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Environmental education gets boost in Australia

The Australian Government is charting a new course for environmental education in Australia with the establishment of the first National Environmental Education Council.

The Council is a key element of the Government's new environmental education initiatives contained in a National Action Plan launched today by Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill.

Senator Hill says the National Action Plan will reinforce the environmental education of children and take environmental education beyond the classroom.

"The Council is designed to provide expert advice to the Government on environmental education issues-in particular how we can move beyond environmental awareness.

"Environmental education equips people with not only knowledge, but also the skills to enable them to protect the environment.

"Schools are just one avenue for environmental education. Reaching the community, industry and business leaders, and government at all levels is just as important a focus for environmental education programs.

"The environmental education initiatives contained in the National Action Plan are the outcome of an extensive community consultative process.

"The plan will deliver a national environmental education strategy, better coordination, enhanced professional development for teachers, improved resources, and integration of environmental education into mainstream education and training activities.

Senator Hill says a number of actions are already underway including:

> the formation of the Australian Environmental Education Foundation,
> upgrading of the Environment Australia environmental education web site,
> greater access to funding for environmental education projects, and
> a training program for Natural Heritage Trust coordinators.

The National Environmental Education Council is chaired by ABC Radio, Science Show broadcaster, Professor Robyn Williams and its membership includes Dr Tim Flannery and Mandawuy Yunupingu. It meets for the first time on 17 July in Sydney.

The Environment Australia website is at www.environment.gov.au

Further enquiries can be made via www.australia.org.nz


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