Waverley Council: Effective environmental education - summary case study
Grant number: 2102
Grant funding: $500,000
Local government area/s: Waverley Council
Location/s: Dover Heights, Bronte, Charring Cross and Bondi
Project partners: Waverley Council and the University of New South Wales
Waverley Council is a highly urbanised beach area, catering for residents and commercial businesses and the recreational needs of a large local, regional and international population. Its beaches attract heavy crowds during the summer and, as a result, significant pollution problems reduce the amenity of the area for residents and visitors.
There are nine main stormwater catchments in the Waverley Council area, but only a few of these remain in a natural state, for example the waterfalls at Bronte and Tamarama gullies, and Lachlan Swamp in Centennial Park.
The project was integrated across council departments and sought to:
- involve the community in stormwater pollution reduction strategies and to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies for specified groups, land uses and activities
- provide quantitative information on the effectiveness of education programs aimed at residential and commercial stakeholders
- develop innovative community education strategies that other councils may adopt
- assess the costs/benefits of installing stormwater pollution control devices in small residential catchments.
This joint project between Waverley Council and the University of NSW sought to evaluate the effectiveness of education on attitudes and behaviour.
The project was divided into three components:
- the development and implementation of integrated targeted stormwater education campaigns
- physical monitoring of pollutants within the catchment
- installation of gross pollution control devices at the pipe ends of Hewlett Street, Bronte and Oceanview Avenue, Vaucluse and the Tamarama Beach catchment.
The stormwater education programs relied on comprehensive pre- and post-intervention social surveys that extensively investigated the demographics, environmental values and attitudes, communication preferences and levels of knowledge within the communities. The messages and means for transmitting these were directly informed by the information and knowledge gathered from engineers, educators, environmental and social scientists and target communities.
Four subcatchment sites were chosen for the education program:
- Charring Cross - predominantly commercial
- North Bronte - predominantly residential
- Dover Heights - predominantly residential
- North Bondi - the research control site, a mix of residential and commercial.
Methodology and tools
The project was made up of several integrated components including:
- social science surveys
- observational and visual audits
- sampling and monitoring
- gross pollution trap audits
- the design and delivery of educational campaigns.
Visual and observational audits
The visual audit involved council staff observing and recording quantities of litter and polluting behaviours in the catchment.
The council also audited a commercial site, observing behaviours and activities at different periods such as at opening and closing times.
Information from these audits helped establish the impact of the intervention.
Before the intervention and on its completion, residents were surveyed to ascertain their attitudes, values, knowledge, behaviour and preferred means of communication. The original survey was conducted door-to-door.
Residential campaigns were targeted to locality-specific information and characteristics derived from the pre-intervention survey, and were linked by consistent messages around community attitudes and attachments. They involved letters directly addressed to residents in one section of the local government area and a street party in another, as requested in the pre-intervention surveys.
- were targeted to different kinds of residents (owners, renters)
- were positive
- included references for more information.
Separate campaigns targeted professional gardeners, contract gardeners, maintenance staff and local schools.
The commercial campaign also involved a pre- and- post intervention survey like the one described above. The campaign concentrated on a series of small-scale activities supported by information kits, directly addressed letters and other materials, walk-around visits and three targeted audits. A significant aspect was the work within the council targeting council practices.
The following were developed:
- pre- and post-intervention survey documents
- an information kit targeted to commercial premises, and another targeted for street events and school activities
- locality-specific posters for the commercial campaign
- a street event.
- A series of approaches to observational and visual auditing were tested.
- The campaigns were perceived to have been effective because they increased awareness and educated people, were original and locally targeted and influenced people to change their behaviour.
- Post-intervention, residents of Diamond Bay and Bronte nominated stormwater pollution, litter and dumped rubbish as key pollutants of the area (whereas pre-intervention, sewage had dominated).
- Overall, residents and businesses reported improved knowledge of environmental issues and attitudes, and improved environmental practices in the post-campaign surveys.
For community education programs to work, it is vital to know the community and target it carefully. You don't have to start this research from scratch. Much information can be obtained from the council's social planning, community services and maintenance departments.
Project resources and further information
Waverley Council - Effective environmental education detailed case study
Contact Waverley Council on (02) 9369 8000.
See related case study: Bronte catchment - Citizens' Jury
Stage 2 grant details
Page last updated: 26 February 2011