2019 Annual General Meeting

Jonathan WrightNews

Thirty seven Geelong Sustainability members and fifty seven people in total attended the 2019 Annual General Meeting at the Waurn Ponds Hotel on November 28. In her welcome President, Vicki Perrett, commented that the strong turnout demonstrated the interest in and support for the group’s work.

She reflected that nationally the conversation is changing; young people are speaking out; sustainability and the environment are mainstream media topics and the climate change debate is over as it’s happening now. She noted how around Australia, grassroots community groups like GS are leading climate action in their communities.

She reported that Geelong Sustainability had had another stellar year fulfilling its mission to inform, inspire and connect people to live more sustainably. During 2019 the organisation’s focus was on the Zero Carbon Energy and Zero Waste principles from the One Planet Living framework. The group’s activities fall into three key areas: 1) events, seminars and classes; 2) action groups and projects; and 3) environmental advocacy and campaigning.  The group’s reputation is growing steadily based on its consistent delivery of strong project outcomes, effective community engagement and well-coordinated, professional events.

She summarised the group’s 2019 achievements. A few standouts were as follows:

  • Our War on Waste activities at Pako Festa and the National Celtic Festival plus advocating for a container deposit scheme, product stewardship, local recycling and a circular economy.
  • The Geelong Community Solar Program, which led to the installation of over 1.3 MW of solar PV and 1.4 MW of battery storage and to gifting 4 free solar systems to worthy recipients
  • Reporting and paying dividends to the 20 CORE Geelong One P/L investors and acquitting our second New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF) grant.
  • Progressing our biggest project, the Climate Safe Rooms in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong, CSIRO, Uniting and ecoMaster
  • Establishing a social enterprise, GreenLight and employing our inaugural Executive Officer, David Spear
  • Organising another series of Clever Living seminars in conjunction with the Geelong Regional Library Corporation
  • Campaigning in the May federal election, supporting the School Strikes #SS4C and pushing CoGG to declare a climate emergency.
  • Winning the DELWP Community award for our Home Energy Efficiency Scorecard Assessments
  • Establishing a Micro Village planning group in collaboration with Deakin HOME 
  • Coordinating our biggest ever Sustainable House Day involving 15 homes, 55 experts, 125 volunteers and over 2750 visitors.
  • Exploring opportunities through the Barwon Region Alliance for Community Energy (BRACE) 
  • Giving evidence to the Parliamentary panel hearing, ‘Inquiry into Tackling Climate Change in Victorian Communities’. 
  • With growth comes responsibility and the committee is steadily improving the organisation’s capabilities, governance and administration. 

Vicki concluded that Geelong Sustainability is a people powered organisation whose success is built upon the significant contributions of its committed and passionate volunteers. In closing her President’s report, she reminded everyone that as the environmental stakes become greater and more urgent, our organisation is maturing and gearing up for action. She invited people to connect and be part of our region’s transition to a low carbon circular economy. 

Treasurer, Sara van der Meer presented the financial statements and reported that over the past few years the organisation had experienced exponential revenue growth due largely to several large state government grants, in particular the Climate Safe Rooms project.

Revenue grew 90% in the 2018-19 financial year to $263,602 up from $137,520 the previous year. She stated the increase was to securing more grants, an increase in business members and products sales: event ticket sales, toilet paper sales and the new residential scorecard assessments. 

Sara advised that Geelong Sustainability had passed a revenue threshold and was now officially designated a medium sized charity. This milestone required the completion of a review of the financial reports (like an audit). She worked closely with Davidson’s Accountants to complete our inaugural Special Purpose Financial Report.

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Sara stated that there would be significant changes in the current financial year. The recent appointment of a part time Executive Officer for our new social enterprise, GreenLight would utilise retained earnings. The strategy would enable the organisation to increase its reach and impact whilst also seeking to make it more sustainable and less reliant on grant income to deliver programs and projects.

The election results for the 2020 committee were: President: Vicki Perrett; Secretary: Vivienne Burke; Treasurer: Sara van der Meer and General members: Tim Adams, Dan Cowdell, Sally Fisher, Noreen Nicholson, Fred Ritman and Jonathan Wright.

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Pictured Front Row: Jonathan Wright, Dan Cowdell, Vivienne Burke, Tim Adams, David Spear, Fred Ritman
Back Row: Sara van der Meer, Sally Fisher, Noreen Nicholson, Vicki Perrett

Guest speaker, Peter Allan from Sustainable Resource Use, presented on the topic: Making Fashion Circular – a blueprint for the textile industry. He shared his insights into the consequences of our addiction to fast fashion and how the transition to a circular economy could bring business opportunities for Geelong. Peter has generously made his presentation available - click here.

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Pictured: Scott Barnes, Andrew Barrett, Sarah Brown, Vivienne Burke, Jackie Fletcher, David Phillips & Vicki Perrett

Pictured: Scott Barnes, Andrew Barrett, Sarah Brown, Behzad Falahati, Vivienne Burke, Jackie Fletcher, David Phillips & Vicki Perrett

Incoming President, Vicki Perrett thanked Peter for his informative presentation. She made a presentation to a number of key volunteers who had contributed significantly to our 2019 achievements.  They were: Andrew Barrett, Sarah Brown, David Phillips, Jackie Fletcher, Behzad Falahati and Scott Barnes.

After the formal meeting, many people stayed on for dinner and lively discussion.