Our school has been involved in the Sustainable Schools program for six years. Our aims have been to increase environmental awareness and to model environmental, social, and economic sustainability, bring families and communities 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 school’s trail on the Mornington Peninsula which showcased sustainability projects to the community.

We have worked closely with CERES and local consultants over the last six years to become the first state secondary school to be fully accredited as a five start sustainable school. Due to the interruption of covid-19 we are now in the process of reaccrediting again.

Best practice in terms of sustainability is being cultivated across all aspects of the school and is reflected in the curriculum. Our efforts connect with Western Port’s commitment to building community and social cohesion in the broader sense and provide opportunities for inclusion and cultural enrichment.

In recent years we have been a model for other schools in taking steps to avert climate change and have been 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.

Our school is taking action to become even more environmentally sustainable through a Victorian Government initiative called ResourceSmart Schools. ResourceSmart Schools is a program that helps our school to embed sustainability in everything we do. We aim to reduce our resource use (like electricity and wastewater) and increase the amount of indigenous flora and fauna in the school. This will also help us to save money. We also want to involve students, families, and other members of our school and the local communities.

We are working with Jason Sheehan from CERES, who coordinates the ResourceSmart program, on the actions of the Core, Waste, Biodiversity, Water and Energy Modules.

This year, we will continue to build our sustainability program at the college. We will be monitoring our resource usage through ResourceSmart Online, working to improve our energy, water, and waste systems, and continuing to work towards including sustainability across all areas of the curriculum. To read more about the ResourceSmart Schools program please see

In early 2022 students from year 9 participated in Clean-Up Australia Day at the Hastings foreshore. We have had a range of environmental experts work with different students, both at school and on excursions. We have plans to develop environmental projects with several community environmental education organisations and we are in discussion with different faculties about how we can integrate more work on sustainability into our curriculum. 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.

In mid-2022 we have created a ‘Green Team’ of students and staff from across the college and we do a working-bee every Thursday at lunchtime. These sessions are well attended by a range of enthusiastic students across the year levels. We are creating a native plant garden, rejuvenating our ‘Frog Bog’ habitat, have placed aquatic plants in some of our ponds to prepare them for fish. After a break due to Covid we are rejuvenating some of our food garden beds and have begun propagating seeds for a variety of vegetables. We have been collaborating with our Pride Ranger student group to support the creation of a mural in our Green Team area. We are currently discussing tree planting opportunities and a range of projects that can be supported by other groups in our college. A growing number of students are stepping up to take on different projects. The Green Team has a range of initiatives we are preparing to deepen the students understanding of the importance of reducing waste at school and in the wider community with a planned ‘Waste Free Lunch Day’ on October 10th.

The Green Team.

Spring 2022 Update

In the later part of 2022, we have been working on rejuvenating our ponds and ‘frog bog’ with students from junior school participating in weeding, plant identification, general maintenance, and planting aquatic plants as part of our ResourceSmart School certification process. Our frog population has grown in number and the area is holding substantial amounts of water again. In the coming months we will be undertaking a water audit of the school as well as building connections with organisations such as Western Port Biosphere to develop the students understanding of the local RAMSAR (internationally significant biodiversity sites) areas.

Throughout 2021 we worked on our Water module as part of our ResourceSmart Schools certification process. Water is a resource we are connected to as a whole school, particularly as the College grounds are close in proximity to our RAMSAR protected site of Western Port Bay. In this way, our water sustainability projects are more holistic than simply fixing dripping taps. By completing an annual water audit with our students identify leaks that were then repaired, but more importantly we will consider whether more water tanks could capture and supply water in our school and will continue to look at areas we could focus on to prevent water pollution coming from our school.

The work we are doing on our small college wetland will be used to deepen students understanding of the importance of wetlands, the importance of preventing pollution runoff and students will again be able to on our college grounds to do water quality testing and observe its condition as a learning exercise for larger protected wetlands. Our priority is to ensure our students and future leaders understand the impacts of runoff and water pollution, and how our efforts prevent water related problems.

