Darter on the Canning River. Photo by Matt Kleczkowski
Darter on the Canning River. Photo by Matt Kleczkowski

This service is responsible for the provision of facilities, experiences and programs for visitors to the Swan Canning Riverpark. This enhances their enjoyment and appreciation of natural, cultural and heritage values and strengthens community understanding and support for the conservation of plants, animals and habitats.

Performance summary

Table 2: Service 4 performance summary


2020–21 target

2020–21 actual


Expenses by service




Key efficiency indicator


Average cost per hectare of managing the Swan and Canning Riverpark*




Key effectiveness indicator


Average level of visitor satisfaction in the Swan and Canning Riverpark




*The area used in the calculation consists of the number of hectares of Riverpark for which DBCA is responsible under the Swan Canning Riverpark Mooring Act (SCRM Act). The area includes the Swan Canning waterway (vested with the Swan River Trust) and adjoining public lands (vested with State and local authorities) included in parks and recreation reservation under the Metropolitan Region Scheme. It should be noted that other State and local government authorities listed in Schedule 5 of the SCRM Act also carry out management functions within the Riverpark. 

More information on these indicators can be found in the Disclosures and Legal Compliance section under Key Performance Indicators. 

Performance highlights

Funding support

  • The Swan Alcoa Landcare Program (SALP) provided $305,000 to 19 community groups to implement 45 catchment restoration projects throughout the Swan Canning Catchment. SALP is a grants program administered by the Perth Natural Resource Management (NRM) and is jointly funded by DBCA, Alcoa of Australia and the Burswood Park Board.  
  • Funding of $658,000 was provided to 62 community groups to deliver 128 catchment restoration projects in the four sub-regions of the Swan Canning catchment.  
  • Through round four of the State Government's Community Rivercare Program, 24 community groups shared $403,230 in funding to deliver projects that address water quality improvement, foreshore restoration and habitat creation. 
  • Work continued on revegetation and weed control at sites in Lockridge and Mundaring in partnership with Water Corporation's Drainage for Liveability program. 
  • More than $1.5 million, including $500,000 provided via the WA Recovery Plan, was distributed to 12 local riverfront governments for 21 foreshore restoration projects throughout the Riverpark. These projects included foreshore planning, erosion control, revegetation, weed control, revetment construction, enhancing foreshore and river access, widening vegetation corridors and creating native animal habitat.  

Improving river health  

  • A new River Health Improvement program (previously known as the Drainage and Nutrient Intervention Program) was established this year. The program includes 11 demonstration sites operated in partnership with 12 stakeholder groups. Interventions include constructed wetlands, biofilters, living streams, artificial oxygenation systems and soil amendments.  
  • Four oxygenation plants continued to provide oxygen relief to the upper Swan Estuary and Canning River above Kent Street Weir, with responsibility for this program transferred from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) in July 2020. Significant repairs and upgrades were made to both Swan Estuary oxygenation plants to reduce system stress, improve oxygen delivery and reduce power costs. Management of the Kent Street Weir and associated fishway also transferred from DWER.  
  • The University of Western Australia (UWA) was engaged to complete hydrological and nutrient modelling of the Swan Canning catchment estuary system, with completion due in late 2021. The project updates modelling originally undertaken in 2008 that was used to inform the Swan Canning Water Quality Improvement Plan 2009. 
  • Monitoring and assessment of Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary Wetland was completed through a partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, ChemCentre, UWA and the City of Bayswater. An assessment of the wetland’s performance in improving water quality showed the wetland is reducing total nitrogen loads by 27 per cent and total phosphorus loads by 45 per cent during baseflow conditions. Heavy metals are also being reduced by 40 to 60 per cent. The report is available at https://watersensitivecities.org.au/content/eric-singleton-constructed-wetland-monitoring-and-assessment-for-optimal-stormwater-treatment-performance/  
  • DBCA completed a hydrological study of Ashfield Flats Reserve, the largest remaining river flat in the Perth metropolitan area, with funding from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, Regional Landcare Partnerships through Perth NRM and support from the Water Corporation. The report, which was undertaken to understand the hydrology of the Ashfield Flats site and to inform future river management of the site, will be available in late 2021. 

