Introducing environmental education into all levels of schooling to encourage greater environmental awareness and responsibility is one of the key targets outlined in a discussion paper released today by Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes.
Mrs Edwardes said the Environmental Education Discussion Paper was the first step in a comprehensive environmental education strategy for Western Australia.
The State Recycling Education and Promotion Program for Western Australia was also released by the Minister.
“The State Government is committed to strong environmental goals, and realises that these can only be achieved with a combined effort by all members of the community," she said.
“Therefore, we are placing a high priority on education and promotion to develop environmental awareness over the next 10 years and, above all, an attitude of personal responsibility.”
The discussion paper, a first for Western Australia on environmental issues, was formed by the Department of Environmental Protection after consulting representatives from education, industry, Government and the conservation movement.
Mrs Edwardes said the paper would be distributed widely during a public review period of three months.
“It is just the starting point for wider discussion which will help shape the future of our environment in WA,” she said.
“We are learning all the time that a community of motivated and informed people is the best protection of all for our environment and we believe environmental education is the most effective way to achieve this goal.”
Other key initiatives outlined in the paper include introducing environmental education into all teacher training and vocational and higher education courses, requiring all Government agencies to develop their own environmental management plans and providing best-practice training support for industry.
It also suggests community awareness campaigns on key environmental issues such as photochemical smog, haze, pollution of inland waters and oceans, salinity, waste minimisation and ozone depletion.
Mrs Edwardes said a senior level environmental education committee would be formed within 12 months to assist in developing education opportunities.
Also released today was the State Recycling Education and Promotion Program which was prepared by the State Recycling Advisory Committee.
The program is a first step in the broader vision outlined in the Environmental Education Discussion Paper.
It contains initiatives that are designed to promote and educate the community about the importance and benefits of recycling.
Mrs Edwardes said the program was WA’s first truly integrated approach to recycling at all levels of the community.
“In recent years many State and local governments have put a great deal of effort into recycling - efforts that have made a difference,” she said
“Now, for the first time, the State Recycling Advisory Committee has assembled ideas, strategies and funding in one concise program aimed at bringing all sectors of our community together to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.
“The program encourages people to understand that the actions of just one person can make a difference.
“Western Australians are already very committed to protecting the environment through programs like Bushcare, catchment management and Landcare and their tremendous support for recycling with more than 50 per cent of Perth people taking part in kerbside collection schemes.
“But as the last few months have shown us around the world and here at home with the heartbreak of drought, we can't take the environment for granted.
“More than ever, our environment needs strong guardians and an environmental education strategy will allow everyone to share that responsibility.”
Media contact: Steve Manchee on 9421 7777