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Schools For a Sustainable Future

Joseph Natoli, SFSF Project Director, surrounded by happy, enthusiastic children
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Creating a Sustainable Future
A National Conference for Secondary Students
Newman College
University of Melbourne
2nd - 6th July 2002


Project Overview   Objectives  Expression of interest
The shaping tomorrow today association inc
Profiles of organisers   

Novemeber 2001

How can we create a sustainable future for all of us? We believe that this can only be achieved by a strong partnership between the leaders of today and the young leaders of tomorrow.

We are planning to mount an national residential conference for senior secondary students 'Creating a Sustainable Future". We believe this unique event will fire the imagination of the students and lead to ongoing, constructive practical environmental projects in the participating schools and beyond.

Sustainability is a critical issue that many Government, business and community organisations are beginning to recognise. Our project is intended to complement the current range of Government and community environmental programs - in effect give these programs extra human resources and heighten their profile.

We are aware that your organisation is also committed to sustainability objectives and believe your participation and support will create excellent synergies for all participants.

We have extensive experience with schools, community organisations, tertiary institutions and the business sector. But far more importantly for this project, we have a passionate commitment to empowering the next generation to make the changes essential to ensure a sustainable future.

The accompanying material describes our project objectives in more detail and offers an extensive range of opportunities for your organisation's involvement. Please contact us to discuss this project and answer any queries you may have. We look forward to working with you on Creating a Sustainable Future.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Natoli

Joseph Natoli
Schools for Sustainable Future
Basil Varghese
Education Co-ordinator
Brotherhood of St Laurence
Caroline Smith
Environmental Education
Australian Catholic University
Jenny Sharwood

1) Project Overview.- What the project is about.
2) Project Objectives What is in it for you?
3) Expression of Interest form.
4) Video: Flight against Poverty. A summary of the video record of a previous Conference (Video Available)


Project Overview Top of Page

At no other time could it be more clear that all sectors of our global community must pull together to ensure that our planet with its limited resources can continue to sustain life. And yet, we tend to be fragmented and in competition with one another. Businesses compete with one another for bigger and bigger profits, and individuals demand more and more consumer goods and energy and land, with little thought of the impact of their greed on the ecosystems on which they are, in fact, utterly dependent.

In a sense, this competition is reflected in our schools.

How often do our students from the three school systems come together to establish initiatives to help solve some of the problems that society faces? For most, their only experience of meeting students from other schools is to out-run, out-debate and out-kick their 'opponents', and the only human problems they are ever asked to solve are how to convince their school/parents to let them wear something, do something or go somewhere! In doing so, we are denying our students the chance to dare to dream of and bring about a better future, to invest their youth and energy and enthusiasm and ideals and talents in worthwhile, constructive projects and to really know that they CAN make a difference.


Our objectives. Top of Page

We are planning an international residential conference in July 2002 for Senior Secondary students from rural and metropolitan schools from across Australia and overseas.

The five day conference, will culminate in a presentation where the students will use art, writing, public speaking, music and drama to present their findings and views to an audience of business, government and community leaders.

The students will research and examine a range of environmental issues with the aid of a range of experts in the field, such as environmental research scientists, and then establish ongoing initiatives that will help to address some of the problems they have identified.

From the first day all the participants inspire and empower one another, establishing action groups in which they use their particular talents to express their views, and support each other as they work towards development and implementation of their projects.

Before and after the Conference students will be encouraged and assisted to develop implement and promote environmental projects in their schools and local communities.
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Project Objectives for "Creating a Sustainable Future"

For students involved as organisers or participants the project will

  • offer a unique way to encourage interested students to become active in tackling environmental issues at a local level.
  • offer leadership opportunities to a group of secondary students which will encourage them to become committed to environmental issues
  • provide a practical environmental focus for senior secondary students over an extended period of time.
  • offer opportunities to examine career opportunities at businesses and organisations
  • provide cross school support for students who want to initiate environment activities in their school.


For schools with participating students the project will

  • highlight sustainability issues in their school community.
  • provide opportunities to trial sustainable technology projects and practices.
  • help attract business and government support for local environment projects.
  • encourage students to develop environmental projects with a view to presentation and fundraising at the Conference.

For business sponsors and participants the project will

  • inspire your staff with the energy of youth.
  • offer community recognition as key players in developing community awareness and action on sustainability issues.
  • provide opportunities to present a business perspectives on problems and potential solutions for sustainability issues.
  • encourage students to examine career opportunities in environmental businesses.
  • facilitate trials and promotions of particular environmental technologies in school environments
  • stimulate a demand for sustainable products and services
  • enable involvement in local school communities as a practical supporter of environmental projects.

