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P&C takes the lead on saving the reef

​The reef room where Belgian Gardens State School breed clownfish and seahorses to donate to pet shops to reduce the numbers taken from the reef

We've all heard about the success of Finding Nemo, but did you know the movie had a devastating impact on the clownfish population of the Great Barrier Reef?

The popularity of the movie led to an increased demand for clownfish for aquariums, so the students at Belgian Gardens State School came up with a novel way to help save clownfish in the wild and, with the help of the P&C, the Reef Belgian Gardens (Reef BG) program is already making an impact.

Belgian Gardens State School is one of many North Queensland schools involved in the Reef Guardian Schools program, which fosters a community culture of responsibility and protection for our marine environment.

Principal Ryan Pedley explains that as part of the program, students breed clownfish and seahorses, helping the reef through their belief that every clownfish donated to a pet shop means one less clownfish taken from the reef.

"Belgian Gardens State School is proud of its environmental programs that support our Great Barrier Reef, and the students learn more about the reef too," said Mr Pedley.

"Our STEM teacher, Brett Murphy, who established Reef BG several years ago, runs lessons that are contextual and relevant to the challenges faced by our generation and the reef," he said.

Coupled with the ongoing dedication from the P&C and the school community, the program has gone from strength to strength.

"We have been fortunate to have a supportive P&C and community who have contributed time, materials and expertise to ensure the program is a success," said Mr Pedley.

"Many parents in our school community are scientists who work at Reef Headquarters Aquarium, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)."

P&C President Amanda Medhill said the P&C had embraced the reef theme and is currently building the Shoal Cafe – a welcoming space for parents and teachers to relax over a coffee.

"The cafe will be used for fundraising and hosting special events, with the money invested back into supporting school initiatives and Reef BG," she said.

It is these stories and many, many more that highlight the important role that P&Cs play in our state schools.

P&C Day gives us all an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the tireless work of P&Cs in helping to improve educational facilities, resources and student outcomes for state schools.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
01 July 2019