What you need to know

Sustainability Champions graduate

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Who is going to stand up for the planet and where we live?

Sustainability Champions, that’s who. The latest cohort of Moonee Valley Sustainability Champions has just graduated.

While their training is finished, the tasks these 15 enterprising people have set themselves are just beginning.

The community projects they are working on include:
* Strips of Nature – Project to encourage and support residents to plant out their nature-strips
* Environment Book Club
* Waste Wise Canteens – Project to support schools and sporting clubs in Moonee Valley to reduce their plastic waste from canteens
* MyLocalVillage – project to encourage sustainable living in multi-unit developments
* Urban Bushland Initiative – Urban greening project
* Coffee Ground Collective – project partnering with local cafes to re-use coffee grounds

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Sustainability Champions is a capacity-building program for local people who are keen to work with their community to help create a more sustainable city. It was Highly Commended in the 2020 Keep Victoria Beautiful Awards.

The program aims to empower people who live, work or study in Moonee Valley with the confidence and skills to advocate for change and develop and implement local community projects.

Over 10 weeks it covers topics including project management, communications, climate anxiety, resourcing, advocacy and behaviour change with a range of expert guest speakers.

There is more information including details of how to register for the 2021 program here.


As a scientist, Kelly Bertoncello understands the impact of plastic waste on our environment. As a parent at St Martin de Porres Primary School in Avondale Heights she participated in our Wipe Out Waste program last year.

“Single-use plastics are a significant environmental problem and one of my pet hates,” Kelly said. “When we did Wipe Out Waste another parent and I focussed on reducing the waste in our school canteen.

“Our school is trying to be more sustainable all the time. With the Principal’s support we made a few changes at the canteen, including online ordering and serving food directly into containers that each child brings from home.”

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Now Kelly has two other schools signed up to pilot Waste Wise Canteens. Once the program is trialled and embedded in schools, she wants to look at rolling out the scheme to Moonee Valley sporting clubs as well.

“I got a lot out of doing the Sustainability Champions program. Although it was disappointing not meeting in person due to Covid, I feel like I’ve made a strong connection with the other participants.

“Hearing about sustainability initiatives going on in our community has been inspiring, and we’ve been able to connect with key stakeholders inside Council and elsewhere. I’d definitely recommend it.”


Sally Heukers has launched an app called MyLocalVillage.

“It came about because I was thinking about how you can connect with others and combine that with activities that lead towards a more sustainable lifestyle when you live in urban dwellings such as apartment blocks,” Sally said.

“It is a platform where people know they can find others who are interested in sustainable living without all the noise of Facebook. It’s a tool for connection.”

Sally road-tested the app with neighbours in her Essendon apartment complex, and took on the Sustainability Champions program in search of further information and support.

“Sustainability Champions was a brilliant way to check the functionality and get feedback from like-minded people. Being able to connect with people from very different backgrounds who all share an interest in living more sustainably was wonderful.

“I wanted to meet more like-minded people from my suburb and my local village, and I think there will be some lifelong friendships there from doing the program. Everyone had fantastic ideas, you’d come away feeling energised and hopeful.”

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The app is already available and Sally sees it is a virtual way to change and coordinate ‘in real life’ actions.

For example, it could be used to organise food shares, book swaps, bike shares or sustainable strategies that could be rolled out across a block of apartments.

It is also free for local businesses to sign up. Sally’s vision is that a business could for example send a notification to people within the immediate area saying ’We have 50 bread rolls; come in the next hour and get them half-price.’

“This would be a way to reduce waste to landfill, and also support local business. I have a deep passion for sustainable living and sustainable development.

“Sharing this is a great way to connect with neighbours.”