For Government Environment organisations & Local Councils the project will

  • raise, on an ongoing basis, the level of debate and local action about sustainability issues. This would then increase local action on issues like Landcare, Water Watch Habitat protection etc.
  • encourage students to examine career opportunities with organisations committed to addressing environmental issues
  • create an ongoing environment which convinces key figures in the community to commit to environmentally sustainable practices.
  • assist with the developing of local environment projects which may be currently organised by Government or local environment groups.
  • encourage schools to see issues of sustainability as an important part of education and school practice.
  • develop a structure for student led environmental activity that can be replicated in other schools

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Expression of Interest
YES we would like to know more about

  • Being a Gold Sponsor for the Project ($10,000 +)
  • Being a Silver Sponsor . ($5,000 )
  • Being a Bronze sponsor. ($2000)
  • Supporting environmental projects in individual schools
  • Initiating environmental projects in selected schools
  • Sponsoring participating students for the Conference
  • Being available for presentations or participation in the Conference
  • Offer other forms of support (Please detail below)




Yes we would like to be part of Creating a Sustainable Future
Please contact us to discuss how our organisation can help.

Fax or Mail or Email to: Creating a Sustainable Future
c/o. Joseph Natoli SFSF C/- Oakleigh sth PS Riley St Oakleigh Sth 3162 Fax 9579-6153

Position ___________________ Name ______________________

Organisation ___________________________________________

Mailing Address _______________________ Post Code _______

Telephone ____________ Fax _____________ Email __________

Mobile Ph ____________________________________

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This video provides a glimpse into a very unique conference, ' Poverty - Some More Than Others!' held in 1996, the UN Year of the Eradication of Poverty. It was unique in many ways. Run by a committee of students from rural and metropolitan Victoria, in partnership with a small number of community leaders and teachers, this was no ordinary talk-fest! Whilst they heard inspiring speakers, participants also had round-table discussions with experts in the field and assisted at places such as the Sacred Heart Mission, St Kilda. In addition they wrote music, created works of art, wrote poetry, stories or journal articles or a booklet of contacts and practical ways in which to act, or wrote and performed a play or a piece of creative movement, tapping in to their diverse talents to inspire and empower one another at their Final Celebration.

Over 110 senior secondary students from all three school systems, from all States and the Northern Territory, from a very diverse range of background experiences, took up residence at Ormond College, the University of Melbourne, for this five day event. Even though the video may leave the impression that the students were on a natural 'high' after this experience, it did not end there, as many conferences can! For many, it was the turning point of their lives, leading to profound changes within themselves and also, for some, very different career paths. Many exciting, ongoing, worthwhile initiatives were established in their schools and communities by the students themselves and many enduring friendships began. This conference won the inaugural Barry Wood Award for Social Justice.

Over 40 hours of footage was taped at the conference, and from this Albert Street Productions selected 28 minutes for an ABC documentary. It has been screened several times on ABC National Television.

The video begins with our Great Melbourne Tram Ride. We hired a tram to show some of Melbourne to all our interstate and country Victoria guests, who arrived at various times the night before our Melbourne participants. Next is a glimpse into a piece of Street Theatre, performed by students of Sacred Heart College - Kyneton - at the Conference Opening, held in a university lecture theatre. The actors began seated in the aisles, with a speaker presenting a 'typical' speech on poverty. They then carried her off whilst she was still speaking, and came down to the stage with their placards 'protesting' about poverty. As their Finale, they asked everyone to construct a paper dart on which they wrote what they thought they could do about poverty. On the final count of three, the darts were thrown. Later they were displayed on a board for everyone to read. This was the origin of the video title "Flight against Poverty". The rest of the video need no further explanation - just observe what these wonderful young people did!

Jenny Sharwood


Profiles of Organisers

Jenny Sharwood    Joseph Natoli   Caroline Smith
Basil Varghese   Schools for a Sustainable Future

Jenny Sharwood Top of Page
Jenny has taught Chemistry, Science and Mathematics in all three school systems and has written a number of textbooks and other teachers' resources as well as conducted workshops in her subject areas. One of her Chemistry texts was the joint winner of the 2000 Australian Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing in the category of single title in secondary texts. In her texts there is a great emphasis on the relevance of Chemistry to industry, everyday living and the environment, with many case studies and stories to help make Chemistry more 'alive' to the students. To conduct this research, Jenny has travelled extensively, including visiting many mines, the steel and copper industries in Port Kembla, sewage treatment plants, petrochemical plants and so on, observing processes and interviewing chemical engineers and other staff.

