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Matisse Turner, wearing blue jeansand a grey striped top and carrying a canteen around her neck, holds a weed she has removed from the beach at Mallacoota, where she is posing.

In the wake of Mallacoota’s 2020 summer bushfire crisis, a group of the town’s young people united to lobby for a local support space.

The Sanctuary Mallacoota Youth Group was quickly formed. It provides a safe haven for Mallacoota’s young people to be together, support each other and develop their skills as they recover from the fire.

In the months following the disaster, Mallacoota’s young people used the space to study, play music, make art, play games, organise programs and events and run workshops. Many discovered their shared passion for protecting their local coastal environment.

The bushfire-ravaged forests are still too dangerous for local young people to assist with regeneration volunteering efforts. But some among the group noticed local coastal areas that could be improved.

Paris Brooke’s daughter Matisse Turner, 10, was among those to create the Sanctuary’s Wilderness Coast Project. On the last Saturday of each month, Matisse and around 30 other kids and teens turn out around Bastion Beach to help restore the coastline, which was falling prey to invasive weeds.

They applied for a Coastcare Victoria Community Grant, in collaboration with Friends of Mallacoota. And in late 2020 they were awarded a grant of up to $30,000 to assist with their land and coast management activities.

Children and young people removing weeds from a beach at Mallacoota.
Young volunteers doing their bit to improve the beach at Mallacoota.

The group now weed, plant new trees, audit litter and do general conservation work around local beaches.

‘It is a fun way for the kids to spend time caring and learning about Landcare and Coastcare as well as building friendship within the community,’ Paris said.

Matisse said she was enjoying volunteering for the environment.

‘Beach weeding is so easy and relaxing. I could spend hours doing this on the beach especially knowing that I’m doing good for the environment,’ she said.

Find out more about the group's work, and about Victoria's Coastcare program

Reviewed 19 May 2021

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