To actively promote, conserve and restore the natural environment and improve the sustainability of the built environment of the Gold Coast region in partnership with our member groups and the wider community.
A vibrant Gold Coast community where people and animals, plants, water, air and earth all form a healthy, harmonious system.
Over 30 years ago, 6 community and conservation groups’ local branches; Australian Conservation Foundation, Wilderness Society, Groups Against Sewage Pollution, Wildlife Preservation Society, Friends of Currumbin and Gold Coast Protection League came together to protect and preserve the environment in the southern end of the Gold Coast and the community access and ownership of it. A steering committee was formed and on October 29, 1989, that coming together of the groups was formalised in the founding of the Gold Coast Environment Centre based at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Later, the name was changed to include the hinterland and it became Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Centre, then Council. “Gecko” (coined around 1995), as it is affectionately called, has always been run by management committees of many dedicated people.
On the 29 October 2019, Gecko celebrates its 30th anniversary. The organisation is planning a year long calendar of celebrations to mark the occasion.
Gecko is a volunteer, not-for-profit, non-party-political organisation operating on a volunteer base of approximately 100 active volunteers. The organisation is steered by a Management Committee which is elected once a year at an Annual General Meeting.
There has been a lot of activity at Gecko over the past 30 years. Apart from campaigning, Gecko educates approximately a thousand of children and students annually through GeckoEd. coordinates Clean Up Australia Day on the Gold Coast, Gold Coast Green Week, Annual Environmental Awards, monthly Gecko Talks as well as participate and host numerous one-off events. We also operate a variety of field work and citizen science activities such as Elanora, Tarrabora and Nicoll Scrub bushcare groups and Clean Creeks water testing program. Gecko is in the process of starting two new citizen science projects; Cane Toad Challenge and Osprey Nesting Platform monitoring at Currumbin Creek beachfront. Gecko is also the major shareholder in Regen Australia, a regeneration company on the Gold Coast, and as such involved in the overseeing the operations of the business.
Gecko is a not-for-profit, non-party-political, environmental organisation on the Gold Coast and the peak environmental body in the region.
The objects for which the organisation is established aim:
1. To promote the conservation, protection and restoration of our world’s environment along sound ecological principles
2. To protect and preserve ecological sustainability and encourage this as a goal for all facets of society
3. To educate and inform all sections of our community in the values of conservation, preservation and protection of our environment
4. To encourage and promote personal, public and government care of the environment
5. To advocate by any peaceful means, any individual group, company or government to cease exploitative ecologically unsafe practices and to urgently seek, then implement alternatives
6. To support, cooperate and affiliate with organisations engaged in activities that support the Associations aims.
Management Committee members 2018-2019
Gecko Environment Council Assn Inc is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The organisation is run by a Management Committee that is elected each October for a one year term. The Management Committee meets once a month.
Each Management Committee member has a portfolio that they oversee. Depending on the nature of the portfolio, it will have one or more coordinators working within the portfolio in specific activities and projects. The team of volunteers for each project and activity reports to the coordinator.
The current organisational structure can be seen here
Gecko has been doing well over the past year. We have had an energetic team of volunteers with a lot of new faces, ideas and energies brought into our operations. We are financially sound and our operations are running smoothly.
The Admin portfolio has been overseen by Rose Adams under the supervision and guidance of Admin Coordinator Sheila Tierney.
Currently Gecko has 462 financial members. We have Sheila Tierney working on Membership Administration and are currently looking for a Membership Coordinator.
Hall hire is doing well too. We have Petra Hatu and Johanne Green coordinating the hallhire activities and operations. This calendar year we have been very busy at hall hire with plenty of classes and workshops including regular classes in yoga, senior jazz dance, art classes, martial arts, meditation and pilates. We have been lucky to have had the assistance of Pauline Kershaw earlier in the year and now Petra Hatu has become a valuable member of the Hall Hire team. Our hirers continue to let us know how much they enjoy using our picturesque hall on the Creek.
