The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
I hear you’ve been thinkin’ about me and asked for an update… I’ve never had a pen pal before but I’m going to do my best to give you regular updates on what’s going on in my life!
For those of you who don’t remember me, I’m Ngunnawal, the Kreative Koala designed by the passionate environmental warriors (the students) of Bob’s Farm Primary School.
I’m writing to you all today from my home at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. It’s such a great place to live.
I spend my days in the Koala Centre, welcoming all the keen koala lovers who come and visit the Sanctuary. Visitors love to take photos with me and I’ve become really great friends with the humans who work here too! I get to be a product tester, trying on all the new merchandise that is sold in the retail store.
My favourite item is the beanie. But I’m not sure how I should wear the beanie… Should I have one on each ear or just plop one on the middle of my head? I’d love to know what you all think!
I’ll send another update when I’ve got more exciting news to share! In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to do, come visit me, I promise you’ll have a koala-ty time!
The students of Tarrawanna Public School tackled SDG 2: Zero Hunger as they created Mr T B Kind, a koala that brought together the whole school across multiple Key Learning Areas, with the theme of feeding the community.
Mr T B Kind is a mosaic koala inspired by the school environment using broken tiles, which were found as garden beds were prepared, to represent native animals such as cockatoos, bees and dragonflies. Mr T B Kind has a realistic mottled grey body and will be a striking and welcoming mascot to open classroom exhibitions.
“Our Koala created connections between our students, community and collaborators. The biggest and most exciting outcome was not only did the Kreative Koala initiative inspire Zero Hunger for community, but it has triggered special interest projects on sustainability across K-6 which we will be showcasing to community members.”
At Turvey Public School, near Wagga Wagga, students took a look at SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production as they created Billy Barrandhang, a vibrant and detailed koala. Involving all classes across art, science and geography, Billy aimed to show:
“we all belong to one earth and we are all responsible for protecting its beauty”
Billy was created using ideas the students derived from Australia’s magnificent landscapes and natural features and is a celebration of a place to call home.
“Billy discretely embeds our entire school community and culture through the symbols painted on the koala. The flags in the ears of the koala represent each student and staff member to show our whole school approach towards sustainability and equality. The koala has our school core values written on the feet; resilience, responsibility and respect all which are integral to growing a healthy world. The crow wings are holding up the heart shape Earth on our koala making it unique because it symbolises our school totem and how the world’s future is in our hands.”
Warrawee Public School took Kreative Koalas literally and launched a campaign to Save The Koalas, naming their creation “Eila”.
“Children chose to call our art koala Eila after one of our sponsored koalas. Elia is a heroic koala who survived the Mambo wetlands fire in Port Stephens in December 2018 with a baby on her back and pregnant with another. The children see her as resilient and a hero for being able to escape the fires and then survive the treatment in Port Stephens hospital as she had badly burnt paws from climbing a burning tree.”
Students realised bushfires effect flora as well as fauna and as a result Eila is adorned with gum leaves, waratahs, kangaroo paw and wattle alongside native animals fleeing the smoke of the fire, which curls across Eila’s back. Indigenous designs illustrate a connection to Country and green represents renewal.
“The green of the gum represents the regeneration of the Australian bush and though it takes time the children felt this was important as life starts again and gives us hope for the plight of the koalas.”
Congratulations to all schools and students participating in the 2022 Kreative Koalas. Collectively students have explored a total of nine Sustainable Development Goals:
Despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic, which meant the closing of schools and home learning for students, participants in the 2022 Kreative Koalas have risen to the occasion and come up with some fabulous Koala artworks. Let’s have a look at four schools who chose to focus on their own backyards as they cared for their local community and environment.
Ladysmith Public School, near Wagga Wagga, took a look at the presence and impact of salinity along their local Kyeamba Creek as they created the aptly named “Saltbush” while studying SDG 15: Life on Land.
“On our walking tour of some neighbouring farming land, we observed many trees that appeared to have died. These trees were on land that had previously been identified as a discharge site, where salinity had been a problem. One beautiful [dead] tree, became the focus of our artwork and we used this as the major design element on the back of the koala.”
Saltbush represents a personal journey for the students and community of Ladysmith, highlighting an environmental problem but also celebrating the beauty of their home. In bold colours Saltbush depicts the dead tree and Kyeamba Creek alongside the bright yellow of wattle and the blue/grey of the saltbush plant. White dots across the koala represent rising salt and how it infiltrates the soil.
