MEMBERS of the Responsible Camping Working Group hope the implementation of new and improved compliance strategies will help reduce illegal camping activity this peak tourist season.
Meeting again last week, the working group has worked over the past year to identify possible solutions including improving signage, widening distribution of camping information brochures and amending the local planning scheme to allow the housing of vineyard workers on site.
The group has also updated information within the Harvest Trail booklet and website to correct inconsistencies with messages of timing of picking season, and clarifying the need for accommodation when working in the region.
Local labour hire companies have been asked to only employ only sufficient workers to enable more hours to be worked, thereby increasing the number of hours and as a result earnings of workers to enhance their capacity to stay in paid accommodation.
Shire of Augusta-Margaret River Acting Manager of Community Development and Safety Gemma Mincherton says the initiatives will not stop all the incidences of illegal camping, but will provide some steps to change the behaviour of itinerant workers and campers over time without negatively impacting on the vital vintage labour needs of the area.
“The Shire has worked closely with key stakeholders to address the issue of illegal camping in a holistic way,” she said.
“We have made considerable progress and achieved significant outcomes in a short period of time.
“We can’t expect to completely resolve the issue in one year but we are certainly hopeful that we will greater compliance among campers this season.”
Ms Mincherton said Shire and DEC Rangers will continue to conduct patrols, taking a no-tolerance approach in hot spot, high visibility and risk areas.
“Rangers will focus on educating campers about the appropriate accommodation options,” she said.
“Those who choose to ignore the advice will receive an infringement.”
Ms Mincherton said free camping options will not be explored as the group feels there are sufficient affordable accommodation options already available in town and the region.
Responsible Working Group meetings will continue in 2013 with the group next planning to investigate the use of social media to promote the need for accommodation when coming to the region to work.
Members of the group include representatives from the Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association, the Margaret River Wine Industry Association, Department of Environment and Conservation, WA Police, Augusta and Margaret River Chambers of Commerce, accommodation providers, labour hire companies, Rotary and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River (Rangers, Community Development, Planning, Health, Parks and Gardens).