Gecko has a little under 100 active volunteers working in all areas of the organisation and five paid staff members. The Human Resources portfolio is run by Dorothy Tollett and assisted by Sheila Tierney. I thank both of them for the professionalism, energy and new ideas she brought into the role and the organisation in general. The volunteer recruitment process is doing well, even though there are couple of vacancies that we have difficulties filling on longer term basis.
We aim to have a rich, inclusive and engaging volunteer program at Gecko. This year it has included Volunteer first aid and computer training and 4 volunteer social gatherings. And I would like to add the wonderful feeling of friendship amongst the people; celebrating birthdays, seeing each other outside of the office hours, flowers when people are off sick etc. It truly is a Gecko family.
The Grants portfolio has been looked after by Pauline Kershaw. Over the past year she has been assisted by Kate Morris and Alexandra Maxwell in identifying, applying and administering grants.
Gecko has applied for 15 grants during the year. Out of these grants 3 were rejected, 9 are still in process and 4 were successful.
Housecare is coordinated by Anne Wasley and the maintenance team consists of Way “Maca” McDermott, Tom Tyler and Shane Bekue. A lot of work has been carried out in the Gecko gardens, improving the facilities outside, in storage maintenance as well as the maintenance of the yard and the repainting of the mural at the front. This team does a fabulous job and the premises impress me everyday I get into the office!
The Fundraising portfolio has been vacant for many years and our fundraising activities have consisted of the Gecko Friends program. This program has been efficiently and enthusiastically coordinated by Allan Rudd.
Communications portfolio has been lacking a dedicated team for many years. Upon taking on the role of office support, Anna Itkonen has also taken on the role of Communications Coordinator. She has started to map and record our communications avenues and platforms, evaluated the effectiveness of current communications and build up a communications strategy. The team has achieved wonderful outcomes with limited resources. The team has consisted of David Paynter, Vicky Breedyk and Barry Lee working on the website, we have two active social media platforms Facebook and Twitter with Simone Gillespie as Facebook Admin, Anna Itkonen as Twitter Admin, “Out and About” external newsletter gets wonderful engagement under the guidance of Cate Ware and LalithaVenkata and our graphic design team has been finalising whatever has been left from the visual rebranding. That team consists of Georgina McDonald and Mikhail Rogachevsky.
Gecko has run 4 major events in the last year; Annual Awards Night 2019 in September 2019, Clean Up Australia Day on 3 March 2019 and the Gold Coast Green Weekend running from 31 May until 9 June 2019. Additionally, Gecko runs a monthly program of Gecko Talks at Currumbin RSL from February until November.
The Events team is overseen by Anna Itkonen, Events portfolio holder together with Sheila Tierney, Events PA. Each individual event has its own dedicated coordinator; Clean Up Australia Day 2019 was coordinated by Anna Itkonen, Gold Coast Green was coordinated in collaboration with Gold Coast Catchment Association and SurfriderFoundation Gold Coast and Tweed branch, Annual Awards Night was coordinated by Anna Itkonen with a large team volunteers. Gecko Talks have been coordinated by Pauline Kershaw.
It’s been a busy year for GeckoEd with us having only one week’s break between EcoDiscoverers’ holidays and club programs at the start of each term. We now have 34 different programs. This has been a necessity because we have most children coming along to repeat terms of the club and new programs keep up their interest. We have incorporated some of those programs into the holidays with success because with many children coming to all holiday programs, a new program brings renewed interest and we have more enrolments. For one EcoDiscoverers’ program we had 50 children.
Often our programs are booked out with children on a waiting list, so that we have had to repeat programs in some holiday periods.
We have been advertising the club via Facebook and this has brought some numbers, though not enough to be viable.
GeckoEd school programs have had some success, with a Singapore class and one from Japan. We also had an entire Year 4 from Ashmore and this we did in one day, which was a bit of a stretch with 122 children. The PBC students took part in a clean up of the mangroves with GeckoEd supervising. We also had The Southport School for a program in the mangroves.
