Illegal dumping is the depositing – dumping, tipping or otherwise – of waste larger than litter onto land or into water. Aboriginal lands are highly susceptible to illegal dumping because it is often located in remote areas. The illegal dumping of waste has the potential to impact both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities through:
- the destruction of bushland, poisoning of soil and alteration or blocking of natural watercourses
- placing bushland at risk and preventing vegetation from regenerating and animals from returning
- harm to culturally significant or sacred sites
- potential health risks as a result of dangerous objects (e.g. sheet metals and nails) or by attracting vermin and mosquitoes.
The clean up and disposal of illegally dumped waste is expensive. LALCs often lack the funds and resources to implement prevention and disposal measures on their own. An integrated approach between local government, land managers and local communities should be established to tackle the identified illegal dumping problem.
Under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (NSW EPA) has established the Aboriginal Land Clean Up and Prevention (ALCUP) program. ALCUP is an illegal dumping grants program to manage illegal dumping on privately owned Aboriginal land. The ALCUP Program supports LALCs to work with a range of partners and supporters to protect their cultural and natural resources from illegal dumping through clean up, prevention and deterrence. Funding of between $5,000 and $50,000 is available to LALCs for individual projects of one year’s duration.
The EPA has also partnered with councils to fund Regional Illegal Dumping Squads (RIDS) – regionally-based teams that specialise in combating illegal dumping and land filling. Activities undertaken by these squads include identifying and patrolling illegal dumping hotspots, investigating illegal dumping incidents, organizing clean-ups and taking action against offenders, and tracking down illegal landfills.
The Office of Environment and Heritage has published two handbooks outlining the causes of illegal dumping and strategies to combat it:
- Crackdown on Illegal Dumping: a Handbook for Local Government
- Illegal Dumping Prevention and Clean Up: a Handbook for Aboriginal Communities.