Smart Green Economy Student Conference – Get Better

Calling Australia’s Next Youth ChangeMakers

4 – 5 May 2023 (conference dates)

3 – 8 May 2023 (summer camp option)

Great Barrier Reef Academy brings you the Smart Green Economy Student Conference.

‘Proudly supported by the Advance Queensland initiative.’

Be inspired by young sustainably focused innovative entrepreneurs who started global movements as young as 9 years of age!

Learn about e-waste and how to recycle your laptop!

Learn about zero food waste and how composting helps with soil health and the great change
in agriculture.

Add your experiential learning to your Duke of Edinburgh or Round Square projects.

Let’s EMPOWER our youth and provide the opportunity to contribute to a plan with
tangible outcomes they can implement as individuals and/or collaboratively in their daily

It’s easier than you think to GET BETTER!!!

Our mission is to educate and enable Young people to think about their future, their environment and how as individuals, together they can ‘get better’ at the war on waste.

The end goal is to empower students to be part of the solution, while they are still at school.

Advance QLD key KPIs include making science, STEM and entrepreneurship front of mind from Year 7 onwards.

We are building a roadmap that your school could adopt to be part of the leaders in this change.

All you have to do is join us AND ‘Get Better’!

Conference Details

The green economy of the future will be heavily reliant on workers with a strong science and data background.

Key roles will include environmental scientists, soil scientists, engineers, internet of things, IoT, biologists, hydrologists and biochemists.

Be a part of these future careers.

Event Information

Key workshops and brainstorming topics! Let’s GET BETTER!!

● At recycling
● At compositing
● At A1 technology to help the environment
● At agricultural sustainability
● At reusing
● At making money from waste
● At learning about biodiversity and protecting planet earth
● At minimising food waste
● At being young entrepreneurs
● At reef restoration
● At e-waste
● At reforestation
● At understanding, respecting and working with our indigenous culture
● At being responsible for your own actions
● At helping your school be environment warriors
● At understanding renewable energies including hydrogen
● At knowing how to be a part of the UNESCO sustainability development goals

Brief Itinerary

2 days of workshops and presentations held in the magnificent world heritage enlisted
region of Far North Queensland.  Conference dates: are 4 th and 5 th of May.  Depart or extend your stay!
Optional touring available either side.

Students will be accommodated at the Cairns Colonial Club in share accommodation from Wednesday the 3 rd of May for 2 nights on the base package or 5 nights on the full package with touring included.  All meals are included! Contact us for full details.

Touring: Contact us for a full program which can be tailored to your school’s curriculum and needs.



GreenKPI License for top Waste Ambassadors School.  A Sustainability Reporting tool and checklist to help show students, parents and peers the impact of becoming a Climate Action school.

One school will be gifted their very own Realm under Earth Guardians (link this)–
Get words from David

One school will be given the opportunity to name our most recent turtle saved by the team at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Join other like-minded students who are keen to learn how to join the war on waste or simply get better at helping planet earth.

Students will gain skills they can apply at home or in the school environment.

They will learn how to monetise waste, think like an entrepreneur and how as individuals, they can make a difference.

Fun Facts

  • Australian’s National Recycling Goal is to increase our efforts by 12% by 2030, that is alot of opportunity for
    innovation in package design and reducing single use EVERYTHING!!
  • The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle will power your computer for 23 minutes
  • GreenKPI is Australia’s first sustainability report software, created by a FNQ female founder.
  • Australian councils spend $3.5billion per year to send waste to landfill every year from curbside bins.
  • Queenslanders have now recycled more than 2 billion bottles, cans and plastic containers as part of the ‘container for
    change’ project. That’s a lot of $$$$
  • The average banana farmer spends $400,000 / year on fertiliser and the crop duster to distribute it. Drones are cheaper, more accurate with distribution and reduce fertiliser waste by 60%!
  • Renewable energy creates more jobs for woman than fossil fuels. #sdg5
     The average family home uses 6 trees worth of paper every year
  • Every 10 tonne of waste we divert from landfill creates 9.2 jobs
  • Unrecycled e-waste led to an unrecoverable $57 million in raw materials
  • Embedded in 1 million cell phones are 24kg of gold, 16,000 kg of copper, 350 kg of silver and 14kg of palladium
  • ASIC has fined 4 businesses for green washing since November 2022 [Thank you Santa!!]


