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Minister's thumbs up to new sustainability learning centre

"THE most important man in government", state environment minister Mark Speakman, has given the thumbs up to Dirtgirl and the Clarence Valley's forward-thinking sustainability efforts.

On a whirlwind tour of the Northern Rivers, the minister stopped in at the Grafton Regional Landfill yesterday to get a sneak peek at the region's new sustainability learning facility, which opens to the public on June 9, and a run-down of the incredible sustainability work by Dirtgirl creators, Mememe Productions' Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace, over the past decade.

State minister for environment Mark Speakman with Chris Gulaptis and Dirtgirl creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace at a tour through the soon to be completed sustainability learning facility.
State minister for environment Mark Speakman with Chris Gulaptis and Dirtgirl creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace at a tour through the soon to be completed sustainability learning facility. Adam Hourigan

Ms McQuillen said it was an honour to meet "the man", and talk to him about locally-created initiatives like new project Compost Rocks.

"This is about getting him up to speed so he can feel proud of stuff happening in the regions," she said.

And impressed he was, admitting he'd never seen anything like it before.

"I think it's wonderful that a regional community can be at the forefront of environmental education in Australia and across the world," he said.

"What is really important in protecting the environment is not just telling people what to do with the stick, but also the carrot, and getting people motivated about sustainability. This is a great way to do that."

Dirtgirl creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace look over the plans for the soon to be completed sustainability learning facility.
Dirtgirl creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace look over the plans for the soon to be completed sustainability learning facility. Adam Hourigan

Mr Speakman added that starting education young was a great way to create lasting change.

"The Jesuits say give me the boy until he's 7 (years old) and I'll give you the man," he said.

"What they mean by that is it's really important to mould behaviour at a young age and this is a great way to mould children's behaviour and get them living sustainably."

It is the same tactic that may be used to help the public embrace NSW's container deposit scheme, which comes into force in July next year.

During their chat with the minister, Ms McQuillen and Mr Eustace made it known they, with the help of Dirtgirl, would be up for the education challenge.

"I hope we can find a way to connect people with the why, rather than telling them off about things they do wrong," Ms McQuillen told the minister.

"I think there's a big conversation here and I'd hate that to be left until last. Hewey and I are experts in this world; we're agents of change and totally up for the job."

Topics:  dirtgirl environment minister sustainability



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