ResourceSmart Schools Awards – 2022 Winners and Finalists

Last updated: 20 April 2023
Banner with text: "ResourceSmart Schools Awards 2022 – Now for the Future"

For the 13th edition of the ResourceSmart Schools Awards, we celebrated everyone who has been working so hard, now for the future.

Tomorrow’s leaders have arrived – our young people and schools are already leading the way on sustainability, creating real impact for Victorian communities beyond the school gate.

We celebrate everyone in our ResourceSmart Schools community who has worked to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum over the past year and everyone who entered this year’s Awards.

Read the ResourceSmart Schools Awards 2022 program (pdf, 8MB) to learn more about the winners and finalists.

Emerging School of the Year

A new category that celebrates a school that has recently joined RSS and has already started to embed sustainability in everything they do.

Winner: Overnewton Anglican Community College, Keilor

A remarkable sustainability journey from the school yard to the UN.

In less than 2 years this school achieved 1 Star status, connected with environmental networks, and spread their enthusiasm through the community.

The Student Sustainability Team, Synergy Coordinator, Sasha Koomen, and one driven parent, are behind the school’s Environmental Management Plan. Together they extended the scope of sustainability by engaging staff in development opportunities.

Students were active and engaged, participating in events such as Kids Teaching Kids, School Strike 4 Climate, and attending the Forum of the Third Dimension.


School Volunteer of the Year

Celebrating a volunteer or volunteer group who supports the implementation of sustainability activities by contributing their time and expertise.

Winner: Wembley Primary School, Yarraville

Three inspirational parents transforming school culture.

In 2020, 3 parents decided it was time for a change. In two years, they founded the Wembley Waste Warriors (WWW), joined ResourceSmart Schools, introduced the school’s first Sustainability Committee, and reached the top score in Environment Education Victoria’s Sustainability Test Match Competition.

Louise Hudson, Christie Borlin, and Joanne Manariti, the architects of the WWW, used their knowledge in communications and environmental science to promote sustainability in the school community. They empowered students to write the ‘WWW Weekly Tips’ section for the school’s website and newsletter.


Teacher of the Year

This category recognises teachers who best demonstrate leadership in sustainability.

Primary Teacher of the Year Winner: Sarah de Jong, Solway Primary School

A legacy of educating students with agency and leadership.

One of Sarah’s ventures over her 4 years as Sustainability Coordinator was the formation of the Accountancy Team. Made up of Years 5-6 students with a passion for mathematics and sustainability, this group sorts and uploads the school’s resource use bills to the ResourceSmart Schools Online System. This allows students to apply mathematics and learn what it takes to run a sustainable school.


Secondary Teacher of the Year Winner: Clare Tuohy, Beaconhills College

Promoting social and environmental justice.

In 2020 and 2021, Clare developed the Beacon of Hope Community Garden to grow fresh vegetables for people experiencing food insecurity through the Salvation Army. The space also provides a wellbeing area to lead extracurricular gardening programs for students who find it challenging to engage in the classroom.

Through the Beacon of Hope Community Garden, Clare has partnered with the Australian Food Network and Flourish, a company developed by two alumni focused on raising awareness and passion for gardening in young people.

Clare established the College’s involvement with SolarBuddy, where College technology and science students make solar-powered lights for students living without power in Bangladesh.


Student Action Team of the Year

Celebrating student teams that best demonstrate environmental leadership.

Primary Student Action Team of the Year Winner: Our Lady of the Nativity, Aberfeldie

Promoting environmental awareness with faith.

The school’s Franciscan Action Team meets weekly to discuss plans for a better school.

In 2021, the group audited the school’s unused electronic items. Unused items were donated to community groups and others were sent to the Moonee Valley Transfer for recycling.

In 2021, the Franciscan Action Team ran an energy audit that helped inform the school’s successful grant application for LED light bulbs adding to the amazing work undertaken by this persistent and creative team.


Secondary Student Action Team of the Year Winner: Brentwood Secondary College, Glen Waverley

Real action towards a net-zero future.

