Sustainable Cities Awards 2021 Winners

Sustainable City of the Year 2021

Greater Geelong

The City of Greater Geelong is located in south-western Victoria, about 75 kilometres south-west of the Melbourne CBD.

The Traditional Custodians of the City of Greater Geelong are the Wathaurong (Wadawurrung) people.

Geelong is the largest regional city in Victoria and the leading commercial centre for south-western Victoria. The City of Geelong includes the historic coastal townships and resort areas of Barwon Heads, Indented Head, Ocean Grove, Portarlington and St Leonards.

Some features include Brisbane Ranges National Park, You Yangs Regional Park, the Barwon River, Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve, Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, Serendip Sanctuary, Swan Bay, the Geelong CBD, Deakin University (Geelong Waterfront and Waurn Ponds Campuses), The Gordon Institute of TAFE (East Geelong and Geelong City Campuses), Marcus Oldham College, Geelong Waterfront, Geelong Port, Geelong Hospital, Kardinia Park (GMHBA Stadium) and numerous beaches, golf clubs and wineries.


Community Awards Winner (Joint)

Western Emergency Relief Network (WERN)
Western Emergency Relief Network (WERN)
WERN, located in Ravenhall, is a Rotary program with a catchment across north and west of Melbourne. WERN supplies good quality second-hand furniture, electronics and whitegoods to people in need without charge.

Those assisted are identified as having urgent needs as a result of trauma, loss or being unable to afford basic living items. They include individuals experiencing long-term illness, unemployment, loss of home and belongings through fire, domestic violence, lack of family support, homelessness or a refugee status.


TarraWarra Museum of Art
TarraWarra Field Guide: Making Paint and Ink
TarraWarra Museum of Art Education Field Guide publication series supports the development of skills needed to make, do, think, imagine and create. With an emphasis on exploring the outside world, TarraWarra Museum of Art Field Guides are intended to inspire creativity and foster deeper connections to making.

The TarraWarra Field Guide: Making Paint & Ink is the first in a series of three Guides to be published by TarraWarra Musuem of Art over the next three years. The series is made possible by generous support from the Museum’s Education supporters.


Collingwood Branch of the Country Womens Association of Victoria Inc
The Wool Project

Education Awards Winner

Paula McIntosh
Paula McIntosh is a teacher and waste educator at Melbourne Girls’ College.

Paula is the inspiration behind the school’s 2019 National Parks Scheme (NPS) for waste campaign that kickstarted the journey to becoming a zero waste to landfill school.

The NPS was a huge challenge for the community, involving removing all bins (except sanitary and paper recycling bins) so that staff, students and visitors had to carry home any waste they produced. The idea of the scheme was not to shift the waste problem elsewhere, but to make the community more aware of their consumption. It gained widespread media attention.

Mik Aidt
Climate Emergency Declaration Campaign

Environment Awards Winner

Andrea Dennett
Conservation of the Hooded Plover
Andrea helped form this group and has led, coordinated, nurtured and cared for the groups’ volunteers for almost 14 years. Her leadership has made a significant contribution to Birdlife Australia’s Threatened Beach-nesting Birds program that aims to protect the threatened Hooded Plover.

Andrea has contributed thousands of hours, walked thousands of steps, participated in uncounted conversations engaging and encouraging individuals to care for the hooded plover and the coastal environment which is the hooded plover’s habitat. Her actions have helped ensure that this threatened species survives, its breeding population increases and that the hooded plover remains a part of the environment which we all share.

Andrea’s positive attitude to sharing the coast environment and caring for all its diversity reflects a true awareness and commitment to environmental sustainability and sets a powerful and inspirational example to the wider community.

Natured Kids

Habitat Heroes: revegetating habitat for the threatened swamp skink

Hanson Construction Materials
Bird Refuge Floating Islands at Hanson Lysterfield Quarry

Inner West Air Quality Community Reference Group
Investigation into air quality in the inner west

Heritage & Culture Awards Winner

Ziebell’s Farmhouse Museum and Heritage Garden
Turning Back to Edgars Creek
Ziebell’s Farmhouse Musuems’ Turning Back to Edgars Creek exhibition traces the significant history of this waterway and the changing cultural relationship with it in Thomastown and Lalor. The exhibition traces the history of the German establishment of Westgarhtown in the 1850s and includes memories of the creek provided by descendants.  The development of suburbia and reconnection with the creek is outlined.

