Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)


School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication

Recommended Citation

Dunn, Carmel, Council approaches to implementing sustainability - a case of re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?, BA(Honours) thesis, School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong, 2008.


Australian councils are unacceptably slow and ineffective in their implementation of sustainability, judging by a review of the literature and from personal experience in local government. The purpose of this study is to investigate the ways councils go about implementing sustainability as this may hold the key to their ineffectiveness. In the absence of any other study or technique, I developed a model for assessing a council’s approach to implementing sustainability. The model was developed using the Ecological Footprint as the primary sustainability assessment tool, and it was designed to assess a council’s approach to implementing sustainability in terms of three key aspects: 1) the behaviours the council targets for change; 2) the behavioural change methods the council uses; and 3) the clarity and holistic nature of the council’s approach. The model was then applied to three councils in NSW that had been recently commended for their implementation of sustainability. The model gives a score for effectiveness out of 20; the three councils’ scores were 6, 4.5 and 2. The main reason for these low scores was that the councils failed to address the behaviours and lifestyle characteristics of their residents that are having the greatest negative impact on the Earth’s ecological processes. Furthermore, the councils failed to prioritise their actions, and they favoured behavioural change methodologies that are not generally successful at instigating pro-environmental behavioural change. The major implication of these findings is that the ways councils currently go about implementing sustainability need to be further investigated, and possibly overhauled, because they are essentially ineffective.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.