Using this guide
Who could use this guide?
This guide is for people interested or involved in planning and running community education projects. It can be used by:
- individuals and groups
- local community action groups such as Landcare and Rivercare
- environment groups
- Catchment Management Committees
- local councils
- government and non-government agencies.
The guide is written specifically from the perspective of developing education projects to deal with environmental issues. But the principles and practices outlined can be applied to other issues of community concern.
Why community education?
Community education is essential because most environmental and social problems arise as a result of people's actions. It is people's behaviour that is generally responsible for the problem; and it is people who need and want to find a solution for it.
Will your project change people's behaviour?
Education isn't the only factor that influences people's behaviour. So education projects may not result in an immediate change for the better - particularly in the short term. This is because people's behaviour is also influenced by:
- the social values and standards passed on in the home, at school, through social groups and the media
- age, gender, ethnicity, income and occupation
- recent events
- laws, regulations and policies - and how these are monitored or enforced
- infrastructure such as the availability of technology, products and services
- economic factors such as financial incentives and disincentives.
Education should therefore be considered as one of a number of complementary mechanisms to address issues which arise from people's actions. Other useful mechanisms for change are:
- Enforcement: policy, legislation and regulation
- Economics: monetary incentives and disincentives
- Engineering, science and technology
- Evaluation, monitoring and research.
An example of the complementary use of these mechanisms to reduce the problem of stormwater pollution in an urban catchment is outlined below.
Education and encouragement
Knowledge - using media and publications to increase understanding of the effects of stormwater pollution on local creeks and the specific pollutants that are a problem
Skills - training community members in water quality testing so that pollutants and the sources of stormwater pollution can be identified
Attitudes - forming community action groups to develop care, cooperation and responsibility for reducing stormwater pollution in local streets
Practices - rganising and participating in clean-up activities.
Enforcement: legislation, regulation & policy
Laws and regulations - requiring industries to be licensed, enabling prosecutions and fines under the Clean Waters Act, and limiting quantities of chemical discharges.
Monetary incentives and disincentivesd - licensing costs that relate to the total pollution from industrial premises and grants for demonstration projects.
Engineering and science
Science - to investigate and gather evidence on the ecological effects of pollution
Engineering and technology - to develop, design and construct devices such as trash racks and pollutant traps to capture pollutants.
Evaluation, monitoring and research
Monitoring - to measure changes in the type and quantity of pollutants
Evaluation and research - to assess and report on the impact of educational and other methods used.
Page last updated: 02 March 2011