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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

23 July 2003

Sustainable Schools Trial Set for Success


The environment will become high priority at 50 schools throughout Victoria participating in a trial of the Sustainable Schools initiative - a Commonwealth and State Government program aimed at teaching students their responsibility in protecting the environment.

The Victorian trial was launched today by Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Victorian Minister for Education and Training, Lynne Kosky, at Antonio Park Primary School in Melbourne and was also attended by the Federal Member for Deakin, Phil Barresi.

"The Sustainable Schools program is an excellent example of practising what we preach - students and teachers study the impact of their school's activities on the environment, identify ways to reduce this impact and work together with their local community to improve their overall environmental performance," Dr Kemp said.

"Students and school staff not only learn about the environment but also develop skills and motivation to do something about it."

The Sustainable Schools program - an initiative announced last year as part of the Commonwealth's Environmental Education Grants Program - also encourages schools and the local community to work together to achieve measurable improvements in waste reduction, efficient water and energy use and protecting biodiversity in the school grounds.

Through the Sustainable Schools program, students study environmental issues such as landfill, water quality, greenhouse gases or threatened species and act in support of these problems. For example, native gardens may be established, computers and light switches turned off overnight, composting facilities installed or sediment traps put in place on drains.

Local Federal Member, Phillip Barresi, said Antonio Park Primary School has achieved excellent results for the environment in recent years including a 50% reduction in waste through reducing, re-using and recycling with the $750 saved on waste removal spent on further environmental initiatives.

"Each year the Antonio Park Primary School sets an environmental theme in which it strives to improve. For example, in 2002 the school focused on biodiversity and expanding their community animal program which houses a dozen chickens, a couple of goats and guinea fowl," Mr Barresi said.

"Next year, the school is focusing on efficient water use and better utilising rainwater by storing it in an underground tank for use on the school grounds.

"These are excellent examples of how a school benefits through the Sustainable Schools program by combining theory with practice, with the whole school community learning about the environment and actively working to improve its ecological impact."

Dr Kemp said incorporating principles of ecologically sustainable development into education for students of all ages is important to ensure long-term environmental outcomes.

"With an already crowded curriculum, there is a need to coordinate existing environmental education initiatives into an holistic program supported by everyday actions for the environment within the school," he said.

"This gives students responsibility in undertaking environmental activities which help them learn about their environment while benefiting their school community."

Dr Kemp also announced over $186,000 for six other projects funded under the Environmental Education Grants Program, to be undertaken by Australian schools, universities, local government, business and the community. These projects aim to boost environmental awareness and achieving a sustainable environment in the local community.

They include an ecological footprint interactive education website for schools, case studies of ecologically sustainable practices in business and local government, study of sustainability in small business, a Greenhouse Growers Program, the Leave No Trace - National Minimal Impact Language program, and the Interpretation Australia Association Conference - Refreshing the Toolbox. For further project details, visit www.ea.gov.au/education/nap/funding.html.

Commonwealth of Australia