However, Jenny's interests extend well beyond her specialty teaching areas. She is very active in student leadership, social justice and community involvement. In partnership with community leaders, teachers and a team of young people from several schools, including rural schools, she has convened several national residential and day conferences for young people on global issues such as poverty, racism and refugees. These have led to a number of exciting initiatives being set up by many of the participants, such as a home for homeless young people next door to a Brisbane school they were attending. "Flight against Poverty", a documentary of one of these conferences, has been shown a number of times on ABC national television. The Conferences have also won a number of Awards, including Queen's Trust Awards and the inaugural Barry Wood Award for Social Justice.

Jenny has also organised many cross-curriculum theme days, programmes for gifted children including literary weekends and Future Problem Solving, and community and schools-in-industry projects. Some of her students have represented Australia in the International Finals of Future Problem Solving. As well, for many years Jenny has worked in partnership with the Victorian Association for Girls' Secondary Schools to convene a number of student-led leadership conferences for girls.

Joseph Natoli Top of Page
Joseph Natoli has had extensive experience working experience in education, business and community groups. Over an 18 year career with the Education Department he taught History, Geography Politics, and Social Studies He also developed and produced curriculum materials as an Educational Technologist.

After leaving the Department Joseph followed his interest in environment issues through development of an energy conservation business, Smart Energy. Comprehensive Energy Audits, advice and assistance with implementing energy saving technologies resulted in improved business operations and savings of up to 40% in energy costs for Smart Energy clients. Clients ranged from hotels, schools, small and medium businesses to manufacturers and large sporting organisations.

In the mid 90's Joseph developed Worming into the Community, an innovative environmental education program (see SFSF profile). This paved the way for working with schools, Councils and community groups in a comprehensive program aimed at encouraging the use of worm farms to recycle organic waste. To date over 70 schools have taken part in the program.

With the success of Worming into the Community Joseph developed the Schools for a Sustainable Future project. This was intended to provide a larger framework which would promote, recognise and support schools and businesses taking practical action on environmental issues.

Caroline Smith Top of Page
Caroline currently lectures in science and environmental education at the Australian Catholic University, St. Patrick's campus. She is married to Aidan, a South African, and they have two children Graham (19) and Alice (14), as well as two dogs and several chooks.

Caroline was born in England and even as a young child was happier in the countryside than the city. She studied chemistry and then plant pathology at London University before joining her parents in South Africa, where her first position was as a scientist in the Department of Agriculture. It was here that she began to understand the way in which we humans treat the natural world, by using pesticides and herbicides to try to force nature to do our bidding. Disillusioned, Caroline left agriculture and trained as a secondary general science and chemistry teacher. She taught in a Black school and through her students learned the harsh lessons of institutionalised racism under apartheid.

Caroline has since taught in a number of schools in South Africa, England and Australia. She maintains an interest in active learning through her involvement in the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning (PEEL), as well as gender issues in science. Her interest in the environment has also continued to flourish, nourished through travel in Africa, Europe and South America.

In the late 1980s Caroline became involved in permaculture, a design system for creating sustainable human settlement which aims to care for the natural world as well as people. In 1992 Caroline and Aidan bought a 5-acre block in the Dandenong Ranges. They designed the property using permaculture principles, and today it is a productive certified organic farm. Produce from the farm supplies the family with much of its food requirements, as well as contributing to a local farmer's market and food co-ops. The farm is used as an educational centre to teach permaculture and organic farming to school and adult groups, and continues to teach Caroline how little we really understand about the natural world and our relationship to it.

In 2000 Caroline received her PhD, in which she examined personal empowerment through learning permaculture. She is committed to education for a sustainable future, and believes that we have to make some serious choices about the way we live. It is clear that we have done immense harm to the earth's natural systems that provide us with food, clean air and water. We need to renew our relationship with the earth as well as engage in wise and sensible planning if we are to live in a future worth having, and it is everyone's business to stop borrowing from the future. Young people are immensely interested in the environment, and to discuss these difficult and often confronting issues with them honestly and productively is the way to empower them to understand and make the tough choices we are all faced with.


Basil Varghese Top of Page
Basil Varghese as Education Co-Ordinator for the Brotherhood of St Laurence has been a key figure in challenging and changing teachers' attitudes, curriculum responses and the education communities attitude to poverty.

