Monbulk Primary School has been on a Sustainability missions for since 2015; with the aims of helping the environment, educating our students on environmental issues and solutions, and involving the parent and wider community.

Since signing up to ResourceSmart Schools, Monbulk Primary School has become certified in all five modules: Core, Energy, Waste, Water and Biodiversity. We are currently a Four Star School, and are looking forward to achieving our fifth star in the near future.

The staff, students and families at Monbulk Primary School are committed to making a difference to our planet. Our students are proactive and enthusiastic, and our staff regularly update their own knowledge on environmental issues and possible solutions.


Biodiversity Module focusses on the school’s balance of plant life interacting with animals, insects and birds. Completing the Biodiversity module involves undertaking biodiversity audits and using the information gathered to create a HQAS (Habitat Quality Assessment Score). To certify our biodiversity module, Monbulk Primary School had to show Sustainability Victoria an increase in our HQAS since the first biodiversity audit. Our staff and students have implemented the following to ensure we meet our Biodiversity goals:

  • Enlisting the help of a parent with knowledge of native fauna to assist our student Sustainability Team to complete the audits;
  • Participating in National Tree Planting Day 2019 in partnership with Bunnings Warehouse and Home Hardware Monbulk, which resulted in eleven new native plants being planted, as well as an indigenous edible garden bed;
  • Sourcing seven native grasses from a local nursery and planting them in our garden beds;
  • Meeting with a local nursery to brainstorm and plan ideas on increasing our biodiversity using indigenous and native plants;
  • Enlisting the help of Girl Guides Monbulk to create bird and animal feeders for placement around our school grounds;
  • Ensuring our existing possum boxes were stable and still able to be used by local wildlife;
  • Installing two motion-sensing night vision cameras to monitor the wildlife entering our school grounds;
  • Implementing a ‘Naked Food Only’ policy for students and staff, to ensure that litter is not dropped outside;
  • Each class having a garden bed from our Kitchen Garden allocated to them to monitor and look after, including: planting, mulching, composting, weeding and harvesting (when appropriate);
  • Installing a ‘Chook Nook’ where we house our chickens. The chickens provide eggs for students to use during fortnightly Kitchen Classes;
  • Including pieces in our fortnightly Monny Mag updating our families on our Biodiversity journey.

Since we started on our Sustainability Journey, Monbulk Primary has increased our Habitat Quality Assessment Score to 75 out of a possible 100. We look forward to getting this number closer to 100 in the future!



Core Module is the first module that needs to be completed by any school starting as a ResourceSmart School. It ‘sets up for success’ by having the school complete an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), collect baseline data for the school, developing a SEMP (School Environmental Management Plan), undertaking a curriculum review, and devising a strategy plan to involve students, families and the wider community in the sustainability journey.

The Core Module also involved our school appointing staff as Sustainability Leaders and senior school students as a Sustainability Team. The Sustainability Leaders and Team take their roles very seriously, and are instrumental in helping our school stay on track with our environmental goals. Every year, the Sustainability Leaders present an annual report to School Council, detailing our achievements and where improvements need to be made

Monbulk Primary School was certified for the Core module in September 2016.



Energy Module focusses on the school’s power use, including electricity and gas usage. This involves monitoring lighting, heating, air conditioning, portable device use and – in Monbulk’s case – the usage of hot water and ovens in our Stephanie Alexander Kitchen. To certify our energy module, Monbulk Primary School had to show Sustainability Victoria marked decreases in electricity and gas usage over at least two years. Our staff and students have implemented the following to ensure we meet our Energy goals:

  • ‘Switch Off’ policies for when appliances and classrooms are not in use. This includes lighting, heating, air conditioning, interactive whiteboards and televisions, netbooks and computers;
  • Signage made by our students in the classrooms and community areas (such as the staff room) to remind staff and students to switch off;
  • Registering and taking part in Earth Hour Schools Day in 2019, and subsequent years;
  • Installing solar panels on our Kitchen roof in 2019;
  • Including pieces in our fortnightly Monny Mag giving tips on how to save energy at home.

