From dairy farming and Landcare to Order of Australia

Order of Australia award for Gippsland water catchment management leader

Dairy
RECOGNITION: Former dairy farmer and apiculturist Angus Hume was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to catchment management and to agribusiness.

RECOGNITION: Former dairy farmer and apiculturist Angus Hume was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to catchment management and to agribusiness.

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Recognition for a career in catchment management and agribusiness.

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For Victorian Angus Hume, one of the standouts from his career in water catchment management has been the positive response by the farming sector.

Mr Hume was recently recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to catchment management and to agribusiness.

He first moved to Gippsland with his wife Stephanie for a teaching role at the Leongatha Technical School, before becoming a dairy farmer after purchasing a property at Stony Creek.

It was while he was dairy farming that he became involved in setting up a local Landcare group, which was later merged into a South Gippsland Group.

He was an original board member when the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority was established in 1997 as one of the 10 catchment groups around the state.

Mr Hume later became chief executive officer - one of many roles he would hold across catchment and natural resource management.

He would later work for the Department of Primary Industries and would be part of the effort to draw together the 52 natural resource regions around Australia.

"In many respects Victoria led that process of setting up natural resource management regions," he said.

"I think the initiative in setting up the national NRM structure - putting in place an executive officer for that so there's a bit of formality behind it - I think that's been significant from a national point of view."

The success of Landcare groups had helped change the Gippsland landscape dramatically over the past 30 years, he said.

"It's a really good example of what's happened throughout 200 years of settlement - cleared the land completely and all the after effects of that," he said,

"So over the last 30 or so years we've realised the damage it's done to the streams and the land itself.

"If you were to do an aerial picture of South Gippsland you would see all these corridors of vegetation that had been planted up to 30 years ago.

"They're really well established now."

The protection of Corner Inlet near Wilsons Promontory was another success story and reflected the work carried out by farmers, he said.

"That's been protected over recent years because of the work done on the waterways leading into the catchment," he said.

"That's the most significant thing for me - the response of the farm sector has been really positive.

"Much of the groups who work with catchment management authorities and/or landcare, are farmer groups.

"This region is a very strong dairying region and so the value to them of having good clean water in streams is part of that response.

"Over my short period of 30 years doing this sort of stuff, that would be the most significant thing would be the change in the landscape."

Agriculture's social licence had changed over the decades too, he said.

Farming was not only about the individual but also about being responsible to the broader community.

Dairy farmers now operated with effluent ponds instead of running waste directly into waterways, and improvements on farm had helped boost the industry's reputation.

He credits an interest in neighbouring properties as part of the reason so many farmers became involved in landcare.

"Farmers are very good at looking over the fence and seeing what's happening on their neighbour's farm," he said.

"There were more and more farmers getting involved with Landcare and looking after their land, so neighbours could see that, and more publicity coming through.

"All that sort of thing had an impact in drawing more and more farmers into it, and then their communities became more engaged as well."

As well as his involvement in catchment management, Mr Hume was also recognised for his work in agribusiness.

"One of those things we did here in Gippsland was set up an agribusiness forum that was promoted by the then Dairy Research and Development Corporation and the Department of Primary Industries," he said.

"It was just a matter of someone tapping me on the shoulder and saying, 'would you like to be involved?'

"All that strummed together in different ways.

"I suppose it was principally based around being able to influence not just the dairy sector, but the broad agribusiness sector, particularly across Gippsland."

He worked for the Rural Financial Counselling Service, providing advice to various sectors throughout Gippsland and was also a director and company secretary for the GippsDairy regional dairy board.

He is no longer farming - although he does keep bees in his backyard - but his son Jareth is a dairy farmer with an interest in landcare.

Seeing younger dairy farmers in the region stay involved in land management was rewarding, he said.

Meeting such a range of interesting people was another highlight.

"That's been a really rewarding part of it," he said.

"I'd acknowledge that as being one of the most significant things for me, is those people."

The Order of Australia award was a big surprise and he still does not know who was behind his nomination.

He said the recognition also reflected the many organisations he was involved in, and his work would not have been possible without the support of his wife, Stephanie.

"It might sound a little trite but all of that is down to not just an individual," he said.

"When you think of the community that I deal with, it goes from South Gippsland, West Gippsland, to Cape York, as part of dealing with the national groups.

"Whilst it's an individual award it's more a reward for all those I've worked with."

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The story From dairy farming and Landcare to Order of Australia first appeared on Stock & Land.

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