He has presented keynote addresses at teacher and subject associations, conferences, workshops, and strategic planning and consultations seminars. Particular highlights have included:

  • working with seven disadvantaged school communities engaging them with their principals and teachers in the Elizabeth area (South Aust.),
  • input into Koorie curriculum in Catholic and State schools in Victoria and South Australia and helping to run a national leadership course with the National Schools Network.

Basil's engagement with the business community, local communities, church, unions, schools and tertiary groups is a key and ongoing plank in the Brotherhood's work of involving and partnering community. .Highlights of this role have included

  • a National Conference on Poverty held at Ormond College for Yrs. 11 and 12. This was filmed by the A.B.C. and shown nationally -titled Flight Into Poverty. (see Jenny Sharwood profile and Flight against Poverty leflet)
  • appeared in Compass with Bishop Challen on the A.B.C.
  • represented the B.S.L. at "People First" National Catholic Conference on Social Justice.
  • participated as a keynote speaker and ran workshops for the South Aust. United Trades and Labour Council's Summer School.
  • invited to the Aboriginal Reconciliation Convention.

Basil also works with a wide range of Government and Educational Agencies. These include

  • teaching in Bachelor of Education and in Bachelor of Community Development
  • adviser and Co-planner of many initiatives associated with the Institute for Youth, Education and Community(IYEC) which is integral to the Key Research Area, Social Diversity and Community Wellbeing at Victoria University
Involvement with various IYEC projects
  • working with FASST (Families and School Support Team), funded as one of he pilot prevention of youth homelessness projects by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (planning day facilitator)
  • CONNECT Drug Education Project, funded by the Department of Education (Victoria) (member of Advisory Committee)
  • Critical friend of NYERNA Bachelor of Education program offered in Echuca for Aboriginals
  • Initiator and lead role in recent Brotherhood community theatre projects which have involved and showcased the talent of people otherwise marginalised .Two recent examples of this wonderfully empowering work are Planning in community theatre "The Torch" and "All my Love Project"
  • Involved with National Campaign Against Poverty (NCAP)

Basil N Varghese
Education Co-Ordinator
Brotherhood of St. Laurence
67 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Ph: 03 9483 1329   Fax: 03 9417 2691


Schools for A Sustainable Future Top of Page

The Schools for a Sustainable Future project has been operating since 1996. It was founded to address a critical issue for schools and the broader community "How can school communities be encouraged, recognised and sustained in their efforts to educate for a sustainable future." The practical fact for most schools is that environmental programs and policies are viewed as peripheries to their main task. Consequently these activities are hard to maintain and easy to discard.

SFSF was founded to address this issue. Since 1996 we have developed a range of strategies activities and partnerships to support, promote and financially assist schools to educate our children in how to create a sustainable future. These have included:

  • Placement of an attractive prominent billboard which promotes the school as a School for a Sustainable Future, and outlines the activities undertaken as part of that commitment.
  • Recognition on the billboard of local sponsors who are supporting the school's environmental projects. The billboard also recognises the contribution sponsors are making to sustainability through their "environmentally friendly" operations and products.
  • Promotion of participating schools in the local media.
  • An annual Presentation Day event which highlights the efforts of participating schools, and recognises the sponsors assisting the projects
  • Publication of Synergy Newsletter which promotes the schools and community groups which are part of the SFSF Network.
  • Running workshops and professional development course for teachers developing environmental programs in schools.
  • Development of website which brings together the experiences of schools and supporters of SFSF.

The current strategy of SFSF revolves around three interrelated projects

  • Promotion of Hands on Learnscapes program as a way of encouraging schools to implement systematic redevelopment of school grounds for environmental and other curriculum programs
  • Development of the SFSF EcoNewsletter project in schools throughout Australia. This project encourages each school to produce an Annual environmental newsletter which highlights their particular environmental achievements and brings the issue of sustainability to local communities. It is intended to promote the work of the diverse range of environmental organisations that currently offer curriculum ideas for schools.
  • Co-Organiser and promoter of the Creating a Sustainable Future Conference for senior secondary in July 2002. Objectives of this Conference are outline in detailed in this document.

The question of global sustainability is the critical issue for our society. The role of SFSF has been to create a synergy between the schools and the wider community to put sustainable ideals into action.



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Schools For a Sustainable Future

1 Curdies St.
E. Bentleigh Vic. 3165
Joe Natoli
Ph: (03) 9579-7224     Fax: (03) 9579-6153      Mobile: 0411-568-523


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