Duey the Dugong and ME

I find it incredible – OK, amazing then – well, I seriously do all the time… this time… how one can become aware and in the next instance, lead.

This tangent is about my own process of engagement in coastal management – how I became aware about the need to protect dunes, to now, driving a founding process for the development of the younger Australian Coastal Society (yACS) – a forward thinking and excitably, progressive network to “future proof the coast and Australia’s coastal communities” – love that term Tom!

If I really think back, it was during those high school biology lessons when I soon became intrigued about how life on this planet worked. Deciphering the differences between a plant and animal cell seemed to be much more interesting than the physiology of my muscle-contractions in health science. I only had to cut open an onion and before my eyes under a microscope, I could see the single cells that form a vegetable! Plus, biology had cute and fluffy animals like ‘BILIBIES’ that needed (still do) saving. Biology in my eyes, soon paved a way for me to understand how this planet worked and how I could help this planet keep working.

To make it clear, I was a no straight-A science geek or a HD gun either. Just a bossy-busy-body learning whenever I could. I didn’t go to university straight out of high school and I spent 2 gap years partying four nights a week in Surfers Paradise and biking around the Gold Coast on my Kawasaki EL 250. You could hardly call me a ‘greenie’, though I did spend my spare time enjoying the outdoors… and once at university, I would skip class to help water the plants with Friends of Federation Walk at Federation Walk Coastal Reserve – “The Spit” – my coastal birthplace.

Over the years at The Spit, I was fortunate to work alongside some incredibly, inspiring individuals. I gained first hand experience on how an individual’s idea to save The Spit for ones’ grandchildren could turn into a coastal legacy. More so, the benefits of grassroots and the friends and knowledge you gain and with that, experience and encouragement to continue to be involved.

I was hooked – AWARE – ACTIVE – INVOLVED.

I am one of those people who always seem to be at the right place at the right time – this time – to become ENGAGED in coastal management. Fortunately, after an overseas holiday on completing my BEnvSc, the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management offered me a job! In my eyes, it was essentially doing what I was doing voluntarily at The Spit, though on a much larger scale – dune care along Gold Coast’s beaches! Today, dunes still keep me pumping.

Now: to LEAD, I believe it takes one to see an opportunity in others and guide them to reach their own potential. We all have a purpose in life, it is just about picking your cause, focus on your passion, making the right connections and develop a way to start an engagement process with others – while having fun.

My cause and passion is to engage others in coastal awareness and open the opportunity for them to see how they can help manage the coast to protect and continue the coastal legacy many before me started.

As a coastal community engagement officer I often get asked about the triggers of engagement processes. I think it is about being able to see the triggers for others to open opportunities for them to act on their own engagement process.

For me, I am AWARE, I am ACTIVE, I am INVOLVED, I am ENGAGED and now I LEAD. Or maybe I’m just entangled in the coastal network?


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