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Schools lead communities to sustainability

09 October 2017

Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools (RSS) Awards are 10 years old in 2017. To celebrate, the theme of this years’ RSS awards is ‘a decade of school wins for the environment’. One of the award categories is for Community Leadership School of the Year. This is the school which leads communities to think more sustainably.

The finalists outlined below are to be commended because these schools have continued to inspire communities to be more sustainable.

Community Leadership School of the Year – Primary

St Louis de Montfort Primary School, Aspendale

St Louis de Montfort Primary sees community leadership as empowerment through education. The school collaborates with various organisations to host tours and deliver events like the Steps to Sustainability Conference, Big Green Schools Conference, Victorian Garden Workshops and presentations at the Kids Teaching Kids Conferences. The school uses its sustainability precinct to educate the wider community, where students have the opportunity to impart their knowledge and understanding about flora and fauna.

St Jude’s Parish Primary School

St Jude’s Environmental Leaders of the Future educate students and staff as well as visitors to the school about the school’s environmental initiatives. The leaders provide tours of the school’s kitchen garden and built environment projects, empowering students to share their knowledge with the local community. Tours have been provided to three preschools and two day-care centres, which helps to develop student skills in leadership, teamwork, corporation, project ownership, public speaking, personal responsibility and an awareness outside of the school community.

Toongabbie Primary School

In late 2016, Toongabbie Primary’s garden club created a micro herb business with the aim to create a project that could give back to the community. They started with supplying herbs to one restaurant and have expanded to seven in a short time. The school demonstrated leadership through creating a unique business solely run by students and connecting to local business. This has led to a range of people in the community joining school programs, and a shift in the community attitude towards the school and sustainability, as well as providing opportunities for students after school in the community.

Eppalock Primary School

A four year fundraising and grant writing effort resulted in the installation of the Axe Creek Community Kitchen at Eppalock Primary School. The kitchen has four stations and allows the school to expand its Living Green Sustainability Program. The facility provides an alternative learning space for science, maths, cultural and other lessons, as well as being an attractive meeting space for the local community and acts as a positive community sustainability hub.

Community Leadership School of the Year – Secondary

Monterey Secondary College

A relationship between VCAL Industry Connect at Monterey Secondary College and Parks Victoria was established when Parks Victoria called for local youth involvement to help restore the local Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve. With training from Park Ranges, students learnt to recognise invasive species, carry out physical work of vegetation clearance and built an appreciation for the reserve by sharing their experiences with their college and beyond. Monterey Secondary’s VCAL Programme in conjunction with Parks Victoria is now being used as a model to be implemented at other sites throughout Victoria.

Catholic Regional College (St Albans)

Catholic Regional College school community food program works within a number of local communities to champion community collaboration, earth stewardship, sustainability and action on climate change. The Community Food Project at Catholic Regional College, St. Albans has established itself as a welcoming community hub in the West of Melbourne that demonstrates a diverse range of practices and effective ways to produce fresh food, integrate sustainability objectives in a secondary school context, connect with other community based organisations and initiatives and deliver real experiences for young people that connects them to the world and each other.

Warracknabeal Secondary College (Warracknabeal)

Warracknabeal Secondary drives sustainability in the community by building relationships and participating in ResourceSmart Schools and TAKE2. Students get involved in events such as tree planting days, clean up days, energy breakthrough events and the Warracknabeal Community Garden. The ResourceSmart messages are reaching people of all ages - not just students but their families. Through the school’s ‘Bin It To Win It’ initiative students are learning what can be recycled and how, and they take this message home influencing their families and farms.

Congratulations to the finalists of the Community Leadership School of the Year and finalists for all other categories. These schools are helping future-proof their communities. We look forward to sharing the winners with you soon.

The Awards are part of ResourceSmart Schools. ResourceSmart Schools is a Victorian Government program that helps schools benefit from embedding sustainability in everything they do, and take action on climate change. For more information on the ResourceSmart Schools program visit www.resourcesmartschools.vic.gov.au.