Workshops and presentations are curriculum mapped. Cairns and FNQ is a leading edu-tourism destination offering endless curriculum mapped touring options outside of the classroom.

Many students have missed out on their hands on learning opportunities during covid including being able to complete their Duke of Edinburgh and Round Square projects.

Consider this week as an excursion that ticks many boxes.
Subsidies are available and packages with teachers travelling so register now for further information.

How To Join Our Event For Free


1/ Current environment warriors can write a piece on what  projects/actions they have been a part of, either as an individual or within their school.

3 students will be chosen to attend the conference free of charge.

* Travel costs payable


2/ Students wishing to be a part of the ‘get better’ campaign can submit a short video of 30seconds to 1 minute highlighting what they would like to ‘get better’ at and why they should be able to come to the conference.

A further 3 students will be chosen to attend based on the amount of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ received.

*Travel costs payable


3/ Speak to your teachers and bring a group to our conference as the topics are Australian curriculum mapped and schools will have the opportunity to win one of our prizes!

Fees are available on the website and teachers travel free!

*Conditions apply




“One person can make a difference”

– John F Kennedy 


Who are we?

Banora International Group is a renowned leading student travel specialist, creating tailor-made programs for students of all ages, since 1996. Grounded over covid with a desire to still showcase Queensland to the world, the company adapted to online and created the Great Barrier Reef Academy. Over covid, the most requested program was the 5 day online sustainability program overseas and nationally.

CEO of Banora International Group is also the President of Study Cairns, the leading organisation managing International Education in Cairns. In her capacity, Janine learned about the Cairns Regional Council’s vision to become the capital of the Smart Green Economy in Australia. “Our team are invested in students and their future and the Smart Green Economy really resonated with us. At the same time, I heard my own son come home and talk about saving the environment but not being provided with the full facts and not being taught the tools to actually implement any actions.

So, was born, the concept to create a student conference whereby we could showcase some of the unbelievable inspiring businesses already in this space, provide information from leaders and open up the conversation in a safe environment which will hopefully lead to some tangible and manageable outcomes.”

Frequently Asked Questions

In-Person FAQs

What can I hope to learn, achieve at the conference?
  • Learn what is a smart green economy.
  • Have the UNESCO sustainability goals simplified so as to identify those targets which can be locally focused and actionable.
  • Learn about the fantastic work being done on the Great Barrier Reef to help restore and manage its health for future generations.
  • Learn about the circular economy and how we can all contribute within our own homes.
  • Learn why we should say no to single use plastic!
  • Be inspired by young sustainably focused innovative entrepreneurs who started global movements as young as 9 years of age!
  • Learn about e-waste and how to recycle your laptop!
  • Learn about zero food waste and the great change in agriculture.
Who is speaking?

We have an incredible line up of speakers including:

  • Irene Pollack, President of the Circular Economy
  • Molly Steers, founder of Straw No More
  • Barney Swan, founder of Climate Action
  • Ryan Donnelly from Reef Restoration
  • Avinash Chennuri from James Cook University
  • Steve Cosatto, Executive Manager of the Resource Recovery Branch, Cairns
  • Jennie Gilbert, Co-Founder of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
  • Lara Wilde, CEO of FNQ Food incubator
  • Mick Liubinskas, CEO of Climate Salad
  • Yasmin Grigaliunas, Founder of the World’s Largest Garage Sale
  • Kelvin Ross, Director of the Queensland AI Hub
  • Kalinda Brennan, Principal of Numimbah Valley Environmental Education Centre

To read more about the speakers, please access HERE

Other speakers will be notified via our social media so make sure you stay connected.

