Innovative students to help plan how we live, work, and visit our city

Improving accessibility for people, dealing with plastic, planning for an ageing community, and preparing for a creative economy are issues to be explored by high school students in a first-of-its-kind learning experience designed to create a sustainable future for Newcastle.

The City of Newcastle Sustainnovation Challenge is a community capacity building project being delivered under Council’s NewSkills and Living Lab programs. Created by local company MCB Business Partners, the project will trial a unique collaboration between education, industry, community and city leaders who are volunteering their expertise to help students develop workable solutions to important issues.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said City of Newcastle was supportive of the exciting initiative and the opportunity it presents for young people to contribute to the city’s social, economic and environmental future.

“City of Newcastle is committed to leading the way in smarter living and creating a sustainable global future for the next generation,” Cr Clausen said.

“The goal of the Sustainnovation Challenge is to empower young people to embrace a new way of thinking and acting, to help create a sustainable future across all sectors of our community.”

Students from nine secondary schools including Newcastle High, Lambton High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, West Wallsend High, Merewether High, St. Philip’s Christian College, Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College and Big Picture Education Cooks Hill Campus will attend two-day online workshops tackling the first two of the program’s four challenges; #1. How can our community benefit from being a smart and accessible city? (17-18 November); #2. How does a smart city deal with plastic? (7-8 December).The remaining challenges will be addressed in early 2022.

Mentored by specialists in smart cities, technology, social inclusion, business and innovation, students will be guided through applied innovation, system engineering, and other analysis and development tools and principles.

Program Director Duncan Burck said ideas showing the greatest smart city potential will progress to Council’s Living Lab accelerator program to be further developed and possibly implemented.

“Applied innovation is a systematic process of creating ideas to improve or make something work better. It provides an opportunity to fast-track those things that will enhance our lives, communities and the environment we live in now and for future generations,” Mr Burck explained.

“The more we listen to and encourage our young people to share their perspectives, the better the ideas and future decisions we’ll be able to make as a whole community.”