Across two days, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer (OSCE) team will be holding community listening sessions at Menindee Civic Hall (30 Yartla St) from Wednesday, May 31 (1pm to 5.30pm) and Thursday, June 1 (8am to 5.30pm) to hear what residents feel about the devastating fish kills.
Deputy Chief Scientist and Engineer, Dr Darren Saunders, is visiting the area this week, and he says the sessions are opportunities for the review team to hear what residents have to say, with the feedback gathered as part of the final report on the fish kills.
“This initial visit is really for us to hear from the community,” Dr Saunders told the Truth.
“It’s definitely one of the most important parts [of the review]. Talking to the community is obviously key in that, but also, the community that lives there on the river know the river better than anybody, right? So, it’s really important that we hear from them.”
“We really want to talk to the locals out there and understand their experience of the entire event, their experience of the impact on them especially, and to hear their thoughts on some of the underlying causes and things that we can do to mitigate against it happening [again] in the future.”
The OCSE will consider the likely causes of the fish death event, the response, and recommendations the state government should consider.
Dr Saunders reminds concerned residents, “it’s important to understand we’re independent. We’re not of government”.
“We approach this as independent scientists and we’re very much there to listen. Because we’re scientists, we don’t come with assumptions, we’re there to question assumptions and challenge assumptions,” he said.
“One of the things we’ve heard a lot, is that maybe some people weren’t properly listened to in the past and so that’s something that’s really guiding our thinking now.”
This is the first of many visits Dr Saunders says the OSCE review team will make out to Menindee, with the next scheduled for the end of June.
The final report is to be completed and released by August 31.
“We’re going to take a bit of a look around so that our team gets a better idea of where the lakes and rivers and all the bits of infrastructure and everything sit so that we’ve got a better idea of how the river works. But really, the main thing is to listen. We’re going to come out and talk to whoever wants to come and talk to us.”
To attend the community listening session, head to Menindee Civic Hall (30 Yartla St) on Wednesday, May 31 between 1pm and 5.30pm or on Thursday, June 1 from 8am to 5.30pm.
For anyone wanting to make an appointment to chat during the visits or make a formal or informal submission, email [email protected] or phone 02 9228 5769.
For more information on the independent review and its terms of reference, visit https://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/independent-reports/menindee-fish-deaths