Grant scheme

Grant scheme

We are now taking applications for our small grants scheme

Grants are to assist network representatives implement sustainability initiatives which may require unaccounted for funding. From a total pool of $5000, grants up to the value of $500 may be applied for. Grants above $500 will be reviewed on a merit basis. 

Grants are to be used to support sustainability focused initiatives which will:

  • Engage staff and raise sustainability awareness; 
  • Improve workplace sustainability;
  • Embed sustainability in the curriculum:
  • Reduce environmental impacts; 
  • Promote social responsibility and well being.

For information on the grants program please refer to the Grant Guidelines (DOC) and complete the Application Form (DOC 0.26MB).

Successful applicants are required to complete a case study on the sustainability initiative funded. This may be in word or video format. This will be used for promotional purposes and will be made available on the sustainability website.

2015 successful applications

Student accommodation recycling campaign

In an effort to increase recycling amongst students and reduce waste generated in the Herring Road student accommodation, all 23 apartments were provided with eco bins to encourage the separation of recyclables. Students were provided with educational information to raise their awareness on what can and cannot be placed in the recycling bin. Posters were also designed and placed alongside the ecobins.

Contact: Clare Wade (Campus Life Accommodation) -

Earth care aboriginal smoking ceremony

A Faculty wide Earth Care month initiative was organised at the Learning Circle on campus. It involved an Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony and talk conducted by

Lexodious Dadd, a senior Aboriginal elder. The purpose of the initiative was to bring Faculty staff together for an Earth Care month activity, which celebrates, encourages awareness and promotes positive action to care for the planet. Lexodious focused the importance of looking after country (Mother Earth) and that it is all our responsibility to look after her. 

Contact: Suzane Azzi (Faculty of Human Sciences) –

Clean and green office spaces

Keen to improve the indoor air quality and brighten up the office and reception areas of the chiropractic clinics, SRN member Sophie Lennan purchased some plants from a place which ‘upcycles’ pre-loved plants and pots. The new plants have made a huge difference and many staff have provided positive feedback on the initiative. Information on the benefits of plants was promoted on the staff noticeboards.

Contact: Sophie Lennan (Department of Chiropractic) -

Movie screening for Earth Care month

The Department of Biological Sciences celebrated Earth Care month by hosting a movie screening of ‘Frackman’, an Australian documentary film focused on the coal seam gas industry in Queensland. This film was chosen to raise awareness and stimulate discussion on this topic amongst staff. Around 15 staff attended and enjoyed the catering provided as part of the evening.

Contact: Samantha Newton (Department Biological Sciences) -

Sustainability luncheon for Law and Geography departments

With the relocation of the Department of Geography and Planning to the Faculty of Arts, a welcome luncheon was organised by the Macquarie Law School. Now sharing the same building, the purpose of the luncheon was to meet fellow staff from the Department of Geography and Planning, identify overlapping academic interest areas and lay the foundations for potential collaborative opportunities between the departments. Twenty staff attended the luncheon.

Contact: Malcolm Voyce (Macquarie Law School) -

Greening the Faculty of Human Sciences student services office

Focused on improving the workspace and well being of staff in the Faculty of Human Sciences Student services area, SRN member Jill Hummelstad undertook a greening the office initiative. This involved purchasing ten peace lilies and establishing a small herb garden in the common kitchen area for staff to have access to. The Student Services staff have appreciated the aesthetic improvements that the new plants have brought to their workplace.

Contact: Jill Hummelstad (Faculty of Human Sciences Student Services Centre) -

Self-wicking vegetable garden

Gumnut Cottage received funding to move their existing vegetable garden from the backyard area to a more connected position in the courtyard, adjacent to the two indoor learning spaces. By moving the vegetable garden, the planning, planting, nurturing and harvesting of the crops is more accessible to the children. This will enable it to be an ‘every day’ activity in the two programs of the children accessing the courtyard play space. This project involves converting the vegetable garden into a self-wicking bed, with the children engaged and taking part in the process.

