2015 Premier's Sustainability Award finalist SEED Indigenous Youth Climate Network.

The 2016 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards are now open for entries – finalists and winners can look forward to a chance to promote their achievements in sustainability and help to influence others.

Victorian businesses, community groups and innovators focused on promoting the wellbeing of planet earth are encouraged to step up and be recognised.

The awards are open to state and local government, businesses, organisations, community groups and individuals that have shown leadership in any of the 10 awards categories, including business, the built environment, health, education, environmental protection, environmental justice, community, and products and services.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will also select two overall winners for the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award and the Premier’s Recognition Award.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said the awards are a great way to acknowledge groups and individuals contributing to a more sustainable future.

“Delivering these awards each year means we continue to discover the passion and talent Victorians have for protecting their natural environment and thinking creatively about new sustainable practices.

“The awards encourage innovation across all sectors, with a focus on delivering a triple bottom line – environmental, economic and social benefits for Victoria.”

This is the 14th year of the PSAs, and Mr Krpan said they have continued to grow and strengthen. The awards also reflect the community action that is happening across industry, business and the community throughout Victoria.

Yarra Valley Estate, winner of the 2015 award for small to medium enterprise, is a good example of the benefits of entering the awards.

Co-founder of the conference centre, accommodation and wedding venue business, Louise Ward, said entering the awards was “one of the best things we’ve done as a business”.

“It gives us credibility,” Ms Ward said.

“I would highly recommend others enter.”

The business has not rested on its PSA laurels either, going on to achieve Earth Check Silver Certification in February 2016.

“By entering the Awards, participants have the opportunity to meet other organisations doing similar work, and enhance their community standing and corporate reputation by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability,” Mr Krpan said.

“Finalists and winners can share their stories publicly, inspiring other individuals and organisations to look at their own environmental actions.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Victorians to be recognised for their environmentally friendly actions and celebrated for their hard work.”

The winners of last year’s top award, the Premier’s Recognition Award, have also gone on to expand their enterprise and achieve further recognition. The St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums won the award for their work saving more than 52,000 second hand items including prams, cots and baby gear from going to landfill.

“Along with being heavily recognised in the media, they were recently presented with the Canvas’ ‘Ante Up’ Non-Profit of the Year Award at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC,” Mr Krpan said.

Their raised profile also enabled the “sustainable mums” to raise enough money to move into a bigger, purpose-designed warehouse in St Kilda.

Monash Health, who won the 2015 award in the Health Category for the ‘Cleaning without Chemicals’ initiative, implemented across all 40 of the organisation’s sites, have generated a benefit that stretches beyond their own organisation.

The program, and award win, has spurred other providers in the health sector to take up the steam and microfibre cleaning regime alternatives to chemical cleaning.

The benefits for Monash Health have included cost savings of over $250,000 a year savings on water, chemical use and also improved worker wellbeing.

The winner of the 2015 Education category, Melbourne University’s Growing Green Guide, has also had a wide-ranging influence, not just in Victoria but in other states as well. The Guide has become one of the most-cited resources in the growing green infrastructure, urban greening, vertical greening and sustainable landscaping fields.

Even being a finalist in the PSAs can make a big difference to an organisation. The SEED Indigenous Youth Climate Network, an arm of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, has become one of the leading youth voices advocating for urgent action to mitigate climate change.

Since being named a PSA finalist in the Environmental Justice category in 2015, the organisation has built a vocal network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth activists, who are articulating the impact climate change and fossil fuels are already having on indigenous communities and the country they are custodians of.

For more information on how to enter the Premier’s Sustainability Awards, visit www.sustainabilityawards.vic.gov.au.

Entries close Monday 27 June at 5pm.