2018 NSW Environment Awards

The NSW Environment Awards celebrate the outstanding commitment and achievement of campaigners, grassroots environmentalists and conservation groups across the state. The 2018 awards were presented by Elizabeth Farrelly on October 20 at 107 Projects in Redfern.

Dunphy Award

This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the conservation of the NSW Environment, and courageously challenged Government and non-Government decision-makers, in honour of Myles and Milo Dunphy. Myles Dunphy (1891-1985) campaigned for national parks and wilderness in NSW and Myles’ son, Milo (1928-1996) led the fight to preserve the Colong Caves and the Kanangra-Boyd wilderness. 

Winner: Dr Emma Carmody

Dr Carmody's work for EDO NSW includes provision of legal advice, writing submissions, re­sponding to government inquiries and appearing before parliamentary committees. She has broad experience advising on all aspects of environment and planning law, as well as expertise in water law and policy. As a result, she is frequently called on to advise landholders and community groups across the Murray-Darling Basin, as well as peak conservation and scientific organisations, about state and commonwealth water law. She also acts as special advisor for water-related litigation. Emma regularly publishes book chapters and journal articles in English and French on various aspects of water law and policy. Her articles are frequently included on reading lists at some of Australia’s top law schools, where she also delivers guest lectures on water law. In parallel to her work at EDO NSW, Emma serves as legal advisor to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Switzerland. She is also a member of the policy group within the Alliance for Global Water Adaption and a fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust, having completed their Science to Policy Leadership Program in 2013.

Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award

NCC acknowledges and appreciates the valuable contributions made by countless volunteers in a broad range of capacities in past and present environmental campaigns and efforts to make our world a more sustainable place. The Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award celebrates these unsung heroes. The award is given to the most outstanding and inspiring individual who has voluntarily contributed his or her time for the cause of conservation and the environment over the past year. 

Winners: Carrie Tsai and Jason Wu

Carrie Tsai is central to the climate and environment movement in Sydney and NSW and manages to do it all in her spare time. As a lead volunteer of the Repower NSW cam­paign, she helped found the Repower Coogee group, and provides strategic direction for the campaign across the state. As a grassroots leader she has pitched environ­mental campaigns to many new people, bringing them into the movement and fos­tering them. She provides guidance and support for new activists, particularly young women. Carrie was central to organising the Repower summit and a co-emcee and facilitator on the day. She has helped drive the Solar Schools campaign, providing feedback on strategy and tactics. As well as involvement with Repower, Carrie is central to the local government divestment movement in NSW. She is also an active Stop Adani volunteer, organising door-knocks and events for the campaign, and volunteering time to Stop Adani.

Jason Wu is an energetic contributor to the NSW climate and environment movement. As a lead volunteer on the Repower NSW campaign, he helped found Repower Coo­gee and provide strategic direction to the campaign across the state. Jason was central to organising the Repower summit, as well as co-emceeing on the day. Jason has helped drive the Solar Schools campaign, providing feedback on strategy and tactics. In addition to Repower, Jason was central to the local government divestment move­ment in NSW. He is also an active Stop Adani volunteer, organising door-knocks and events for the campaign. Jason provides a unique insight into environmental cam­paigns with a clear sense of what will appeal to grassroots activists and how to make campaigns relevant to volunteers. As a grassroots leader, Jason relates well to people from all walks of life, has a contagious energy and can often be found at the front of a rally leading chants. His can-do attitude has pushed many campaigns along. Jason is central to the climate and environment movement in Sydney and NSW, managing to do it all in his spare time.

Allen Strom Hall of Fame Award

NCC's Hall of Fame was established in memory of the late Allen Strom’s untiring dedication to conservation and education in NSW. Individuals for this award have been actively involved in the conservation movement for many years, have made a constant and invaluable contribution to the environment and have displayed qualities of integrity, reliability and commitment. 

Winner: Dailan Pugh

Dailan’s environmental activities relate to forest conservation, but he has been involved in much more. He is well known to NCC and is one of the main spokespersons for the North East Forest Alliance and the North Coast Environment Council. He is a passionate conservationist and artist awed by the vibrancy of the natural world, from deserts and rainforests to beneath the waves. Much of Dailan’s artwork has been published and exhibited and has won numerous awards. His dismay at the carnage and degradation he has witnessed compels him to spend more time on activism than his art. He was admitted in 2004 to the Order of Australia Medal for his services to forest conservation. In the late 1980s Dailan became increasingly involved in forest conservation, preparing national park proposals for rainforests in the upper Clarence valley and co-ordinating legal proceedings to protect a key area of old-growth forest. He was co-founder of the North East Forest Alliance in 1989. In the 1990s, Dailan primarily dedicated his time to forest conservation, being involved in site assessments, research, submissions, networking, blockades, public relations, lobbying and legal proceedings. He represented conservation interests on numerous state and federal government committees, including the Federal National Forest Policy Advisory Committee and NSW Resource and Conservation Assessment Council. The frog Philoria pughii was named in 2004 in recognition of his work. In the early 2010s, Dailan again became increasingly diverted by his activism, focusing on preparing a marine park proposal for federal waters off Byron Bay, auditing logging operations on public and private lands, and working on major development issues around Byron Bay.

