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For the 13th edition of the ResourceSmart Schools Awards, we are delighted to celebrate 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.
A new category that celebrates a school that has recently joined RSS and has already started to embed sustainability in everything they do.
The contagious power of community action.
This school reached 3 Star status in less than 2 years with the assistance and support of an active community.
Parents worked on the school’s new multipurpose butterfly garden. Student leaders have daily jobs to keep the campus running smoothly, whilst some families replicated the school’s new bin system at home, demonstrating a full circle of inspiration.
Using data to identify improvement opportunities.
Notre Dame College Sustainability Coordinators supported the creation of Terra Tomodachi, the school’s action team that supports audits and promotes sustainability.
The school wanted to take action that reflected the sustainability priorities of their school community. A survey of nearly 2,000 people students and staff helped reveal that waste management was the top concern.
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.
Celebrating a volunteer or volunteer group who supports the implementation of sustainability activities by contributing their time and expertise.
A new face charging ahead with sustainability projects.
Alex Thomas played a pivotal role in implementing the school’s Battery Recycling program. He conducted the research, liaised with local drop-off locations, and initiated a regular pick-up schedule.
Only joining the school community one year ago, Alex is a regular participant at the Environment Meetings, as well as in ResourceSmart Schools activities, and he helped students enter the Seeds in Space program, showing a fast-growing commitment to his community.
Nurturing the students’ environment and minds.
Every year Allesha Gardner works with over 170 students to expand the school’s Kitchen Garden Program. Allesha coordinates volunteering activities and teaches composting, pest control, and sustainable cooking.
She has also created links to classroom learning by providing teachers with unit plans. Allesha may not be a teacher, but her generosity, passion, and farming experience has nurtured many generations at this coastal school.
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.
This category recognises teachers who best demonstrate leadership in sustainability.
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.
The science of sustainability.
Jemma has infused waste management programs and excellence in Somerville Primary School in a very short time. She has a natural knack for weaving environmental science curriculum into sustainability practices to help students learn while achieving their sustainability goals.
Reigniting sustainability in the school.
Charismatic and motivated, this sustainability leader was responsible for re-engaging the school in the ResourceSmart Schools program and for fostering love and respect for the school’s coastal surroundings among the community.
A leader and role model for empowered students.
Paula encourages students to rethink and modify their waste habits, and to voice and act on their concerns. Paula was pivotal in the student-led campaign to encourage the Victorian Government to rethink the roll-out of free single-use menstrual products in all Victorian Public Schools.
The petition – Eco Friendly Periods 4 Vic Schools – received nearly 3,000 thousand signatures, including politicians, businesses and environmental organisations.
Paula has been crucial in implementing the school’s Waste Avoidance and Zero Waste to Landfill policy, and in inspiring her students to act on sustainability.
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.
Celebrating student teams that best demonstrate environmental leadership.
The busy agenda of the Green Magpies.
The Green Magpies comprises 36 members that meet weekly to prioritise their Sustainability Action Plan tasks.
During remote learning, they entered the ResourceSmart Schools of the Future Challenge Competition, audited home waste, participated in the Grow a Row initiative to grow potatoes for the community, and even won a recycled Buddy Bench from Coles and Replas.
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.
Harnessing the power of evidence for continuous improvement.
Environmental Leaders of the Future is a group of empowered Year 3–6 students working on promoting waste, water, biodiversity, and energy sustainable practices. They run weekly classroom energy audits and report their findings and announce calls to action at school assembly. They also support recycling, garden duties, and local initiatives.
Using sustainability wins to increase environmental action.
The school has a sustainability sub-committee formed by 10 students, teachers, and parents that looks after the Sustainability Action Plan. Additionally, there’s an Environment Club that promotes initiatives such as Ride2School Day and climate action events.
One of the school’s latest projects consists of putting all the financial savings from environmental initiatives in a ‘sustainability pool’ to finance more alike activities.
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.
A community hub of sustainable services hub led by students.