We will also be creating a contest with Questagame so make sure you have your adventurer hat on to engage, learn and help protect life on earth.

Do I receive a certificate of attainment?
Students attending the 2 day or 5 day programs, will receive a certificate of attainment.
I am a parent, can we stay at the Colonial Club.
Yes, please contact us for a package to include the family. Only students can attend the conference but we are happy to assist with coordination of other tours.
I am a parent, will you be videoing or photographing my child
Part of the documentation includes a photo release form. If you are not happy for your child to be recorded, please advise. Students will wear a coloured sticker so the media team do not include your child in any visual recordings.
Can I cancel or change my registration?

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions.

What tours are available with the optional tour day?
  1. A full day to the Daintree
  2. A half day to FNQ Food Incubator and a half day to the Cairns Recovery Centre

  3. An indigenous experience

If a teacher books directly with Banora International Group, is there a discount.
For any teachers booking a group of 20 plus students, their package will be free of charge. Larger groups need to contact our office to ensure accommodation and tour capacity.
What is the style of accommodation and the room configuration?
Cairns Colonial club is a 3.5star resort. Rooms are twin, triple and quad share. It will depend on availability and who you are travelling with as to the type of room you are placed within but we will try to accommodate all needs.
If I wish to stay by myself, can I have a single room?
Single rooms are $75/night extra. Please email our office at to check availability. 
I am staying with my family and I would like to attend the conference without the accommodation. Is this possible?
There are no packages without accommodation at this stage. You may send a request to our office for consideration.
I am a parent. Will supervision be provided for my child?
Yes, all of our team are blue card registered and as a long standing student travel specialist will provide supervision for your children whilst in our care.
What other facilities are there at Cairns Colonial Club?
There are 2 pools, 11 acres of tropical rainforest gardens, Children’s playground, poolside bar and dining.
What meals will be provided?
For the 2 day conference, dinner from the 18th of September through to afternoon tea on the 20th of September.

For the 5 day summer camp, dinner from the 18th of September through to breakfast on the 23rd of September.

Do you cater for dietary requirements?
Yes, Cairns Colonial Club will cater for all dietary requirements. Please ensure if you have an allergy, you bring your epi-pen and include this information on your medical form.
Can local schools participate?
Please contact our office directly for local school participation options:
If you have a question that was not answered above, please contact us and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.

Virtual FAQs

What do we need to prepare including technology, prior to the virtual conference?

A good Internet connection, a computer or an interactive screen are all that are needed.

What software do you use?

We use Zoom.

Please have Zoom installed on your laptop / computer / mobile phone beforehand. 

When and how do I receive the virtual links?

You will receive the Zoom links one week prior to the conference dates by email.

Can I have a copy of the videos as part of the conference?

Yes, we will make a copy available to everyone on youtube, sharing the links after the conference.

Can I cancel or change my registration?

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions.

What age group may participate in the virtual?

Up to 25 years of age.

Do I receive a certificate of attainment?

Students attending the full 2-day program will receive a certificate of attainment.

If one person pays, can two people watch?

We only allow one person per registration.

Can I have a copy of the videos as part of the conference?

Yes, we will make a copy available to everyone on youtube, sharing the links after the conference.

Are they in Australian time?

Everything will be in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). Please make sure to convert the time to your time zone.

Will there be translators?

We will not be offering translations, and if you think you need a translator we recommend organising one.

Can I chat during the Zoom session?

We will try to open this opportunity for discussion, but it will depend on how you are linking in.

ie with a school or individually as it needs to be in a controlled environment with a translator.

We are from Asian background, what kind of English level would be suitable to understand these conference sessions?

Medium to high level English is required if there is no translator available.

If you have a question that was not answered above, please contact us and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live, the (people) of the (nation) and pay our respects to Elders past and present.

We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.