Also inspired by SDG 15: Life on Land is “Warada” (the Darug name for Waratah), which symbolises resilience and renewal. Warada is the Kreative Koala creation from a group of Hawkesbury schools under the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education banner, which includes Kurmond, Bilpin, Windsor Park, Kurrajong, Kurrajong North, Kurrajong East, Wilberforce, Richmond North and Comleroy Road schools.
This wonderful collaborative effort has produced a koala that represents the benefits and beauty of local native flora, depicted on Warada as intricate black and white botanical designs with a stripe of blue representing the Hawkesbury River across his back and a brown seedling of renewal on his chest.
“[Warada is] a botanical journey following Bells Line of Road from Bilpin, through the Kurrajong area, across the Hawkesbury River down to the Castlereagh, Agnes Banks, and Windsor Downs nature reserves.”
Lake Albert Public School (near Wagga Wagga) had only to look out their school windows to derive inspiration from Lake Albert itself and they named their creation Barrandhang, which means koala in the local Wiradjuri language.
Barrandhang is a blue koala reflecting the connection between the students and the lake, with two limbs painted brown to express how the lake would look like with uncontrolled pollution. Striking orange/pink ears represent the sunsets the lake gifts to the students each day and across the body of the koala are detailed footprints representing local wildlife including duck, platypus, honeyant, goanna, frog, turtle,
, fish and possum. Coloured icons represent the school’s goals to recycle, reuse and reduce food waste.
“We are fortunate at Lake Albert Public School to be situated next to the lake and to be able to enjoy its beauty and wildlife every day. We couldn’t aim for a sustainable school environment without including our passion for a healthy and sustainable water environment.”
Also looking at their local waterways was Scots All Saints College from Bathurst who championed the plight of platypus that suffered a local extinction event during the last drought. The students chose SDG 13: Climate Change and used Biladurang (or Bill for short) to express this environmental problem in Winburndale River.
One side of Biladurang represents a robust and healthy ecosystem, the other side is fiery and dark to show the consequences of too little water being released from the dam to the river. A giant platypus rides on his back and across his body are casuarina leaves, platypus and rakali (native water rat) habitat and insects. Bill is a thoughtful reflection of the local environment and the passion the students have to manage it (and platypus populations) in a sustainable way.
“We want to let people know that climate change is changing our planet, which forced local government to make a decision about the platypus [when] the council stopped releasing water from Winburndale Dam [during the drought]; so the rivulet dried up and we had a local extinction.”
Congratulations to these four schools who have found passion and appreciation in their local environment and used Kreative Koalas as a vehicle to express their connection and to share their concerns with their communities.
Looking at SDG 15 and 13 to investigate the effects of fire were students from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School who named their koala “Alinta”. Alinta illustrates the effects of both unmanaged bushfires and controlled cultural burns.
To show these contrasting fire regimes Alinta became a split-personality koala. Bright colours on Alinta’s back represent the destruction of out-of-control bushfires, while cooler colours represent regrowth after managed cultural burns. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 1-6 assisted in creating traditional art for inclusion on Alinta and the local Aboriginal community taught all the students about managing the land with fire.
“Our entire school community was positively impacted by our involvement in the Kreative Koala program. All students were educated about the negative impacts of out-of-control bush fires on our climate, communities and wildlife. Students are now armed with the knowledge of how we can take on Aboriginal ways of healing the land through fire and feel hopeful about the difference we can make.”
Looking at SDG 3 and 5 were students from St Joseph’s Primary School who designed a koala named, appropriately, Joseph (or Joey for short!). Involving Year 4 and 5 students across PDHPE, Mathematics, Science and English, Joseph represents sports and physical activities the students can participate in to remain healthy.
Joseph is resplendent in green and gold, Australia’s national sporting colours, and adorned with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags. Hand-drawn pictures across the koala represent the activities the students enjoy and the inclusion of the Olympic rings alludes to aspirations for the future.
“We used our love of different sports to create this original design and we showed the statue the same respect that we would for a living creature.”
Students from St Paul’s Primary School chose SDG 7 and created Kristie, the sustainability warrior,
“to promote energy saving tips, to demonstrate the most efficient forms of clean renewable energy and promote the work of climate activists Greta Thunberg and Pope Francis in our school and community”.
Kristie is a smart-looking environmental activist koala. She wears a hat featuring solar-powered fans and a shirt showcasing clean energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal. Images of traditional bush tucker remind us to take only what we need and Baiame, the creator, represents the knowledge we can learn from Aboriginal nations.
“We have given Kristie a shirt advertising climate action. We believe clothing is a great way to advertise and promote how to save energy. Greta [Thunberg] is currently going after fast fashion as a new initiative … [and we wanted] to support climate activists like Greta to keep governments accountable for their role in saving the environment.”
