Community Consultation

Consultation with the wider University community has been the first step in the development of the University's new Sustainability Plan. This involved over 400 students, staff and alumni who gave their time and shared their views on the priorities they’d like to see reflected in the new Plan.

Zoom screenshot of 30 people attending a Sustainability Plan consultation event online
Over 270 people participated in online consultation sessions in late 2020.

You’ll find a summary of community feedback below and the full Sustainability Community Consultation Report 2020 is available for download.

Community consultation took place over a 14-week period in late 2020. Students, staff and alumni were invited to participate in one of 12 interactive feedback sessions and to provide feedback anonymously via an online form. The feedback received, together with findings from the University’s 2020 Sustainability Survey, are important inputs to the development of the University's new Sustainability Plan.

The finalised Plan will align with the five intersecting themes of  Advancing Melbourne and assist in delivery of the University’s strategic priorities.

Download the full Community Consultation Report

Our role in society's transition to sustainability

Participants were asked “what role do you think the University can and should play in society’s transition to a sustainable future?”

  • Governance and leadership

    Demonstrate leadership and drive momentum for change:

    • set aspirational targets: be the benchmark to which others aspire
    • prioritise investment in sustainability and climate change innovation
    • shape new sustainability norms and practices in our communities
    • influence others by leveraging our purchasing and investment power
    • act as a ‘voice for change’ in public policy debate
  • Place and community

    Demonstrate and inspire action on emissions and waste reduction:

    • set and achieve ambitious waste and energy targets
    • drive the translation of our energy and materials research into real-world solutions
    • challenge cultural norms around consumption in our operations. Educate our community to do the same.

    Re-imagine our approach to campus planning:

    • Innovate green space use.
    • Co-create with community.
    • Incentivise active and public transport use.

    Equip our students and staff to act as agents for change:

    • increase knowledge and shape norms through practical programs & workshops
    • increase students’ applied learning, volunteering and networking opportunities
    • empower our passionate advocates to lead and/or develop sustainability initiatives

    Increase our impact and support the communities we serve:

    • understand and promote the expertise we can offer
    • public education initiatives that equip people to live and work sustainably
    • leverage alumni networks to expand reach and impact
    • plan ahead: how will UoM and its campuses support community resilience?
  • Education

    Shape the individuals and broader societal factors that can influence change through:

    • the students we graduate
    • education and career pathways that advance sustainability in the public and private sectors
    • developing discipline-specific sustainability knowledge
  • Discovery

    Drive the translation of our sustainability research into practice, policy and products:

    • champion research that integrates into practice and aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals
    • support experimental research. Transform our campuses into testing grounds for sustainable technologies.
    • enable and incentivise researchers to partner with ‘gold standard’ sustainability partners.

Looking back

Community review of our Sustainability Plan 2017-2020.

  • Governance and leadership
    The Plan’s successes and strengths?Creating a framework for action that signalled an institutional commitment and “got the journey started”.
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?
    Public statements of support from senior leadership that raise the profile of sustainability within the University community.
    Communicating the institutional importance of sustainability through leaders who visibly participate in sustainable practices and initiatives.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Ensure that the post-COVID financial climate does not sideline sustainability at the University.

    Investment

    The Plan’s successes and strengths?The Sustainable Investment Framework.
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?A significantly stronger position on fossil fuel divestment.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Ensure sustainability is a funding and investment priority.

    People and culture

    The Plan’s successes and strengths?Embedding action on sustainability into staff culture.
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?-
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Leverage the opportunity to re-frame norms around ‘necessary’ travel in the post-COVID environment
  • Place and community
    The Plan’s successes and strengths?
    Action on emissions reductions, renewable energy and green infrastructure, in particular: progress towards net zero; wide-spread solar panel installations and wind-generated PPAs; Green Star accreditation for new infrastructure projects.
    Action on waste: Parkville’s Choose to Reuse Plate Program was nominated as the Plan’s stand-out waste reduction achievement
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?
    Action on waste: more action on food waste and composting initiatives was the most frequently cited area of weakness.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Implement the University’s successful sustainability initiatives across all campuses and/or all operations. Parkville's Choose to Reuse Plate Program was the most frequently cited opportunity to 'scale up' a successful program.

