State of the Environment Report 2007
Snapshot: Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative ACT – come on AuSSI
The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) is a co-funded partnership of all Australian Governments helping public and private schools work towards a sustainable future.
The Initiative encourages a whole-school approach to managing facilities and resources; lifts school capacity in sustainable management; integrates sustainability learning into curricula; and builds participation across the whole school community – benefiting sustainability at the school and in other life activities.
It was offered to all 153 ACT schools in 2007 and by late 2007 over half had registered (the national average is 25%): by the end of 2008, nearly all the others are expected to be involved. In registering to take part, schools commit to:
- establishing a leadership team from all staff: most of the registered schools have done;
- conducting audits - most have finished waste and started water and energy: they did their own audits first with students gaining maths benefits from graphing data and literacy benefits in writing up; then government teams did professional audits. Schools then work through best practice guides. As they make satisfactory progress on waste, energy, water, biodiversity and curriculum development matters, a five-star Accreditation System rewards schools with a star for each field;
- reducing resource consumption and improving the management of facilities: schools have reduced waste to landfill - their initial priority area - by 75%; already they have all reduced electricity consumption, one by 28%;
- developing a School Environmental Management Plan: 30 have completed and are implementing their Plan; other are well into the planning process;
- embedding educating for sustainability into their curriculum: a helpful AuSSI ACT Toolkit has guides and strategies;
- encouraging staff development: 300 teachers have attended development workshops including observing ‘best practice’ schools;
- sharing information and achievements: an audits database helps comparisons and monitoring of progress; all schools get a quarterly newsletter, also on the website - www.sustainableschools.act.gov.au
- promote each school as a model for sustainability within its community.
The model developed for ACT-AuSSI has been adopted enthusiastically in the ACT, and positively received nationally, with Tasmania keen to implement it.
Schools have participated in environmental events and the Jigsaw Theatre worked with them for a performance on climate change – ‘Too Hot to Handle’. School environmental issues and strategies to engage school communities were discussed at a youth sustainability forum.