ABA raises concerns over decision process for Barmah Forest Brumbies

ABA recently posted a Call for Action for people to complete a survey on Parks Victoria’s website in regard to the Barmah Forest Brumbies.   It was understood by ABA that no decision would be made on removing the horses until the stakeholders steering committee consultation process and final report were completed. However the stakeholders committee was informed late 2013, before their review was completed, that Parks Victoria had now made the decision to remove Barmah’s Brumbies.

ABA President Jill Pickering has written to Parks Victoria expressing concerns as well as seeking answers to a list of questions put to Parks Victoria.  The pdf files of the letter and questions can be obtained from the links below:

ABA Letter to Bill Jackson CEO Parks Victoria

ABA Questions to Parks Victoria

The text of the letter follows:

18 February 2014
Bill Jackson, Chief executive Officer,
Parks Victoria, Level 10, 535 Bourke Street,
Melbourne, Vic 3000
Dear Mr Jackson,
I spoke with you at the May-2013 stakeholders meeting held at Barmah National Park when I & Ros Reynolds represented the Victorian Brumby Association (VBA).

At that May-2013 meeting, Ros & I advised that the VBA had recently been told by a senior Parks officer that a decision had been made to remove Barmah’s Brumbies. At this meeting you and your staff told us no decision had been made and that the Barmah stakeholders meetings with Parks would continue as before, to review and make recommendations on options for Barmah Brumby management.

However, at the next stakeholders meeting, Parks Victoria stated a decision had been made to remove Barmah’s Brumbies, well before the consultative meetings had concluded their review/recommendations on Brumby management.

The apparent turnaround by Parks Victoria seems at odds with the level of trust the community would expect from any meeting process. I gather the steering group’s reaction indicated shock and frustration that over 18 months’ effort working on the Parks’ community consultation had been by-passed and their commitment betrayed.

Government rightly give high priority to consulting with the community, particularly on an emotional topic such as Brumby management. Identifying a range of options requires all parties to establish a level of trust and discuss solutions “in good faith”. Brumby management is a sensitive issue for the Australian public that can quickly ignite passion, especially when a process to provide input is viewed as hijacked.

Parks’ actions on Barmah Brumby decisions gives the impression that consultation with Parks is hollow and insincere; making it harder for future community dialogue with Parks Victoria to be seen as genuine, open and reflecting ‘due process’.

I am keen to hear your response to my concerns, and if possible, assurance that future Community involvement with Parks Victoria can be based on trust; and the communities time and effort to respond be given and received ‘in good faith’.

Yours sincerely,

Jill Pickering, President, Australian Brumby Alliance Inc.
Cc Colleen




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