Two Victorian education projects championing sustainability for school students have been revealed as finalists in the Thriving Environment category of the 2023 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
Now in its 21st year, Victoria’s most prestigious annual sustainability awards program acknowledges the businesses, local governments and communities leading the way in sustainability and celebrates their achievements.
The Premier’s Sustainability Awards has six categories, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, with two winners in each category.
The Community Champion Award celebrates individuals, small organisations and local government, and the Industry Leader Award recognises medium and large organisations driving a sustainable future.
Port Phillip EcoCentre’s School Sustainability Festival is a Community Champion finalist in the Thriving Environment category.
Victoria’s longest running school sustainability festival provides local schools with an opportunity to celebrate and accelerate their environmental achievements and creates a platform for student voice and leadership.
At the heart of the annual festival are student-led workshops promoting healthy environment habits and increasing knowledge about environmental regeneration, protection and conservation of Melbourne’s local ecosystems.
Participating schools are supported to implement new sustainability initiatives, which include the design and construction of nest boxes for endangered species, the installation of native bee pollinator hotels, planting of murrnong daisies, a school nature ambassadors’ program and e-waste and upcycling activities.
The 2022 festival was the largest and most impactful in-person event since it began in 2019 with 250 students participating from 17 schools.
Fellow finalist, Earthwatch Institute, has been shortlisted as an Industry Leader in the Thriving Environment category for its ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ Distinctive Areas and Landscapes (DAL) program.
Funded by the Victorian State Government DAL Capital Grants Program, Kids Teaching Kids worked with more than 50 local environmental stakeholders to provide over 90 schools with immersive teaching and learning opportunities, strengthening community understanding of DAL policy domains: Aboriginal cultural heritage, environment and biodiversity, landscapes, environmental risks and resilience, water quality, tourism and natural resources.
The program, involving 1,121 students and teachers across the Bass Coast, Bellarine Peninsula, Macedon Ranges and the Surf Coast, has contributed to environmental behaviour change and sustainability action projects, aiding in the protection of ecologically and culturally significant spaces in each region.
Students united through field-based experiential learning and networked at regional conferences where they presented environmental peer-teaching workshops and engaged in citizen science, championing 129 environmental action projects across regional Victoria.
Mr Matt Genever, Sustainability Victoria’s Interim CEO, said he was inspired by the work being done to educate and empower students.
“These organisations are leading the way in sustainability and helping children understand the importance of the environment around them,” he said.
The Premier’s Sustainability Awards judging panel included a broad range of independent environmental experts selected for their sustainability and industry expertise.
Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday 23 November.
For further information about the Premier’s Sustainability Awards finalists, visit https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/psa-2023-finalists.