Archive for April, 2012

The Island President: Premiere Screening and Q&A

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on April 27th, 2012

27 May , 2012
6:30 pmto8:30 pm

The Human Rights Art & Film Festival (HRAFF) presents the Australian premiere of The Island President.

Jon Shenk’s The Island President is the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced—the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. After bringing democracy to the Maldives after thirty years of despotic rule, Nasheed is now faced with an even greater challenge: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the Maldives enough to make them uninhabitable.

The Island President captures Nasheed’s first year of office, culminating in his trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, where the film provides a rare glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on at such a top-level global assembly. Nasheed is unusually candid about revealing his strategies—leveraging the Maldives’ underdog position as a tiny country, harnessing the power of media, and overcoming deadlocks through an appeal to unity with other developing nations. When hope fades for a written accord to be signed, Nasheed makes a stirring speech which salvages an agreement. Despite the modest size of his country, Mohamed Nasheed has become one of the leading international voices for urgent action on climate change.

On February 7, 2012, Mohamed Nasheed resigned the presidency under the threat of violence in a coup d’état perpetrated by security forces loyal to the former dictator. This film is the story of his first year in office.

Mr Nasheed, often referred to as “the Mandela of the Maldives”, has been a human rights campaigner and a global warming activist throughout his life. He will participate in a Live Video Q&A at HRAFF following The Island President screening on the 27th of May 2012 at the ACMI Cinemas.

Australian Premiere HRAFF Closing Night: The Island President
Sunday, 27 May 2012, 6:30 pm
ACMI Cinemas

For more information and to book tickets:

Goulburn Valley Co-operative finds its “home”

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on April 26th, 2012

Image by Studio Osk

Media Release:

“The Goulburn Valley Food Coop has found a site for its first project…a value add factory in Kyabram” Chairperson Les Cameron announced today. “We have considered sites in Rochester and Merrigum but felt that a purpose built site in the Kyabram industrial estate will be a terrific first step. Our next steps will be to develop the rest of the Food Hub.”

Since the effort to secure the Heinz resource at Girgarre was rejected the Cooperative has searched the valley to find a replacement. “There were good opportunities outside the Campaspe region but we felt we had to honour the commitment made to locals,” finance manager Graham Truran added. “We will work with the owner of the site to ensure we get an outcome that is suitable for all concerned”.

It will take about 12 months to get to the production stage and the project team will now join with other small Australian producers to generate a range of goods which help replace imported products. ”It is certainly not our aim to compete with large local producers like SPCA, Unifoods, Simplot or Cedenko” Mr Cameron said “Our aim is to supply some of the niche markets which are not being filled”.

The Cooperative is convinced that they can create jobs for about 45 people in the new factory. They want to work creatively with the large producers, perhaps even sharing transport, packaging and storage facilities; and certainly supporting local farmers with a diverse range of produce. “Our production facility will be smaller in scale but more flexible we believe and we will make use of much of the unused capacity across Australia” Helen Hubble executive member of the cooperative explained. “We want to tap the ingenuity that exists in this country and provide new products at a suitable price.”

The Cooperative will further its activity with a May 16th launch at the Plaza Cinema in Kyabram. “We will profile a number of key parties interested in the issues; introduce some terrific guest speakers and performing artists and show our film called “Food Fight” Mr Truran said enthusiastically. “ We think this is a great start in our battle to replace Heinz and we are looking forward to a very exciting future”.

The Co-op’s million member campaign will also be launched by Peter Russell Clarke . “Even after his recent tragedy Peter is determined that this campaign must succeeded. He is an inspiration to us and his persistence is giving us all confidence” coop member Chris Lloyd commented.
Friends of Goulburn Valley Food Hub

A smart and resilient water system for a liveable, sustainable and productive Melbourne

Posted in Policies, Research, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on April 26th, 2012

Image from the Implementation Plan summary

The Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Roadmap was released in March 2011. It outlined the recommended priorities for reform to support achievement of the Government’s objectives for urban water. The newly released Living Melbourne Living Victoria Implementation Plan outlines the [Ministerial Advisory Council] MAC’s final recommendations for changes needed to the urban water system to achieve a more sustainable, liveable Melbourne and Victoria.

From “Sense breaks through water debate” by Carolyn Boyd:

[A] new report in Victoria finds this: “the current system does not adequately support the use of alternative water sources (e.g. rainwater and storm water) for non-drinking needs”.


