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Applying Extension for a change in the Environment

Kane Dougherty

Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria.


The Surface Water Management Program poster will be prepared highlighting the successful extension methods that have been used over the course of the program. The Surface Water Management Program has been running since 1988 when the Shepparton Irrigation Region Land and Water Management Plan was developed. In this time, approximately 250 Community Groups have been formed, with about 380km or 70 Surface Water Management Schemes being constructed.


The purpose of the poster is to outline extension methods that are used by Surface Water Management Officers and Catchment Environment Officers in working with landowners within catchments whilst showing the importance of the program that we work within. The Officers deal with catchments, and the work involves everyone who owns land in the catchment. These people may be from diverse backgrounds such as ethnicity, age groups, cultures, farm sizes, financial status and ways of dealing with change. These differences create challenges for extension officers. While all these people live in the same catchment, they may not necessarily come together in any other form such as Landcare, Target 10 or Farm$mart. Extension staff must utilise a range of extension skills to encourage community participation in the process, and to get agreement that the Surface Water Management System will benefit not only their farm, but the whole catchment and region.

Community participation in the Surface Water Management Program is vital as they are the catalyst for a change in the environment. The educational importance of successful extension is the key to ensuring that members of the catchment are comfortable with the Surface Water Management Program and the Regional Catchment Strategy as a whole. Then, the community can utilise the Surface Water Management Program and the Regional Catchment Strategy to protect and enhance the environmental features such as wetlands, native vegetation and waterways in their catchment.


In concluding, the main extension methods and principles that are used will be summarised. Successful extension is important to create a change in the perceptions of landowners, and subsequently improves the agricultural and environmental health of the catchment. It requires careful listening, assisting them in creating a plan for their property and for the future, whilst keeping in mind the Regional Catchment Strategy that has been set in place to improve the sustainability of the region. The extension methods shown in the poster have led to the success of the Surface Water Management Program.

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