Generating sustainable communities

There are clear economic and social advantages to be gleaned by communities that are prepared to move forward in a sustainable way. The National Centre for Sustainability (NCS), houses within Federation University Australia, continues to foster widespread understanding of the benefits of sustainability.

The City of Ballarat has taken a 'ground up' approach to sustainability training, with all staff undertaking NCS workshops. In targeting its own environmental footprint, the 500-strong team of Council employees will also create a 'sphere of influence' that promotes sustainable behaviours to the wider Ballarat community. "Participants have been surprised that the training has provided them with a much broader awareness of sustainable behaviours than they expected, applicable to both the workplace and their own households', says Ian Rossiter, Director, Sustainability at the City of Ballarat.

Participants, including administrative staff, operational employees and councillors, were 'mixed up' into small groups for the training delivery, encouraging cross-organisational interaction and lively engagement. Many participants followed the initial short course with a home suit of water, energy, transport and waste.

Ian recognises the benefits of a not-for-profit alternative such as the NCS, particularly one with excellent credibility. "The NCS and its key staff have a long-standing relationship with the City," says Ian. "The next stage is to harness the training of our 'champions' group to work through the City's business units, examining sustainable behaviours in relation to the services each deliver".