International environmental crusader and human rights activist Erin Brockovich has launched a new initiative to further the cause of environmental protection in Australia - the Environmental Justice Society (EJS).
An organisation of environmentally conscious experts from WWF Australia, The University of Queensland, DEA - Doctors for the Environment, EDO - Environmental Defenders Office and Shine Lawyers, the EJS has been created to protect Australia's pristine environment.
'This country is at the beginning of a period of huge growth that will continue for decades to come and it's all driven by the resources in the ground,' said Ms Brockovich at today's launch.
'The EJS will act as a guardian of people's rights to a safe and healthy environment, and is aiming to help preserve Australia's pristine beaches, waterways, rainforests and wilderness for generations to come.'
The EJS website went live for the first time at the launch in Brisbane and will act as the conduit between the EJS's expert Advisory Committee and the public.
Executive Secretary Rebecca Jancauskas says the main aim of the EJS is to inform Australians of their fundamental human right to a safe environment and to empower them if this right is being jeopardised.
'The EJS Advisory Committee will help Australians voice their concerns and pursue justice if their life or the livelihood of their community is being negatively impacted by the actions of a company,' said Ms Jancauskas.
Through the EJS website, the Advisory Committee will collaborate with members of the public on issues of environmental concern and play a proactive role in educating, advising and assisting to raise awareness of their particular issues.
'The EJS website contains a Knowledge Centre that offers guidance and direction for individuals concerned about the impact a company's actions is having on their community and their local environment,' said Ms Jancauskas.
Ms Brockovich says Australia has a chance to avoid many of the environmental problems that have beset communities in the United States, but this will depend on people taking responsibility for voicing concerns when they have them.
'Ultimately, I'd love to see all Australians take the responsibility of acting as custodians of the magnificent natural environment you have in your country,' she said, 'It's unique, and it needs to be taken care of in the best way possible.'
At today's EJS launch, Ms Brockovich announced the start of a new Environmental Crusader Competition 'to find Australia's Erin Brockovich'.
'Thanks to the award-winning movie bearing my name, we all know about the environmental work I do in the United States,' she said, 'Well, now it's time to do the same down under and I want to find my Australian equivalent - log onto the site to find out more and enter.'