The History of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability
Over the last ten years, ACTS has evolved into the dynamic organisation it is today, following the journey taken by our colleagues in the UK (EAUC) and the US (AASHE). In 1990 an email list was developed by Leith Sharpe (Environmental Manager, UNSW) called the Australian Universities Environmental Management Network (AUMEN), to facilitate ideas and information exchange across the tertiary sector in Australia between environmental officers and managers.
In early 1991, environmental officers from James Cook University, UNSW and UTS discussed the concept of holding the first Australian Sustainable Campuses Conference to allow those members who were active on AUMEN to share their successes and journey in implementing environmental programs in what was then predominantly a facilities/property services environment. The first Sustainable Campuses Conference was held in September of that year at UTS, and valuable partnerships were formed amongst delegates. The overwhelming positive feedback from delegates saw further conferences held each year in September.
In 2003 a website was developed listing each campus environmental program and environmental staff members’ area of expertise and experience so that other members of the network could draw on this. In 2004 funding from the Federal Department of Environment was obtained to further develop the website. It was also this year that Griffith University hosted the 2004 conference at the EcoCentre, what was later to become the registered office of ACTS Inc.
The 2005 conference hosted by JCU in Cairns saw discussions of members turn towards the need for a formal structure and board of the network to oversee grant money and other funds obtained from conferences.
On 5 January 2006 Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS Inc) became an Incorporated Association in Queensland, under the Associations Incorporations ACT 1981. The incorporation process was overseen by those members who had been active in the original AUMEN network over the previous 5 years.
The official incorporation of ACTS set the stage for rapid growth in the organisation. In the years since, ACTS membership has expanded to include the majority of the tertiary sector within Australia, as well as Further Education institutions across Australasia. The Association now has significant international standing, whilst acting as the umbrella organisation for sustainability within operations and learnings for its members.