Consultation regarding Indigenous content was undertaken with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, with an artwork commissioned from The Torch. Children from the Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre also contributed artworks.

As a ‘posted’ museum exhibition, it is being delivered to letterboxes in Thomastown and Lalor. The Census established that these communities have lower than average access to the internet at home and, while COVID-19 has meant a ‘pivot’ in museums to online programs, this does not engage all communities. The exhibitions’ online access is being promoted to the wider community.

The exhibition will inform the development and potential restoration of this natural and cultural asset. Stage 2 will involve public programs at the museum, a temporary and a travelling exhibition.

Yvette Medina

CALD Engagement

Indigenous Culture Awards Winner

3KnD Kool N Deadly Radio
Keeping Community Connected
3KnD has been operating for 18 years serving the aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Metro Melbourne and beyond, being the only licensed Aboriginal community media in the state.

During the last 18 months they have become a vital link in keeping their community connected with each other, their families and public with culturally appropriate messages to keep individuals informed, safe and healthy.

They ensured accurate and timely messages relating to restrictions, services and staying sane during the lockdowns. For some of the listeners having a familiar voice talking to them not at them, playing music and having interviews with countrymen about their experience, activities and cultural connection kept them from despair.

Many called the station to say how much they appreciated having “our” music – Indigenous music from around Australia – playing to keep them connected with culture and languages.

Litter Awards Winner

Candace Colaco
Little Litter Project
The initiative started when Candace began noticing litter in her local area. She decided to raise awareness about the effects of littering and educate the community on the importance of disposing their waste in the correct way.

At first, it was challenging to involve the community. With each clean up, however, Candace engaged more people, drawing groups of approximately 50.

Candace was recognised by the local council, podcasts and newspapers.

She continues to educate the community on plastic pollution and waste management as well as run events and community clean ups!

Luisa Muscara
Love Our Streets Airport West 3042
After participating in numerous litter clean-ups (including from a canoe seven months pregnant), Luisa realised that the local Steele Creek connects with the Maribyrnong River, then the Yarra, before flowing into Port Phillip Bay where her children swim.

In early 2021, Luisa established ‘Love Our Street Airport West’ with the aim of preventing litter entering Steele Creek. Luisa quickly realised this was a complex issue to be tackled at multiple sources, and data collection would be crucial.

Luisa set up a social media page where she shares her clean up data and education tips around waste. Steele Creek runs through several suburbs, and Luisa plans to mentor others to create a “chain of care” of other groups upstream including at Tullamarine, Keilor Park and Keilor and downstream including Niddrie and Essendon.

Social Well-Being Awards Winner

Rotary Club of Caroline Springs
BusyFeet Melton is a dance and movement class for children with disabilities aged between 6 and 16. It is a special place where everybody is respected for their individual capabilities.

BusyFeet is totally volunteer based with one-on-one support. Rotary Caroline Springs’ members have been the instigators and are involved in the commencement and management of BusyFeet Melton since inception in 2014.

The program is the winner of the City of Melton Community Program of the Year 2015 and the 2016 City of Melton Access and Inclusion Leadership Award.

Fawkner Food Bowls
Fawkner Commons

David Winter
Meals on Wheel

RAW (Resilient Aspiring Women) Garden Australia
Conversations + Compassion = Community

Yarra Gospel Community Choir

Waste Awards Winner

Big Group Hug
Big Group Hug
Founded in 2014 by mum and teacher Angela Wood, Big Group Hug’s key mission is to help vulnerable children and families by providing new and pre-loved material aid such as car seats, prams, cots, clothing, toys, nappies and more,

These items get redistribute directly to families through community welfare agencies.

The service not only helps disadvantaged children and families, but also provides a convenient way for people to upcycle usable items, ensuring they are diverted from landfills.

With an army of approximately 300-strong volunteers, Big Group Hug works tirelessly to launder, repair and breathe life back into used items, ensuring they are in good, safe, working condition for 3,200+ children per year.

