This article was published in the NT Sun Newspapers on April 23 2019 under the title Let us stick to programs.
A recent Will Zwar, NT News report generated a wry smile. Zwar’s column was titled Kids to study recycling – Council plan to combat damning contamination stats (NT News April 8 2018).
The article went on to outline deep concerns within the City of Darwin Council about the poor attitudes of Darwinians toward recycling. Plans are being put into place to correct ‘don’t care’ attitudes through the advocacy of school students. “… Darwin council has engaged (the) Environment Centre NT … to conduct Waste and Recycling Education Programs at schools across Darwin … which will be out to schools within the next few weeks.” (Op cit).
My wry smile was about the fact that this ‘initiative’ is hardly new. It is revisiting a series of programs and learning opportunities that were shared by the (then) Darwin Council and Keep Australia Beautiful (NT).
Each year up until 2000, Darwin schools were invited to enter a council judged competition which focussed on clean, green school gardens and grounds environments. Many schools participated.
Carefully maintained and litter free school grounds were judged and Council sponsored recognition offered. The program was one that encouraged environmental consciousness and pride in school appearance. That highly successful program was discontinued.
KAB (NT) conducted a Territory Anti-Litter Creation (TALC) Program that embraced Darwin, Palmerston and indeed all schools in the Northern Territory. The program focussed on recycling waste materials, turning them into products with an artistic and craft focus. The program offered workshops open to Territory schools and community. The workshops educated participants, conferring skills they might need to transform otherwise useless products into objects of merit.
Among other initiatives, the TALC program offered prizes for the best, most imaginative ands purposeful creations. Included, were awards for poster design and creation. The best and most meaningful messages were shared through media coverage with urban schools and with the Territory as a whole.
The TALC program was shelved because of sponsorship issues. The program had been funded by an annual donation to KAB(NT) by the beverage industry. This support was discontinued because KAB supported container deposit legislation which, at that stage, was opposed by the beverage industry as a whole.
Without TALC and the City of Darwin school gardens competitions, recycling awareness and environmental consciousness, have gone steadily south.
Mr Zwar’s column is not about a new initiative. It is about our Council reaching out to reinstate beneficial programs that were discontinued. Allowing good programs to lapse all too often plays badly upon organisations that consider short term outcomes rather than long term consequences.