    Student and staff engagement

    The Plan’s successes and strengths?Efforts to raise awareness and increase knowledge of sustainability issues and actions within our staff and student community. The University’s Green Impact Program was most frequently cited as the Plan’s stand-out engagement achievement.
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?Greater levels of awareness and participation in the University’s sustainability initiatives – especially in the student community.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?More effective internal communications that connects with a broader range of audiences and inspires buy-in and action.

    Indigenous knowledge and engagement

    The Plan’s successes and strengths?-
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?The integration of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into the Sustainability Plan.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?A stronger commitment to engaging Indigenous institutions and communities.

    Ensure Indigenous knowledge-holders lead and/or collaborate with the Sustainability Executive and/or sustainability initiatives.

    Use the University’s New Student Precinct project as a model for how we work with traditional owners and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    Alumni and external engagement

    The Plan’s successes and strengths?-
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?External outreach to support Plan goals.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Better contextual links between the Plan and the communities in which our campuses are situated.

    Build more relationships with key players in the sustainability sector, and with national and global coalitions and communities of practice.

    Achieve greater levels of awareness in our alumni communities
  • Education
    The Plan’s successes and strengths?Establishing the Sustainability Fellows to champion sustainability-in-curriculum integration at Faculty level.
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?Creating a robust interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability.

    Accountability for curriculum outcomes.

    Student awareness of sustainability subjects and pathways.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Embed sustainability in curriculum across all Faculties and programs.

    Increase accountability for the Plan’s teaching & learning commitments.

    Develop a centralised ‘hub’ of sustainability knowledge and curriculum resources.
  • Discovery
    The Plan’s successes and strengths? -
    The Plan’s gaps and weaknesses?More sustainability-related research and development partnerships/collaborations with industry, local and state entities.

    Normative assessments of research projects’ contribution to sustainability.

    Greater focus on waste reduction and re-use in lab and clinical environments.
    How do we build on these foundations in the next Plan?Develop a centralised ‘hub’ of sustainability-related information and resources to support the University’s research activities

Looking ahead

Community priorities for our next Sustainability Plan.

  • Governance and leadership
    • increase ownership and accountability for Plan outcomes
    • embed sustainability into policy and decision-making
    • more rigorous and transparent evaluation metrics and reporting
    • improve the current Plan’s framework for action:
      • articulate the impact on society the University is seeking to support/advance
      • adopt an institution-wide definition of sustainability
      • frame action and targets with the degree of urgency they demand

    Investment

    • a stronger commitment and clear pathway to divestment
    • a framework for ethical and sustainable capital works projects
    • a venture capital allocation for sustainability initiatives in the University community.
    • investment in future-proofing our campuses, incorporating community resilience planning

    People and culture

    • connect Plan goals with performance indicators for key staff, business units
    • commitments to organisational sustainability, through supportive working conditions, job security, mental health and networks of support for students and staff
    • proactive support of staff sustainability skills and knowledge development
  • Place and community

    Action on waste:

    • leadership and support for the circular economy. Aligning our operations with these principles.
    • ban single-use containers and plastics. Reduce food and organic waste, increase composting
    • reduce waste at the source through sustainable, ethical procurement processes that consider supply chains

    Action on energy:

    • revise our current 2030 carbon neutral timeframe. Can we bring it forward to 2022? 2025?
    • prioritise clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Reduce on-campus energy use
    • aim for net negative energy consumption. Transform UoM into a clean energy system participant.

    Action on transport:

    • carbon offset all University-sponsored flights/travel miles. Promote less travel overall.
    • transition fleet cars to electric vehicles. Encourage active transport through improved cyclist access and facilities

    Biodiversity and better use of green space:

    • Non-water intensive, low maintenance gardens. Productive and Indigenous plantings. Leverage these for education, research and engagement opportunities.
    • Mandate parameters and ratios for new builds: garden beds, tree canopies, green space

    Engage and reflect the diversity of the UoM community in the Plan

    Maximise student and staff awareness and participation by:

    • raising the profile of sustainability at UoM
    • ensuring the Plan reflects all pillars of sustainability to foster inter-disciplinary engagement
    • empowering the UoM community to develop and lead sustainability initiatives
    • breaking down organisational silos to foster collaboration and new ideas
    • increasing tangible, experiential on-campus educational initiatives

    Make connections between UoM research and institutional action:

    • strengthen links between University operations and research. Transform our campuses into testing grounds for sustainable technologies.
    • link research capabilities with campus engagement strategies.