Contact: Meghan Woods (Gumnut Cottage) -

Mud mask-arade

International Mud Day (June 29) is children and early childhood professionals all over the world celebrating nature, outdoors, and mess by getting really muddy. In support of International Mud Day, Gumnut Cottage organised a children’s program and a Mud Mask-arade evening event for staff, parents and community members. The grant funding provided catering for the event, and the supply of ‘mud’ masks for those attending. The evening also incorporated fund raising for the Nepal Earthquakes, with funds being provided to PSD Nepal to help rebuild schools and provide support to people impacted by the earthquake.

Contact: Meghan Woods (Gumnut Cottage) -

Expansion of the teaching garden

Two years ago, SRN member Camilla Gordon from the Institute of Early Childhood established a demonstration vegetable garden for teaching, alongside building X5B. The primary purpose was to assist pre-service teachers with little or no gardening experience see the benefits of setting up gardens in the schools they will teach in.  The garden has proved very successful with feedback from 3rd  year students after their school practicum, indicating a strong intent to start and continue school gardens. Additional SRN funding has been provided to improve the existing demonstration garden, involving the planting out of the five garden beds and the establishment of three new vertical gardens. This project is a fantastic example of integrating sustainability into the curriculum.

Contact: Camilla Gordon (Institute of Early Childhood) -

Social permaculture workshop

Two permaculture designers from the Faculty of Business and Economics presented an inspiring workshop on Social Permaculture during Earth Care Month. Using permaculture ethics and design principles they facilitated an interactive discussion on alternative economies, uncovering possibilities for a transition towards right livelihoods. A total of 32 people attended the workshop which was catered for through the SRN grant funding.

Contact: Nicholas Mcguigan (Department Accounting & Corporate Governance) –

Greening the Speech and Hearing Clinic

Keen to enhance the office and reception area of the Speech and Hearing Clinic, located in the Australian Hearing Hub building, SRN member Virginia Gore introduced a variety of plants. The plants have provided a healthier and more relaxed working environment for staff. The reception plants have also provided a calm and relaxing environment for visitors.

Contact: Virginia Gore (Speech and Hearing Clinic) –

Reflections on project work for environmental & social organisations

This initiative is a collaborate Learning and Teaching research project which involves funding a researcher to capture and analyse the reflections of students undertaking the MAS 390 Public Relation Practices and Sustainability course unit. This course involves students undertaking a PR strategy for either an environmental or social organisation. The research seeks to benchmark the student’s experiences and thoughts on working for ‘sustainability oriented’ organisations, with sustainability encompassing environmental and social justice aspects. Student perspectives, along with the those of the external partners who ‘employ’ the students is essential in understanding expectations and identifying areas for improvement in the delivery of this unit.

Contact: Lauren Gorfinkel (Department Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies) -

2014 successful applications

Office landscape as a healthy and inspiring environment

Staff from the Department of Cognitive Science have moved into the recently built Australian Hearing Hub. To brighten up the new modern workplace, SRN member Sidsel Sorensen, initiated a greening the office project that involved introducing indoor plants into the workplace. The plants are intended to increase wellbeing amongst staff and work environment satisfaction. The 'Peace Lily' plant (Spathiphyllum) was selected as the preferred plant for the office, as it as it is resilient to low light conditions and is a great natural remover of indoor air pollutants.

Edible garden

Inspired by the successful edible garden project that Gumnut Cottage has implemented, Banksia Cottage applied for an SRN grant to undertake a similar project. The project involved establishing a greenhouse containing edible plants including herbs and vegetables. The initiative seeks to actively engage the Banksia children in the garden's development by involving them in the planting, nurturing, harvesting and consuming of the garden produce.

