Welcome to your June edition of the SRN News.

SRN News: June 2012

Macquarie University

Rio+20 Coming Up!

Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), representing higher education institutions within Australia and New Zealand has progressed the agenda of tertiary education by submitting a position paper as part of the Rio+20 process. The aim of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. When the original Rio Conference was held in 1992 and produced Agenda 21, The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio, there was limited discussion among those in the tertiary education community about the contributions and role that tertiary education could make to expand an understanding of sustainable development through the research, educational activities and operational modeling of sustainable practices.  Consequently, there is little in Agenda 21 that references the role of tertiary education in sustainable development.
However, much has changed in the past two decades. Around the world in a variety of national and cultural contexts, tertiary education has become a significant force in the discussion and implementation of sustainable development. Tertiary education institutions have demonstrated that they can and must address issues of sustainability in not only operations and administration but through teaching and research. 
ACTS, alongside AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education representing USA and Canada tertiary institutions), EUAC (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges representing UK tertiary sector) and other international associations, will be holding a side event at Rio+20 on 18 June, 2012  titled Aiming higher, unlocking tertiary education's potential to accelerate sustainable development and the transition to a fair and green economy, which is endorsed and supported by UNESCO. The collaboration and the Rio+20 process is an exciting and monumental opportunity to further the place tertiary education has in global change and as the ACTS President, our Director of Sustainability, Leanne Denby will be attending the upcoming side event in Rio and will keep us posted on developments! For further information visit ACTS.  

SALT's Food Program a Winner  

The Macquarie University student-run food bank known as SALT (Seek justice, Alleviate hunger, Lift the burden today, Transforming lives) has been awarded Ryde Council's 2012 Group Volunteer Award. SALT is in its second year of providing a better place to live for disadvantaged residents of the Ivanhoe Place Estate in Ryde. The program is run in conjunction with the Salvation Army and is supported by Campus Experience. The initiative involves retail outlets on campus donating leftover food items which are distributed by students. This initiative is a great example of social, environmental and economic sustainability. Student DDaniel Bofinger accepted the award from the Ryde Mayor. 

Effecting Change for Sustainability

Getting people to change their ways is no easy task. That’s why many things that make sense take so long! Here are some useful strategies to keep in mind: 
  • Create a new normal. A simple thing like setting a printer to default to double-siding means that someone has to stop and change it to do it the less eco-friendly way. 
  • Keep activities fun and hopeful. Inspiration is attractive. People will look forward to what you have planned if they know it’s going to be a good time.
  • Explain the downside. People are loss averse, and will change their behaviours faster if the message is framed in terms of how much the Department/person stands to lose by not doing that thing. For example, “By not turning off all our monitors, $X/month is going down the drain” is more effective than “We’ll save $X dollars/month by turning of our monitors”. Stange, but true.
  • Use peer pressure. It works. People trust people they perceive are just like themselves more than anyone else. Ask people in your Department who are making the changes you want to promote to tell their stories. And seek out stories of other workplaces like yours that have grappled with sustainability issues and won. “If they can do it, so can we!” is a great motivator.
  • Repeat yourself and use prompts. People need reminders all the way along. Put up signs and stickers. Send out notes. Stay in their faces.
  • Show off. Seeing is believing, and motivating. Things like charts that track progress (for example reducing paper use) and other measurements of accomplishment create accountability and help people understand the direct impact their choices are making. 

“The secret of success in fostering green behaviour is to keep going. Culture change is like getting fit – you can’t just go to the gym once and expect that to change everything. Instead you must set a programme of regular sessions and keep at it until the training becomes routine – but if the training starts to drop, so will your fitness levels. In the same way, to maintain good behaviour, the interventions you make must be routine."

Planning for the Challenge

This year the Department Sustainability Challenge will commence on Monday 16 July 2012 and will run until Friday 7 September 2012. It is open for all Departments to take part in. Last year’s Challenge was bigger than ever with 39 Departments taking part!
2011 Winners at the Awards Night
To make coordination and administration of the Challenge easier, this year we will be recruiting a bigger group of Macquarie University internship students to undertake the role of Challenge Liaisons. The Liaisons will support and help you implement the initiatives and win the many great prizes along the way. 
This year, you will have an opportunity to meet your Liaison prior to the official launch of the 2012 Challenge. Registrations will also open earlier on Wednesday 27th June, so you can get in early and get your team on board. The official Challenge Scorecard will be available when it all officially kicks off on 16 July! Put these dates in your diary and start spreading the word! 