The programs implemented at the school to reduce our water consumption have been quite effective in the 12 months up to 2021 water use had been below the 4KL per student benchmark set by Sustainability Victoria. Over 2021 we have been using about 0.78KL per student which is an enormous success on our sustainability journey. We are excited to continue to minimize our impacts into the future.

Energy sustainability is a strong focus of our school. Our students actively contribute to reducing energy waste. We have signage around the school to prevent lights, appliances, and heaters being left on when not in use. We use very little gas, and our electricity usage over 2020 was at 351 kWh per student. The benchmark Sustainability Victoria has set for secondary schools is 400kWh per student. Despite the disruption of lockdowns in the last year contributing to this decrease, in 2021, we sat at 314 kWh per student in the period prior to the lockdown. In 2022 we are considering ways to educate further and bring our energy wastage down we are committed to maintaining this decrease in our resource use. We have implemented simple changes in classrooms and to our lighting, heating, and cooling at the school and are making sure our school culture and behaviours improve each year.

VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies students had a virtual visit of the Wonthaggi Desalination plant during their lockdown period. They learnt about the sustainability initiatives that the desalination plant provides. This is just one of the many ways in which our students are being exposed to better sustainability practices. We look forward to continuing to increase this exposure throughout the next few years. In 2022 we have deepened our commitment to teaching about climate change in a variety of subjects such as geography and in other areas across the curriculum in line with the sustainability cross-curriculum requirements set by the Victorian curriculum.

In 2021 our Year 12 Outdoor and Environmental Studies class recently investigated their Ecological Footprint as they assessed the impact they were having on the environment. Our Ecological Footprint is a measure of productive land (in global hectares) utilized to support human life and the student’s needs.

The earth can support 1.8 global hectares per person, but currently in Victoria the average resident utilizes 6.83 global hectares. Similar investigations of this concept and other ways of considering environmental impacts and solutions have been discussed in units such as Geography Year 10 in 2022.

Students discussed their findings and found that it is beneficial to have a smaller ecological footprint, as this means that humans are minimizing their impact upon the natural environment and their demand for natural resources.

There are many things that we can do, both as individuals and society to reduce our ecological footprint. These can include being a conscious consumer, planting your own vegetable garden at home, using active-transport and car-pooling where possible, reducing your meat intake or reducing energy and water consumption.

After the disruption of Covid lockdowns we are starting to prepare to focus on the waste module as part of our ResourceSmart school’s accreditation.

We have implemented a 3-bin system in the school grounds along with our separate bins in the classroom. By conducting a waste and litter audit of our school each year with our students, will identified areas we could focus on to reduce our waste to landfill.

To reduce the amount of waste going to landfill at our school we have implemented various ideas such as each classroom has a small landfill bin and a paper-waste bins which gets recycled. We promote the use of double-sided printing to reduce paper-usage and ensure that all printer cartridges are recycled. Waste Free lunch day and recent art projects are focussing on the wider impact of plastic and waste pollution.

By participating in Clean Up Australia Day activities on the Hastings foreshore and learning about waste issues across the planet, we aim to contribute to our local and global environment with our waste practices. Each year we see our students grow and become better leaders at implementing these necessary changes.

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 determines areas of improvement (in terms of biodiversity) within the grounds. The year 9 Plant Savers Geography elective students have made important steps to measure the school’s biodiversity and create projects to increase native vegetation.

Work on the biodiversity audit is supported every year our students studying Year 12 Outdoor & Environmental Studies. The biodiversity audit supports learnings in their area of study: Healthy Outdoor Environments.

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 ‘ground cover’ where we have a high number of rocks and logs which also provide for great habitats. When this work is completed in later 2022 the work we have done this year is likely to see our biodiversity score greatly increase.

In 2021 the school community worked hard to improve our soil management to improve our biodiversity score. By fencing off areas susceptible to erosion and planting plants in these areas we were able to minimise erosion.

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 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’.

Vaughan Sanderson on behalf of Green Teams and other staff working on Sustainability.
Sustainability Co-ordinator

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