Since we started on our Sustainability Journey, Monbulk Primary has saved over 109 tonnes of C02, and over 93,000 kWh of electricity. That is equal to 180 fridges running for a whole year!

Monbulk Primary School was certified for the Energy module in May 2018.



Waste Module focusses on the school’s waste production and disposal, including landfill, recycling and composting. Completing the Waste module involves undertaking waste audits and litter assessments to determine how much waste is being produced. To certify our waste module, Monbulk Primary School had to show Sustainability Victoria marked decreases in landfill production usage over at least two years. Our staff and students have implemented the following to ensure we meet our Waste goals:

  • Smaller landfill bins in every classroom;
  • Larger recycling bins in every classroom;
  • Implementing ‘Rubbish Free Lunches’ and our ‘Bring It In, Take It Home’ policy;
  • Investing in an electric composter for our Kitchen;
  • Reducing the number of times our landfill skip gets emptied by half;
  • Reducing our paper usage by having our fortnightly newsletter, Monny Mag, go digital;
  • Including pieces in our Monny Mag detailing the health and monetary benefits of packing Rubbish Free Lunches for students;
  • Reducing the number of bins in our playgrounds to three, with the aim of having none;
  • Installing a worm farm;
  • Appointing student ‘compost monitors’ who divide compostable waste across chicken feed, the worm farm and our composter.
  • Recycling our printer and copier cartridges through Planet Ark;
  • Recycling household items such as oral health, dish washing products and air fresheners through Terracycle.

Since we started on our Sustainability Journey, Monbulk Primary has saved over 600 reams of paper. This is equal to over 30 trees!

Monbulk Primary School was certified for the Waste module in June 2018.



Water Module focusses on the school’s water usage, including drinking taps, toilets, hand washing taps, dishwashers and washing machines, and water tanks. Completing the Water module involves undertaking water audits and collecting data on water usage for at least two years. To certify our water module, Monbulk Primary School had to show Sustainability Victoria marked decreases in water usage over at least two years. Our staff and students have implemented the following to ensure we meet our Water goals:

  • Becoming a SWEP (Schools Water Efficiency Program) school. SWEP monitors our water usage and notifies us within twenty-four hours of unusual activity (leaks, for example) to avoid unnecessary water wastage;
  • Installing buckets under drinking taps to catch runoff water. This water is then used on our garden beds;
  • Educating students on turning taps off while soaping up hands;
  • Putting up student-produced reminder signs about saving water in toilet blocks and above sinks and drinking taps;
  • Connecting our vegetable garden’s sprinkler system to our water tanks and having the sprinklers on a timer;
  • Fixing any leaking pipes, taps and toilet cisterns;
  • Including pieces in our fortnightly Monny Mag giving tips on how to save water at home.

Since we started on our Sustainability Journey, Monbulk Primary has saved over 5 million litres of water. This is equal to over 8 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Monbulk Primary School was certified for the Water module in April 2019.


Five Star Certification

Monbulk Primary School is a Four Star Sustainable School. The stars are achieved as modules are completed and extra items are ticked off our ‘checklist’. The star certifications each last for four years, with schools needing to resubmit certification after this time. Our stars are as follows:

Our school values are:

1 Star: ‘Awakening’
2 Star: ‘Discovering’
3 Star: ‘Transforming’
4 Star: ‘Sustaining’

As of August 2020, we are in the process of being certified for our fifth and final star, ‘Leadership’. Becoming a Five Star Sustainable School is a huge achievement, and takes years of hard work and dedication from students, staff, families and the wider community. We at Monbulk Primary School are extremely excited to see what the future holds for us, and to keep ensuring that we make every effort to make our planet a more beautiful place to live.

Community Involvement

Engaging the parent and wider community is vital to becoming a Five Star School. Luckily for Monbulk Primary School, we are situated in a small, close-knit town where people are very environmentally-minded and always happy to lend a hand. Being in close proximity to some of the most beautiful national parks doesn’t hurt, either!

