The power of mass media
Local government media departments are constantly on the go promoting the good work their councils do, including litter prevention initiatives. But getting national TV is a rare result for good news!
Kingston City Council's Litter Prevention Officer (LPO), Jonathan Hamilton, instigated a trial with covert cameras to detect illegal rubbish dumping.
As much to educate the public as to illustrate Kingston's proactivity, a media release was issued and duly picked up by the local press, but leading to far more exposure than expected after grabbing the attention of The Today Show and Channel 9 News, and broadcast to Australians at large.
The result indicates how effective public relations can be.
After the stories aired, Jonathan recorded a 50% increase in reporting of dumped rubbish. Apparently, the exposure both informed and motivated the community to become part of the solution
Benchmarking and establishing historical data is one of Jonathan's key priorities.
He explains, "Although the TV coverage probably caused the spike in dumping reports, I can't prove that. We don't have the historical data to measure the role of other factors, for instance whether it was also related to the Christmas holiday season at the time."
"In any case, without some form of baseline, it's difficult to measure the success of anything we do."
Kingston is a large municipality, with a range of land uses, a diverse population, and 13 Km of coastline.
To respond to the city's mix of open spaces and pockets of high density living, the Litter Prevention Program will focus on illegal dumping in green wedge areas and around multi-unit dwellings.
Education is also a priority, and Jonathan is exploring ways of encouraging sustainable practices in the community, such as reducing the use of landfills and attitudes to illegal dumping.
So, what's next on Jonathan's list?
"I'm looking forward to coordinating Kingston's Clean Up Australia Day on the 4th March, and soon will establish a Litter Taskforce as a forum across council departments."