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Premier Launches Program to Give SA The ‘Green Edge’ In Education

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has launched (on March 4) a program offering world leadership in environmental education.

CQUniversity’s Adelaide-based Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design has a world-leading faculty, a cutting-edge digital presence and is the first permaculture program to be accredited by an internationally recognised university.

CQUni Associate Vice-Chancellor (Adelaide) Professor Drew Dawson says a new breed of Permaculture Design specialists will help foster sustainability in South A and globally by applying the principles of permaculture to their lives, their professions and their communities.

Geoff Lawton accepts the Honorary Doctorate on behalf of Bill Mollison (pictured with CQUni's Dr Keri Chiveralls)
Geoff Lawton accepts the Honorary Doctorate on behalf of Bill Mollison (pictured with CQUni’s Dr Keri Chiveralls)

“Permaculture Design principles will help us all re-localise production and consumption, reduce our carbon foot-print and re-energise our communities toward creating a sustainable future,” Professor Dawson says.

“Mainstreaming the principles of permaculture within the education system, the community and government will be a critical step in driving long-term change in how we live, how we care for the planet and for each other.”

Premier Jay Weatherill welcomed the innovative program which will help South Australia continue to address the global challenge of climate change.

“Leading education initiatives like this will greatly contribute to the knowledge and skills our State needs as we transition to a low-carbon economy,” he says.

Permaculture Design Program Coordinator Dr Keri Chiveralls says learning to live well, while caring for people and planet and ensuring a fair distribution of resources, is the central tenet of the discipline of permaculture.

Dr Keri Chiveralls and her colleague Lucy Legan will coordinate input from key permaculture designers and academics, including permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and others, to deliver the innovative program.

The Premier, Prof Hilary Winchester, Prof Drew Dawson, Dr Chiveralls, Graham Brookman and Annemarie Brookman (from CQUni Adelaide's community engagement commitee)
The Premier, Prof Hilary Winchester, Prof Drew Dawson, Dr Chiveralls, Graham Brookman and Annemarie Brookman (representing the Food Forest and CQUni Adelaide’s Steering Committee)

As part of this new program initiative, CQUniversity has awarded one of the founders of the permaculture movement, Bill Mollison, an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

“Bill’s contribution to the permaculture movement and to sustainable agriculture globally is the stuff of legends,” said Professor Dawson.

“From his tiny farm in 1970s Tasmania, he has gone on to found a global movement of hundreds of thousands of people committed to building a world that is socially and economically sustainable. Given Australia’s prominence in the permaculture movement, it is only fitting that CQUniversity honour him with this award today.”

A feature of the Graduate Certificate will be the ‘residential’ practical course to be held at one of three permaculture teaching sites, which currently include The Food Forest in South Australia, Kul Kul Farm at The Green School in Bali and Ecocentro IPEC in Brazil. Further collaborations in North America, Europe and Africa are currently under negotiation. This will help establish South Australia as a global hub for sustainability and to help educate the next generation of Green leaders.

CQUniversity’s Permaculture Design program will also support students in establishing their own start-up projects or social enterprises as well as exploring opportunities to apply permaculture at home and abroad.

Graham Brookman from Food Forest with Premier planting ceremonial tree
Graham Brookman from Food Forest with Premier planting ceremonial tree

As an example of how permaculture students will be involved with their communities, two CQUni PhD students, Elisha Vlaholias and Tessa Benveniste, recently won the national Big Idea competition with a permaculture social enterprise project: The Garden of Earthly Delights. Once realised, The Garden will see CQUni and the Hutt St Centre join together to revitalise Adelaide’s Southern Parklands. The community permaculture garden will provide flexible and transitional employment, education, and training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. This project and the winning students were honoured at the program launch.

The Permaculture Research Insitute

PRI Zaytuna Farm functions as a model farm (in development) and permaculture training facility. Geoff and Nadia Lawton, world-renowned permaculture educators and consultants, lead the project. Much of Geoff and Nadia’s time over the last few years has been spent away from the Institute, consulting and helping set up projects in diverse locales around the world. Seeing the worldwide demand for knowledgeable permaculture consultants and teachers increase exponentially, as fuel and fertiliser prices skyrocket and the effects of climate change, soil depletion and water shortages begin to hit hard, priority and focus is now shifting back to the Institute, where growing the training program will increase the output of quality teachers to help fill the growing need for them.

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