Here are just some of the ways we have engaged the community in our sustainability efforts:

  • National Tree Planting Day. We had parent involvement, as well as assistance from Bunnings Warehouse and Home Hardware in Monbulk;
  • Earth Hour Schools Day. Rather than just take an hour away from electricity, Monbulk Primary School took the whole day! We encouraged our families to try Earth Hour for themselves through the Monny Mag;
  • Girl Guides Monbulk have been wonderful in helping us meet our Biodiversity goals. The girls made a number of bird feeders for us to hang around our school;
  • Grandview Nursery and Fleming’s offered donations of native plants for our school grounds;
  • Senior students at Monbulk Primary have visited CERES Environmental Park as part of a sustainability-related excursion;
  • Monbulk Primary School hosted the ResourceSmart Schools Term 3 Progress Workshop for the Eastern Region in 2019. The workshop saw staff members from schools in the region attend our school to work on their own modules, and time was taken throughout the day for our student leaders to give these visiting staff a tour of our school, detailing our sustainable efforts;
  • Monbulk Primary School started the Sustainability Meetings for staff in the DRN (Dandenong Ranges Network). The first meeting took place in 2019, and meetings occur every term and are on the official DRN Professional Learning Schedule;
  • James Merlino, the Minister for Education in Victoria, has visited Monbulk Primary School each time we have achieved a star from Sustainability Victoria;
  • Monbulk Primary School has partnered up with EASL (Eastern Alliance for Sustainable Learning) Yarra Ranges to enhance both our staff and students’ environmental knowledge and opportunities for development. In 2018, Monbulk Primary’s student Sustainability Team attended the first ever EASL Conference, and in 2020, Monbulk Primary School staff attended the Learning for Sustainability Conference. EASL was formed to assist member councils in delivering joint sustainable learning initiatives.

Part of being a Sustainable School is sharing your school’s story with others. Monbulk has posted a range of Learning Stories on the CERES Sustainability Hub, which members of the public are able to view.


Each composite year level in Monbulk Primary School undertakes a Sustainability-related unit of work once every two years. The units last a whole term and students are often required to make a presentation on what they have learned at the conclusion of the unit. The Sustainability units for Monbulk Primary are as follows:

Grade 1/2: Water Wise

Students learn how the Earth’s resources are used in a variety of ways with a focus on water. They investigate the changes that occur in the sky and landscape and how daily and seasonal changes affect everyday life. Students explore the Earth’s water cycle as a scientific inquiry. They investigate how water is managed in their local community and the ways individuals, families, groups and communities can work together to care for and improve their environment.

Grade 3/4: Waste or Want?

Students learn about the Earth’s surface and how it changes over time as a result of natural processes and human activity. They investigate the use and management of natural resources and waste, and different views on how to do this sustainably. Students develop awareness and understanding of the effects of people’s interactions with their environment and the ways in which this can impact their lives. They learn about the different groups in the community and their responsibilities in caring for the local environment, and the ways individuals, families, groups and communities can work together to care for and improve their environment.

Grade 5/6: Natural Disasters

Students recognise the influence of environment on the human characteristics of a place, and how scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions. They learn that sudden geological changes or extreme weather conditions can affect the Earth’s surface and important resources. Students explore and conduct inquiries regarding the impact of bushfires, floods and other natural disasters on environments, communities and natural resources. They examine how people can respond to minimize resource and community impact.

These units all have links to the Victorian Curriculum, including but not limited to:

  • Earth and Space Sciences;
  • Geography;
  • Science Inquiry Skills;
  • Ethical Capability.

It is incredibly easy to link other curriculum areas to the work we do with ResourceSmart Schools – numeracy, for example. Many of the modules require audits to be undertaken, involving calculations and conversions. Members of the student Sustainability Team enter bill data for the school, and calculate the money and other savings (to date, Monbulk Primary School has saved over $45, 000 in reduced bills alone. It’s wonderful to put that money back in to Sustainability efforts!).