The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Federal Member for Herbert
Peter Lindsay MP
8 July 2004
School children in the Townsville and Ayr area today received recognition for their contribution to protecting the Great Barrier Reef when the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Federal Member for Herbert, Peter Lindsay, joined them for morning tea and presented them with their Reef Guardian plaques.
Students from 14 schools and institutions around Townsville and Ayr received the recognition as Reef Guardian Schools for taking simple cost-effective steps to bring about a cleaner and brighter future for the Great Barrier Reef and initiating projects such as reducing plastic rubbish in their schools and communities .
Dr Kemp said the Reef Guardian Schools program is an exciting, innovative program that encourages students, teachers, parents and friends to become involved in protecting our environment and the Great Barrier Reef.
"I'm very impressed with this initiative. The number of schools participating has increased from 25 last year to 117 this year. I'm very pleased to see so much school and community participation in protecting our environment and keeping the 'great' in our Great Barrier Reef," Dr Kemp said.
Mr Lindsay added: "Young Australians play a fundamental role in the future protection, wise use and understanding of the Great Barrier Reef.
"These students have been inspirational in getting the whole community involved in helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef through activities such as setting up recycling bins, increasing composting and stenciling calico bags as an alternative to plastic bags. "
The Reef Guardian Schools program is an initiative of the Australian Government delivered through ReefED (the education arm of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) with funding of $110,000 in 2003-04 and $166,300 in 2004-05.
The Reef Guardian Schools program is part of the Australian Government's broader campaign to raise national awareness of the problems caused by dumping plastic debris into the marine environment.
"Millions of seabirds and marine animals are placed at risk by plastic litter every year. It is estimated that 18,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometre of the world's oceans," Dr Kemp said.
"Through the Keep the Sea Plastic Free - Bin It campaign, funded by the Australian Government's $3b Natural Heritage Trust, we are working with the community, environment groups, fishing associations and local government to reduce the devastating impact of plastic rubbish on marine wildlife.
"We are also working with Clean Up Australia and the Australian Retailers Association to encourage people to Say No to Plastic Bags ."
Further details on the Reef Guardian Schools projects will be made available on the day.