Green Steps @ Uni Training for MQ Students

The award-winning Green Steps sustainability training program will be running again for Macquarie University students this year. We would appreciate if you could promote this program to students, which is free of charge to successful applicants. See link for poster which promotes the training.
Green Steps@Uni is a hands-on, practical course that bridges the gap between knowledge acquired at university and skills required in the 'real world' of work. Green Steps brings together students from different faculties to give them the practical skills, tools and confidence to be effective change agents working towards sustainabilityin organisations. This is a fabulous opportunity for students to:
  • Learn how to measure environmental impacts with waste, energy, carbon and water audits
  • Engage otherswith improved communication and behaviour change skills
  • Work with people from different disciplines and become part of a national alumni network
  • Gain new confidence to create positive environmental change
  • Get a foot in the door with work experience in an organisation.
The Green Steps program consists of:
  • Training over six days, held on 31 August, 1-2 September, and 14-16 September 2012 on campus
  • A 15 day paid internship working on an environmental sustainability project in an organisation.
Delivered in partnership by Macquarie and the Monash Sustainability Institute, Green Steps has more than 600 alumni and is delivered throughout Australia at eight universities. Applications close on 8 August 2012. To find out more about the program and how to apply go to or contact

Diary and Events

13 June
6.30 - 8.30pm 
Healthy Eating for People and Planet
Manly Community Centre

26 June
9am - 1.15pm 
Kimbriki Bus Tour
Meet outside Manly Council Chambers

27 June
Registrations open for the Department Sustainability Challenge

30 June
10 - 12pm 
Arboretum Tour
RSVP to Samantha Newton for location.

7 July
12 - 2pm
Afghanistan & Beyond: The Politics of Foreign Intervention
The Union Hotel, North Sydney

16 July
Department Sustainability Challenge commences

7 August
Next SRN Meeting

For more details on the above, visit our Events page. 

2011 Sustainability Annual Report

Find out how the University performed in its fourth year of sustainability activities, across our 12 areas of focus. The report is based on the 2011 calendar year performance and highlights how we are progressing on the sustainability journey at MQ. See the full report here.


We still have quite a lot of funds available for sustainability grants. If the grant money is not used, we will lose it! Get your colleagues involved in coming up with some ideas for a grant or table it for discussion at your next departmental meeting. From a total pool of $5000, grants of up to $500 are available to assist SRN members to implement sustainability focused initiatives. To see the projects that were funded in 2011 and to download the grant guidelines and application form, click here. Please contact Cindy Cunningham on 9850 1087 if you have any questions or need any assistance with completing grant applications. 

Go team!

Did you know that Macquarie was recently ranked third in a national listing of the 'greenest universities'? Not bad considering Macquarie only started the journey in 2008! View the full article here

Focus for June

Take energy use in the form of electricity, gas and fuel into account when you are making big purchasing or investment decisions like real estate, motor vehicles and major appliances.

For the month of June, let's challenge ourselves to invest our hard-earned money ethically and envrionmentally - how do you vote with your dollar?

Post your tips, ideas and troubles with this important topic on our Facebook page.

Focus for July

Food! Glorious food. How or if we grow food, buy good, prepare and cook food impacts everything we rely on from water, biodiversity, to our communities and health.

The average household wastes food worth $1000 per year. It's the biggest component of our waste bin. If you crack down on food waste and reduce it by at least 50% you can save up to $500 a year!

It's time to get smart about food preparation.

SRN Minutes

Miss the May SRN Quarterly Meeting? Click here for the meeting minutes.

What's in Season this Autumn?

Find out here.

Welcome to our New Reps!

Tommaso Demarie - Department of Physics & Astronomy

Phyllis Sakinofsky - Department of Media, Music and Cultural Studies

It is a pleasure to have you join our network!

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