Congratulations to all schools in our Newcastle cluster for showcasing the diversity of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Three schools in our 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge chose to use their fibreglass koalas to explore the benefits of bees in our world, and to highlight the challenges bees face. Interestingly , the study of bees incorporated multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13: Climate Change, SDG 14: Life Below Water and SDG 15: Life on Land.
Let’s take a look at their bee-utiful creations.
Collaborating under the banner of the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education were students from three primary schools – Bilpin, Kurrajong East and Blue Mountains Steiner – who put their vivid imaginations together to produce a koala named “Ngalaya”.
“Ngalaya” is Darug for ally or friend in battle – fitting in our Koala who will assist us in educating students across NSW in how they protect the future for our pollinators.”
The honey-coloured Ngalaya features local native bees as alternatives to European honeybees and illustrates their habitat and honey production with 2D and 3D creations ranging from life-sized to macro. There is even a Fibonacci Sequence (mathematical sequence) that is so often replicated in nature.
“Our koala is unique because it is a means of demonstrating how native pollinators are essentially entwined with current and emerging sustainable agricultural practices in order to work towards guaranteeing future food security for Australia, and potentially the human race as a whole.”
Also on the bee-wagon were students from Hamilton Public School who created a bold yellow and black koala named “Clancy” to demonstrate the importance of bees to the ecosystem and food security.
“If we can put in place practices that protect bees in our own back yard, then the impact can permeate through the community and positively contribute toward achieving SDG 15, 2, 11 and 13.”
With motifs depicting beehives, antennas on his head and a pink rose in his mouth, Clancy is one smart-looking koala. Clancy will proudly stand in the school’s Blue Gate Garden, an established project that has been incorporated into previous Kreative Koala competitions, where he will be a symbol of sustainability and the pursuit of a better future.
The final school taking a deep-dive into the world of bees was St Brigid’s Primary School who designed “Girrga” (meaning native bee in the Gathang language). Girrga gives voice to the problems soft plastics present in the environment, the plight of local butterflies and bees and the challenges faced by bees by the current Varroa mite infestation.
As a result, Girrga is a vibrant koala with a bee for a nose, a giant butterfly across her back, and plastics on her limbs, surrounded by multi-coloured flower designs across her body.
“We really wanted to portray the bright and vibrant colours of country. The bees are on our koala’s toes to represent how they are currently missing in our environment due to the Varroa mite disaster. We believe our koala is unique because not only does she represent the concern we have for the environment and local habitats due to wasteful packaging, but she also spotlights a current issue of the plight of bees in our local area.”
Thank you to all students who have shown us the value of bees in our communities and environment and their contribution to our future food security.
Its getting to the pointy end of the 2022 Kreative Koalas Design a Bright Future Challenge and the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education was excited to share their artwork with the world yesterday
Her name, Warada is the Darug word for Waratah and she symbolises resilience and renewal.
Please take a minute to read her amazing story of students, plants, community, resilience and renewal…..
Warada has been part of an 18 month project at the Centre, working with primary schools across the Hawkesbury. Her design began in an Aboriginal primary student leader workshop we held with schools in June 2021, exploring native plants of the Hawkesbury and their uses for food, fibre and other uses and an introduction to plant and soil sciences.
We had to cancel the following workshops due to COVID lock downs, however this gave us a new approach. We were able to engage additional students from across the Hawkesbury region in the project through our weekly learning from home challenges. Students researched plants from their local area and presented their learning in artist design, journalistic prose and educational materials. We were able to sustain this program throughout the greater lock down period. We have built a learning website that is connected to Warada which includes the input of all students.
Warada tells the story of plant communities from Bilpin to the floodplains around Londonderry and Windsor Downs. Beginning in Bilpin, at the head of our Warada, with an actual Waratah flower front and centre, and the endangered Gordon’s Wattle inside the ears, which has regrown in the area following the devastating fires when it was feared the species had been wiped out.
Our journey continues along Bells Line of Road, down Warada’s back, through Kurrajong where we have seed-pods, blossoms and leaves of the Kurrajong Tree running down one side of the road, and a Sassafras Scar Tree, from base to canopy, along the other. Across the Hawkesbury River, the road continues towards the Castlereagh, Agnes Banks and Windsor Downs nature reserves where, if you look carefully, you can find the endangered Nodding Geebung blooms and fruits, as well as an endangered yellow pea flower known as the ‘Sydney bush pea’ (Pultenaea Parviflora) and a rare tiny purple ‘Grass lily’ (Murdannia Graminea).
