President's December 2016 Message

As we head towards the festive season and reflect on the year that has past there is much to take stock from to set BREAZE’s direction for the coming year.

While the ratifying  by our Federal Cabinet of the commitments made at the United Nations Climate Talks in Paris and the adoption of The Victorian Government’s climate policy and renewable energy targets gave us confidence that we might see greater emphasis on addressing our transition to a zero net emissions future, subsequent decisions by our political leaders have revealed a lack of commitment. When BREAZE formed a decade ago, our aspiration was for Ballarat to achieve a zero carbon net emissions position by 2020.

The fact that despite significant energy and commitment from our successive, boards, members and partners we will not achieve this does not negate the great achievements BREAZE has made in helping individuals, families, businesses and institutions build resilience to address the challenges facing our region through climate change. BREAZE has fostered opportunities for people to grow, share, exchange and sell home produce. We have facilitated some of the largest bulk buy schemes for solar hot water and solar electrical systems in this state. We have provided practical advice and referrals at no cost to residents and businesses through our Smart Living Ballarat shopfront and library kiosk. We have established Ballarat’s largest fortnightly farmers market. We have recently delivered Victoria's second crowd funded community renewable energy project at Ballarat Regional Industries.

In one of my favourite films, The Life of Brian, there is a scene in which the Judeans are having a conversation about “What have the Romans done for us?”Upon reflection the group had to acknowledge the provision  of roads, sanitation, water supplies and education were significant benefits. BREAZE is an organisation which is sometimes criticised both externally and by its own members for not doing enough or not making a difference.

The BREAZE board has met to discuss these challenges and our response for the coming year is that we will continue to develop and deliver programs and projects that build resilience for our region to address the challenges of climate change. Most members would be aware of the likely disruptions to utilities, services, and food supplies that significant weather events and bushfires will deliver. BREAZE will continue to build understanding and resilience to these outcomes through its involvement in monthly Smart Living Ballarat lunchtime presentations at the Library, our twice monthly Ballarat Farmers Markets, presence at the Sustainable Living Expo in February, delivery of Ballarat’s World Environment Day and Sustainable House Day events and supporting other local Sustainability group’s initiatives. Having committed to do this, the Board has identified a number of roles that volunteers can help us achieve this, which are identified within this newsletter. We hope that you can see benefit in what we are trying to achieve in the coming year and will participate by attending some of these events, telling your families and friends about our activities and assisting us through volunteering to help with at least one of these activities.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank our members, volunteers and partners for their considerable support and effort during 2016 and a safe and happy festive season.

Ian Rossiter