An alliance of teacher, student, professional and environmental organisations have called on the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to commit to funding a renewed four year phase of the successful Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) at the Rio+20 Earth Summit this week.

A photo-petition illustrating the value of the AuSSI program along with a petition from over 1000 Australians will be presented to the Prime Minister during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

“We know the Prime Minister understands the value of education and its role in equipping young people for the future” said Anna Rose, representing the Education for Sustainability Alliance in Rio de Janeiro.  “The AuSSI program has been adopted by 30% of Australian schools since its launch in 2005 and now needs renewed federal support in order to reach every Australian school by 2016.This would be very practical and productive investment in the knowledge, skills, attitudes and actions of young Australians” said Mr Rose.

The Australian Education for Sustainability Alliance provided a detailed submission to the federal government in May outlining how the next phase of AuSSI could be implemented, requiring a minimum of $3m federal investment in the 2012-2013 financial year and $10m per year for the following three years.
Federal funding for the successful AuSSI program is set to end this year while state governments have also been cutting their support to the program – with the latest funding cuts threatened by the NSW and QLD Government.

“AuSSI has been embraced by teachers, students and parents, and is supported by all sides of politics” said Ellen Sandell, National Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. “Given the challenges faced by future generations highlighted at the Earth Summit, renewed support for AuSSI should be a no-brainer”.

Meredith Peace the president of the Victorian branch of the AEU added “It’s sad day when Governments don’t understand the value of a program like AuSSI and the richness of learning it can offer by being so hands on. Students are more engaged in their understanding of environmental sustainability, (their enjoyment at school increases) and as a result parents too can see its worth.”

Australian Education for Sustainability Alliance members: The Australian Council of State Schools Organisations, Australian Association of Environmental Educators, Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability, Australian Education Union, Independent Education Union, National Tertiary Education Union, Environmental Industry Association of Australian and New Zealand, the National Union of Students, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Conservation Foundation.