Marie Byles Award

This award celebrates a group which has initiated an outstanding new environmental campaign, launched in the last 12 months, and has demonstrated strong commitment and passion for the conservation of the NSW environment, in honour of Marie Byles. Marie Byles (1900-1979), the first female solicitor in NSW and a passionate bushwalker, conservationist, explorer, mountaineer and feminist. 

Winner: Colong Wild Rivers

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness launched its Wild Rivers Campaign in the Blue Mountains in March this year to save 65 kilometres of World Heritage listed wild rivers from the proposed raising of Warragamba Dam wall. They challenged the Berejiklian government’s move to change the National Parks and Wildlife Act to allow the flooding of the Blue Mountains National Park. The group has garnered high-profile support, including from former federal Green’s leader Bob Brown and former NSW Environment Minister Bob Debus. Representatives of the campaign have met with World Heritage Committee delegates in Bahrain and written a joint letter to the NSW Premier with signatories including former Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett, UNSW ecolo­gist Professor Richard Kingsford, businessman and environmentalist Geoff Cousins and Mr De­bus. Raising Warragamba Dam wall would push several Australian threatened species towards extinction. The World Heritage listed river valleys under threat protect 50% of the habitat for the most threatened woodland fauna species of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. There are 65 kilometres of wilderness streams within the world heritage area that would be drowned by the raised dam, and Colong is working tirelessly to fight this.

Nature Conservation Council Member Group Award

This award is given to a Member Group of NCC which has demonstrated outstanding commitment and success in the conservation of the NSW environment. 

Winner: Climate Change Balmain Rozelle

Climate Change Balmain Rozelle is a vibrant climate group with lots of energy. The group was initially nurtured by NCC and began meeting regularly and having a presence at local shopping precincts and markets. In early 2006, five members of the original working party decided to focus their energies on a single key issue and so formed a new, non-partisan group. Some of their achievements in 2017-18 are keeping climate relevant locally with Climate in the Pub events six times a year on topics as diverse as fracking, energy efficiency and legal actions on climate change; mobilisation and support for #Time2Choose and other rallies; initiating the Get on to Gladys/Let Luke Know letter campaign about climate policy; representations to Federal MP Anthony Albanese about his position on Adani and new coal; encouraging members to write letters to Sydney and local newspapers; producing and distributing election summaries (council and Bennelong by-elections) comparing candidates’ climate policies; increasing visibility in the area with leafleting, petition-gathering, etc., at local farmers’ markets; issuing regular e-newsletters to a list of 1,000, with a diary of upcoming events as well as news and analysis on a selection of issues each month; and working with the Australian Conservation Foundation to reach the target of One Million Conversations about climate.

Rising Star Award

This award is given to a young individual under the age of 30, who has demonstrated outstanding effort and commitment to the conservation of the NSW environment.

Winners: Nicola Groskops and Amy Walburn

Nicola Groskops is a key Repower volunteer in Sydney and Coogee and works with Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and Stop Adani on numerous campaigns to stop cli­mate change. Nicola is committed to growing the environment movement and is now working on a podcast with AYCC to document environmental and climate activism in Sydney and more broadly. She is highly motivated and doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations about climate change. Nicola addressed the National Energy Guarantee rally outside the COAG meeting earlier this year and is involved with Health on the Frontline, attending the action with frontline Action on Coal in Newcastle at the ActUp weekend of action. She has helped the Solar Schools campaign, bringing knowledge of education sector to the development of the campaign. Nicola is a very passionate and inspiring young person, never deterred and always willing to engage people in conversations about climate change.

Amy Walburn is a coordinator with Fossil Free UNSW, dedicating her time to the divestment movement. Amy organised the Fossil Free 2018 campaign launch at the beginning of the year, followed by recruitment picnics and information sessions to grow the movement. She has helped to organise and run training session in the lead up to the two big actions and rallies held on campus this year. Amy has organised two occupations of the UNSW chancellery calling on UNSW to divest. The most recent occupation in October for 50 hours was supported by a rally with more than 100 students and staff. Amy is known as a shining light for all in the movement. Amy has also helped organise a training weekend for Fossil Free students from across NSW. In addition to all her activism with Fossil Free UNSW, Amy has dedicated time to Rise for Climate, Front Line Action on Coal, and has been an Australian Students Environment Network Organiser for several years.