Among a raft of other suggestions, the findings push for stronger building controls to catch stormwater at its source and store it – in some cases in rainwater tanks at properties, and in others in storage tanks big enough for a whole urban precinct. When we have situations where more storm water flows out of a city each year than the city consumes (as is the case in Melbourne), it does seem crazy not to be tapping into the stuff as it falls from the sky.

The strategy aims to reduce the demand for mains water by using stormwater for non-drinking functions such as flushing toilets and washing clothes, and continues to support greater water efficiency in homes through low-use appliances and tap fittings.

The report suggests improved standards should apply to all new and significantly renovated buildings in Victoria. The report models the outcomes of capturing more storm water and provides some interesting insights. One of the scenarios uses a combination of enhanced household water efficiency and rainwater tanks to provide water for toilets, laundry and gardens. In this scenario, mains water was assumed to be used for personal washing and in the kitchen.

The modelling estimated these changes would cut potable water demand by 24 per cent, and lead to a 9 per cent drop in stormwater runoff and an 11 per cent fall in the amount of wastewater being discharged across greater Melbourne by 2050.

In another scenario, domestic rainwater was used for hot water and laundry, while storm water was collected and stored at a precinct or suburb-level, and supplied to households for toilet flushing and gardens. The modelling shows the above would deliver a 38 per cent cut in mains water demand, an 11 per cent drop ?in stormwater runoff and a 32 per cent fall in the wastewater being discharged across greater Melbourne by 2050.

Putting the argument for better water collection in residences, the report noted that larger infrastructure, such as dams and desal plants had a “lumpy, long lead time” and run “much higher risks of saddling customers and/or taxpayers with excessive or unneeded investment” – as many residents across Australia are arguing they are now finding with various desalination plants.

Read the full article by Carolyn Boyd, or read more about Living Melbourne, Living Victoria.

Direct Geothermal Systems pilot in Victoria: Prof. Ian Johnston

Posted in Events by Mark Ogge on April 23rd, 2012

7 May , 2012
6:30 pmto8:00 pm

Image from Direct Energy website

Beyond Zero Emissions Discussion Group Guest

Prof. Ian Johnston Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Melbourne

Prof. Ian Johnston leads a team of geothermal experts from the University of Melbourne demonstrating direct geothermal systems in Victorian conditions.  Earlier this month (3rd April 2012), the Victorian State Government announced a $1.6 million grant to support the work of the University of Melbourne and its industrial partners, Geotechnical Engineering and Direct Energy. This project will install geothermal heating and cooling systems into a range of buildings around Victoria and will monitor their performance.
Direct geothermal energy uses the ground to within several tens of metres below the surface to extract heat in winter for heating and to reject heat in summer for cooling. Prof Johnston will join us to explain how this technology works and what the project will achieve.
Thank you to the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute and Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, our Zero Carbon Australia project partners for joining us in bringing you this event.

6:30- 8pm Monday 7 May

Entry: Gold coin donation
Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via level 2)
McCoy Building
University of Melbourne
Cnr Elgin & Swanston Streets, Carlton

For more information about our guest, visit the discussion group at Beyond Zero Emissions

Leading the Way: City of Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Guidelines

Posted in Models, Movements, Policies by Jessica Bird on April 16th, 2012


From “A triumph for community gardening” by Thomas, YCAN Local Action Group

One of the most exciting things in Community Gardening happened last weekend. You might have missed it, because it was without fanfare, and very localised: Maud and Neil put up a planter box on a streetside close to where they live. You don’t feel excited? You should do, because this was the first streetside planter box to be installed under the City of Yarra new guidelines. And the City of Yarra guidelines are very progressive. More than that, Yarra are the first local council to employ an officer to facilitate the application of urban agriculture. For that, we congratulate them. The first permit took four months to issue, as all issues of all the relevant departments, and all the bureaucracy and risk aversion of public service had to be negotiated. Without a facilitator, this would have been impossible. The normal reaction of Council would have been to play it safe, and simply reject the concept of planter boxes, nature strip planting, fruit trees and all other forms of urban agriculture in public space. The normal reaction would be to keep things as they are, but the City of Yarra didn’t do this, and they are leading the way, with the eyes of other councils and organisations upon them.

