Agriculture Victoria is receiving a United Nations Public Service Award for the inclusive work of the Victorian Rabbit Action Network (VRAN).
The European rabbit is a destructive and costly problem in Victoria, but over the last six years, Victoria has pioneered an innovative and integrated approach to managing rabbits in partnership with community.
Agriculture Victoria Program Manager Michael Reid said the program aimed to provide a long-term commitment across governments, community groups, generations and property boundaries – not a fix and forget solution.
Mr Reid will travel to Azerbaijan this Friday to receive the award, which recognises ‘delivering more inclusive and equitable services to leave no one behind’, along with network community members Gerald Leach and Dr. Kathryn Rodden.
“We recognised that actions taken in isolation were having a limited impact as rabbits know no boundaries, and the need for a partnership to approach the problem,” Mr Reid said.
“This program brings together a diverse range of perspectives of people affected by the problem to ensure the issue is addressed collectively by working together.”
Since its establishment, VRAN has reached out to around 6,000 people on public and private land.
“In Victoria, we are making real headway on managing our landscapes and rabbits,” Mr Reid said.
“More than 80 percent of participants have made changes in the way they manage rabbits, and they are collaborating more across their boundaries with neighbours to control rabbits.”
Victorian Rabbit Action Network Chair Mr Leach said the network provided a platform for the community to come together to take action on the issue.
“It is really important to empower the community so that people who provide the solution are involved in the decision making,” Mr Leach said.
“They own the problem and the outcome.”
The network hosts learning and mentoring networks, delivers workshops on best-practice rabbit control, and supports people and organisations to collaborate on rabbit action. It also provides occasional funding grants to support community learning, innovation and rabbit management.
By the end of 2019, the network is expected to have reached 10,000 people.