Contact: Chandima Jayanath (Banksia Cottage) -

10,000 steps Tasmania walking challenge

SRN members Nataliya Psyarkenko and Sally Northover initiated the 10,000 Steps Tasmania Challenge for staff in Property. The initiative involved a 6 week workplace pedometer challenge that took staff on a virtual tour of Tasmania. The daily number of steps was logged online and staff participated in a virtual journey across the island of Tasmania, experiencing nature, culture and Tassie heritage along the way. The purpose of the Challenge was to encourage staff members to move more and sit less, contributing to the many benefits that walking brings. A total of 25 staff took up the walking challenge, with 16 staff being funded by the grant and the remainder funded by Property.

Contact: Sally Northover (Property) - sally.northover

Energy efficiency in the Herring road apartments

To promote more sustainable behaviour amongst students staying in the 23 apartments in the Herring Road student accommodation, SRN member Clare Wade instigated the installation of a new outdoor clothes line. The purpose of the communal clothes line is to encourage students to dry their clothes naturally and to conserve electricity from using the internal dryer provided in the apartments. Student Resident Advisors will promote the benefits of using the clothes line during orientation house talks when promoting energy saving tips in accommodation.

Contact: Clare Wade (Campus Life Accommodation) -

Upcycling and suspended dining for BYO events

To promote and raise awareness of using non-disposable plates and cutlery and to upcycle unwanted and surplus stationary, SRN member Carlene Kirvan introduced the 'suspended dining kit' to fellow staff in the Faculty of Arts Administration Office. The initiative involves providing staff members with reusable plates and cutlery for events and lunches, which are stored in 'holders', made from suspension files.

Contact: Carlene Kirvan (Faculty of Arts Administration Office) -

Nurturing our community through sustainability

In line with Gumnut Cottage's philosophy of partnering with families, Gumnut Cottage has established a family library containing sustainable focused literature and children's books. SRN member Meg Woods introduced this initiative to build on the sustainable focus within Gumnut's programs and to offer familys access to books that support their understanding about what their children are being taught.

Contact: Meg Woods (Gumnut Cottage) -

Fill It, drink It, reuse It

Informatics holds a number of monthly meetings that supply disposable cups for refreshments, leading to a lot of unnecessary waste. To address this, Amy Pilkington purchased reusable cups and jugs for use at meetings. The initiative was announced to staff at a monthly Town Hall meeting and staff can now add the reusable meeting ware as a resource when booking a room.

Contact: Amy Pilkington (Informatics) -

2013 successful applications

Gumnut edible gardens

Building on the successful Gumnut Kitchen gardens project funded by an SRN grant the previous year, Gumnut received further funding to erect raised garden beds in   outdoors area connected to each of the childcare rooms in the Centre. The project has endeavoured to engage all age groups across the centre in every aspect of the gardens development. Research has shown that growing herbs and vegetables is a wonderful way for children to learn about gardening and explore nature. The children have been involved in planting, nurturing, harvesting and consuming the herbs and vegetables in meals provided at the Centre. The project has successfully engaged families by seeking input and assistance with the initiative.

Contact: Meg Woods (Gumnut Cottage) -

Y3A vegetable gardens

Staff from the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies were keen to enhance the Y3A courtyard by establishing a herb and vegetable garden. The initiative was seen as an opportunity to increase the use of the courtyard as a place where staff and students can relax, rehearse, share ideas, and also contribute to the wellbeing and cohesion of the Department. A worm farm was set up as part of the project to convert food waste into a natural fertiliser for the garden. Vegetables and herbs produced in the garden are used by staff, students and the Mezze Café in Y3A.

Teaching gardens

Camilla Gordon from the Institute of Early Childhood has established a demonstration vegetable garden for teaching, alongside building X5B. The garden is used to teach 2nd, 3rd and 4th year environmental education students how to set up a kitchen garden in schools and preschools using the 'no dig' garden approach. This project is a fantastic example of integrating sustainability into the curriculum.