Habitat improvement 

  • Construction started on the Black Swan Habitat at Sir James Mitchell Park in partnership with the City of South Perth. The project creates and connects waterbird habitat, restores damaged river walls and provides protection against future erosion. 
  • DBCA continued to invest $250,000 over three years (2019–20 to 2021–22) in the Nature Conservancy’s Swan-Canning mussel reef restoration project, installing mussel reefs between Applecross and Bicton in the Swan River. This includes the provision of specialist advice into a technical advisory group. 
  • DBCA collaborated with the Fairy Tern Network and the City of Melville at the Point Walter Spit to improve conditions for successful breeding of the vulnerable fairy tern (Sternula nereis). This included temporary fencing, signage and improving the substrate. It resulted in 150 fairy tern breeding pairs on eggs.  

Investigations into Riverpark values, threats and mitigation  

  • The Sediment Taskforce, a multi-agency and peak industry group coordinated by Perth NRM, continued to guide activities to reduce development sediment inputs from entering Perth’s rivers.  
  • The St Leonards Creek Foreshore Tributary Assessment Report was completed and a new foreshore tributary assessment was commenced on the Wungong and Southern rivers. 
  • Information on other science projects supporting the understanding of and mitigation of threats to the Swan and Canning rivers can be found in Service 6: Conserving Habitats, Species and Ecological Communities within this report.  

Maintaining Riverpark amenity  

  • DBCA responded to two fish kills and four algal bloom events. More information on DBCA's response to the Alexandrium algal bloom that occurred in the Riverpark during 2020 21 can be found in Service 6: Conserving Habitats, Species and Ecological Communities within this report. 
  • Five foreshore vegetation protection signs were installed in the Riverpark. These signs are a useful tool to help reduce vegetation damage and educate the public about the value of shoreline vegetation. There were 26 reported incidents of vegetation damage recorded during 2020–21, compared with 17 in 2019–20.  

Visitor facilities and satisfaction 

  • A visitor interpretation site was completed at Matilda Bay Reserve in Crawley as part of the River Journeys project. This project develops a series of trail interpretation sites throughout the Riverpark. This site was predominantly funded by Woodside Energy through the WA Parks Foundation. Construction was undertaken by an Aboriginal-owned company and practical training was provided to 12 Aboriginal trainees towards their Certificate II in Building and Construction.  
  • A face-to-face visitor satisfaction survey, consisting of 234 interviews across 23 river foreshore parks, was undertaken to gain valuable community feedback and perceptions of Riverpark users and visitors. Average satisfaction was 82.2 per cent, with a target level of 85 per cent. 
  • DBCA responded to 298 complaints from the public in and around the Riverpark, compared with 244 complaints in the 2019-20 financial year. These complaints included excessive noise, river user group interactions, river access, vegetation damage and illegal dumping. 

Statutory assessments 

  • DBCA issued 200 approvals for works or activities in the Swan Canning Development Control Area. Advice was provided on 184 development and subdivision applications that were in, next to, or affecting the Swan Canning Development Control Area. Fourteen development applications were assessed, and recommendations made to the Minister for Environment, under Part 5 of the SCRM Act.  
  • DBCA provided ongoing support and advice on river protection and foreshore enhancement matters for major projects of State significance on and around the Swan and Canning rivers. These included major tourism projects at the Matagarup Pedestrian Bridge and the Tawarri Hot Springs proposal in Dalkeith and Development WA projects at East Perth, Elizabeth Quay, Midland and Armadale (including Wungong).  
  • The variety and number of proposed commercial operations within the Riverpark continued to grow, with 23 tourism operator licences granted on the Swan and Canning rivers, plus another 11 aquatic activity licences. A further nine operators were approved to use the foreshore, primarily for events, pop-up installations and food and beverage outlets.  