The recent events in Princess Hill, where a divided local reaction stopped the proposal for a community garden on parkland, has demonstrates more stongly than ever that Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Facilitator is needed. It’s not suprising that some urban residents don’t want to loose public open space; it’s equally not surprising that some urban residents feel the strong need to grow some of their own food. The compromise is to use marginal space, like Maud and Neil have: their planter box is on a slight raised area that is neither foot path or road, it is just separation space. The planter box doesn’t interfere with lines of sight or access. It appears from the very short time it has been there to recieve overwhelming support from locals.

But this small scale, decentralised model needs more effort to work, and local residents just don’t have the know-how to get through the local government bureaucracy, and local government departments just don’t have the incentive to deal with local residents on these issues and coordinate with other departments. And because we are talking about marginal space, it is always at the margins of responsiblity.

This is why the Urban Agriculture Facilitator role is so essential. If the role is lost, all the good work that has been done up to now will be wasted. Yarra’s leading position will be lost. It is currently a part time role, but it needs to be increased to five days a week. Time is needed in processing applications and granting permits, and all the communication that involves. In addition available land needs to be put on an inventory, a more robust grants system is needed, more resources are needed for residents of our city, and time needs to be spent on promotion and education.

You can read more about urban agriculture and community gardening in the City of Yarra here, or you can download a pdf of their Guidelines for Neighbourhood Gardening – Planter Boxes.

UNAA World Environment Day Awards 2012: Nominations Now Open

Posted in Seeking by UNAAVictoria on April 16th, 2012

Each year, in support of United Nations World Environment Day (June 5), the United Nations Association of Australia recognises innovative and outstanding environmental initiatives and projects from across Australia through the World Environment Day Awards.  The Awards invite nominations from individuals, organisations and businesses that have taken positive steps towards sustainability and demonstrated environmental excellence in their homes, schools, communities and workplaces.

In 2012, the Awards are held in support of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for all and United Nations World Environment Day 2012 ‘Green Economy: Does it include you?’.

The 2012 Award Categories are:

  • Biodiversity Award
  • BHP Billiton Business Awards
  • Virgin Australia Community Award
  • Environmental School Award
  • Excellence in Marine and Coastal Management Award
  • Excellence in Sustainable Water Management Award
  • Green Building Award
  • Individual Award for Outstanding Service to the Environment
  • Local Government Awards
  • Media Award for Environmental Reporting
  • Peter Szental Award for Sustainability Entrepreneurship
  • Sustainability Education Award
  • Sustainability Leadership Awards

ENTRY DEADLINE: 5pm, Friday 4 May

Winners will be announced at the Awards Presentation Dinner to be held on Friday 8 June at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.

For more information about the Awards, including entry criteria and nomination forms, please visit

If you have any enquiries, don’t hesitate to contact the UNAA Victoria office on (03) 9670 7878 or via email:

Do pro-environmental behaviours spill over? BehaviourWorks Seminar

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 13th, 2012

23 April , 2012
5:30 pmto6:30 pm

Environmental organisations, governments and businesses often rely on “positive spillover strategies” to drive pro-environmental behaviour change.

These strategies rest on the assumption that targeting simple and painless actions can spillover into motivating other related and more ambitious environmental behaviours. But such endeavours might also lead to “negative spillover effects”, where the adoption of one particular pro-environmental behaviour decreases the prospects of other related actions being performed.

In this seminar, one of the world’s leading experts on this topic—Professor John Thøgersen—will give an introduction to spillover, discuss evidence supporting and challenging spillover effects, and offer a number of tips to optimise the chances of achieving positive spillover effects in behaviour change programs.

About the speaker: John Thøgersen is a professor of economic psychology at Aarhus University, Denmark. In addition to spillover, his research interests include social and environmental marketing, social and moral norms in the environmental field, media influences on consumer behaviour and sustainability, and the inter-generational transfer of pro-environmental values, attitudes and behaviour.

John Thøgersen is being hosted by BehaviourWorks Australia—a joint venture between the Monash Sustainability Institute, EPA Victoria, The Shannon Company and Sustainability Victoria that brings together interdisciplinary researchers with leading practitioners who share an interest in behaviour change research and environmental sustainability.

Monday, 23 April 2012 5.30 – 6.30 pm

Village Roadshow Theatrette State Library of Victoria
Entry 3, 179 La Trobe Street Melbourne

This is a free public event. All welcome

RSVP by 18 April 2012

The Garage Sale Trail

Posted in Events, Movements by Jessica Bird on April 13th, 2012

5 May , 2012

Photo by Eastlaketimes via Flickr CC

From The Garage Sale Trail: Thousands of garage sales all over Australia on one huge day – Saturday 5th May 2012

The Garage Sale Trail is about sustainability, community & creativity. It’s a organisational framework that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets, resources and money on a hyper local level but with national scale. Garage Sale Trail is a platform for anyone who wants to make some money or raise money for a cause and for anyone who wants to connect with their community. That’s makers & creators, local business, households, cultural institutions, charities and community groups.

