TropEco Awards 2018

2018 TropEco Sustainability Awards


Dr Taha Chaiechi (CNS)

Dr Chaiechi has shown leadership in utilising technology to create awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In June 2018, Taha released the first monthly issue of her Sustainability Communiqué through digital platforms. In every issue of this Communiqué, Taha unpacks one or two of the UN’s SDGs, provides facts and policy relevance, highlights the importance of achieving these goals in different contexts, and showcases relevant research being conducted in CBLG.

These monthly issues are posted on various platforms, including the College Facebook homepage, College Twitter Account, and on Taha’s JCU research profile. Moreover, these monthly media footages run on the display screen at the Cairns CBLG foyer, constantly. Taha’s sustainability Communique is a great public relations initiative and activity that is designed to increase awareness about and engagement with the UN SDGs framework. Through this monthly educational videos, Taha leads audiences to understand the sustainability challenges faced by the world around us, and at the same time she discusses the policy implications and relevance of each goal to sustainable economic growth.

Dr Chaiechi has also communicated to her department, a 'minimum' print policy to avoid paper and toner waste. Two years ago, Dr Chaiechi eliminated the need for students to provide 'hard' copies of assignments for two first year subjects, using online submissions for marking. Considering that first year cohorts usually account for some 500 students; this equates to a huge saving in printing costs for students; and approximately 20 reams of A4 per annum.

Her dedication to the environment is implicit in her subject development, ensuring that the triple bottom line is a significant feature, be it economics or marketing; traditionally subjects that do not include sustainability.

Highly Commended

  • Mrs Helen Rosner (TSV) – for her ongoing efforts to engage staff and embed sustainability throughout her office as the Sustainability Champion and volunteering for environmental and sustainability charities.
  • Kathy Mahaffey (CNS) - for her efforts to implement sustainable practices across the Cairns campus, particularly in regard to waste reduction and education.


Katie Allison (TSV)

Katie Allison was a TropEco Intern during Semester 1 2018. During her time as intern she worked closely with the JCU Sustainability team to map JCU’s entire curriculum against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This involved Katie undertaking a comprehensive desktop assessment of all of JCU’s course offerings using a detailed list of SDG keywords and a resultant spreadsheet analysis. Katie spent over 50 hours completing this work and the final report was of a high standard. Katie's work has been used to inform JCU on the exposure of its curriculum to the SDGs and will be a valuable contribution for years to come as JCU looks to embed the SDGs across teaching and learning.

Katie was also actively involved in volunteering with the TropEco team for several events and was a great ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability at JCU.

Highly commended

  • Eddy Juknaitis (TSV) - for his efforts as environmental and sustainability rep in his college, conducting hands-on sustainability activities for residents and demonstrating leadership for sustainable living.
  • Krekkrai Songin (TSV) – for his efforts as President of the JCU Sustainability Club Townsville and Sustainability Rep for Rotary International House, including running numerous events, collaborating with external organisations and engaging students in sustainable activities and behaviours.
  • Liz Hauck (TSV) – for her efforts during her TropEco Internship, volunteering over 100 hours over a number of projects, including greenhouse operations, tree planting, weed control and establishment of feature gardens on campus.


Joseph Angelo (SIN)

For his efforts in engaging Singapore students in sustainability linked projects. In particular through the development and construction of aquaponics systems at the Singapore campus, allowing students the opportunity for hand-on learning and teaching readily transferrable skills that can rolled out in the local community creating significant benefits.

Highly Commended

  • Associate Professor Caryn West (CNS)– as the lead organiser of the 12th Biennial Conference and Meetings of the Global Network of World Health Organisation Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery at the JCU Cairns Campus in July.
  • Dr Taha Chaiechi (CNS) – for her approach to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals through the business degree and significantly reducing paper use through a blended learning approach.


Kate Wanchap (CNS)

Kate has quietly and persistently encouraged, and set a fine example for, her staff on the Cairns campus to address several Sustainability Development Goals in everyday actions. She has promoted Good Health and Well-Being with simple and effective initiatives such as having plants in the office; encouraging the library staff to have walking meetings (fresh air and exercise while having a meeting – doubly productive!); encouraging staff to visit the Community Gardens; and encouraging staff to undertake volunteering work. Even the Townsville library staff have been on the receiving end of some of Kate’s mindfulness activities via Zoom, when they participated in a short origami session. Kate actively promotes Responsible Consumption and Production by encouraging, supporting, and setting an example for staff to: compost their food waste; recycle as much as possible; avoid plastics; reduce printing; and use reusable cups and crockery for functions. It is Kate who initiated the use of cloth tea towels and cloth wipes in the library tea room. And she takes them home to launder them too. In addition, Kate promotes Gender Equality with an unequivocal non-gender approach. Kate sets an example of leadership at JCU through gentle and persistent action with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals of JCU.

