Name of organisation
Sydney Olympic Park Authority
NSW State Government
Number of staff
20 Centre based Staff
Number of visitors per year
20,000 students a year on average, plus over 3 million general parkland visitors a year.
Overall aims of the centre
Guided by the Sydney Olympic Park Place Vision the centre aims to facilitate inclusive participation in education and discovery experiences which engage people with each other and our place to create shared custodianship. This is achieved through innovative and accessible programming which shares the compelling stories of our cultural/historical heritage and leverages our unique natural/built environments for learning.
Description of the centre
Location: Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park, adjacent to the Badu Mangroves – the largest stand of mangroves on the Parramatta River.
Size of site: 640 hectares total, 430 hectares of Parklands, 175 hectares of wetlands (predominately mangroves and saltmarsh).
Types of habitats and species supported (up to 3):
1. Avicennia Marina (Sydney Grey Mangrove)
2. Saltmarsh communities (Sarcocornia quinqueflora, Suaeda australis, Wilsonia backhousii etc.)
3. Migratory Birds whose habitats are protected under the bilateral intergovernmental agreements of JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA.
- Curriculum-based environmental school excursions/field trips
- Practical professional development workshops for the wetland industry
- Park Ranger talks and tours
- Volunteer & citizen science programs
- Sensory Programs for people with a disability
- Hands-on School Holiday programs
- Technical Insight Tours for visiting delegations
Main CEPA work area
All programs featured above are focused on communication, education, participation, and awareness-raising.
Top three successes
1. Development of the Sydney Wetland Institute (SWI):
The Centre serves as a home for SWI whose Vision is an internationally recognised hub for urban wetlands management, knowledge creation & program facilitation in education, research and community outreach. SWI delivers professional development programs, business events, technical tours and consultancy. We facilitate Industry networking, Third Party programs & wetland research. We engage local business, residential & student communities as custodians of the Park whilst developing partnerships & formal accreditation for industry programs.
We have recently concluded a 12 month pilot of SWI and despite a very challenging year we have seen excellent outcomes:
- 14 live webinars involving 1,500 registrants from 15 nations
- 3 virtual and 4 face-to-face training workshops
- Quarterly Issues of an electronic newsletter (Wetland Connect)
- Course accreditation with Macquarie University
- A 2-day virtual forum on ‘Impacts of Bushfire on Wetlands’
- Various consultancies on urban wetland management
2. Virtual Programming and Events:
Our programs are very ‘place based’, so with the onset of the COVID pandemic, we needed to drastically change our programming and the way the community and students connect with Sydney Olympic Park. We quickly pivoted to launch ‘ParkLive’, our successful virtual programming offer – which included live virtual school excursions direct from our wetlands; weekly online ‘Mini Park Ranger’ videos; self-guided tours of the Park and wetlands using an app; our annual large scale schools sustainability event, the Youth Eco Summit, changed to online and attracted 8,000 students in 2021; our Murama Youth Summit Indigenous event was also moved online with over 500 participants, among many other projects/programs. This work culminated in our team being awarded the Parks and Leisure Australia National Pivot Award in 2021, along with our Lead Education Officer Liana Kay being awarded Government Environmental Educator of the Year from the Australian Association for Environmental Education mainly for her work on the virtual Youth Eco Summit in 2021.
3. Fostering Positive Relationships with the Aboriginal Community:
Our Centre team work closely with the local Aboriginal Community to foster positive relationships with significant and meaningful outcomes. Much of our work contributes substantially to the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for our organization as a whole. Projects include: creating the Murama Healing Space, a heritage building reused as a welcoming community space to gather, share knowledge, and heal; commissioning major site wide Indigenous artworks from local Aboriginal artists which also include input from SOPA staff in the form of handprints and inspiration, those artworks then being licensed so that the artists can continue to be reimbursed for their work; creation of the Murama Dance ground – a large outdoor Aboriginal dance ground used for large scale events, education, and ceremony; the formation of the Murama Healing Circle, who play an important role in ensuring our work is in accordance with established protocols around respect and inclusion.
Top three challenges
1) Sustainable wetlands management within the context of rapid urban development.
Contact SWI: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Volunteer management: overcoming privacy issues and determining digital platforms, policy and processes for coordinating people and projects.
Contact our Visitor programs team via email@example.com
3) Maintaining courageous inclusivity of First Nations people and a ‘Country First’ commitment whilst representing a colonial government system.
Contact our Place Management Team via: Mike.Bartlett@sopa.nsw.gov.au
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools; Developing nature trails
Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor center
Working with disabled people; Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety; Project planning.
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