Sustainable Schools Program
Our school has been involved in the Sustainable Schools program for five years. Our aim has been to increase environmental awareness and to model environmental, social and economic sustainability, bring families and community together and teach core values and practical skills.
We became involved in sustainability when we were invited to be one of the schools which formed part of a sustainable schools trail on the Mornington Peninsula which showcased sustainability projects to the community.
We have worked closely with CERES and local consultants over the last five years to become the first state secondary school to be fully accredited as a five start sustainable school. We received our accreditation last year.
Best practice in terms of sustainability is being cultivated across all aspects of the school and is reflected in the curriculum. Our efforts in terms of sustainability connect with Western Port’s commitment to building community and social cohesion in the broader sense and provides opportunities for inclusion and cultural enrichment.
We have been a model for other schools in taking steps to avert climate change and are regularly contacted and visited for advice as other schools begin their journey to sustainability. Both students and staff have presented at conferences and forums on environmental sustainability.
This year our school is taking action to become more environmentally sustainable through a Victorian Government initiative called ResourceSmart Schools.
ResourceSmart Schools is a program that helps our school embed sustainability in everything we do. We are aiming to reduce our resource use (like electricity, waste water) plus support indigenous plants and animals. This will also help us to save money. We also want to involve students, families and other members of our school and local community.
We are working with Jason Sheehan from CERES on the actions of the Core, Waste, Biodiversity, Water and Energy Modules.
This year, we’ll continue to build our sustainability program at the college. We will be monitoring our resource usage by using a website called ResourseSmart Online, working to improve our energy/ water/ waste systems and continuing to work towards including sustainability across all areas of the curriculum.
We have had a busy start to the year; with the college participating in Clean-Up Australia Day at the Hastings foreshore, Ride 2 School Day and a group of our Environmental Group students presenting at the Briars Education Week – presenting on Water Saving. We can’t wait to share our environmental and sustainable achievements with you throughout the year and help contribute to a more sustainable future for all.
Read more about ResourceSmart Schools at https://secure.resourcesmartschools.vic.gov.au
Evette Jungwirth and Alison Dowler
Annual Biodiversity Audit
In working towards achieving our 5-star sustainability accreditation, it is necessary each year to complete a Biodiversity Audit of our College. This audit assessed the range of plant and animal life (both native and exotic species), acknowledges the different habitats and also determines areas of improvement (in terms of biodiversity) within the grounds.
Each year our students studying Year 12 Outdoor & Environmental Studies conduct the Biodiversity Audit, which also supports learnings in their area of study: Healthy Outdoor Environments. This investigation within the college grounds helps to determine assessing the health of our college in terms of its biodiversity. In doing so they complete the Biodiversity Audit which involves them working in small grounds, across various areas of the college to collect information and take it back to the classroom to collate it. After the information is collated, a calculation is conducted, and we are able to determine our biodiversity score out of a possible total of 115.
Our results over recent years suggest that that we are on a continual growth pattern, where our biodiversity score is improving each year thanks to the hard work of our college community and our fabulous grounds-staff. In 2020, we achieved a score of 80 (which had improved again on the 2019 score of 78). Our overall results suggest we have an impressively high number of indigenous and native plants and shrubs which provide excellent habitats for our fauna found within our grounds, as well as excelling in areas such as ‘productive gardens’ including vegetable patches and also ‘ground cover’ where we have a high number of rocks and logs which also provide for great habitats.
In 2021, we are working hard to improve our biodiversity score in the areas of ‘soil management’, which can include fencing off areas susceptible to erosion and planting plants in these areas to help prevent erosion occurring and the area of ‘weed management’ around the grounds.
In conclusion, biodiversity plays an essential role in the environmental health of our college and helps to provide sustainable grounds for our current community and future generations to come. Our college scores considerably well across all areas of biodiversity, however, it is important that we continually strive towards ensuring that we have an increasing range of plant and animal life and an overall high amount of ‘biodiversity’.
Alison Dowler & Evette Jungwirth
Clean up Australia Day
By Kyan Esler, Year 9
On the 1st of March, the year 9 students walked down to the foreshore to pick up rubbish as part of contribution to Clean Up Australia Day. When we arrived down on the foreshore, rubbish and recycle bags were provided to student leaders in each tribe. The remainder of us were given tongs and gloves to assist in picking up the rubbish. Next, we walked down to the pier where we found lots of rubbish, anything from glass to cigarette butts to plastic bags. We all filled up our bags in no time at all.
As a cohort, we discussed the importance of healthy environments and talked about how initiatives such as Clean Up Australia Day is really important because we need to give back to the environment, that provides us with food, water & oxygen. If we clean up Australia, then we will have a healthy place to live comfortably in.
I learnt how to be grateful for our environment that day. I wasn’t one to fuss over the environment, but this changes my point of view entirely. I became much more appreciative for our local environment.
If every were grateful and happy, the world would be a better place. I have been picking up rubbish more often now, if I see rubbish, I pick it up and put in the bin. Including all tribes, I think we did really well as a community. By the end of the morning, we couldn’t find any rubbish on the foreshore. We, as Individuals can have a great impact on the environment, if we try. Here are a few ways we can help our environment:
Home -Recycle what you can, turn old phones into Telstra or Optus, turn in old batteries to the CFA, put rubbish in the bin, turn of lights when your not in the room, get a compost bin, use rechargeable batteries, bye local foods or grow foods and turn off taps properly.
School -Pick up other’s rubbish, recycle your drinks from the canteen and remind teachers to turn off projectors, turn off lights, don’t waste water, use nude food, use a lunchbox instead of plastic bags, use paper bins, use importance of clean environment and use solar panels.
Community – Talk to others about this issue, use less plastics and rubbers, use more decomposable rubbish, use a lunchbox instead of plastic bags, electric cars, put rubbish bins, recycle bins and compost bins on the streets, have more hard rubbish days, throw back bigger fish, sustainable farming and use fines for littering.
Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria
The keep Australia Beautiful Victoria Tidy Towns – Sustainable Communities Awards recognise positive actions taken by communities in rural and regional areas to protect and enhance their local environments. They encompass initiatives as diverse as litter prevention, recycling, protection of environment, preserving heritage, community action and leadership and environmental sustainability programs.
The Shire is pleased to announce that Sustainability Victoria have recognised Western Port Secondary College in the Community Action over 3000 category for the Spiral Meditation Garden.