Highly Commended

  • Katie Allison (TSV) – for her efforts in mapping JCU’s entire curriculum against the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Cairns Community Garden team (CNS)

The Cairns Community Garden team is a big collaboration across JCU including garden coordinator Jay Jackson, the Community Garden Working Group; the Community of Gardeners Club and TropEco Cairns staff.

The JCU Cairns Community Garden has gone from strength to strength in 2018 due to the commitment and passion of everyone involved. The Community Garden was officially opened on 19 October 2016, this month marking its second anniversary. Over the last two years, the ever evolving Community Garden team has transformed what was an empty, barren plot of dirt into a beautiful, productive and thriving garden space.

The garden has become a place of many opportunities for students, staff and Cairns community members. A space for place-based learning and social interaction at organised events and workshops; a quiet retreat to study from; and an outdoor meeting area for people to collaborate from. It is has also evolved into a biodiverse home for snakes, frogs, curlews, plovers, sunbirds, bees, spiders and other many other native critters.

Over 18 community events have been held at the garden, including events hosted by external organisations.

Highly Commended

  • Straw No More campaign (TSV & CNS) –students Alyx Terrell, Bronwyn Opie and Kira Brereton for leading the efforts to implement JCU’s Straw No More campaign and remove all single use plastic straws from JCU campuses.
  • SOAPBox team (TSV) –Student Services and the International Office teamed up to embed sustainability across their entire workplace and achieved an impressive Platinum rating and the highest score for 2018 in the Sustainable Office Accreditation Program.


Marenn Sagar (CNS)

Marenn completed his Masters in the rural Hinchinbrook Shire on agricultural diversification outside of and within the sugarcane industry. At the global level the research responded to a need to re-evaluate mainstream industrial agricultural practices and their level of environmental, social and economic sustainability. Locally the research addressed the local government’s serious concerns about rural decline associated with an aging and declining population and characteristically low levels of economic diversity within its agricultural sector. More specifically the strategic framework of the Hinchinbrook Economic Development Strategy 2020 “Fields of Success” provided a framework for the research.

Marenn sought out farmers perspectives and uncovered their most pressing opportunities and challenges for diversifying (into new crops and within the sugar sector). Additionally recommendations for supportive governance measures to accelerate transition towards a more diversified and sustainable agricultural future were collected and synthesized.

The research provides and exemplar of valuing community’s local knowledge holders, and their capacity to support change within their region, by informing effective governance in the cross-cutting topic area of agriculture.

The research findings have great relevance and ability to support other rural communities suffering from a loss of youth, economic concentration and ever-increasing environmental concerns. The project provided a valuable case study of Far North Queensland’s iconic sugar industry, in a way that highlights the interconnected co-dependence of the three core pillars of sustainability.

Highly Commended

  • Associate Professor Michael Oelgemoeller (TSV) – for developing sustainable production of insect repellents from native plants and helping to reduce insect borne disease through prevention and control.
  • Dr Lori Lach (CNS) – for her work on combating Yellow Cray Ants in Tropical Northern Australia and working closely with a broad range of stakeholders on this important issue.


WHO Conference team (CNS)

The 12th Biennial Conference of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery (GNWHOCCNM) brought together global health leaders to address the challenges that globally effect nursing and midwifery. The theme of the conference was ‘Sustainable Development Goals are everyone’s business’ and welcomed WHO partners and colleagues from WHO Collaborating Centres, senior representatives from WHO Geneva, and many international partner organisations. In total 290 delegates, from 35 countries, came together under a common banner in the ‘spirit of partnership to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations’.

The event committee set a cutting edge agenda of topics with outstanding national and international speakers. They also showcased JCU and the Cairns region and ensured memories were created and relationships were fostered that would last a lifetime.  Feedback indicated the conference ‘had surpassed all others and was declared one of the best ever in the history of the global network’ by Chief Nurse with WHO Geneva, Ms Elizabeth Iro.

The conference was conducted in a sustainable way by minimising waste and sourcing local, sustainable food options, amongst other sustainability initiatives.

Attendee, Dr Teresa Brockie, a keynote speaker and member of the White Clay (A'aninin) Nation from the Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana, is one of only ten American First Nation nurses with a PhD. Since attending our conference, a ‘Welcome to Country’ will be performed at all events in the School of Health Johns Hopkins University, with the hope to extend it throughout JHU and the broader community.

The team nominated gave above and beyond, while ensuring their substantive positions in Nursing and Midwifery were not unduly impacted. The team demonstrated that when we work with each other we create opportunities with enduring benefits and together we can bring an end to poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Highly commended

  • Cairns Community Garden team (CNS) – for developing an interdisciplinary and cross-organisation network of members to advance active transport in the Townsville and wider tropical region.
  • Urban Thinkers Campus team (CNS) – for organising and hosting the UTC event ‘Urban liveability in tropical Australia through urban diaries and community engagement’ in both Cairns and Townsville.