Crown land reserves are areas of public land set aside for the benefit and enjoyment of Victorians. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has delegated responsibility for managing around 1 500 Crown land reserves to nearly
1 200 community-based committees of management (CoM), comprised of more than 8 000 volunteers.
CoM members devote significant effort and time to carrying out their duties, and provide substantial social value and economic benefits to local communities and the state. They require sufficient oversight, support and resources to ensure they are able to manage their reserves effectively and efficiently. The audit found that this has not been the case.
DEPI’s governance arrangements for CoMs have not been sufficiently tailored and consistent. It has not taken a strategic approach to supporting and overseeing CoMs and has failed to take adequate steps to ensure the sustainability of CoMs into the future.
DEPI acknowledged these issues at an early stage of the audit. It has committed to and has begun work to implement initiatives to address these areas of concern. If fully implemented, DEPI’s initiatives will substantially improve its governance, oversight and support for CoMs.