What a pleasure and privilege it was for Janine Waldron, Conservation Programs Officer, and myself to recently attend the 2019 Women in Conservation Breakfast in Melbourne’s Federation Square. Hosted by Trust for Nature and Bush Heritage Australia the event was attended by around 460 enthusiastic supporters of conservation - from scientists and philanthropists, to finance professionals and NRM practitioners.
The 2019 theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Balance is Better’. More and more, we are seeing that gender equality is expected in our workplaces - across business and government, on boards and in politics. Women are stepping in to lead roles and not because of gender tokenism and quotas, but because they are smart, high-functioning, hard-working and awesome! We only need look to the leadership of key private land conservation organisations. Nerida Bradley recently stepped in to the role of CEO for the Australian Land Conservation Alliance, Heather Campbell is the newly appointed CEO of Bush Heritage Australia, and Vic Marles remains the longstanding CEO of Trust for Nature.
In her address at the breakfast, Vic notes that ‘we want and need this (gender) balance. The world needs it. Panning out even further, a healthy natural world is premised on balance. The concept of balance, the achievement of balance is the basis of sustainability…and our continued existence is dependent on getting this balance right.’
The room is abuzz with the frenzied commotion of catch ups and conversations, humming like cicadas on a balmy summer evening. The breakfast isn’t gender exclusive but ironically, the audience is somewhat imbalanced! When our delightful MC, Tanya Ha notes that the men’s toilet in the foyer has been designated as women’s because of the ratio in the room, there’s great delight and laughter.
The keynote speaker and CEO of Zoos Victoria, Dr Jenny Gray inspires and entertains the audience, highlighting the important role zoos can play in averting species extinctions. Jenny accentuates that communication is critical to engage the public and change behaviour. It’s a long haul, team game that must be guided by data.
Later in the day, I’m on my way to the Melbourne airport feeling grateful for the terrific contribution women have made and continue to make to nature conservation across Australia, and specifically to the TLC.
Not to overlook the enormous involvement of our female board members, volunteers and major donors since the organisation began in 2001, I want to introduce our current staff, mostly because it means I’m less likely to forget anyone!
Heading up our Science Team, chief scientist, Sally Bryant, with around four decades experience in conservation science, Sal’s mantra is that the wombat is her client. Working with Sal as Conservation Ecologist is Row Hamer, in the home straight of her PhD on restoring resilience in native carnivore populations of the Tasmanian Midlands.
In the Reserve Management Team, in the north of the state, the Conservation Programmes staff - Janine Waldron, key contact for the Revolving Fund program and dab hand with property paperwork, Anna Povey, stewardship officer for the Private Areas Partnership with DPIPWE and known to whip out her trusty secateurs and a herbicide dabber to treat a wayward woody weed, Helen Morgan, eagle offset covenants, community wildlife monitoring support and recently returned to Tasmania. Denna Kingdom, long-time TLC employee, reserve manager and new mum!
In the Philanthropy and Engagement Team, in the south, Sophie Marshall, planned giving and supporter relations including the coordination of the TLC’s Natural Guardians program, Emma McPhee, program support featuring data wizardry, and Eddie Hogarth, communications coordinator and wordsmither. And finally, in the Business and Admin Team, Pip Dennis, business coordinator and behind the scenes organiser of many important things.
It would be remiss to not mention the vision, drive and endurance of Jane Hutchinson, the TLC’s previous CEO, and founding board member. With Jane at the helm, the organisation’s growth has been extraordinary, and it will continue to flourish in new and exciting ways under James Hattam’s leadership as CEO.
There’s terrific talent in the TLC team, both boy and girl power!
Happy International Women’s Day for 8 March!