The vast oceans, seas and marine resources are under continual threat from pollution, warming and acidification that are disrupting marine ecosystems and the communities they support. These changes have longterm repercussions that require urgently scaling up protection of marine environments, investment in ocean science and support for small-scale fishery communities and the sustainable management of the oceans.
– United Nations

Environmental research related to water systems at VU has a practical focus, resulting in quantitative information provided to state, federal and international environmental agencies. It is used to positively influence the protection, rehabilitation and resilience of threatened species, ecosystems and human communities to climate change and other environmental hazards.

In addition to this collaborative and impactful contribution to environmental protection, we conduct our own University business in a responsible way, creating positive ecological effects through practical intiatives.

14 Life below water (fish & water icon)

Research projects & engagement 2020-21

Professor John Orbell, in conjunction with the researchers at the Penguin Foundation, developed the magic oil spill wand to safely clean oil from spills off marine animals. Oil spills can have a devastating effect on the environment, but the team is now working on further development of the Oil Spill Wand to be able to dramatically reduce the impact oil spills have on wildlife. The project team hopes to make the Oil Spill Wand available to Wildlife Rescue Centres across the world within three years.

Victoria University’s Footscray Park Campus is situated on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. VU Students and staff regularly work as volunteers to clean up rubbish from the banks of the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers that converge a short distance south of the campus. The clean ups prevent plastic waste from travelling down stream into Port Phillip Bay, to reduce microplastics in our oceans and the threat of plastic entanglement and ingestion by wildlife. Between April 2018 and February 2020, students and staff participated in the Yarra River Blitz to undertake an audit of rubbish along the river system and to clean up millions of litter items, using the innovative boat mounted vacuum system, removing approximately 38,000kg of litter from the reed beds, rock walls and riverbanks of the lower Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers.

The Plastic Solutions Project, an EnactusVU initiative for VU students to target the UN Sustainable Development Goals, takes VU’s commitment to the environment one step further by investing in clean up events across Victoria and reusing the plastic rubbish gathered to make useful objects. In addition, the project works to inform youth and the community of the economic, social and environmental benefits of responsible plastic management through a school’s program.

Courses, specialisations and student leadership programs for the goal. The Bachelor of Outdoor Education and Environmental Science and the Bachelor of Outdoor Leadership engage students in study of the natural environment, environmental rehabilitation, conservation and sustainability.