The front of Warada displays a burnt log with a vibrant bud bursting from its centre, mirroring Warada’s meaning. This is flanked by Australia’s beloved Flannel Flowers and Grass Trees.
Warada, and the entire project, proved itself to be about resilience and renewal. We started working with the primary school communities immediately after the bushfires and then the first flood. We worked with them online during lock-down and have connected again between 2022 flood events.
We are fortunate to have some of those students as part of our AGSTEM Yr 7 cohort this year and in 2023.
Congratulations to all the schools of the Hawkesbury and their students, who connected in some way to the Hawkesbury Plant project and the development of Warada.
Back in the 2019 edition of Kreative Koalas Raymond Terrace Public School was awarded Grand Champion Koala for their vibrantly decorated, life-sized fibreglass koala named Mitjigan Guula, which means girl koala in Worimi language. In collaboration with their Aboriginal Girl’s Group the school incorporated indigenous designs on their artwork to look at the effects of climate change on koala populations. And, in what unfortunately proved to be timely, the koala portrayed how inaction on climate change can lead to devastating bushfires.
The students donated their Grand Champion prize money and Mitjigan Guula to the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.
In 2020 Raymond Terrace Public School continued their Kreative Koala journey by investigating traditional aboriginal methods of firestick farming and modern issues around bushfires, especially in regards to the plight of the koala. In 2020 the school was awarded joint winner of best artwork.
Roll forward to 2022 and on August 11, the Port Stephens Koala Hospital was officially opened with special guest Hon. Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Environment and Water – and Mya Bolte and Kytaya Bolt-Wells who were part of the 2019 Raymond Terrace Kreative Koala entry.
Mya and Kytaya now attend Hunter River High School and were invited to the opening ceremony in recognition of their work to protect koalas. They were called on stage where Port Stephens Koala Hospital Ron Land thanked them for the school’s custodianship and donations. In return, Kytaya spoke a few words of thanks.
While we here at Action4Agriculture like to share good news stories such as this, it is estimated there are only 250-300 koalas left in the Port Stephens area and that, without intervention, they could be extinct in NSW by 2050. Our Kreative Koala kids can lead us all on a journey of koala recovery.
A concern for the future of koalas has inspired students at Warrawee Care Centre to use Kreative Koalas as a tool to “learn more, raise awareness and be heard”, which has allowed them to create a legacy for their school and community.
Warrawee Care Centre is an outside of school hours (OOSH) service located on the grounds of Warrawee Public School in northern Sydney, which empowers students to plan experiences alongside educators. Over the COVID-strangled years from 2020 to 2022, 100 students developed a community action plan called “Save Our Koalas”.
“Our project began with the bushfires of 2019 and an interested group of children who watched the news and learnt of the plight of the koalas across the eastern coastal areas of NSW. They came to staff keen to make a difference and have their voices heard and within a week were actioning a way to raise awareness and funds to support the koalas.”
Guided by Sustainable Development Goals 13 Climate Action and 15 Life on Land, Warrawee students set three goals of their own to learn about koalas, raise awareness and establish partnerships with koala-friendly organisations.
In order to increase their knowledge they collaborated with a range of people and organisations. They invited local veterinarian Prue Honson to speak to them about the effects of the fires on koalas, they visited the Koala Park Sanctuary at West Pennant Hills to learn about koala habitat and they connected with the Port Stephens Koala Hospital to learn how to care for injured koalas.
Collaboration continued when Warrawee reached out to Clovelly OOSH that was also campaigning for koalas. The two centres set up a pen pal program and children shared research and posters. Another pen pal program encouraged care and awareness in families and community:
“Children developed a family pen pal program during the COVID 2021 lockdown in which we had 8 koala soft toys that visited children’s homes for the weekend. Children then researched about koalas, created a koala shelter and took a photo then added the photo and what they had learnt into a scrapbook. This allowed our SAVE THE KOALA campaign to continue and for families to be involved. Our koalas visited over 60 homes and raised awareness in many households!”
Students raised $890 by holding market stalls and selling donated koala merchandise. They researched how best to invest their funds and once again connected with the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.
“We now sponsor four koalas each year and when our current koalas are released we vote on which new koala to adopt. The legacy of the SAVE THE KOALA campaign lives on!”
COVID created many challenges for the students of Warrawee Care Centre. Lockdowns meant schools were closed and their Kreative Koalas project extended over two years. It also meant a cohort of students leaving the Care Centre (for high school) and leaving specific projects (such as a website) uncompleted. But despite the setbacks the staff reflected on success.
