Hunter Wetlands Centre first to enjoy Green Army's input

NEW WORKFORCE: Hunter Wetlands chief executive officer Ken Conway with Conservation Volunteers Northern NSW regional manager Leonie Winner.

NEW WORKFORCE: Hunter Wetlands chief executive officer Ken Conway with Conservation Volunteers Northern NSW regional manager Leonie Winner.

EXPECT to see more young people getting their hands dirty next time you visit the Hunter Wetlands Centre.

The 45-hectare wetlands ecosystem was announced as a launch site in the first round of the Green Army program.

Conservation Volunteers Australia is one of five organisations chosen by the federal government to run the Green Army, a grassroots, hands-on program that targets 17 to 24-year-olds.

The Green Army program was one of the federal government's campaign promises in the lead-up to the 2013 election.

The government has allocated $525 million for the Green Army over the next four years.

The Green Army was launched last week with some criticism about its work-for-the dole similarities.

School leavers, gap year students, the unemployed and graduates have been encouraged to apply.

Green Army participants will be paid between $10 and $16 an hour - less than the minimum wage. However, they will be able to obtain certificate I and II qualifications in environmental fields for their work.

Green Army projects will include revegetating river catchments, wetlands and coastal foreshores, pest animal management; upgrading walking tracks; and monitoring threatened species.

Conservation Volunteers Australia Northern NSW manager Leonie Winner said the program provided direction for young people.

"This is a good opportunity for people to get started in the industry."

Hunter Wetlands chief executive officer Ken Conway said help from the Green Army would allow the wetlands to progress a lot of ongoing biodiversity projects, including planting and weeding.

■ For information about joining the Green Army, go to conservationvolunteers.com.au/green-army.

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