of caring for the land on people that care for it? This study confirmed what I think many of us intuitively knew, that Landcare volunteers benefit from a significant increase in mental and physical wellbeing. Excitingly, these wellbeing impacts have a tangible economic benefit through a combination of avoided healthcare costs and improved productivity. Conservatively, the approximate discount for avoided healthcare costs is $57 million for the estimated Landcare population across Australia. While First Nations people have always understood the importance of connection to country for wellbeing, it is exciting to quantify this in new ways.

Given that the issue of funding of environmental volunteers has tripartisan support across the ACT Assembly, none of these benefits will come as any surprise. Madam Speaker, I am sure you will share my delight that the ACT government will be delivering on the ACT Greens commitment outlined in the parliamentary and

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