“Children learnt how valued their collective voices could be and the importance of speaking out when you are passionate about something. The plight of our koalas and the link with Port Stephens Koalas is now part of our service culture and something that children will continue to talk about for years to come. The legacy of the Kreative Koala project will live on visually through our giant painted koala, our wall displays and our sponsorship budget.
“Overall, the Kreative Koalas program has been a rewarding and empowering experience. When educators were ready to stop, the children kept driving the project forward. They investigated, researched and advocated for SAVE THE KOALAS and through community involvement, educator collaboration and family engagement are one step closer to helping the koalas in NSW.”
Through child-led learning, facilitated by Kreative Koalas, the students of Warrawee Care Centre have taken an idea from the ashes of the 2019 bushfires and used their voices to make a difference. They set and met goals to increase their knowledge, raise awareness in their community and create a lasting legacy with Port Stephens Koala Hospital. Warrawee students and staff represent the Kreative Koalas program at its finest.
Schools involved in the 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge are well advanced on their SDG journey of discovery and are in the process of designing and delivering their Community Action Project (CAP). To empower students’ further Action4Agriculture connects them with similar sustainability programs, for alone we are smart but together we are brilliant.
Let’s meet Catholic Earthcare, which delivers the sustainability message and SDGs into Catholic schools across Australia.
In 2015 Pope Francis sent an appeal to Catholics around the world through Laudato Si’, which was a papal communication calling for environmental care, prayer and action. In 2020 he created a seven year action plan to care for our common home, with goals addressing the response to the cry of the earth, a response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of sustainable lifestyles, ecological education, ecological spirituality and community resilience and empowerment. Earthcare Schools work within this framework, alongside programs for youth, parishes and families.
“Earthcare was an initiative from the Australian Catholic Bishops in 2000 to encourage people to care for the earth,” Earthcare Schools coordinator Gwen Michener says, “Our schools’ program was introduced two years ago and now has 251 schools (both primary and secondary) involved.”
The Earthcare Schools program has a five level certification process:
Level 1 – affirming ecological practice
Level 2 – ecological dialogue creating change
Level 3 – ecological conversion and sustained change
Level 4 – deep ecological conversion creating cultural change
Level 5 – living an ecological vocation
“Most of our schools are at Level 1 or 2 with some at Level 3. I know there are more schools out there that are at Level 3, but they just haven’t had time [with COVID etc.] to document that,” Gwen says.
While the background and methodology may differ from Kreative Koalas, the activities and outcomes for students are familiar.
Kitchen gardens stand alongside worm farms and composting. Schools have waste free Mondays and Nude Food days and are involved with Clean up Australia Day and National Recycling Week. Environmental audits allow students to design their own action plans.
“For example we have a school whose students decided they wanted to work on biodiversity so they are making birdfeeder hotels, planting native trees and researching bees. They use iNaturalist to take photos and identify species. They participate in projects with outside organisations such as testing for water quality with Melbourne Water. They’ve been involved in the Kids Teaching Kids Environmental Conference and last term they held a sustainability expo for parents and community members. And because they are in the Dandenong Ranges they participated in the Great Australian Platypus Search using eDNA, which has given them a sense of ownership for their local environment,” Gwen says.
Earthcare Schools is a student-led national movement that harmonises with other sustainability programs across Australia and Gwen sees Kreative Koalas as an ideal fit for delivering Earthcare goals through collaboration. “We recognise work that schools have done in other sustainability programs and Kreative Koalas achieves what we are looking for. Our point of difference is having the Catholic theology embedded into our program and asking why, from a religious point of view, we should care for the environment.”
Bomaderry Public School share an update on their Kreative Koalas journey …….
Bomaderry Public School proudly presented their Kreative Koala during NAIDOC Week 2022, to Aunty Allison their much loved and well respected long standing Aboriginal Education Officer for her contribution and thanks for all that she does and has done for their students and staff. The Stage 2 SRC class representatives and deputy principal Heidi Bridge also made a presentation during the NAIDOC assembly.
A brief background was given about the history and reason for the koala being at BPS. Stage 2 SRC reps completed the decoupage on the koala and during this time they spoke about protecting the beautiful environment that they live in and climate change and using water wisely. The 2021 NAIDOC poster was recycled and used for the decoupage. The artworks were called Caring for Country by Maggi-Jean Douglas and displayed communities, animals, bush, mountains, rivers, and coastal areas. All things that are surrounding BPS and are important features of our local environment.
The koala was well received by our school community, Aboriginal Elders, and visitors. The students were responsive to the reasons and background about how he arrived at BPS. Aunty Alison was very excited about receiving the Koala who now sits proudly on a trolley surrounded by gum leaves. He will reside in her office and continue to spread joy and reminders to protect our environment.