Policy statement One

Posted by Convenor on July 30, 2011  •


20th November 2010.  In 2006-07 the Rottnest Society developed Policy Statement Two in response to the proposal to build a new hotel at Mt Herschel.  In 2010 this Policy Statement remains relevant.



The Objectives of The Rottnest Society, as defined by the first committee in 1984, still form the main guidelines for the Society as, 20 years later, we document our policies.  In broad terms, there are two major thrusts to the Objectives:- one being to ensure the conservation of the natural environment and the other being to ensure that the unique “Rottnest experience”, which involves a simple, egalitarian holiday community in which self-directed activities are carried out in natural surroundings, continues to be available to current and future generations.  Essentially we believe that the job of the managing body (currently the Rottnest Island Authority) is to maintain and conserve the environment of “the Rottnest experience” rather than to change or develop, the Island.  The Society believes that Rottnest cannot be all things to all people. It is important to have a clear understanding of the particular types of experience that the Island should offer, and should not offer visitors.

Natural environment

  1. The natural environment of Rottnest should be protected and, where necessary, rehabilitated.
  2. The Rottnest Island Act, 1987, should be amended to delete the clause “to the extent that resources allow” from section 1(2)(c) so that the natural environment is given priority at least equal to, if not higher than, that of other sectors of island management.
  3. The RIA should actively promote understanding of the environment through scientific research.
  4. The RIA should seek to raise visitors’ awareness of the fragile and dynamic environment on Rottnest and educate them in the need to minimise their impact on both the terrestrial and marine environments.
  5. The area outside the settlement should be managed as a natural area, with the only additional structures being those necessary to protect the environment.

Holiday experience

  1. 6. The Rottnest experience should be simple, nature based, self directed and egalitarian.
  2. Rottnest should remain a place to which Western Australian visitors are able to return time and again, building up a caring attitude towards the island which will be passed on to future generations.
  3. Rottnest should be a holiday destination primarily for West Australian families as per  Part III Section 12 (a) of the Rottnest Island Authority Act 1987. 
  4. Although visitors from overseas and interstate are welcome, the fragile environment and its limited capacity means that he Island should not be marketed to interstate or international tourists as part of a set of standard tourist destinations.
  5. The RIA should make every effort to encourage visitors to walk or cycle, within their capabilities, rather than to depend on buses as their primary means of transport.
  6. The RIA should make every effort to educate visitors that the area outside the settlement is essentially a natural area without facilities and so they should be self-sufficient in terms of sun and weather protection and realistic in their expectations.
  7. Alternative risk management strategies (other than signs) should be investigated.
  8. Rottnest should remain a relatively low cost holiday destination.
  9. All accommodation should be relatively basic, low maintenance and in keeping with a simple beach holiday.
  10. While it is important to offer a range of accommodation on the island, there should not be too great a disparity between ‘low end’ and ‘high end’ accommodation in order that the highly valued egalitarian nature of the ‘Rottnest experience’ is maintained.
  11. Rottnest is its own attraction; it does not need additional activities to make it more attractive to visitors.
  12. Commercial activities and events should be kept to a minimum, judged on their relevance to the Rottnest experience and kept within the settlement area (with the exception of events such as the marathon).

Overall management

  1. The RIA should develop sustainability criteria against which all future management decisions must be measured.
  2. Visitor numbers should be limited to current levels until research has been done to determine (a) the carrying capacity of the natural environment; and (b) the maximum number of visitors which does not detract from the ‘Rottnest experience’
  3. The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) should endeavour to promote a strategic alliance with other departments, such as CALM, Western Power, Water Corp and Fisheries, in order to access expertise on a number of marine and terrestrial management matters.
  4. The Environmental Advisory Committee’s role should be strengthened and its report should appear each year in the RIA’s Annual Report. Similarly, reports of the other advisory committees – marine, heritage, etc., should also appear each year as part of the RIA’s Annual Report.
  5. The number of vehicles on the island should be kept to a minimum and their use strictly monitored in order to maintain the highly valued level of road safety and tranquillity.

READ our new Policy Statement 2 (April 07)