Bridge Darebin
Moon Rabbit Zero-Waste Cafe and Bulk Foods

Young Legends Awards Winner

Sam Higgins
Sam very fortunately received an electric trike from the Dylan Alcott Foundation in January 2020. When he began riding around his 5km radius in lockdown, Sam experienced independence like never before, and his self-confidence grew exponentially.

Sam won ABC TakeOver Melbourne in June 2020, a story-telling competition which allowed Sam to tell this story, in his words. Sam has an innate ability and desire to engage with anyone who crosses his path, and passionately believes that ‘kids with a disability should be able to do whatever they want (to do)’.

Through the Dylan Alcott Foundation, and the ABC, Sam’s trike riding has demonstrated the new heights that can be reached by young people with disabilities.

The Trike that Stops the Nation is a series of six digital interviews, with Sam talking to other young people with disabilities, giving them a voice and platform to show what they are capable of, in the same way as he has been afforded. Sam was awarded the Young Bayside Citizen of the Year, for being a role model to other children and young people.

Berat Kaya

Zoe Attard
Specialist Hoops

Dame Phyllis Frost

Paula McIntosh
Paula McIntosh is a teacher and waste educator at Melbourne Girls’ College and is the inspiration behind the school’s 2019 National Parks Scheme (NPS) for waste campaign, which kick started a journey to becoming a zero waste to landfill school.

The NPS was a huge challenge for the community involving removing all bins (except sanitary and paper recycling bins) so that staff, students and visitors had to carry home any waste they produced. The idea of the scheme was not to shift the waste problem elsewhere, but to make the community more aware of their consumption. It gained widespread media attention.

Through Paula’s drive, the school hosted community forums that confronted consumption issues, leading to innovative solutions including better on-site organic waste management and a partnership with the canteen that now provides biodegradable packaging.

Paula takes a solutions-based approach and practices what she preaches. She gives up hours of her own time to inform the community about waste issues. She is a sought-after speaker and has presented at numerous conferences.

In 2020, Paula launched a statewide campaign “Eco-FriendlyPeriods4VicSchools” and continues to inspire the community to do better around waste.


  • St. James Catholic Primary School Brighton
    Growing excitement about Sustainability
  • Luisa Muscara
    Love Our Streets Airport West 3042


Energy Awards Winner

City of Greater Geelong
Zero Carbon Buildings Program
The Greater Geelong Zero Carbon Building Program was established to minimise the ecological and carbon footprint of the community facilities through renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements.

The benefits of this program are being seen at sites such as the Leisurelink Aquatic and Recreation Centre, which was one the highest energy-consuming buildings.

The installation of a 230kW capacity rooftop solar system, energy efficient lighting upgrades, automated building control systems and upgraded heating and cooling systems have dramatically reduced the carbon emissions associated with the operation of this site.

City of Stonnington
Spotlight on Chapel Off Chapel

Environment Awards Winner

Environment and Waste Services
Nature based coastal protection solution by establihing an artificial reef
In consultation with the residents along the Ramblers Road foreshore, the City of Greater Geelong opted to trial a nature based coastal protection solution to build coastal resilience and prevent further erosion as well as over topping of waves which were impacting this coastal area, including private properties.

A collaborative monitoring program was established in partnership with the University of Melbourne, National Centre for Coasts and Climate, Earth Systems Climate Change Hub and the Port Phillip Eco Centre and continues three years following the construction of the artificial reef.

The reef has been very effective in preventing further erosion, stabilising and widening the beach. It has also delivered co-benefits in terms of habitat creation and restoration of seagrass.

Bella Wiyn Birralee Family Centre

Sustainability Champions of Tomorrow

Heritage & Culture Awards Winner

Our Country, Our Future, Our Responsibility
‘Our Country, Our Future, Our Responsibility’ was a National Reconciliation Week event, which took place on 27 May 2021.

This free event ran for almost four hours, was publicly available online and live streamed at Federation Square. It included both live and pre-recorded segments and featured a line-up of speakers, performers and activists including Archie Roach, Adam Goodes, Aunty Judy Atkinson, Uncle Dave Wandin and Uncle Richard Frankland.

