Well, what a year! It has been full of many highs for Protect Our Winters Australia (POW), and some lows for our beloved Aussie winter.
Starting with the good stuff, it has been a joy to welcome over 25 new volunteers and ambassadors to the POW Australia team. In 2023, POW has grown to 5 times the size, starting from a committee of 5 who have only been volunteering together for a year. Without a doubt, our work this year rests solely on the shoulders of these passionate people who have put their hand up and gotten involved.
2023 has been the most active year in POW’s short, 5 year existence in Australia. With the support of some awesome partners and the community, we have:
- Been involved with 15 community events across the country.
- Raised over $50,000 from film tours, community events, brand donations, merchandise, and in-kind donations from the public.
- Grown our digital presence by 50%.
- Established our first Local Alliance in Jindabyne.
- Formalised an education strategy.
- Executed three successful campaigns – Save Our Snow Data, Snow Gums along with Alpine Environment and Climate Education 101.
- Soft launched a Car Pooling App – the first of many ‘POW Tools’ to help you reduce your impact on the environment.
- Formalised a 2023/2024 strategy and continued to develop this not-for-profit organization of volunteers.
- Broken into the media with three television appearances (ABC + Channel 9), a radio segment (Triple J Hack), and multiple online mentions/interviews.
We want to thank a few partners in particular:
Bright Brewery for their continued support through sales of the delicious POW Pale Ale.
MinterEllison Sydney for pro-bono support in transition to new legal structure and charity status.
Arc’teryx for their fundraising through some amazing community events and donation of 10% of sales from the Amer Sport Outlet over a weekend in June.
Individuals and businesses who have hosted film nights and events to raise funds: ESS Boardstore, Wolf of The Willows Brewery + Nitro Snowboards, The Man, Bucketty’s Brewery, Howler, Capital Brewing, Joey’s Footbeds, The Frying Pan Inn, Holly Go Lighty, The Banjo and Jindabyne Cinema.
And finally, The North Face for supporting the inspiring, moving, and stunning film – Steep Reflections. This film tour was an incredible opportunity to engage with the community and share our love of winter and why we need to protect it. We are also excited to announce that The North Face is now a Double Black Diamond partner of POW Australia. We thank them for their support into the future and are excited to join forces.
This year was groundbreaking for us. Thanks to your support throughout the season, POW is now firmly financially established. We have had to do a lot of ‘organisational building’ behind the scenes and are now positioned to go big on climate action in 2024. So to everyone who donated and bought merch, everyone who volunteered their time and energy, all of the businesses that ran events and raised us funds – thank you! Your contribution has been invaluable in helping us through the teething stages.
Education and community engagement are key focuses for POW Australia and we have had a huge winter and off-season! At the end of last year we got to work with Cameron Wood and the crew on climate messaging for Steep Reflections, the awesome ski film showcasing the beauty and fragility of the environment in the Aussie backcountry.
Our formal education strategy was created and put into place, leading to three advocacy and education campaigns this season. Our volunteers, ambassadors and local alliance members have all received training in the effects of climate change on our alpine environment and how being part of POW Australia is contributing to mitigation. Better yet, we teamed up with Friends of the Earth and headed out into the hills at the Victorian Backcountry Festival to get up close and personal with iconic Aussie snow gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora for all you budding botanists) – look out for a podcast on this coming soon!
Our first ever Local Alliance formed in Jindabyne and these folks went above and beyond with events and fundraisers helping to launch POW Australia to the Jindy population. In the online world, we began crafting blog and social posts designed to inform the wider community on what is going down in the Aussie Alps. We organised the Save our Snow Data campaign which saw a heap of supporters sign our petition online asking Snowy Hydro to keep measuring the Spencer Creek snow depth as they had in the past. And guess what? We won! Thanks to everyone that supported the petition they have made a commitment to do more measurements next year!
Over the green season and leading into the 2024 winter we are going to be busy. POW Australia is hoping to be a registered charity with DGR status pre-winter which will be a game changer when it comes to fundraising.
Our educational programme roll-out within the industry will start with POW brand and retail partners, aimed at equipping people with skills to promote pro-environmental behaviour in their stores, consumers and their own lives. Our push through education, combined with the broader launch of ‘POW Tools’, will help everyone take real action at an individual level. By measuring transport and travel emissions in the pursuit of winter sports, we can educate, shift behaviour and build stronger communities. POW Australia plans to combine this approach with responsible offsetting to reduce your impact where all else fails in the face of systemic issues.
Now, the lows – a late start to the season, an early finish, and for most…a pretty sad state of affairs. We saw our worst snow season since 2006, and at lower elevations, the lowest snow depths in 50 years1. This doesn’t just impact those who enjoy the snow on two sticks, a board, or toboggan, but the many flora and fauna species that are unique to this fragile alpine environment we all love and need.
Of course we have always had bad seasons, but in a warming climate seasons like this may soon become the norm. What does climate change mean for every plant, animal and human who relies upon winter? As we built our educational and policy pieces this year, we found the research to be patchy, disconnected, out of date, and not holistic. So, we are doing something about it!
POW Australia is excited to announce that we are partnering with the Australian National University and the Australian Mountain Research Facility to commission an independent report on the impacts of climate change on Australia’s winter – the first of its kind. This report will take a modern look at the challenges facing the alpine environments and communities we love and will serve as a bedrock for our education, campaigns, stakeholder engagement and climate advocacy work moving forward. We are excited to share more information soon (stay tuned). We want this research to unify winter lovers, local businesses and community, academia, industry and government to push for systemic change to protect our winters.
We want to leave you with one final message: Connect to protect! We are a passionate community that is highly affected by the impacts of climate change. We have the opportunity to turn our passion into purpose and be an outsized force in the national climate action movement. Let’s continue to be active, be loud, and be involved in the fight to protect our winters – for current and future generations.
Protect Our Winters Australia Committee & Volunteers