The University of Melbourne and Monash University will begin developing a business case to support a proposed world-leading research and education field station at Point Nepean, following constructive discussions with Parks Victoria.
Both universities have agreed to broad parameters for scoping the proposed centre which, if approved, would establish a coastal environment and climate change facility at the Quarantine Station Precinct.
The Federal Government has already committed $25 million to the project, and the universities will develop a detailed business case for consideration by the Victorian and Federal governments.
The field station, to be jointly operated by the two universities, would be an interdisciplinary science research and education facility focused on coastal environments, climate change, history and culture, the arts and community engagement.
The project is expected to enhance Victoria’s standing as a hub for climate-related research and education and will deliver outcomes of global significance.
Focus areas include research into dune management, coastal erosion and inundation, marine ecosystem preservation, pollution control, biodiversity conservation to provide opportunities to secure threatened flora and fauna, habitat restoration and management of Indigenous and settler heritage sites at risk of sea-level rise.
The project aligns with the aspiration expressed in the Point Nepean Master Plan that the precinct be “a crossroads for specialists and the public to engage with research focused on coastal and terrestrial ecology, Traditional Owner knowledge of Country and environmental and cultural heritage”.
The partnership also reflects the local community’s support for education and research opportunities that encompass Point Nepean’s unique landscape, rich biodiversity and deeply significant Indigenous, defence and maritime history.
University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said both universities are committed to extensive community engagement, adding that the proposed centre would deliver great benefits to Australia.
“We have an exciting opportunity to create a world-renowned interdisciplinary science research and education facility here in Victoria,” Professor McCluskey said.
“The universities are focused on the environmental and cultural sensitivities of the Point Nepean precinct, and will work closely with all levels of government and the community on proposals for the area.”
Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Marc Parlange said the University was pleased to enter the next phase of planning for the project, which would involve broad community and stakeholder consultation.
“Point Nepean provides a unique opportunity to advance our world-leading research, given its coastal setting, marine and dune habitats, and the presence of extensive Indigenous and settler heritage sites,” Professor Parlange said.
“We look forward to working with our community partners to achieve an outcome that respects the inherent sensitivities of the site and satisfies the master plan’s aim of conserving the park’s values and providing new and enhanced visitor experiences.”