We now have Sharon Payne who will promote our school programs and there is a possibility that we could get overflow students passed on from the Jacobs Well Environment School. Sharon has been doing promotion of EcoDiscoverers and also putting in a good word for GeckoEd with the promoters and organisers of overseas schools.
We have the prospect of an excursion with PBC’s Year 7 Geography class next year and one for a Japanese class in 2022 that we will be discussing with their teachers in December.
A list of all our EcoDiscoverers’ programs can be seen at https://gecko.org.au/ecodiscoverers-holiday-programs/
The Gecko Environment Council Campaign Team continues to meet fortnightly and as in past years has achieved much in 2018-2019. Gecko as the peak regional environment group, does its best to respond to a wide range of issues relating to conservation of species, protection of public open space, sustainability of the urban environment and transparency and accountability in all levels of government. To this end over 45 submissions were made to government at all three levels either proactively or in response to a discussion paper or an issue that has arisen. Since the Campaign team is relatively small, though dedicated and enthusiastic, the team has seen the culmination of proactive networking this year with the formal formation of the Community Alliance and the SEQ Alliance, which has enabled us to extend our reach on issues of mutual concern. We expect this to consolidate over the next 12 months. We have also auspiced two community groups in their initial stages of development. The team has also represented Gecko at the Queensland Conservation Council Round Table with the Department of Environment and Science. The pressures of rapid population growth in the city are being felt more keenly by residents and the Gecko Campaign Team receives many requests for help and we respond either with assistance or information and advice on how to advocate for themselves.
The issues that received most attention this year were planning and its impact on not only the environment, but the livability and sustainability of the urban scene, species protection ; reform of local government to increase transparency and accountability in decision making; the successful culmination Spit Master Plan; koala protection; climate change as conveners and active participants in the Gold Coast Climate Action Network; the proposed cruise terminal; protection of public open space; ground water extraction; national park protection and increase; the light rail extensions and water quality monitoring with the Clean Creeks program. Progress is slow on many of these issues, mainly due to unhelpful governments, but persistence and commitment is the key and the team does not lack these qualities.
The benefits of networking, sharing information and learning about the work of others are integral to Gecko’s efforts to strengthen our environmental message and share it with the wider community. In addition to Gecko’s role in founding and developing both the Community Alliance and the SEQ Alliance, comprised of representatives of numerous community groups on the Gold Coast and across South-East Queensland (covered in our Advocacy Report) Gecko has also sent representatives to various forums and consultation events over the past year. These include representation by Lois, Rose and Pauline to numerous Spit Master Plan Consultations, at the presentation of the State of Marine Debris Report 4/3/192019 for Tallebudgera Creek, attendance with other community groups at a presentation on Koala Management by Qld Dept of Environment In May, attendance at the Queensland Land and Water Carers (QWaLC) AGM on Wednesday 7th Nov 2018 and attendance by Rose as Gecko’s rep on the South-East Queensland Catchment Management Board at 4 meetings: 8/11/18 at Kilcoy; 8/3/19 at Coomera;16/5/19 at Crow’s Nest and 6/8/19 at Port of Brisbane. These meetings are hosted by different land care groups who showcase their land and catchment management initiatives and include presentations by various government and business stakeholders on catchment-related issues. These provide a valuable forum for the exchange of information and enrich our own volunteering efforts.
Gecko members also attended a variety of events over the year, including business breakfasts, the Save Our Spit AGM, UN Sustainability Goal Games at Robina High School and community meetings on various development proposals that will have significant impacts on our environment and the sustainability and amenity of Gold Coast City. Gecko’s outreach to the community includes many avenues. Lois’s presentation to the Bloke’s Lounge in Broadbeach in September, using our recently updated PowerPoint presentation allowed her to address the questions of the group on environmental issues, climate change and the work we undertake.