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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

3 July 2002

Schools to Become Sustainable

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced funding of $200,000 for an exciting new curriculum pilot in NSW and Victoria called "Sustainable Schools".

Under the program, schools will incorporate waste and energy reduction and biodiversity targets into not just their teaching programs but also into the daily operations of each Sustainable School.

Announcing the initiative at the Australian Association for Environmental Education Conference in Brisbane, Dr Kemp said that schools have a vital role in environmental education.

"The challenge we face is to ensure sustainable development becomes as fundamental to us all as literacy and numeracy," said Dr Kemp.

"Habits acquired young are often habits practised for life. By striving to become sustainable themselves, schools can provide not only the theory of sustainability, but the practical experience for students in implementing it."

"In the Sustainable Schools pilot, students will be actively involved in making their schools more sustainable, while teachers will have access to a one-stop-shop and a Professional Development Program in environmental education through existing Environmental Education Centres.

"Sustainable Schools provides an overarching framework and a strong coordination influence for existing environmental approaches. It will link to and complement existing Commonwealth and State programs such as Energy Smart Schools, WasteWise, Waterwatch, Landcare, AirWatch and Coastcare."

Schools from both public and private sectors will be eligible for inclusion in the program.

Dr Kemp said that recent research had indicated the need to incorporate more environmental education into schooling.

"A study into industry attitudes to the environment commissioned by the National Environmental Education Committee suggests there's a lot of work to be done in mainstream industry, where there is often limited understanding of environmental concepts and approaches. While 23 industry groups now have eco-efficiency agreements with the Commonwealth there is still some way to go.

"It is to be hoped that through programs such as Sustainable Schools that tomorrow's industry leaders will have a more educated view of the importance of achieving sustainability and the ways in which it can be done," said Dr Kemp.

For further information about how you can contribute to a more sustainable Australia, please visit the Environment Australia website

Media contact:
Catherine Job 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia