In this week’s episode, Geoff is talking to Brittany Hayward-Brown who was a Finalist in the 2021 Northern Territory Young Achiever Awards.
I’m a Bachelor of Science (Honours) graduate from Charles Darwin University, with an interest in ecology, threatened species conservation and science communication. I currently work as a research assistant at CDU on threatened species research, where I conduct data collection, management and analysis, literature reviews and write scientific papers. I am also the Community Officer with Inspired NT, where I am responsible for science outreach in the Greater Darwin region, including Science Week 2021. I am passionate about science and enjoy research, but also recognise the importance of communicating research to the wider community.
I’m a passionate volunteer, volunteering with a student group and a local environmental organisation. From 2019 to 2020, I was the President of the environment student group at CDU, EnviroCollective CDU, where myself and the committee organised 15 environmental education events for our Conservation on Campus program, reaching over 400 people, which resulted in the group winning the Territory NRM Environment and Conservation Award in 2020.
I am actively involved in conservation and management with BirdLife Top End, a branch of the not-for-profit BirdLife Australia as the conservation and advocacy officer. In this volunteer role, I am responsible for planning and delivering a campaign in line with the branches priorities and the organisation’s policies.
My top skills include critical thinking, communication, initiative, teamwork and leadership.
My top 2-values are: Belonging and making a difference.
- Connect with Brittany on LinkedIn
- Connect with Brittany on Instagram
- Connect with Brittany on Twitter @BrittanyHBrown
- EnviroCollective CDU: https://www.facebook.com/envirocollectivecdu
- A resource on eco-anxiety might be helpful to listeners 🙂 – https://theconversation.com/feel-alone-in-your-eco-anxiety-dont-its-remarkably-common-to-feel-dread-about-environmental-decline-170789
- Links to two papers as mentioned in the podcast: ‘Australia’s most imperiled vertebrates’ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320722001148 and the conversation article that goes with it ‘We identified the 63 animals most likely to go extinct by 2041. We can’t give up on them yet’ https://theconversation.com/we-identified-the-63-animals-most-likely-to-go-extinct-by-2041-we-cant-give-up-on-them-yet-182155
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Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast with a chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today. Geoff Griffin.
Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast stories of inspiring achievements and community contribution. Every week we celebrate an award program category, winner or finalists. We hope you’ll be inspired and encouraged to know that Australia is in good hands, together with our corporate partners and not for profit partners, Awards, Australia. Showcase ordinary people from right across Australia are doing extraordinary things. If you enjoy hearing the stories of our inspirational Australians, please subscribe. Write US and review US. We really appreciate it. I’m really excited to chat with this week’s podcast guest, Brittany Haywood Brown is a passionate Environmental changemaker working on threatened spaces in the territory. Brittany, great to have you on the podcast.
Thanks, Geoff. Thanks for having me.
Absolute pleasure. I really appreciate your time, and of course all that you do in the community, particularly in the environment will space. So Britney, what initially inspired you down the track of Environmental Protection and Conservation?
Well, as I was thinking about this question earlier, I realized it’s quite a long winded story. I’ve always been really interested in the pollution the plants and animals around me kind of growing up in regional Australia and in Northern territory. But I didn’t really take a kind of keen interest in the Environmental Protection Conservation space probably until my early twenties. I went travelling with a high school friend of mine who’s a really passionate person and she was involved with Tiger blue, which is a marine debris cleanup organization. And she kind of really opened my eyes to marine debris and the impact of marine debris and plastic pollution and just the waste crisis in general. And yeah, she really kind of like helped me dip my toe into that space by being a bit more Aware of it. And then from there, I became so much more Aware of the different Environmental issues that we face, especially climate change. I think the younger generation is really on top of that right now, but my generation, it was kind of like a bit of a fringe issue. We were in high School and yeah, became a lot more Aware of how climate change actually has such a large impact on the world and on humans. So when I realized the link between climate change and global conflict, when things like extreme weather events, driving people out of regional areas and into cities and creating unrest and conflict and Human suffering. Really, it really opened my eyes and made me wonder, what could I do? What could I do to make a difference? ? And if you wonder why I talk about human suffering, it’s because I see humans as intrinsically linked to their environment. Our wellbeing is so dependent on having a healthy and functioning ecosystem. So without that, we have nothing. So that really kind of spurred me on then when I finally came back to Darwin, after travelling for a few years, I picked up my science degree again and got into ecology. And that really kind of connected me much more with my whole because I was learning about the plants and animals and ecosystems. And I think that connection really spurred my desire to care more for our environment. And that really is kind of one of my like core ethos, I guess about connection creates care. So I really think being connected with our environment and with each other helps US want to care more for each other and our environment. So yeah, I hope that gives you a bit of a context behind what drives me and the work that I do in this space.
Yeah, definitely. Thanks so much for saying the need and taking the challenge. We need more people like you really championing for the environment and encouraging every one of US to do our little bit and you were born in the territory. You grew up there of course. And I’m sensing from your response that that has been part of shaping your attitude to the environment and the caring for it. Would you say that’s been a major factor?
Yeah, I one hundred percent. It’s been, it’s been huge. It’s being from the Northern territory and growing up here is a huge part of my identity. When I go out Bush, I feel so connected to it. It’s hard to ever imagine leaving. And yeah, I think that is a really huge part of why I do what I do and the, the anti, it’s a really wide and varied place. So I mean, you have the tropical savannas in Northern Australia all the way down to the arid centre. For me, I kind of grew up between Darwin and bachelor, which is in the kind of top end region of the country. It’s been more tropical, tropical surveillance of rainforest, that kind of thing. So I guess that’s the area that I identify with the most. But I think that having that kind of sense of identity positions me well to feel like I want to care for this part of the world it’s, it’s so different to southern Australia so many people aren’t Aware of the unique challenges that we face up here. Yeah it’s, it’s just a huge part of why I do what I do and what motivates me.
There are unique, unique challenges, but there’s also so much beauty beauty, not just in the environment, the landscape and all that you say, but in people who wonderful. And it’s probably my favourite place to visit in Australia when I travel the country with the Awards programs. I look forward the most to coming to the territory because the people are really lovely as well. Just great genuine, caring people who want to make a difference. But you also enjoy the weather and the beauty that you see all around you. And I can understand why you so jealously want to protect the environment and its Conservation.
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, it’s such a unique, really, really unique place and yeah, I think the people that live here, they feel that as well as people live here because they want to be surrounded by nature. And it really is just all around US. Just this morning. I had a golden tree snake in the house to we get that. We had to have that removed. It was beautiful but not in the house, but it’s going fine. Yeah. Yeah. And I think while we have some development here and development is increasing, people really see the value of our natural environment and keeping it intact. So I think we have a really motivated group of people up here.
Yeah, fantastic. And of course, last year, starting at sea to you, you helped reactivate enviro collective. So what is enviro collective and what are the main objectives?
So enviro collective is a student group, CDU. It was First initiated in two thousand and nine and the students created a community garden, so it has quite a rich history. But the group itself was really about Environmental advocacy and Conservation, especially on campus because the Charles Darwin, university campus, they have quite a few. But they carried a web where I was based in also has a really nice patch of remnant vegetation. The Catherine one has thousands of hectares of vegetation. There’s a lot of natural biodiversity assets there. So yeah, we really kind of focused on connections. So connecting people to each other and their environment, I think especially in the Environmental space, it can be quite challenging. And sometimes you can feel like you’re the only one that cares about these issues. So to connect with like minded people is really important for your wellbeing, advocacy. So to kind of raise awareness about the natural values we have on campus or write awareness of different Environmental issues and also Conservation. So doing action on the ground to improve those values. Yeah, so that’s really what the group was focused on.
And you’re pretty passionate. You were president in twenty nineteen and twenty twenty. I believe. What were the highlights in the lessons you took from the experience?
Yeah, it was a really great experience. I had really no idea what I was getting into kind of forming a student group with my fellow students, but we had a really fun time. It was really empowering, but I felt like we were given the opportunity and the platform to make a difference. And yeah, it really kind of shat our message from the rooftops and have other people get on board with that message. And yeah, it was really, really encouraging. It was great to work with my friends, my fellow students towards a common goal and meet other like minded people. So we used to collaborate a lot with other Environmental groups in the community. So those that kind of like networking aspect. And in that role as well, I learned a lot of other skills like I guess you would call the soft skills that you might not get in your university degree. Normally, leadership skills, finding work kind of motivates your team and like orientated your goals as a group towards that delegating, time management, planning and organization that kind of stuff. It just added a whole nother level to my university experience. And I would recommend getting involved with a student group so highly to anyone else who is studying it was such a enriching
experience and good advice. And I think it’s cold Karma, isn’t it? ? You give and you gain. And that’s the way the world should work and it’s wonderful to partner to meet other like minded people who want to make a difference as well. And that’s the beauty of the young achiever Awards course. And our community achievement award program too, is that we partner with like minded sponsor partners. We get to meet like minded young people who just want to make a difference who are about making change like yourself. And that is so rewarding for US to have a job that we get paid, but have the privilege of being a part of something special, which I can see is exactly what you’re saying about the work you do. And of course, in this particular moment in enviro collective, how many members were involved during that period? ? And what were some of the actual events and educational activities that you were involved with?
Well, in twenty twenty, when I was last president of the group as fifty two student members and about nineteen non-students. So we were open to the community. So kind of any other interested people could join and we had some other community members on our general committee as well to kind of help guide US, which was a really great addition. Yeah. So we had lots of activities driven around our core values which were to encourage environmentally friendly behaviors, promote the values of the local environment and connect with like minded people. So some of the kind of educational events aimed at covering across all of those were native plant walks. So in that remnant patch of bushland, we used to take people out there and they could learn about the native plants and what types, what time of the season they were flowering or fruiting. And that kind of thing, because the Savannahs up here, the, the Savannahs which are sort of the dominant vegetation type, it’s very dynamic, very interesting, I find out. So that kind of thing is kind of raised awareness of what’s in people’s backyards. And we did bird walks as well. So what’s associated with that vegetation? We also did so conversations around climate change. So there’s this thing called climate for change where you get people into talk about climate change and how they can take action on that, which is the science week events, DIY beeswax, wrap workshops to help people remove plastic from their lives. And we did some kind of educational videos around that as well. So yeah, it was, it was mainly a lot of educational events to bring people together and also raise awareness of the local environment. Yeah, it was very rewarding
with mainly a lot of a lot of stuff. Yeah,
, yeah. Yeah. We were very busy and the group is still active. So if there’s any students that are listening to this, it kind of had a bit of a quiet period, but now it’s coming back up again as student groups do because they’re all volunteer led. Yeah, so if anyone’s interested in that we can maybe put a link to the group in the show notes.
Yeah. And I think things and organizations driven by the passion of the leaders. So it’s great that it’s being reactivated again and. And of course, once you’re involved, you run the territory NRM environment Conservation Awards. Twenty twenty for the work you’ve done can share a bit about why the group received that award.
Yeah, that was a huge honour for US, especially as a volunteer group of students that were doing it all in our spare time. It was amazing and there was so many other amazing people in that category and at that Awards ceremony. So we were nominated for our Conservation on campus program, which was pretty much focused on what I just spoke about, but really aimed at conserving the natural values on campus. And kind of raising the awareness of those natural values within the University. With the aim of protecting them by making it a priority, kind of not just within the student base, but actually the University administration acknowledging that. So we, we did a lot of Education awareness raising and some advocacy and as well as management actions. So those educational events that I spoke about, the native plant works, walks the boardwalks we use. We had a PhD student that had put cameras in the bushland and we got endangered animals on there, threatened species. So we really tried to share that information widely within the University to let people know that that person has that value. We also advocated for student sustainability representatives on the sustainability leadership group, which is kind of at the higher levels of the University. And also in the city of student council. Because we saw that there wasn’t really a connection between in the higher levels in the students, in what they wanted to see in terms of sustainability. So advocating for those roles and having a student representative there, really kind of allowed for that line of connection and communication to continue through and to be able to kind of share information from the top and the bottom levels up. So for example, finding threatened spaces on campus, that’s a pretty important finding. And we also, the group in the past had done some weight management. So there’s a really invasive grass that if you kind of let it go, it will just take over and it really increases the risk of fire in an area. So the group had advocated and also worked on removing the grass Gamba grass. And we also have done and advocated for some pest animal management. So feral cats, they’re a huge risk to small mammals and birds and reptiles. So we kind of engaged in a trapping program around that and also an educational program with the International student house that was on campus just to let US know if they had seen any stray cats and also work on cane, toad management. So cane toads are a pest species that a lot of reptiles, if they eat them, they die. And they’ve led to quite a large reduction in the numbers of native reptiles. Let go and it’s yeah, so it was really focused all part of conserving and raising awareness of the natural values on campus and to receive the territory natural resource management environment. Conservation award in acknowledgement of the work we were doing was really humbling and great to know that we’re on the right track.
Well, you very much value adding to a city campus as well in all that you do. And of course say you are a long time sponsor of the young achiever Awards and make such a difference in providing leadership and changemakers to the community. So what you’re doing is really giving back to KDA is so brilliant for all of your group. But you also personally volunteer regularly with other local Environmental groups, don’t you? And why do you volunteer so much?
I really enjoy volunteering. I just see it as a way to kind of grow it in my impact and to be able to meet other like minded people and as well, it’s really important to my well-being. But like I mentioned before, when you’re quite passionate about Environmental issues, it can take a bit of a mental toll. So yeah, it kind of covers off on a lot of bases and also getting physical out in the environment. It’s great, it’s great for physical wellbeing too. So I volunteer with bird life top end, which is a branch of BirdLife, Australia, a non-profit organisation aimed at preventing extinctions of birds. And I’m the Conservation advocacy officer there. And I took on that role because I see birds as a kind of like a gateway to Conservation for the kind of everyday person. Because people really, when they go a place, they really notice the birds or people always talking about what birds they see in their backyards. They’re just kind of really passionate about it. And I feel that when people are starting to notice the birds, then they can take notice of what kind of processes might be threatening or impacting on them. For example, some one person told me that in one of the suburbs in Darwin, once the kind of bushland next to the suburb was developed, they had significantly less birds in their backyard. So that’s kind of like a connection between noticing what birds are around them and how Land clearing has impacted that. Yeah, so yeah, I just find that a really kind of interesting connection that people make. And I think it’s, yeah, it’s a good place to start when talking about Conservation and also organise some community events in that role as well. I also volunteer with friends of casuarina coastal reserve Land caper. So they have a couple of rehabilitation sites and they have working bees every month and I like to go along just because it’s kind of a nice Sunday morning activity to do. We will wait or kind of what are some plants or plant trees as well. And yeah, it’s just a, yeah, it’s really nice to be outside and just kind of chatting with a lot of these left, one or two people. There’s some older people there that have some really amazing knowledge that I like to try and soak up as much as I can.
And it gives a sense of satisfaction a bit like having your own garden growing things. The satisfaction that you say that you’re making a difference and things growing or thriving because of the weeding and the watering, whatever. Yeah, it’s sort of a combination of everything you do that. Yeah. It’s
definitely over the long term, you start to see some differences and even something as small as like pulling a bunch of vines off this kind of little paperback tree like you just get a sense of satisfaction. Like Oh, I did something today. I made a difference, this tree isn’t going to get smothered by vines and die. So it’s, it’s really small, but I think, I think those kind of those small actions are the things that all add up and they can make a difference. And also they make a difference to your well-being.
It’s a great example because for each of US, our listeners, a tiny bit can make a difference and lots of tiny bits make a huge difference. I think sometimes we think we have to do too much. And maybe don’t do anything because we don’t know where to start. It’s one thing. For example, we play tennis on a Saturday morning, which is not very environmentally supportive. In that I’m not doing anything major with my time. But one of the guys that we play with every time we pause for a second or someone hits the ball over the fence here to sneak out and do a little bit of waiting. I think it’s also surprising and over a period of time we think, Oh, we’re all conscious of Okay, there is a little weed out there. We might just go get rid of that. Now that’s very insignificant. But if everybody was a little bit more conscious of the odd thing, every time we went for a walk, you know, I just, we took a couple of weeds out being conscious of not pulling out someone’s flowers or shrubs by mistake. Yeah. You know, it just made me think, what if every tiny little thing would make a total collective big difference?
Yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s really about the, the kind of mental shift really it’s about being conscious of what’s around you. And I don’t think it stops there. You know, you kind of do one little thing then you think, Oh, what else can I do? Let go? I see this issue. How can I make a difference? ? And I think it just builds. Yeah, it’s all about having consciousness of what what is going on?
Yeah. One hundred percent. That’s exactly right. It does lead you to the next thing because you’re conscious of doing one thing. You’ve started it. You do keep going, I think a hundred percent. Right. And you also work on threatened species projects in ninety eight with Land manages to improve the trajectory of species at risk of extinction. Can you tell US about some of the projects and outcomes of your work?
Yes, so since finishing up a CDU and graduating, I worked on some threatened species research projects at CDU and this year I’d just started with territory natural resource management on the threatened species team. So we have threatened species projects across the whole of the Northern territory. We have seven of them. We’re working on the Northern hopping mouse, the brush, the rabbit rat, the White photographs. Read the alligator rivers. Yellow cat. The central rock rat. The greater bilby and we have one plant the central Australian cabbage farm. Yes. So the kind of main aim of these projects which are all funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare program to improve or maintain the trajectory of these species. So basically to make sure that they don’t get worse, that they don’t get any closer to extinction and hopefully they actually get better because the whole aim of those of US that work on threatened species is to actually get them off the threatened species list. We don’t want to see them on their and we want them to be down listed based on an actual recovery. So that’s kind of the main aim of the project. And yeah, the, the funding really is to support management aimed at the recovery of these species. So mostly focused on threat management and a lot of the threats are actually kind of similar across the species. And I find that that is feral animals either. Predating such as feral cats eating small mammals or feral herbivores, changing the habitat of the animals kind of reducing the amount of food available to them. For example, by eating all the grasses, invasive grasses as well, they can be really kind of ecosystem altering as we’re seeing with Denver grass. That’s a huge issue in the top end and buffel grass in central Australia and also fire management. So fire is just a huge part of our ecosystems in North Australia. It’s always been here, and indigenous people have used fire to manage the landscape for tens of thousands of years. We kind of work a lot with indigenous ranger groups to implement these management actions to improve these species habitat and their populations. It’s really positive work. We do a lot of monitoring as well. So we need to get kind of our baseline information of, of how many of these animals are there, or how much of an area they occupy. And then we implement these management actions. And then we aim to see what kind of effect that has had. I’ve only just started this year in January, so I’ve kind of come in halfway through a lot of these projects. So I kind of looking forward to seeing what’s coming up over the next eighteen months. But yeah, I find it really encouraging work, and particularly one of the species that we work on the central rock rat that was assessed as the mammal most likely to go extinct in Australia, in two thousand and eight. And since then, since that research came out, it’s had a lot of funding and a lot of attention which is really great. That’s kind of the aim of the research. And in a recent workshop that we ran on the species, I found that a lot of the people were feeling really positive about the outcome of the species and the upcoming management actions. And when you work in threatened species, it is kind of rare to come across that level of positivity and it was just really encouraging. It was great to see that these that these actions and the, the funding going into the spaces was making a difference.
Oh that’s awesome. Are there any other special moments and outcomes of your work? You see the light at the end of the tunnel for any of the other threatened species that you mentioned or was it too early in the process?
Yeah, I think it’s a bit early in the process to say with some of these species. As I said, yeah, I’ve come in halfway through. Mostly a lot of them we are. We are worried about them. So yeah, time will tell, but something that I’m really looking forward to that’s coming up is going on. A big bout of Social work. I’m about to leave next week. Got three back to back field trips. Going out to Gary gutknecht Valley National Park, also known as cobourg National Park for a week, going, going out to the water cannon Ipa, which is just east of kakadu. And going out to Groote island. So going to a lot of special places in the country that I wouldn’t normally get a chance to see. So I’m really looking forward to that and also looking forward to the people that work out there. So the Land managers and a lot of them are indigenous ranger groups. So I’m, yeah, I’m really looking forward to, to meeting these people and kind of understanding what makes those areas and those species special to them. It
would be there would be a lot to learn from the First Nations, people from the indigenous Land managers. Their knowledge would be extraordinary. I imagine is there much collaboration done with First Nations people in terms of how they may have worked with threatened species or particular forms of wildlife for sustainability? ? Is there anything that can be of assistance in that regard that you work with? First Nations, people on
I guess what springs to mind is one of the spaces we were from the White sort of grass and it is culturally significant to the groups that belong to the Arnhem Land sandstone country. So in terms of some of the sites that we’re going to survey for this species, they were informed by traditional owners where they’d had knowledge of, of being before. And that was also coupled with some habitat modelling that was done. So in some ways, I would say that’s two way science using this kind of Western science methodology and then using First nation science to figure out where we’re going to survey for this species. So yeah there’s, I think there’s definitely a lot of people are working with indigenous peoples to protect manage, survey for threatened species. There’s definitely room for improvement in how much that is done and how that is done. We need to make sure you’re being respectful and ethical when you are engaging with indigenous people. But as, as the First people of this Land, they have so much knowledge and history and tradition that we can really learn from. Yeah, brilliant.
