The Transition to a Safe Climate Conference: Building on Progress in Banyule – Event Summary

Deep Listening

Contributed by the Conference Organising Team

On 26 May 2019, 98 community members from around Banyule gathered at Macleod College for the second Transition to a Safe Climate Conference. Fully organised and funded by attendees and volunteers, the event brought together members from different Transition Groups around Banyule including Montmorency Community Group, Sustainable Macleod, Transition Warringal, Sustainable Greensborough, Transition 3081 and Sustainable Watsonia, with support from Macleod College and Banyule City Council for the venue.  

The theme of the day was “Building on Progress in Banyule”, and it was an opportunity to not only celebrate Transition’s success in the community, but also to look at how – 10 years into the Transition movement in the region – we can continue to grow. 

Following a flow of “think global, act local” renowned human rights activist Julian Burnside QC launched the day, with a presentation on framing the climate crisis in Australia. Fresh from an election bid as a Greens candidate, Julian presented an overview of how current political leaders, both in Australia and around the world, are failing to address and even admit to a problem of Climate Change that the scientific community has known about for more than a century.

From local back to global, following the city council presentation, organisers aired a video of Ian Dunlop’s presentation to the Club of Rome. Ian was last year’s keynote speaker, and the video was a reminder of how Climate Change is not just some minor political problem, but an Existential Threat that cannot be ignored for the future of humanity.

From national to local politics, Banyule City Council officer James Stirton and Councillor Rick Garotti presented the commitments made by Banyule Council to become emissions neutral by 2028 without the purchase of offsets among other big initiatives. James and Rick congratulated the attendees, saying it was largely as a result of petitioning by local Transition groups after the conference, and the effort put in to work with council for the past year, that they are able to make these commitments, including an extra $5 million in funding to meet them. During questions after the presentations a few audience members, including Julian, asked why the council would not declare a state of climate emergency. The councillor answered that while they personally believed in an emergency, that wording was not supported by all councillors, and rather than getting stuck on wording, they preferred to focus on actions. The councillors noted that if Banyule was able to stick to its commitments, it would be the first council in Australia to be emissions neutral by 2028. 

Continuing the local focus, a panel discussion “Transition in Action” highlighted the actions being taken by three key members of Transition related groups. Facilitated by Sarah Houseman, the panel started with a presentation by Jane Oldfield, who shared the work of the Montmorency Sugar Glider project in finding homes for these local treasures. Next Michael Copsey shared the successes of the Banyule Clean Energy Group (formed following last year’s conference) in holding energy workshops, sourcing solar panels for a local social project, and more. Megan Cassidy also shared her story of founding her local Transition group, Sustainable Greensborough, and working with council on the Climate Change Action Package.  

After morning tea, the focus remained global with a presentation by Dr Ben Habib, Lecturer of Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University, who has studied the role of permaculture on the international stage. Ben pointed to North Korea’s example of sticking to industrial methods of farming, which became unsustainable with a drop in national resources, and led to the starvation of 800,000 to 2 million people. The alarming parallel, he said, should serve as a reminder to the dangers of industrial farming, and how permaculture is the solution to a sustainable future, in the case of energy descent. 

The second panel became even more local, with a focus on inner Transition. Chaired by Heidi Lee from Murundaka Cohousing Community, the session started with a talk by Jo Massey on Non-Violent Communication, and how the practice helps to reduce judgement and improve understand of others. Erin Saar from Cohousing Banyule followed with a presentation on Sociocracy, and how the practice can be used among community groups to come to consensus rather than get stuck in debate. Tess Holderness, a photojournalist with an interest in sustainability and wellbeing, discussed the role of Mindfulness in today’s society, and meditation in keeping us on track. 

The Inner Transition Panel

Prior to lunch, Che Hall presented her short film on Zero Waste – produced with the support of a Banyule Environmental Sustainability Grant – making examples of Banyule residents in their journey to zero waste. Che presented the film, saying it was the result of support she’d received following last year’s conference, and encouraged others to bring forward their ideas, and support each other in Transition. 

Local filmmaker Chris Grose also presented a preview of a project Home Front, that is framing the challenge of Climate Change in Australia, and how it will impact on our national security. He is seeking help to make the second part of the documentary, which will look at the solutions to the huge challenges facing us.

The afternoon continued in the theme of encouraging Transition at the local level, through practical workshops aimed to support community members in their efforts to live a more sustainable life. 

At the skills level, Ecosystem Designer Cecilia Macaulay gave two workshops, following her work in applying permaculture in the home. Her first workshop Permaculture Starting from the Kitchen Sink, looked at how we can organise our belongings following permaculture principles, and was paired with her second workshop on Togetherness Design with Permaculture. 

Concurrent workshops ran alongside Cecilia’s, including one on Transition Streets by Monica Winston. The workshop highlighted Monica’s success in facilitating Transition Streets projects around Geelong, and gave practical tips on starting local Transition Streets. 

Katherine Barling and Rachel from Be the Change gave further tips on local action to take, with a workshop on 100 solutions on how we can help reverse global warming. 

With the stress of Climate Change and taking action hanging over our heads, Carol Ride from Psychology for a Safe Climate gave a workshop on how to ensure that campaign work does not come at the expense of our health, with practices to unwind after stress and calm the mind and body. 

Jo Massey shared practical cleaning tips that aren’t too much extra work or money, showing simple Green Cleaning methods and recipes to eliminate chemicals from our houses. 

The day finished with different Transition Groups sharing their upcoming activities. See below for examples of the information shared.

Transition 3081
Facebook Group:
Rough Trade Group
Grapevine – newsletter sent out once a month. To subscribe email [email protected] 

Regular Activities
Veggie Swap – First Saturday of the month 10am-11am, Olympic Village Shops
Community Gathering – Last Sunday of the month 4pm, Johnson’s Reserve

Upcoming Workshops/Events
MYO Beeswax Wraps, Saturday 15 June, 3-5pm. $15 Bookings

MYO Plastic-Free Shopping Ki, Saturday 22 June, Shop 48 10am-12pm $15 Bookings

Sustainable Greensborough
Website: – subscribe to our monthly email on our website
Email: [email protected]

Regular Activities
Semi-regular monthly meeting on the 3rd Sunday of the month at Watsonia Library Community Room

Upcoming Workshops/Events
Please subscribe to our elist, or follow our facebook page to be kept up to date with our next events. 

The events we are going to hold in 2019 are:
– a screening of the new film 2040,
– a concert, and
– another Walking/Clean Up Tour of Greensborough.

Transition Warringal

Upcoming Events/Workshops
Reducing Plastic in Everyday Life, Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 10 AM – 11:30 AM, Free
Rosanna Fire Station Community House, 230 Lower Plenty Road, Rosanna, Victoria 3084

Montmorency Community Group

Sustainable Macleod

Sustainable Watsonia

Upcoming Events/Workshops
Sustainable Watsonia Sustainable Living Initiatives Open Day, Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 11 AM – 3 PM
Watsonia Neighbourhood House, 47 Lambourn Road (PO Box 236), Watsonia Vic 3087

If we have missed some of your events, and you would like them posted here, please contact us and we will put them in there.