Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally
I currently coordinate the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network, which includes around 35 Indigenous organisations who either own or directly produce Australian Carbon Credit Units - predominately through Savanna Fire Management projects, but also through fencing off country from stock and supporting it to recover from grazing.
Indigenous organisations that own carbon projects then generally reinvest the revenue from the carbon credit sales in their land and sea management activities by employing more rangers to care for their country, and in community development or cultural programs.
I am privileged to work for Traditional Owners right across Australia, including some of Australia’s most respected Indigenous leaders and Indigenous organisations, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and be guided by them. This role has allowed me to bring together all of my past experience and skills to work for incredible people across north Australia and beyond. I feel blessed to be trusted with this task and I am very grateful to everyone who has collectively supported this network to come together.
I am a mother of two little girls, Freya and Lily, living in Darwin on Larrakia country, with my husband, James. I am also a published singer-songwriter. I am passionate about storytelling, particularly through music, as well as writing.
I have 18 years’ experience in the Indigenous land management and community environment sector. I am passionate about caring for our planet and in particular, supporting greater recognition of the wisdom held by Indigenous people, and of their important work to manage their land and seas.
I have grown up understanding that people are part of the environment, and not separate to it. We cannot continue to pollute and extract without harming ourselves and our children. Indigenous people have always understood this and have carefully managed their country for many thousands of years. This is why I feel a great responsibility to do what I can to shift the economic drivers that enable companies to profit from pollution and extraction, towards supporting genuinely Indigenous-led and sustainable development that support caring for country.
But I am noticing that our planet is changing more rapidly each year. We are experiencing more extreme hot days than ever before. Our seas are rising and the oceans are warming. In Australia, we are still continuing to clear land at extraordinary rates, to make way for new suburbs, new mines or for new broad acre agricultural developments. Sadly, the destruction of sacred sites continues in the name of development. We are still focused on perpetual growth, and seek to propel this through extracting fossil fuels, despite being in the midst of a climate crisis.
We have to do better than this. We can do so much better in Australia to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to recognise and learn from the enormous wisdom held by First Nations people. This weighs heavily on me every day, as it does many of us. We must take action now if we are to have a future planet that can sustain our children and our children’s children.
The renewable energy and carbon industries demonstrate that we can make sustainable economies work in Australia and I take inspiration from that and from the people who are driving this change through positive solutions.
What was your pathway into the carbon abatement industry?
I have worked in the NGO sector for 18 years, since studying Eco-communication in my first degree, at Deakin University in Warrnambool, Victoria. I guess you would say that I took the long road.
In 2002 I worked for Danny Kennedy at the Climate Action Network Australia, advocating for a 20% Mandatory Renewable Energy Target by 2020! Danny went on to become one of America’s leading solar entrepreneurs.
In 2004, while working for Environment Victoria to support their community engagement, I was part of a team organising Australia’s first Walk Against Warming, in Melbourne. We were overwhelmed when thousands of people turned up to show their support for action on climate change.
I fell in love with the Northern Territory whilst working as a tour guide in my early 20s, taking tourists to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka. I tried to live in Melbourne, but the beautiful people, rich culture and incredible landscapes drew me back, so in 2007 I moved to Darwin to study a Masters of Tropical Environmental Management.
It was there that met my husband, a remote area nurse, and together we moved to Laramba community, on Anmatjerre country, around 250km north-west of Alice Springs, where he managed the clinic and I worked as a tutor at the school.
In 2011 I moved back to Darwin to take up a role with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, supporting their Indigenous Water Policy Group and later, on north Australian economic development.
In 2014 I worked for the Environment Centre NT and helped reinvigorate Climate Action Darwin.
The following year I gave birth to my first child. This experience helped me to understand that we must find positive solutions for climate change to create real change.
I was inspired to see the work that Indigenous groups were doing across the north to manage their country using fire, and that they were able to generate carbon credits from these.
In 2016 I took up a part-time role as Coordinator of Landcare NT.
In 2018 I was offered my current role and was excited to be able to support the evolution of Australia’s first Indigenous-owned network to support the Indigenous carbon industry.
What leadership impact do you hope to make with the scholarship?
The scholarship will greatly assist me to be able to do better in supporting the network to grow and facilitate connections between Indigenous groups across the country. We are about to relaunch as an independent Indigenous-owned not-for-profit company, ICIN Ltd. We are in the process of transitioning from the network’s host organisation, Warddeken Land Management, to the new company structure, so this support comes at a welcome time.
I seek to grow my own confidence and to make connections with women in leadership roles in different sectors and learn from their experience too.
I also intend to use what I have learned to support more engagement of women in speaking and leadership roles across the network, particularly Indigenous women.
In a male-dominated industry, what advice or encouragement would you give women who want to work in the clean energy sector?
The benefit of participating in emerging economies is that you have an opportunity to create something new, that is better.
Don’t be afraid to step-up, or to do something different. Many people will support you. You may be surprised!
Be prepared to receive a lot of advice from both men and women, but take the time to step back and use your own intuition and experience to make your own judgement.
Be conscious of the dynamics of the room, and don’t be afraid to assert yourself if necessary.
If you see or hear something that is not right, say something. Don’t accept that it is OK. Apply the same principles to yourself in the same way you would discrimination against any other person.
Never allow yourself to believe that you are not good enough. If you don’t know something, ask. If you get it wrong, then let people know. You are not expected to be perfect or an expert in everything. It is important to learn from your mistakes too.
Seek out mentors that you can trust – men and women. I feel very grateful to those mentors who have taught me so much – about cultural protocol, how to be as inclusive as possible and how to support truly collaborative decision-making in the most effective way.
Why is it important to support female leaders in the clean energy industry and what improvements could be made to increase the number of women in renewables?
It is great to see more women emerging as leaders in the clean energy industry. I have observed over my working life that women are often well placed to support conversations that make the shift to an economy that supports genuinely sustainable development as we tend to work in a more cooperative way, rather than a competitive way. We need to support more cooperative responses to climate change if we are to meet this challenge in a way that is fair and effective.
It is important to grow a culture where women feel confident to step-up. I think we need to also be mindful not only of gender diversity, but also diversity more generally, and this extends to also supporting Indigenous women in leadership roles.
Creating flexible and supportive working environments that allow women with young children to continue working is critical. Before I had children, I had no idea just how much your work life changes. It really is a constant juggle!
Fortunately, my husband was able to take paternity leave from his job, which enabled me to continue working with a young baby. I am grateful to have been supported by many of my colleagues, both men and women, to be able to continue working while also raising a growing family.
Practical things like, normalising breastfeeding in the workplace and enabling flexible hours are really important in supporting more women to take up leadership roles, along with provision of affordable and accessible child-care.
This Scholarship is made possible by the generosity of our partners.