Hastings has been given the title of Australia’s most sustainable community after winning this year’s Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Communities Tidy Towns Awards. The town also took out four of the nine individual categories in last Friday’s awards: Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention; Heritage and Culture; Young Legends; and Community Health, Wellbeing and Interest.
Hastings entered two programs in the Litter Prevention category – the I Sea I Care Marine Ambassador Program, and The A Team – that empower young people to become environmental leaders in litter reduction and management as well as promote behavioural change in the broader community. I Sea I Care, which is based at the Hastings marina, has grown from 25 schools in 2011 to almost 100 this year and involves a colloboration with Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and Mornington Peninsula Shire. The A Team is a group of 15 to 17-year-old VCAL students who tackle littering and illegal dumping in Hastings reserves and playgrounds.
Rap4Rap, which was a joint winner of the Heritage and Culture award, was commissioned by the shire when it was developing its Reconciliation Action Plan. The aim was to develop a rap promoting young Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices about reconciliation and to raise awareness of the positive Indigenous perspective on the Peninsula.
Young Legends award-winner Harrison Hansen has been mentoring Year 3 and 4 students at Westernport Secondary College to support a successful transition into secondary schooling. He is also involved in supporting school community initiatives and running the Year 7 camp.
Hastings was a joint winner of the Community Health, Wellbeing and Interest award for its role in the evacuation of 4000 people from Mallacoota beach during the 2020 Black Summer bushfires.
“I am so proud of how well Hastings has done in what has been a very difficult year for everyone,” said Mayor Despi O’Connor. “I’d like to thank all entrants for their hard work and the wonderful way in which they contribute to making our shire such an amazing place to live.” Cr Lisa Dixon said: “I can’t help but feel a warm glow of pride that the beauty and amenity of our town and its strong community spirit have been recognised on the national stage.”
The awards began in 1968 in Western Australia and have been running nationally since 1990 as a way of recognising community pride, cohesion and community action. They have evolved to encompass a focus on environmental sustainability to reflect a growing awareness of the importance of community-led environmental action.