The school’s ResourceSmart Schools team includes 17 individuals that meet fortnightly to develop and launch environmental initiatives across the college.
The group ran unique sustainability initiatives, such as a uniform repair workshop and an eco-brick crafting and selling venture, serving as a true community service hub. Additionally, they actively look after their nearby ecosystem by supporting local organisations.
This category recognises schools that best demonstrate a commitment to community leadership through the encouragement of innovative sustainability practices and action on climate change,
Remote learning as an opportunity to connect with nature.
The 2020–21 visual arts program encouraged students to use the school’s coastal location as a source of materials and inspiration. Parents joined their children in the adventure and have expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
The school shared their experience with the community and local environmental networks TENS and BAMP, outlining how sustainability can be addressed through the lens of arts while fostering love for nature.
Rebels with a cause.
This school cut their waste by 60% in record time by sourcing lunch containers from local businesses so all students have packaging-free lunches.
The Environmental Leaders led the Rubbish Rebels program, rewarding peers that reduce lunchbox waste.
The Environmental Science program educates students about waste, while the community get sustainability-inspiration through social media and newsletters.
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.
Promoting environmental awareness and research in a galaxy far, far away.
In 2021, Braybrook College students made an application video during remote learning to enter the Seeds for Space program, promoting environmental and microgravity science.
The project involves growing a batch of wattle seeds in space to be compared with seeds growing on earth. This project contributes to the work of the Australian Space Agency and demonstrates that the students’ passion is out of this world.
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.
Partnering for a greener future with cleaner waterways.
This school has a long-term planting activity in partnership with Yarra Ranges Council, Melbourne Water, Duke of Edinburgh’s, and Yea Land Care.
The Agricultural Studies, VET, and VCAL students work on weed reduction and planting native seedlings in the Yarra Valley, highlighting an outstanding curriculum with direct impact in the local community and ecosystem.
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.
Online storytelling to raise awareness of human impacts.
The school uses the Challenge Based Learning Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) to address global environmental issues.
The school’s CinemACT film festival, held online, featured UNSDG, and showcased films made by the students on the human impact on animal habitats. Additionally, their Re-thinking Day involved donating clothing and toys, as well as awareness campaigns delivered by the students.
Resourceful at home.
During remote learning, every year level had their own web page with sustainability activities, such as recycling materials for art, using leftover scraps to build vegie gardens, and re-planting avocado seeds.
This active approach encouraged the students to be resourceful. Back in the classroom, all year levels joined sustainability programs, such as River Detectives and Landcare Planting days.
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 plant for the society of the future.
Student action and learning opportunities.
Students from Years 7–12, captains, and staff form the Sustainability Group to revegetate the school using indigenous plants, introduce sustainable waste streams, and implement the Battery Storage Bag Fundraiser.
Meanwhile, the home economics class is working on creating a worm farm and students are encouraged to write newsletter articles on sustainability topics such as fast fashion.
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.
Working toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The school’s Healthy Environmental Action Program is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and deeply embedded in the curriculum.
Environmental Learning is incorporated in subjects such as Horticulture, VET & VCE Agriculture, Science, and Geography. Additionally, STEM students record data for Melbourne Water, which is used to study the local ecosystem’s health.
This category recognises outstanding sustainability achievement in Victorian primary and secondary schools through:
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.
Finding opportunities at home.
A global pandemic couldn’t stop this 5 Star ResourceSmart School. They continued to run environmental education as a specialist subject in both remote and onsite learning, and even transformed remote learning into an educational opportunity by studying the impact of lockdowns on climate change.
They maintained their kitchen garden program, where even parents benefited by attending the school’s Healthy Eating parent online workshop.
In 2021, this 3 Star ResourceSmart School received a grant to increase their green space from only 10%. The whole community contributed to the goal – students made insect hotels using recycled pallets in collaboration with The Point Nepean Men’s Shed and seed bombs with the help of the Mornington Peninsula Shire.