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Leading the Way Forum – A great success in the Wimmera

64 students from Melbourne and the Wimmera region joined together in late November just outside of Horsham in western Victoria, for an inaugural three-day Leading the Way Forum. Many came not knowing what to expect or what was in store for them during this sustainability event.


Yet all participants left with a deeper understanding of water issues facing the Wimmera region and a greater appreciation for those who manage their daily activities in these times of a changing climate. All students made a commitment to take personal action in their homes, schools and communities and many left with promises to stay in touch with new friends.


The Forum started with a range of team building activities and then students broke up into special interest groups to consider issues concerning the allocation of water from the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project. A highlight of the forum was a Bush Dance held on the first night. On the second day, eight local representatives gave a series of presentations to highlight different points of view and then students travelled by bus to visit some local places of interest to see sustainability practices first hand. On the final day, students delivered group presentations and made commitments to personal action. One student astutely summed up the Forum as - "Collective passion for a sustainable future."


City & country kids coming together at the Forum


Some feedback from some of the students;


  • The program was really good. It was not full on. There was always something to do. It was really fun too. We got breaks, which was good. The presentation is probably the most difficult part. It is a real challenge but I'm sure it will be the best result in the end. It will be the part I will remember. We are glad we came.


  • I liked it. It was really interesting. I've learnt new things and met new people I would never have known if I hadn't come. I learnt a lot about the area, that it is different from Melbourne. I was surprised to see how big the lakes were and how there was little water in them. Reading the statistics and 80 or 90% of the water didn't reach here from where it was coming from was amazing.
  • This task is good to get your thinking, to get your brain going. We have had a big discussion. We are not nervous about the presentation.

 Some feedback from the teachers who attended and who assisted as Group mentors:


  • Thanks so much again for the wonderful opportunity to attend the forum. I had a great time, learnt so much and really enjoyed the time away with my students during this very busy time of year.
  • My year 9 students and I have had a great debrief today about last week. The students all loved the forum and were very positive about all aspects of it. They really enjoyed mixing with the Melbourne students. It was great to see their eyes opened to the fact that they are just normal kids like them.
  • One student commented on how speaking to a big group like they did last week helped her feel much more confident about speaking in public or to a group.



To read the commitments made the students read the documents below.

Commitments to action at home (PDF - 331KB)

Commitments to action at school (PDF - 358KB)

Commitments to action in the community (PDF - 359KB)


Or if you would like to know more about the Forum please read one of the documents below.  The full report has been written by Dr Brian Sharpley one of the leading environmental education researchers in Australia.

Summary Report (PDF 406KB)

Full Evaluation Report (PDF 626KB)



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