The Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) is based in the remote town of Goongerah, in East Gippsland, Victoria.
We are small grassroots collective compromised of folks living and working around Goongerah itself. We are able to pay a campaigner sometimes due to fundraising efforts, grants, and the valuable donations from our supporters. We do not receive any government funding and never will.
We use four main tools to make change:
citizen science, lobbying, non-violent direct action, and community organising.
Citizen science is where ordinary people collect data on threatened species and ecological values that are protected by Victorian law but threatened by logging or prescribed burns. We then report our results to the Victorian government, which has to apply the protections stated by the regulations when the results have been verified.
We conduct surveys for species such as the endangered Long-footed Potoroo, Greater Glider and large forest Owls. This work has created reserves, stopped several unlawful logging operations and saved thousands of hectares of native forests.
Lobbying is how we make sure decision makers hear us. We publish reports to educate them, we write government submissions in regards to policy or legislative reviews, and we also work with journalists to expose corruption, negligence, and victories in relation to the environment.
As part of this work we voice clear demands which we then work with our supporters to amplify on our socials and via petitions.
Non-violent direct action (NVDA) aims to effect change at the site of harm by using civil disobedience and de-escelation techniques. In GECO, this might take the form of a blockade which prevents logging, or other damaging practices, to occur within forested areas for example.
GECO has a long proud history of this type of activity having run the longest forest blockade in Australian history at Goolengook (1997 - 2002), which accumulated over 500 arrests and the addition of areas to the Errinundra National Park. Our last blockade was Defend Errinundra in 2021.
Alongside all these tools we utilise community organising techniques. Here we identify where our power sits within the community, build relationships, identify leaders and skill them up, educate and consolidate our supporter base, and organise the relevant parts of the community who will help us win our demands, making sure to always centre First Nations justice.
Meeting in Lakes Entrance, 2022. Image by Shelly Nundra.