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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Jim Turnour MP
Federal Member for Leichardt

Senator the Hon Jan McLucas
Senator for Queensland

Schools awarded for Great Barrier Reef Commitment

Media release
17 November 2009

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Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Member for Leichhardt Jim Turnour and Senator for Queensland Jan McLucas today recognised the important work of five local schools to protect and improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian Schools Program.

The five schools – Tagai College in the Torres Strait, Yorkeys Knob State School, Gordonvale State School, Port Douglas State School and the Cairns School of Distance Education – will each receive $1000 for future on-ground school activities.

“Through the GBRMPA Reef Guardian Schools Program Queensland schools are working to protect the Great Barrier Reef and improve its outlook and these awards acknowledge the hard work schools have undertaken over the last 12 months,” Mr Garrett said.

“Our Great Barrier Reef is a national treasure and it is fantastic to recognise future generations who are working towards protecting this great Australian icon,” he said.

“With the Reef at a crossroads it is has never been more important than now to focus on activities that keep the Reef strong.”

Mr Turnour said: “The schools receiving Reef Guardian Awards demonstrate an inspiring and outstanding commitment to safeguarding the Reef and improving its resilience.

“The Reef Guardian Schools Program leads the way in focusing young Australians on what they can do to protect the Reef.

“To be able to withstand the threats the Reef currently faces, activities that focus on ways we can reduce human pressures and ensure the Reef remains as healthy as possible is a priority.”

Senator McLucas said: “These awards recognise those schools and their communities who are doing just that and provide funding for them to continue this valuable work.”

Awards range from the ‘Reef Guardian Mentors Award’ which recognises schools who reach out and assist their local schools to aim for sustainability to the ‘Sea Stars Award’ which showcases student run activities.

Throughout the year Reef Guardian Schools have initiated and delivered a number of innovative activities and programs all focused on protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“I congratulate all schools involved in the Reef Guardian Program for their outstanding commitment to the Reef,” Mr Garrett said.

“It is a pleasure to be able to recognise students, teachers and the local communities making a difference to the future of the Reef.”

The Reef Guardian Schools Program is an education initiative of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. In its seventh year, this education program sees more than 60 000 students across 194 Queensland schools committed to the protection and conservation of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

Details of successful projects for each school

Reef Guardians 'Champions' Award - for mentoring and facilitating higher learning Tagai College Central college providing mentoring and support as well as lesson plan development for all 16 satellite (primary) schools in the Torres Strait, including a special needs school. Also providing for employment pathways for older students via the marine studies course. Development of community gardens, marine debris collection across the Strait with Tangaroa Blue and turtle tagging with marine rangers. Summer school also facilitated through fisheries and sea rangers. Plans in 2010 include curriculum focused sustainability as well as unique and culturally significant Reef Guardian activities.
Sea 'Stars' Award – for youth directed and owned activities Gordonvale State School Environmental activities run primarily by the excelsior students – environmental days such as Earth Hour and Clean Up Australia days, promoting sustainability events via the news, local papers and radio, school newsletters, Festival of Cairns parade float, competitions etc. Full excelsior participation in the O'Leary's creek restoration project, as well as working with local Landcare, Cairns Regional Council, Ergon, and local businesses to get these projects running. Excelsior students will present at the Cairns regional Council Reef Guardian Council launch. Drain stencilling is about to begin at O'Leary's creek. Students from excelsior are responsible for energy, water, biodiversity and waste portfolios around the school.
Waste Watchers Award – for reducing, reusing and recycling Yorkeys Knob State School In their first year of being Reef Guardians Yorkeys Knob State School has been involved in reducing waste leaving the school by setting up a "re-use" bin, a worm farm, recycling, rubbish awards and emu parades, a paper shredder (the paper goes onto the school grounds), recycling batteries. These projects are all student driven through the "Reef Guardian Club"
Action and Adventures award – for action in the field Port Douglas State School Butterfly garden development in school grounds and rainforest planned also. Students ride push bikes regularly to local initiatives such as ongoing beach clean ups at Four Mile Beach and to local sporting days. All outdoor environmental activities are supported by in-class learning.
Bright Sparks Award – for creativeness, inventiveness and innovations Cairns School of Distance Education A unique and innovative way of delivering the RGS program where students homes and communities are their Reef Guardian Schools. Students have used creative means to educate others including music and development of community learning materials. Sharing of environmental messages across QLD via blogs and using creative technology media including photo stories. Remote perspectives shared for local and global focus.
Commonwealth of Australia