In brief, the Garage Sale Trail is about making sustainability both fun & social and using the Internet to get people off the Internet:

  • The Garage Sale Trail is a program that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets, resources and money on a hyper local level but with national scale. It happens all over Australia on one day, Saturday May 5th 2012
  • The Garage Sale Trail is about sustainability, creativity, community and micro-enterprise
  • The Garage Sale Trail is a platform for anyone who wants to make some money or raise money for a cause and for anyone who wants to connect with their community.
  • The Garage Sale Trail is for makers & creators, local business, households, cultural institutions, charities and community groups
  • The Garage Sale Trail a perfect way to discover treasure, de-clutter, have fun, make money, make a positive contribution and make neighbourhood connections
  • You can get involved by registering your sale online, shopping on the day – May 5th 2012 and/or donate to the Garage Sale Trail Foundation


  • If you are a household the Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to de-clutter & make a little pocket money
  • If you are a maker or creator, use the Garage Sale Trail as an opportunity to market your wares to an audience who want to discover treasure
  •  If you are a local business it’s an opportunity to connect to your neighbourhood and make positive contribution to your community
  • If you’re a community group or cultural institution the Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to fundraise and / or connecting to your local community


  • Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to discover treasure
  • Garage Sale Trail is the biggest community-based marketplace
  • The Garage Sale Trail is the best way to find a bargain

Use your mobile on the day to find Garage Sales near you:

Register your garage sale or plan your trail by visiting

The Garage Sale Trail website also has some good tips on holding a garage sale, keeping your sale green, and haggling for a purchase! – [JB]

Mt.Buffalo Community Enterprise: Final Update

Posted in Movements, Policies by Kate Archdeacon on April 12th, 2012

2007 photo by SplaTT via flickr CC

Back in 2010, we started hearing about the Mt.Buffalo Community Enterprise (MBCE) – a group established to take over the lease of the Mt Buffalo Chalet.  At the time, David Brookes, Managing Director of Social Traders said, “The proposed redevelopment of the Chalet by the North East community has the potential to create an iconic social enterprise for Victoria and we welcome the opportunity to support the business planning process over the next 12 months.”

We received a final update from the group today, along with an open letter to the community which we reprint in full below.  The MBCE is wrapping up, but support for the Chalet to be used as accommodation is still strong, and the local community is discussing further public meetings with the shire council, so stay involved if you have the chance.

Open Letter to the Community

In 2009, a group of 17 North East residents got together to develop a plan to restore and rejuvenate Mt Buffalo Chalet. As most people know, Mt Buffalo Chalet is a 100 year old heritage listed guest house that closed down in 2007. Today, it remains closed and decaying behind cyclone wire fencing.

We formed a community-owned enterprise that could take over the Chalet and give it a new and viable future. We did it because the prevailing Government policy at the time seemed to rely on some ‘white knight developer’ riding in to save the Chalet. We didn’t and still don’t believe in that. We think the Government and community have to face up to the inherent limitations of the Chalet as a commercial proposition and take ownership of it as a core heritage and community asset. That needs a change in mind-set.

So we lodged a tender, put together a business plan, engaged architects and developed a concept to restore and reopen the Chalet. Our Plan was to cost some $50 million, of which we were seeking about $33.0 million from the State Government. Our community ownership model offered a way to pool Government and private investment with 51% of profits going back to into the community through a separate Mt Buffalo Community Foundation.

Unfortunately, the Government has not supported our proposal. In a recent announcement, Environment Minister Ryan Smith has allocated funds to do further research into options and what the future for the Chalet might be.

On this basis, the members of Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise Pty Ltd. formally resolved on 27 March 2012 to commence wind-up proceedings for our company. We have recognised that the Government has chosen to explore other directions and options and not to follow the community ownership path we proposed for the Chalet.

The Minister says that the Government does not believe that accommodation can be a viable option at Mt Buffalo in the future. We don’t agree. We think it can be viable if the Government is prepared to invest in the necessary infrastructure. More than that, accommodation is intrinsic to what the Chalet is. The situation the Chalet finds itself in can be put down to many decades –under governments of both persuasions – of inadequate investment.

Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise developed a Plan that would restore that Chalet to its former glory, respect its heritage status, and at the same time bring it up to being a 21st century visitor destination. Our vision was to get the people of Victoria and the North East to become actual shareholders in a community-owned, 21st Century Chalet. Under our plan, it would have a modern day visitor interpretative centre and cafe complex as well as accommodation. Our Plan would see the Chalet become –again – a ‘must-see’ visitor destination as a focal point for the whole North East.

The shareholders of Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise accept the Government’s decision. However, our passion and desire to save the Chalet has not diminished.

Our fear now is that the flawed presumption that accommodation can never again work up at the Chalet will gain legs. Our fear is that the accommodation at the Chalet will be demolished to make way for a limited, half-hearted cafe /parks office without first having a grand plan and institutional structure for ownership in place.

If that happens, it will mean that in fact we haven’t saved Mt Buffalo Chalet at all. We will have preserved some of the physical remnants of a former Chalet as some type of museum piece.

Our position remains that Mt Buffalo Chalet should be preserved and rejuvenated as an iconic guesthouse/accommodation and visitor destination for future generations to enjoy. It has the potential to be a significant generator of employment and economic benefit as well as community benefit. As a community, we need to find a way to make the significant investment necessary to achieve that. Indeed, if this is the Government’s goal, we will wholeheartedly support it.

The members of Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise would like to say thank you to everyone in the community who has supported us in our efforts over the past 2 years. We entered this process, in good faith, only because we care about Mt Buffalo Chalet. We are proud of the Plans we developed – they have stood up to significant financial, technical and heritage scrutiny.

What Happens Now?

There is clearly still a need for a broad-based community advocacy group to be formed to advocate into the Government on the communities behalf – “Save Our Chalet”. We have approached Alpine Shire to convene a public meeting in the next month or so to discuss what such a group might look like, ascertain interest and get things moving.

We hope like-minded people and institutions across Victoria and the North East will continue through other channels to advocate and agitate so our children and grand children can one day enjoy a genuine experience of Mt Buffalo Chalet.

Yours sincerely,

John Brown AO


Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise Pty. Ltd.

Picnic for the Planet on Earth Day

Posted in Events by John Myers on April 12th, 2012

22 April , 2012
12:00 pmto2:00 pm
Take part in Picnic for the Planet on Sunday 22 April, Earth Day, with The Nature Conservancy at Prahran Market’s Market Square in South Yarra, Melbourne.

This very special event is part of a global, potentially record-breaking effort designed to celebrate the planet and the sustainable food it provides.  Dr James Fitzsimons, Director of Conservation at The Nature Conservancy, said, “The main point of Picnic for the Planet is simple: to give people a fun and easy way to enjoy Earth Day through the food they enjoy and with the people they love.”

This year marks the second annual Picnic for the Planet and the first such event in Melbourne.  “We are thrilled to be supported by Prahran Market, the oldest continuously running market in Australia,” Dr Fitzsimons said. “It’s known as ‘the food lovers’ market’ because of the quality and range of its vendors. It’s a perfect, open-air place for people to celebrate the planet and think about where their food comes from.”

Participants in the Prahran Market event will also have a shot at the record books. The Melbourne picnic is one of hundreds of The Nature Conservancy’s Picnics for the Planet happening worldwide that, collectively, will attempt to set the Guinness World Record™ for the most people picnicking in a 24-hour period.  The picnic will feature live music from local talent, cooking demonstrations and other family-friendly activities, as well as the chance to pick up a host of picnic goodies from the stallholders at Prahran Market.

The event is free and open to the public, rain or shine from 12 noon to 2pm.

Those unable to make the main Picnic for the Planet can sign up to host their own picnic with family and friends. Anyone who holds a Picnic for the Planet with at least 25 people can download materials that will allow their picnic to be officially included in the Guinness World Record™-breaking attempt.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a leading conservation organisation working around the world in more than 30 countries to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy has worked with Indigenous groups and other partners to protect more than 6 million hectares in Australia since 2000. We helped to secure 29 high priority additions to the National Reserve System, including some of the largest private protected areas in Australia. The Nature Conservancy is now supporting the conservation of nearly 30 million hectares of largely Indigenous lands across northern and central Australia and we’re working to conserve the Great Western Woodlands, the world’s largest intact temperate woodland. Visit The Nature Conservancy at