Contact: Camilla Gordon (Institute of Early Childhood) -

Biology kitchen garden

Staff from the Department of Biological Sciences have established a garden to grow herbs and vegetables. The initiative seeks to provide staff with an opportunity to engage in an enjoyable and healthy outdoor activity which provides delicious fresh herbs and vegetables for use at work and home. The garden also seeks to promote engagement in University lead initiatives for sustainable practices.

Contact: Samantha Newton (Department of Biological Sciences) -

Fairtrade morning tea

The Faculty of Human Sciences are seeking to become a role-model in the wider university community, by promoting Fairtrade. A Faculty wide morning tea was organised to raise awareness about Fairtrade and to promote the purchase of Fairtrade products such as tea, coffee and chocolate by Departments. Over 40 staff attended the morning tea and enjoyed the Fairtrade coffee supplied by Sacred Grounds. Fairtrade chocolate was supplied by the Campus Hub shop, along with a Fairtrade hamper provided for the lucky door prize.

Contact: Suzane Azzi (Faculty of Human Sciences Administration Office) -

KeepCup – refill not landfill

Keen to encourage staff to 'refill, not landfill' and to reduce the amount of disposable cups on campus, Amy Pilkington from Informatics developed a survey to obtain information on the habits of staff regarding reusable cup use and to also engage staff in providing suggestions for new sustainability initiatives within Informatics. A total of 57% of the respondents stated they used disposable cups on campus and 98% said they would use a KeepCup if supplied with one. All respondents were provided with a KeepCup as a reward for completing the survey.

Contact: Amy Pilkington (Informatics) -

Get green with your team grants

Climate Futures

"The plants serve to soften the otherwise artificial and stark outlines of the office and make the environment a more colourful and relaxing workspace." Peter Mahoney "Thanks for the changes made in our office. Our office looks refreshing and lively. The plants have definitely added new life." - Ramila Furtado.

Department of Education

"The addition of a Dwarf Umbrella Tree gave the drab, utilitarian Print Room a real boost and a striking Ctenanthe ('Grey Star') made the entrance to the Department more welcoming. Coexisting with plants is indeed nourishing for the soul." - Christine Borbely.

Faculty of Human Science (Administration office & Institute of Early Childhood)

"Thank you so much for the beautiful plant. It was a lovely surprise to walk into the office this morning and find it sitting there. It instantly made me feel better on a cold Monday morning. It is a wonderful initiative and thank you again for all your efforts in making our offices greener and more beautiful." - feedback given to Sustainability Representative Network champions Rebecca Ohanessian and Suzane Azzi.

Graduation unit

"While our new plants are only a recent addition to our space they have already made our office a healthier more vibrant space to work in. We have received numerous comments on how great they look and this has been a great opportunity to share some of the knowledge we have gained about the benefit of plants to staff from other teams. Overall it has been a fun and worthwhile experience, we are very happy with our plants and are grateful for the support and funding from the Sustainability team who have made this possible." - Molly Stoneberg.

Gumnut cottage

"The opportunity to 'green' our indoor spaces was met with great excitement. There has been lots of discussions with the children, their families and the educators about the M-power grant and the goals of 'greening' and detoxifying the indoor spaces that we all share. I'm sure as the plants become part of our everyday indoor environment, the children will continue to learn and discuss how to care for plants and the health benefits they provide." - Meghan Woods.

Human Resources

"Pretty much all of the HR staff in C4B were involved in getting plants in their teams. We were all very excited about the new plants and many of the teams were very thankful for some greenery on their desk. It definitely helped get people energised as there was lots of talk on how we should take care of these new plants. All in all, we are all happy about our new plants and some even have 'pet' names!" - Elaine Parica.

Learning and Teaching Centre

"The Learning and Teaching Centre approved additional funding support for this initiative. Each plant was labelled with its species, care instructions and the staff members name whom would be 'caretaker' of the plant. After plants were delivered, flyers were put reminding staff to water their plants with the watering cans supplied in the kitchens. An email was also sent to all plant caretakers thanking them for accepting a plant and with additional instructions and offer to help if anything went wrong.

