National Volunteer Week: Dr Marilyn Olliff - Friends of Williamstown Wetlands

National Volunteer Week runs from 21- 27 of May and celebrates the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. Volunteers and community groups are the heart and soul of many of the waste and resource recovery programs supported by MWRRG, and the time that these people give has a huge impact on program outcomes. Below we highlight the work done by one of these program volunteers, Dr Marilyn Olliff from Friends of Williamstown Wetlands.

It was seeing litter washing ashore on a local beach that first motivated Dr Marilyn Olliff to volunteer for the Wader Beach for Birds not Litter project. Its location and prevailing winds and tides makes Wader Beach a natural litter trap for the plastic floating in Port Phillip Bay. However, the area’s high conservation value means that authorities can’t access the beach to clean it mechanically, so each piece of litter must be picked up by hand.

Volunteers from Friends of Williamstown Wetlands have been picking up litter from Williamstown’s Jawbone Reserve for 30 years,  but in 2014, a Litter Hotspots Program grant enabled them to take the next step and undertake a litter survey to determine the source of the litter and recommend what could be done to reduce the problem.

Over three years, Marilyn and other volunteers collected more than 4,300kg of litter and analysed and reported what they found. They also engaged with the local community to raise awareness of the impact of litter, reduce plastic bag use locally and, along with other groups, participate in a weekly Boomerang Bag making workshop.

For Marilyn, volunteering has helped develop skills in communicating to a wide audience and building community groups. When asked about her time volunteering for the Wader Beach for Birds not Litter project, Marilyn says a highlight was “meeting new people with similar interests and reducing pollution of our natural environment, albeit in a very very small way.”

Her advice  to others who are considering volunteering for a community group?

“Just get on with it. There is so much to be done, the benefits to your own well being and the wider community are enormous. Our natural environment has no voice of its own… it needs us all to volunteer to protect it. Every one of us needs clean air and clean water so we must look after the environment.”

Watch a short video showcasing the work of Marilyn and Friends of Williamstown Wetlands on the Wader Beach for Birds not Litter project below.



Read more about the Wader Beach for Birds not Litter project here

Between 2013 - 2017, the Litter Hotspots Program funded 35 litter prevention projects, and collected an astounding 179 tonnes of litter from across the Port Phillip Bay Catchment. The Litter Hotspots Program was funded through the Victorian Government Sustainability Fund and managed by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group.


Last updated: 26/06/2018