2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, but for the folk of East Gippsland the bushfires and coronavirus have dominated. In spite of these difficulties, the work of the climate activists of East Gippsland Climate Action Network (EGCAN) has continued and been highly successful. In the brief window of opportunity between the two emergencies, EGCAN in conjunction with Gippsland XR had a well-attended demonstration outside the offices of Federal member Darren Chester, which attracted some media attention (above image).
The onset of coronavirus lockdown meant that meetings were held on zoom, with about a dozen members in regular attendance, although the coffee mornings in the Stables discontinued until one last get together in December. Towards the end of the year, a ‘creative’ and well co-ordinated demonstration was held across Gippsland in 40 different locations with more than 200 participants, representing the various climate groups across the region. Images of a wide range of banners and signs were taken, and then promoted across multiple social media sites for more than a week.
Members of various Gippsland Extinction Rebellion groups have also had action curtailed by COVID restrictions, but numerous small isolated actions have occurred with chalking of malls in Metung, Paynesville and Bairnsdale taking place. Recently a number of XR members travelled to Melbourne with kayaks and took part in a rally on the Yarra near Southbank to display signs saying “Climate action now or We’re up shit creek”. State coverage of this event was good.
Other EGCAN news has been that five members of stood in the local council elections, three of whom were elected. At the end of the year there was a ‘get together’ of the Wellington and East Gippsland Climate Networks at Dawn and Chris Stubbs place at Munro. Robyn Hermans has diligently produced an electronic newsletter throughout the year, which, along with zoom, has kept us all connected. Finally, there is the summer newsletter produced in hard copy for local distribution. The contents include the ‘across Gippsland’ demonstration via social media, batteries galore, young people and climate litigation, a note on the proposed electric vehicle tax in Victoria and a brief parable by EGCAN founder Ro Gooch.
Hopefully 2021 will see a full return to physical meetings, coffee mornings, and other various and numerous activities.