The interest in the plants snowballed and there ended up being more people wanting plants than anyone expected! We now have a plant waiting list, and lots of positive feedback. The benefits of plants seem to go beyond aesthetics, air quality, productivity and health benefits and have shown me a true sense of community within the LTC."- Alana Mailey.


"After careful research into indoor plants, beautiful peace lillies are now dotted around the Property office. They were selected because they do not need large amounts of water or light to survive, and clean indoor air of many environmental contaminants. We have received some positive feedback from Property colleagues who say the new plants make the place look a lot better!" Nataliya Psyarenko and Sally Northover.

Sports and Aquatic Centre

"New plants in the Warriors@Work and Gymnastics office have brightened up our work area, affectionately known as the 'batcave' because it is windowless and quite dark. We now have a lot of lovely plants which has made our office a lot more vibrant and pleasant to work in."- James Borbone.

2012 successful applications

Gumnut kitchen gardens

Growing herbs and vegetables is a wonderful way for children to learn about gardening and explore nature. The main objective of this project was to help children understand the origins of their food and participate in its production. The vegetables and herbs are being used in the preparation of children's meals, and the seasonality of what is grown is being incorporated into the Centre's menu planning. The project was raised by staff during evaluations of children's interests and in light of the conversations about sustainability in the centre.

Contact: Fiona Lawson (Gumnut Cottage) -


Campus Life has introduced new eco-switches in the administration office to eliminate wasted standby power and reduce resultant greenhouse gas emissions. The eco-switches are installed at work stations and enable multiple devices to be turned off at once by switching off the EcoSwitch. The green light on the EcoSwitch is a visual reminder for staff to turn off their computers and other devices at the end of the day. To raise the awareness of staff, an information card was placed on each desk to explain the initiative when the EcoSwitch was installed. Campus Life intends to undertake a study to determine the reduction in energy consumption post the installation of the EcoSwitches and to also get feedback from staff.

Greening the office

Lucinda Coates has successfully engaged the entire Risk Frontiers Team with her 'Greening the Office' initiative. Indoor plants have been proven to improve indoor air quality through removing harmful airborne contaminants caused by air conditioning, inadequate ventilation and chemical emitted from building and furnishing materials, which leads to various health problems. As part of the project, the Risk Frontiers team undertook research on the most suitable plants for the office, selected according to ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to pests, efficiency at removing chemical vapours, and transpiration rates. Each staff member were involved in selecting and potting up their office plants to foster a more healthy and productive workplace.

Contact: Lucinda Coates (Risk Frontiers) -

Master cooking class for Arts staff

As a result of the positive experience of Marketing staff involved in the MasterChef style cooking on campus, staff from the Faculty of Arts banded together to experience the session for themselves! The cooking class is led by Executive Chef, Peter Brewty and seeks to engage staff in a fun and interactive way through preparing and delivering a vegetarian meal which promotes sustainable solutions for buying, cooking and reducing the amount of good food being sent to landfill.

‘Refill not Landfill’ KeepCup initiative

The Faculty of Arts are seeking to become role-models in the wider university community, by encouraging the use of refillable cups amongst staff. The initiative involves a faculty wide survey to obtain information on the habits of staff regarding reusable cup use and to also engage staff in providing suggestions for new sustainability initiatives within the Faculty. The first respondents and staff who provide commendable sustainability ideas are provided with a KeepCup as a reward for completing the survey.

Contact: Carlene Kirvan (Faculty of Arts Administration Office) -

Herb garden

A group of staff from the Centre of Open Education identified a suitable area at the rear of building X5B to establish a new herb garden. The initiative involves creating a garden bed to grow a range of herbs including mint, chives, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, caper bush, basil, parsley, coriander, curry tree, thyme and oregano. The garden seeks to provide staff with an opportunity to engage in an enjoyable and healthy outdoor activity which provides delicious fresh herbs for use at work and home.