New Riverpark bridge crossings 

  • Main Roads WA is undertaking the construction of five bridge crossings on the Swan and Helena rivers. These include, in order of progress, the duplication of Redcliffe Bridge between Ascot and Bayswater as part of the Tonkin Gap project, Swan River Crossings (Fremantle Traffic Bridge replacement and the construction of a new railway bridge in Fremantle), Causeway Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge (connecting Victoria Park’s foreshore with Heirisson Island and the Perth CBD), Lloyd Street Bridge in Hazelmere/Midland and the Roe Highway Bridge duplication in Helena Valley/Bellevue. These projects are within the Swan Canning Development Control Area and DBCA has been engaged during the design development and construction phase to facilitate approvals and/or provide planning and environmental advice to the relevant approval authority. 

Strategic activities 

  • The Perth Water Buneenboro Locality Plan, developed in collaboration with seven other State Government agencies and local governments, will be launched during 2021. The plan will guide future improvement of Perth Water, its foreshores and abutting private development interface.  
  • DBCA granted a five-year licence to Swan River Seaplanes to conduct commercial seaplane operations on Perth Water. This followed conclusion of the seaplane trial, an assessment of the community’s views on the use of Perth Water for commercial seaplanes and a subsequent expression of interest process.  
  • DBCA facilitated the implementation of the Streamline WA virtual one-stop shop for tourism-based operators on the WA.gov.au website. A new commercial activity application form, maps and guidelines were developed to simplify the application process for commercial activities in the Swan Canning Development Control Area and DBCA's website was updated to reflect these changes. 
  • DBCA contributed to the UWA/Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub project 'Reconstructing an understanding of Noongar knowledge for the Swan Canning catchment - implications for land-use and water planning in Perth' and delivered actions from the Implementation Plan for a Water Sensitive Greater Perth as part of its membership of the Water Sensitive Transition Network.  

Swan Canning River Protection Strategy  

  • DBCA continued to work with members of the Swan Canning River Protection Strategy (SCRPS) Advisory Group to oversee implementation and reporting of 68 key river management actions to the Swan River Trust.  
  • The SCRPS five-year review commenced in January 2021. A series of consultation meetings/workshops were held with key SCRPS stakeholders and government partner agencies. This will help inform the SCRPS five-year review publication reporting and recommendations. 

Community engagement 

  • DBCA coordinated an interagency public education campaign on the Alexandrium algal bloom throughout 2020 and 2021. DBCA worked with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to deliver the multi-media education campaign including signage, DVDs, web pages, media articles and multilingual brochures to key stakeholders. The campaign was supported by Recfishwest and was welcomed by the recreational fishing sector. 
  • DBCA’s community engagement projects support behaviour change and citizen science initiatives for the Swan and Canning rivers. 
  • River Guardians online newsletter subscribers increased to 2851. River Guardians continued to access RiverWise training and volunteering opportunities.  
  • Trained Dolphin Watch volunteer numbers increased to 1121. Volunteers have contributed more than 31,000 reports in the Riverpark since the project began in 2009. The new user-friendly Marine Fauna Sightings app was launched to help Dolphin Watch volunteers report their observations. 
  • The Reel It In fishing line bin project now has 67 dedicated fishing line bins at popular jetties, fishing platforms, traffic bridges and foreshores throughout the Riverpark. During 2020–21, the bins collected 28km of fishing line, 4500 hooks and sinkers, 2200 bait bags and more than 11,000 pieces of general rubbish in the Riverpark. There are now 77 volunteers who have adopted fishing line bin sites throughout the Riverpark and help empty the bins.  
  • Six RiverWise gardening workshops were delivered in Spring 2020 and Autumn 2021, attracting 463 registrations and 269 participants. Delivered by ABC TV’s Gardening Australia presenter and environmental scientist Josh Byrne, participants were provided with a personalised garden plan to create a successful garden while learning how to help keep the Swan and Canning rivers healthy. 
  • River Guardians and Josh Byrne and Associates partnered with Dawson's Nursery to deliver a pilot project aimed at educating and training Dawson's Nursery staff to provide RiverWise messaging to customers at the point of sale. Two workshops were attended by 37 staff members (86 per cent of staff). 
  • DBCA created river education content for permanent displays at the WA Museum to help deliver cultural and environmental education to the community.
Page reviewed 20 Sep 2021