Forum to consider future of Hopkins River estuary

20 October 2009

Warrnambool district residents are being urged to look at the Hopkins River estuary in a new light and help set a vision for its future.

The social, economic and environmental values of the river will be considered when experts from Deakin University's Warrnambool Campus and Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority lead a public forum on Monday 26 October as part of the University's DeakinWeek activities.

Forum organiser and Deakin lecturer, Associate Professor Brad Mitchell, said he hoped the event would lead to support for a formal analysis of the social and economic value of the estuary to Warrnambool and the region.

"The river means something different to everyone according to the way they use it. Of course there is the natural environment element but there is also the human factor and the economic spin-off," Associate Professor Mitchell said. "It's not just a biophysical asset it's an asset with huge importance socially and economically to Warrnambool and the area.

"We want to encourage people to think a bit differently about the river and its value to the region."

Associate Professor Mitchell said the river was probably worth millions of dollars to Warrnambool. "We believe there is value in taking a holistic look at the full value of the river from social, economic and environmental perspectives and looking at how we should weigh up those considerations when making decisions about its future.

"We want to look in a positive way at what values various stakeholders share and what vision those stakeholders have for the future of the estuary."

Associate Professor Mitchell said he hoped the community would contribute their views to the forum about the values and potential threats associated with the estuary. "Ideally we would like the community to support the idea of a study of the total value of the estuary to Warrnambool and district. There are methods available to weigh up the different values which could be used to provide feedback to management authorities to assist them in decision making for the future.

"The same approach could apply to any river along the coast."

Speakers at the forum will include:

  • Associate Professor John Sherwood, Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University: "What are the unique environmental attributes of the Hopkins River estuary?"
  • Matthew Ebden, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University:
    "Casting a lifeline to the Hopkins River lures good health and vitality: The human benefits of river management and river use."
  • Dr Helen Arundel, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority: "How do we factor the environmental values of the Hopkins River estuary into decision making?"
  • Dr Helen Scarborough, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University:
    "How do we assess the economic value of the Hopkins River estuary to the region?"

The Hopkins River Estuary Public Forum is on Monday 26 October commencing at 7pm at Proudfoots on the River in Warrnambool. Seating is limited. People wishing to attend should RSVP by Friday 23 October to or telephone 03 5227 2430.

DeakinWeek is an annual event showcasing the best of Deakin University – bright ideas, creative thinking, innovative teaching and cutting-edge research.


Media contact

Rebecca Tucker
Media and Corporate Communications
03 5227 8568, 0418 979 134
Email Rebecca

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