The annual Environmental Justice Awards recognise the invaluable contribution of community members, volunteers, and pro bono lawyers to the work that we do.
Julie Flavell co-runs the Lithgow Environment Group in Lithgow, NSW. For decades she has fought against mine expansions and water pollution in the Cox River from both Wallerawang (now decommissioned) and Mount Piper power stations. She is deeply involved in the energy transition movement in Lithgow as way to end coal power generation, create jobs, and reduce the impacts of climate change. Julie’s depth of knowledge about local biodiversity, and the impacts of coal and power generation on the region, makes her a formidable community advocate who regularly calls the NSW power stations and mine operators to account for their actions (or inaction). She plays a fundamental role in educating the Lithgow community about the human and environmental health impacts of heavy industry in this beautiful region of Australia. We all benefit from her tireless campaigning to ensure that environmental justice is achieved and that the places we love are protected.
John Forrester and Helen and Jos van den Berg
Helen, Jos and John are community leaders with deep attachment to their communities, the places they live, and to fair and just outcomes.
John is the Werribee Riverkeeper. He has been advocating for the health of that river for three decades. When he began this work, Werribee was effectively a country town—now it’s urban sprawl to the horizon. John has led the Werribee River Association with quiet determination and ambition, bringing skills and contacts from his years of experience as a school teacher. John was one of the key figures in our Rivers of the West work, involved in the critical work of community engagement and organising, lobbying politicians, and advocating big picture ideas including planning controls focused on ‘liveability’, and a biolinks corridor all the way along the Werribee River.
Helen and Jos have been fierce advocates for the environment and communities of the western suburbs since the 1970s. They are involved with Friends of Steele Creek, the other lead organisation in our Rivers of the West work. But there are few environmental battles Helen and Jos have not been involved in across the west—from the toxic dumps and waste facilities, to the airport and industries poisoning local waterways. Without Helen’s organising skills, the Rivers of the West program could not have happened. Jos’ vision and dedication have helped to regenerate vital green spaces in their local community.
The western suburbs and Melbourne as a whole owe Helen, Jos and John a great debt of gratitude.
Alice volunteered with EJA for 2 semesters while finishing her law degree. She was immediately at home in the office environment, and always able to handle a diverse array of people and work. Alice has often gone above and beyond—helping out with events, or out of hours projects with a big smile. She is also a long-running member of the Run for the Environment team—this year completing the half-marathon for the first time. We’ll miss having Alice around!
Ashleigh was unique in that she began volunteering as a first year law student (she had an undergraduate degree in public policy). We thought we may be limited in the legal work we could give her, but she quickly proved capable of any task she was given. She was thrown straight in the deep end, assisting on high-stress litigation work, which she handled superbly. She’s been an in-demand volunteer ever since. Ashleigh has volunteered with EJA for 3 semesters—and we’re happy to say that she’s coming back to spend two weeks as an intern this summer.