The Brentwood Green Team comprises 30 students from years 7 to 12. During their weekly meetings they discuss how to tackle climate change, often with a touch of creativity.

The team developed online resources during remote learning and crafted the school’s ‘Towards Zer0 Bremissions’ plan that calculated the school’s emissions using resource usage figures and won them a Premier's Sustainability Award. They later implemented strategies based on using renewable energy, planting trees, and they even put together a book with meat-free recipes.


Community Leadership School of the Year

This category recognises schools that best demonstrate a commitment to community leadership through the encouragement of innovative sustainability practices and action on climate change.

Primary Community Leadership School of the Year Winner: Winters Flat Primary School, Winters Flat

The fruit sticker gate – imploring politicians to take action.

Recycling, packaging-free food, and composting are key elements of this 5 Star school’s sustainability culture. This context has shaped the mindset of perceptive students who identified a tiny but powerful enemy in the compost system: fruit stickers.

When the students realised that the fruit stickers weren’t breaking down in the compost, they started an awareness campaign through social media and local newspapers.

After learning that in Australia no state or federal government had set a time frame to ban fruit stickers, the students ran a political awareness campaign featuring letters decorated with fruit stickers addressed to politicians and industry groups.


Secondary Community Leadership School of the Year Winner: Brentwood Secondary College, Glen Waverley

Inspiring the community to achieve zero-net emissions.

This school generates 40% of their electricity usage using renewable energy, promotes commingled recycling, composting onsite, and community-based tree planting. They are committed to their program ‘Towards Zer0 Bremissions’ and the students play a crucial role in inspiring the community.

The Green Team supports all major environmental events by releasing videos and social media ads and in 2021, they also participated in the 'Safe Water September' campaign that raised $1,200 for people in disadvantaged communities.

In partnership with Climate Colleens, the Green Team organised webinars on climate action, which were attended by other schools and the wider community. During remote learning, 180 members of the school participated in the ‘Fight for Planet A’ daily quiz, a number that illustrates the high level of engagement at the school.


Curriculum Leadership School of the Year

This category recognises teaching and learning of sustainability through the Victorian curriculum, and the creative and innovative approaches to addressing sustainability in lesson plans, units of work or school-wide curriculum.

Primary Curriculum Leadership School of the Year Winner: St Thomas More Primary School, Mount Eliza

Inspiring the next generation of green entrepreneurs.

Inspired by their knowledge of circular economy, and after learning from local entrepreneurs working with sustainable practices, the students created their own sustainable product range to promote and sell at a school market.

Climate change literacy is explored through various genres, such as historical fiction, non-fiction narrative, and dystopian fiction, while the STEM program offers hands-on opportunities to build and plan for the society of the future.


Secondary Curriculum Leadership School of the Year Winner: Melbourne Girls’ College, Richmond

Sustainable solutions for period poverty.

Melbourne Girls' College initiated and led a project alongside the Australian Period Underwear Company, Modibodi, to demonstrate how period poverty can be approached sustainably. The campaign positioned period underwear as an alternative to tampons and pads.

To provide data and testimonials, 60 students volunteered to received 5 pairs of period underwear. The results were shared with the Manager of the Health Promotion and Prevention Team, and the Director of Youth Health at the Department of Education.


ResourceSmart School of the Year

This category recognises outstanding sustainability achievement in Victorian primary and secondary schools through:

  • positive impact and innovation
  • addressing sustainability as a cross-curriculum priority in the Victorian Curriculum
  • engaging the broader community
  • improvements to campus operations and/ infrastructure
  • sustainability leadership in the education sector/other schools.

Winner: Brentwood Secondary College, Glen Waverley

A nest for climate change leaders working now for the future.

This 5 Star ResourceSmart School reduced their emissions by 23% in 5 years, demonstrating that climate action and zero emissions are possible goals.

Climate change is seen by the school as a global issue that requires joint action. Therefore, they align their actions with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is embedded in their practices but also in the curriculum. For instance, in Human Health Development students learn about water and sanitisation, while VCE Environmental Science students explore topics such as acidic oceans and modelling greenhouse effect.