Drawing from the National Reconciliation Week theme for 2021, ‘Reconciliation takes action’ the session provided an opportunity for audience interaction through a Question and Answer session. While the event had previously been organised for an in-person audience, it was moved online in 2020 in response to COVID-19 restrictions. This enabled Council to reach a much wider audience, including those outside of the municipality and people with accessibility restrictions.

While it previously attracted around 300 audience members in its in-person form, the online event was able to reach an audience of around 3,000 people. It served as a celebration of Yarra Ranges’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and contemporary community.

Indigenous Culture Awards Winner

Creative Communities
Balit Bagurrk: Strong women of the Yarra Ranges
Balit Bagurrk: Strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of the Yarra Ranges was a community-defined publication project led by Wurundjeri woman Samantha Piper with support from an all-Indigenous and all-female project advisory group.

This leadership approach engendered trust from participants, fostered greater engagement and ensured the women represented in the book had control over their narratives.

The project invited community to submit creative dedications to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with a connection to the Yarra Ranges region, which were compiled in a book to capture these important stories.

Building on the NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of Her We Can’, Balit Bagurrk sought to celebrate local women leaders and the many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across the Yarra Ranges who have contributed to and helped to shape the community.

The book was launched at an event featuring local women, Elders and community dedications on International Women’s Day and has been distributed in local bookshops and cultural venues.

Litter Awards Winner

James Walden
The Ops System Initiative
Development is underway, and industrial dwellings are being transformed into MUDs. From a service standpoint, that’s a nightmare. Dwellings that housed 5 to 50 people are being transformed into dwellings that hold thousands, spiking waste generation in a manner their resources can’t cater for.

The Ops system aims to combat that by integrating a hardware and software solution into operational fleet, they are turning waste and sweeper vehicles into intelligent data capture devices.

By integrating that system with Council’s asset system, they divided the municipality into a micro-environment where they are able to view, analyse and contrast each bin, footpath and street segment to see how often they cleaned it, how often they are experiencing incidents or requests, and how quickly those frequencies grow or diminish as the area continues to develop.

The solution is allowing to revolutionise service delivery and create predictive modelling that will drive future state.

Social Well-Being Awards Winner

Creative Communities
Put Out Your Poetry
Put Out Your Poetry was a creative response to the social isolation caused by COVID-19. It invited all residents across the Yarra Ranges municipality to write and display poetry on their rubbish bins prompted by poems, written by local writers, on the rubbish trucks that service the streets of these areas.

As people went on their daily walks they were delighted by poems in unexpected places and had a chance to feel part of a community project.

Haiku, a form of poetry consisting of just three lines, was selected due to its accessibility for all ages and writing abilities.

By using rubbish bins and trucks, the project sought to create an opportunity for all people, including those without the skills or technology to engage online, a way to express themselves creatively and connect with others.

Put Out Your Poetry harnessed creative expression and physical activity to support community mental health and reduce social insolation brought about by COVID-19. Community participation and positive feedback exceeded expectations, with over 700 residents receiving stickers and 80 per cent of people stating that they felt more connected through participating in the project.

City of Stonnington
Stonnington Environmental Champions

City of Stonnington
Stonnington Nature Play Handbook

Waste Awards Winner (Joint)

City of Greater Geelong
Recycled Roads for Geelong
City of Greater Geelong is delivering innovative road construction projects incorporating recycled materials collected via their kerbside recycling services.

Geelong’s first roads constructed using crushed glass as a replacement for sand are now open. Incorporated three percent recycled glass in the asphalt base mix means these projects use the equivalent of 200,000 glass bottles and jars in every 50 tonnes of road base material.

Rigorously testing has proven that PlastiPhalt does not contain microplastics and therefore does not pose a pollution risk to waterways and natural environments. Testing has also indicated that this product is more durable than standard asphalt.

City of Stonnington

Zero waste Early Learning Centres

City of Port Phillip
Communal Food Organics Recycling Hubs

City of Port Phillip
Recycling Reset – responding to recycling contamination in a pandemic