In March 1995 ATCV had circulated a proposal for an ‘Australia Corps’. The proposal emerged over time from ATCV board and staff through debate and experience. ATCV Board member Alan Wright had written earlier: “There is in our society a terrible vacuum for adolescents to give expression to their independence and idealism in a constructive way, a chance to try themselves out independent of their parents/teachers in adult roles.” ATCV’s Brisbane office manager Phil Harrison had first been involved with ATCV as a volunteer from UK, drew together ideas about an ‘Australia Corps’, that had been discussed with Alan Wright, John Fenton and others at the ATCV staff/board planning workshop at Sorrento in December 1993 and “…based upon our experience and participation in the LEAP program and observations of Conservation Corps around the world”. The concept of a six-month program for young people with a training wage and accredited training which encouraged both competencies and personal development emerged, with a standard format of ten participants working fopr six months under the direction of a supervisor. The ‘Australia Corps’ proposal was widely distributed to Federal, State and Territory parliamentarians and received positive feedback. The Liberal Party, then in Opposition, included the idea of a “Green Army” in their environmental policy, placing more emphasis on environmental outcomes and less on job creation than the Keating ALP Government had. A young and up-and-coming parliamentarian, Tony Abbott MP, was enthusiastic and was to visit several ATCV projects (both before and after Green Corps started) to learn about their workings direct from volunteers and CVA staff. Several times he visited projects with Ian Smith project and Ian recalls being impressed by the efforts he made to talk at length with all participants.
Tony Abbott took a personal interest in the progress of Green Corps. Colin Jackson and Phil Harrison were guests of Abbott in Parliament House, Canberra, on the evening of 20 August 1996. The Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, announced in his first Budget Speech that:
- “the Government will provide $42 million over the next 3 years to establish the Green Corps. The Green Corps will be open to young Australians aged 17 to 20 to demonstrate their commitment to the environment by working on projects to preserve and restore Australia's natural environment and cultural heritage. The projects will also contribute to their career and employment prospects through training, skills development, work experience and personal development.”
ATCV’s chief executive officer Colin Jackson worked with senior staff Madeline Townsend, Garry Snowden, Phil Harrison, and John Fenton to fine-tune the ATCV proposal. On the strength of unique national coverage and credible record ATCV went on to win the tender to administer and manage the day-to-day operations of the Green Corps program for five years (1997-2002).
Winning a $36 million contract was a big breakthrough for ATCV. Fourteen years before, a small non-profit group had started in Ballarat in country Australia with a vision – but little else. Its key people had shaped opinion and won political support for a concept. There was about to be transformation from hand-to-mouth existence into a nation-wide business with resources to build for the long term. This documents records many positive comments about Green Corps and ATCV's implementation of it.
24pp illustrated booklet printed in green and some gold.