If QCAN, you can

Published: 23 March 2023
hall with dozens of people seated Queenscliffe locals get together to learn more about the Community Solar Program.

The tiny-but-mighty Borough of Queenscliffe is a small community making a big difference for climate change. As the smallest local government area in Victoria, the Queenscliffe community could be forgiven for thinking that the global problem of rising temperatures was beyond them. Instead, council and community have teamed up to develop a 10-year climate emergency roadmap and are working together to become world leaders in responding to the climate crisis.

Queenscliffe Climate Action Now (QCAN) founder Kitty Walker said locals have been united by a strong desire to protect their neighbourhood.

“There are a lot of people who have a very deep connection to this place in terms of its natural landscape and beauty,” Kitty says. “We’re also a very low-lying area, so the community is concerned about future inundation and sea level rise issues.”

When Kitty called for a community climate meeting towards the end of 2019, she expected 50 people to show up. Instead, the hall she booked for the event was bursting at the seams, with passionate residents sitting on the floor and leaning up against walls. The meeting resulted in a call for the council to declare a climate emergency and a commitment to work together on developing a response plan.

Three years on, QCAN has produced the Climate Emergency Response Plan 2021-2031 and is now working closely with council on delivering against its tangible targets through initiatives like their Community Solar Program.

table of councilors facing with arms raised facing people seated in auditorium Queenscliffe's Climate Emergency Response Plan is endorsed by council.

Kitty says Queenscliffe’s achievements have inspired other communities to reach out for help.

“We always said that if we had success here that we wanted to do whatever we could to share that success with others,” Kitty says. "We love going to present to other communities and chatting with groups that might be forming, or to councils that are trying to mobilise their communities because then it becomes bigger, doesn't it?

“Yes, what you're doing on your home patch is crucial, but if you can get a blueprint that works, that can be tweaked to fit other communities, then that's the bigger picture, that’s the goal."

“If you can follow another community's path and see how someone else has done it and take their wins and learn from their mistakes, it's way less scary. And much more achievable.”
Kitty Walker, Queenscliffe Climate Action Now founder.

Kitty believes that grassroots action is the best way to enact change and hopes that the success of QCAN and the Borough of Queenscliffe will motivate other communities to take the first step in the fight against the climate crisis.

“Unless it's driven from the ground up, I don't see how change can actually happen,” Kitty says. "I've talked to so many local councils, and I think communities taking grassroots action is the only way to start this journey.

"Local governments can get their own houses in order, but you need the voices of the community to drive and lead. You need a central force.

“And it has to be a diverse makeup; it can't just be a bunch of mates who all have the same mindset because then you'll only be speaking to one segment of your community.”

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