RCE Greater Western Sydney-2012

1. General Information
Contact Name(s): 
Jen Dollin
Helen Angelakis
Organizational Affiliation : 
University of Western Sydney
University of Western Sydney
Role in the project: 
Project Manager
Project Manager
Project-relevant information: 
2. Project Information
1. Project title: 
UWS Riverfarm - a collaborative learning space on social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability
2. Project Description: 
UWS occupies an historic 40 hectare holding of prime agricultural land on the Hawkesbury River, near Richmond, NSW, Australia - including 1 kilometre of river frontage gazetted in 1799. The farm complex is made up of a circa 1900’s cottage, a series of timber-framed farm buildings, silos and a historically significant water pumping tower. The river banks are revegetated with species commonly found in River Flat Eucalypt Forest, a listed Endangered Ecological Community.
The UWS Riverfarm site is being transformed into a unique outdoor living and learning laboratory, a collaborative learning space, that links land, food, culture and water for a range of sustainability education purposes and addressess the regional challenges of the RCE-GWS.
3. Project Status: 
4. Key Words
Key Words: 
Engagement, teaching, action learning, green skills, education for sustainability
5. Project categories
Project categories: 
Networking and partnership development
6. Expected outcomes:: 
The reinvigoration of the Riverfarm serves as an example of how institutions and community organisations can collectively address the key sustainability challenges of the region. The specific objectives of the Riverfarm concern:
1. Transitioning to a low carbon economy - the site will be carbon neutral and demonstrate to communities means and how it can be achieved;
2. Developing sustainable communities – the onsite open air teaching space demonstrates how to apply best practice green skills in building and water-sensitive urban design;
3. Agricultural sustainability and food security – the five year plan includes scope for pathways to primary industry teaching programs at UWS and TAFE-WSI, including the engagement of refugee groups and growing culturally relelvant horticultural crops; 4. River health and Biodiversity – the site is the base for the internationally endorsed Waterkeepers Alliance initiative and also features a bush regeneration program. 5. Fostering cultural sustainability - the site includes a focus on Indigenous foods and traditional approaches to land care along the Riverfarm, undertaken in partnership with the Indigenous members of RCE-GWS. The site is also the focus of an oral history project.
7. Duration of the Project:: 
on going - 5-year plan
3. Project Leadership & Vision
8. Project coordination (e.g. teams): 
UWS Office of Sustainability; Western Sydney Institute Technical and Further Education; Hawkesbury Environment Network.
9. Leadership structure
a. Administration: 
b. Transactional: 
c. Transformational: 
4. Project results
10. Project results : 
1. An approved strategy and project plan including architectural design for the site;
2. Commencement of the resoration and green build by WSI TAFE pre-apprentices including best practice ecologically sensitive design - 50 students onsite Monday to Wednesday during the school term;
3. Completion of a Heritage Study for the site;
4. Co-fundeing of a Bush Regeneration program to conserve and protect the critically endangered River Flat Eucalypt Forest remnant on the site – 18 month commitment;
5. Large holding of referenced, noxious weeds successfully controlled;
6. A biodiversity assessment completed by 50 UWS wildlife studies students and a comprehensive bird survey completed by 3rd year environmental management student;
7. Source to the Sea project – National Landcare week – site planting by community volunteers
8. Pathways to Primary Industry project scoped.
11. Contribution to reforms and innovations: 
Innovation at a district level - local councils are now using the site in their tourism and cultural plan strategy development. The senior executive from the NSW Department of Education and Community have actively supported the use of the site as a living learning resource on sustainability by 200 Greater Western Sydney Schools.
12. Unexpected / unplanned results: 
Since the commencement of the project other arms of the university have become actively involved in the site. The project has been used as an exemplar of international good practice for engagement around key regional sustainability issues by the UN University and the International Association of Universities
13.Core Partners: 
WSI-TAFE; Department of Education and Communities; Brewongle Environmental Education Centre; Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority; Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation; Local Councils; Hawkesbury Alumni Chapter
5. Partnership and networking
14. Project Network
a. Information network: 
b. Knowledge network: 
c. Innovation network: 
6. Participation
15. Type of involvement: 
Weekly onsite meetings are held between the UWS Office of Sustainability and WSI TAFE to discuss progress and mutually agreed milestones. The UWS Chancellor, the senior executive of the Department of Education and Communities and TAFE-WSI, along wilth key media like the Australian Financial Review have visited and promoted the site.
16. Participation opportunities
a. Informational participation: 
b. Consultation participation: 
c. Decision influencing participation : 
7. Education & Learning
17. Educational activities: 
Green Skills - TAFE pre-apprentices in carpentry, plumbing, applied electricity have helped with the build. This real-world learning includes teaching students about environmentally friendly products and water/energy efficiency fittings . Biodiversity Conservation - TAFE students are undertaking bush regeneration. Wildlife studies students from UWS are studying methodologies for biodiversity surveying, comprehnsive bird survey analysis. Opportunities for UWS heritage students and community historiesa to develop on site interpretation. The traditional custodians of the land are replanting traditional foods that have been grown and used on this stretch of river over the past 20,000 years and are using the site for sustainability education with GWS school students
18. Learning activities: 
Learning and reflection occur in each learning module for both VET and Higher Education students. The pre apprentice cohort of students undertake a blended learning approach - they aresonsite three days a week, with the remaining days spent in class studying the theory associated with what they are doing in practice. The wildlife studies students of UWS use the site in as an engaged learning space where they can apply key sustainability strategies learnt in their theory sessions.
19. Educational activities
a. Theory: 
b. Discussion: 
c. Interactive and Multidimensional "action oriented education": 
8. Research Integration
20. Research & Development (R&D): 
There is strong potential to undertake post-graduate educational research on the outcomes of the learning strategies, engagement strategies and use of the site as a learning resource on sustainability for schools, VET and the GWS community.
21. Research partners: 
This research can be undertaken with the UWS Research Centre on Education which is giving focus in its research priorities to EfS and community based learning.
22. Description of research
a. Disciplinary: 
b. Interdisciplinary: 
c. Transdisciplinary: 
Project Reports
Teacher Education
Transformitive Learning
One More Issue: 
Teacher Education and Better Schools