The Yarra Waste Revolution campaign supported 1,300 Australian households to change their waste habits.
The trial was a first in the Australian state of Victoria — a model to potentially roll out in other areas addressing Australia’s pressing waste challenges. The campaign, a partnership between Yarra City Council (Melbourne, Australia) and Ellis Jones, won the 2020 Gold Quill Award of Excellence for Governmental Communication. Ellis Jones talks about the campaign, what it means to receive a Gold Quill Award and advice for new entrants.
The Yarra Waste Revolution Campaign
In 2018, when the China National Sword Policy closed Australia’s waste collection companies, the councils that contract them, and much of the world’s main market for the export of recyclable materials, the country had to find a new way forward for recycling.
Yarra City Council saw this as an opportunity to create a local circular economy. The council would trial their new waste approach in the suburb of Abbotsford, taking on the challenge of drastically changing the behavior of 1,300 residents in just three months.
This is where Ellis Jones came in. We developed a campaign strategy that would influence a gradual change in behavior. It involved strategically communicating with residents to raise awareness of the trial and waste issues, help the transition to new behaviors and encourage improvement and long-term change.
The campaign brand was engrained at a community level — representative of grassroots movements. It positioned the trial as a community response to a known, collective need, rather than as a top-down government imposition, reinforcing genuine collaboration between council and community.
In the end, 96% of residents positively participated in the trial. The campaign received fantastic feedback and helped deliver a proactive solution to a critical environmental problem. The waste model and campaign are now being rolled out to the rest of the council region.
The Benefits of a Gold Quill Designation
For more than 40 years, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards have recognized and awarded excellence in strategic communication worldwide. Winning feels like a beautiful acknowledgement of our hard work.
At Ellis Jones, we work on projects to improve society. We dive deeply into issues to deliver thoughtful, creative and unique solutions, and we apply methods grounded in theory and proven in practice. The Yarra Waste Revolution was an exciting challenge for us, working to creatively improve environmental outcomes in our own backyard by bringing the community together.
Although this work is inherently rewarding, it also is challenging to deliver. The Gold Quill Award was a welcomed pat on the back. It pushes us to keep improving and striving for excellence. More importantly, it encourages us to continue to remain laser-focused on impact — not just on delivering great work, but making sure it achieves real change, with real people.
Advice for Gold Quill Entrants
Entering the Gold Quill Awards takes time. Get started ahead of the deadline. Meticulously review the evaluation criteria and read past winning submissions. Doing this helped us understand what to include in our entry to stand out.
Most importantly, the work needs to be solid. There should be a clear need for your campaign, a strong understanding of the audience, robust objectives and results. IABC awards excellence and outcomes. It is the strength of your campaign, and what it achieves in the end, that will matter most.
Read the full case study on Catalyst.
Gabrielle Chamberland, Consultant; and Melinda Scaringi, Director, Ellis Jones