Contact: Gai Ramesh (Centre for Open Education) -

2011 successful applications

Organic herb garden for campus kitchen

Crunch catering has established a garden to produce their own fresh organic herbs for use in their central kitchen. The objective was to minimise the purchase of herbs from suppliers and to engage staff in growing a selection of herbs and caring for the garden.  Next time you purchase a meal at the Campus Hub, you may be eating fresh herbs from this garden!

Contact: Peter Brewty (Campus Experience) -

Chicken co-op for Gumnut Cottage

In line with Gumnut Cottage's philosophy of partnering with families and exchanging ideas to enable children to learn more about the world we live in, Gumnut has been encouraged by a few families who have chooks at home, to have a chicken co-op set up at Gumnut Cottage. The chicken co-op will provide children at the Centre with an educational opportunity, involving them in caring for the chooks and in the collection of eggs which will be used in the children's meals.

Contact: Meg Woods (Gumnut Cottage) -

Worm farm

The Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre were keen to reduce the amount of organics going to landfill and to produce a natural fertiliser for use by staff. Staff were introduced to the workplace initiative at a morning tea where the Waste Education Officer from Ryde City Council demonstrated how to set up the worm farm. Signage has been placed in the kitchen to inform staff   about what organics can be placed in the worm farm and what should be avoided.

New native garden for college students

A grassed area which requires frequent mowing is being transformed into a thriving native garden using local plant species which will provide a habitat for local fauna. A local bush regeneration volunteer will manage the project and engage college students in establishing the garden and learning more about the importance of enhancing biodiversity. Educational signage will also be installed as part of the initiative.

Non-disposable tableware for Faculty events

To reduce the amount of disposable catering items such as plates, cups and cutlery being sent to landfill after Faculty meetings and other occasions, reusable tableware will be purchased for use at Faculty events. An on-line booking system for the new tableware items will be developed as part of the initiative.

Contact: Carlene Kirvan (Faculty of Arts Administration Office) -

Kitchen makeover

The purpose of this initiative is to provide better kitchen equipment to encourage staff to make healthier eating choices through preparing their own lunch at work. In providing an equipped kitchen it is anticipated that waste will be reduced as a result of less packaged food being purchased from takeaway outlets. To encourage staff to make lunches during the week, posters will be made and activities promoted such as "make lunch with a friend" and 'reduce your waste and your waist'. Staff will also be also engaged through a kitchen utensil/bakeware/tupperware home cleanout for use in the faculty kitchens. Surplus donations will be passed on to relevant charities or community groups.

Contact: Carlene Kirvan (Faculty of Arts Administration Office) -

Evaluation of online social networks for sustainability research

This initiative involves a study which aims to provide an overview of the current social networking options for academics and some initial recommendations for which options look most favourable for sustainability researchers.

Contact: James Hazelton (Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance) -

On-campus planetary walk project appraisal

The photograph of the Earth from the lunar lander is considered by some a turning point in environmental consciousness as it showed the Earth within the enormity of space. A scale model of the solar system via an on-campus planet walk would provide students and staff with an experiential educational tool. It would also provide visitors with an appreciation for the enormous size of our universe as has been done in other locations around the world. Funding will be used to create a detailed project plan including a budget and options for completion.

Contact: James Hazelton (Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance) -

Switching to rechargeable batteries to reduce battery wastage

After a review of single battery usage across Departments in the Faculty of Human Sciences switching to using rechargers for batteries was considered a better alternative. Rechargeable batteries are better for the environment than disposable batteries because they conserve precious resources; they are energy efficient; and, as a result of their energy efficiency, they lower greenhouse gas emissions. All Faculty Departments are now using rechargeable batteries which significantly reduces the number of batteries being sent to landfill. 

Contact: Suzane Azzi (Faculty of Human Sciences Administration Office) -

Content owner: Office of the Vice Chancellor Last updated: 31 Oct 2019 4:12pm

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