    Indigenous knowledge and engagement

    • deepen engagement to better understand Indigenous perspectives on sustainable cultures and practices
    • Integrate Indigenous knowledge into the Plan
    • facilitate platforms for Indigenous perspectives on sustainability, community, land management

    Alumni and external engagement

    • better links and more collaborations with local communities
    • public education initiatives. Events, public lectures, open-access learning.
    • increase alumni engagement to expand our impact
    • better links to sustainable organisations and industry to increase student learning and research opportunities
    • better connections with global and national sustainability networks, coalitions, communities of practice
  • Education
    • embed sustainability into all curricula
    • incorporate Indigenous knowledge into sustainability curricula
    • provide and promote study and career pathways in sustainability
    • support staff to develop sustainability knowledge as it applies to their discipline
    • position UoM as a leader in sustainability teaching and research
  • Discovery
    • become an exemplar of sustainable practice in research
    • incorporate sustainability into research ethics
    • prioritise:
      • research partnerships that translate research into practice
      • research for the circular economy, sustainable buildings, renewable energy. Transform our campuses into testing grounds for sustainable technologies.
      • research with outcomes for resilience, diversity, environmental and social justice. Reflect a more holistic view of sustainability.

Engaging our community

Participants were asked “how can we engage the University community to help deliver on the goals of our new Sustainability Plan?”

  • Governance and leadership
    • Executive leaders to champion sustainability and model action
    • make action mandatory through policy and performance measures
    • consider school-level subsidy resourcing to support specific initiatives (eg: Green Impact)
    • for the University to participate in sustainability rankings, eg: Times Higher Education rankings.
  • Place and community

    Empower UoM community members to help deliver on the Plan:

    • enable passionate sustainability advocates to develop, lead and/or implement initiatives
    • identify individuals within divisions/departments to champion initiatives

    Improve communications to better connect with audiences:

    • focus on tailored and targeted messaging, centralised resources, training modules
    • provide ‘bite sized’ performance updates in ways that inspire action to support Plan targets
    • leverage Sustainability Advocates and subject coordinators to increase comms reach

    Education and support for sustainable behaviours and actions:

    • a mandatory sustainability orientation module for all students and staff
    • engage and support key teaching staff in all Faculties
    • practical workshops that develop applied sustainability skills
    • ‘how to’ guides for operating sustainability on-campus

    Continued collaboration with UoM Sustainability Advocates, using their skills and networks to:

    • develop intra-organisational networks and grassroots solutions
    • operate as a feedback loop to central Sustainability Teams

    Continue to realise the role of Green Impact (GI) program in mobilising staff and student action:

    • consider modelling GI on climate reality – ie: leadership to empower others
    • centrally organise large-scale volunteer days under the GI banner
    • directly link actions in the GI toolkit to resources that support them

    Alumni and external engagement

    • seek alumni insights via focus groups on sustainability issues, topics, initiatives
    • foster connections with community intermediaries to broker collaboration
    • leverage Advancement channels to communicate our message to the wider world

    Indigenous knowledge and engagement

    • strengthen relationships with Indigenous knowledge-holders to support deeper engagement
    • Include education and actions related to Indigenous knowledge in the Green Impact toolkit
  • Education
    • embed sustainability into core curriculum in every faculty
    • support teaching staff to integrate sustainability into courses and subjects, and to understand the value of doing so
    • foster cross-disciplinary collaboration on sustainability-in-curriculum initiatives
  • Discovery
    • focus on developing local and international sustainability research collaborations
    • provide greater transparency around research funding, and how this aligns with the University’s sustainability commitments

Note: This summary employs four of Advancing Melbourne’s five intersecting themes to structure and convey community feedback. ‘Global’ is not included as a standalone category as it is integrated through the themes. For more on our methodology see the full report.

What’s next?

The first phase of Plan development was broad consultation with the University community. The second phase involves the development and co-design of the Plan, including identification of priorities and targets. This process engages senior University staff from the portfolios responsible for Plan delivery, in collaboration with experts and other stakeholders from across the University.

This second phase is now underway and will progress into the second half of 2021. Plan development is led by the sustainability teams within the Chief Operating Officer’s portfolio.

For more information on Plan development read the FAQs on the home page.

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