That’s, that’s exciting. How does the work you do fit your values of belonging and making a difference?
Well, the work that I do with territory and Erin and also with BirdLife, Australia, BirdLife top end. Yeah, I’m here based in the country and I’m working with people on the ground who work and based in these places, these local places to make a difference. So to me it’s like I’ve got my sense of belonging. I’m here in the in T and I’m working with other people to make a difference. That’s kind of yeah, the, they definitely does fit with my values.
The climate and biodiversity crisis can often be overwhelming for people, particularly young people. They can really see the need to make change and it can lead to Eco anxiety. And how do you suggest people tackle these issues and look after their mental health?
Well yeah. As I mentioned before, I think volunteering is a huge way to kind of do both of these things. So if you read some of the kind of information out there on Eco anxiety and how you can combat that, a lot of it is taking action. So taking action is a huge way to not only connect with like minded people, but also to feel like you’re doing something that isn’t contributing to the crises. So yeah, it’s like seeking out groups that kind of align with your values. Picking a couple of issues that you’re really passionate about. So whether it’s plastic pollution or action on climate change or stopping extinctions, or working with birds, you kind of figure it out what, what you really are passionate about. Pick those one or two things and then go and seek out those groups that align with that. And then you’ll kind of find ways to talk to people about what you’re concerned about and how you can take action on that. That’s definitely a huge way that people can work towards combating Eco anxiety and also tackling those huge crises. And another way definitely is if you’re a young person, make sure you’re enrolled to vote and that your vote counts. Most of the funding that, that comes towards in the environment comes from the government. So you need to make sure that your vote is going in the right direction, that the Environmental issues you care about are going to get the funding that they need.
Good advice. And I guess there’s a large amount of satisfaction in feeling that you’re contributing to a threatened species being able to survive or making a contribution to whatever form of the environment that you’re passionate about for you personally, must be terribly satisfying to know that you’re making a difference for threatened species.
Yeah. Yeah it is. Yeah. I do really enjoy the work that I do. It takes me some really interesting places and yeah, just even learning about the different threatened species and the roles that they play.
It not being nominated for them becoming a finalist in the anti young achiever Awards last year. Hope you at all?
Yeah, it did. It helped me realise that I was on the right track with the work that I was doing. It can really it can be easy to kind of get stuck in the nitty gritty of the day to day, but when someone nominates you and recognises you for the work that you’re doing, it kind of helps you feel that more appreciated. And that what you’re doing is making a difference.
Yeah, some of the words that I hear most often a validation and confidence.
As you’re saying, it provides that validation for what you’re doing. But it gives you confidence in knowing that people think enough of what you’re doing to submit a nomination, which I think is one of the wonderful things. The most beautiful thing about a nomination is people like yourself don’t look for accolades, you do what you do because it really needs to be done. Because you’re passionate about making a difference. But that’s what makes an appreciation of what you do all the more special. The fact that someone would nominate you unsolicited is a really lovely thing, doesn’t matter what it is, any compliment that we get in appreciation of things that we do is special no matter what it is, our work, our social life, our sports, our passion, it doesn’t matter being
it’s so so important and it’s like a smile. It doesn’t take much, but it can really have a lasting impact on US. Remember. Sorry,
I was just. Yeah, sorry I was just going to. I’ve forgotten what I was going to say. Oh sorry. Hi. There Yeah, yeah. Oh no, no, no. I just think that it’s really important that we take time to celebrate actually because the world is full of a lot of really hard and sad things. So if we have the time and the opportunity to celebrate, I really think that we should and young achiever was all about that. So it can be hard being a young person. So yeah, it’s navigating all of the issues that we face. It’s yeah, it’s just kind of good to take the time to celebrate what you’re doing.
There’s so much information out there these days and young people have to deal with so much for the good and the bad. And it is, it’s very, very difficult. It’s very stressful, it’s very mentally training and you’re right, any celebration that we can be a part of is really critical. So what do you remember that stands out about last year’s gala presentation dinner?
Just being surrounded by so many other passionate young people? Definitely. Yeah, it was just, yeah, it was, it was really great to see all the different categories and all the different people that were nominated and the work that they were doing. It was really inspiring to be in the same room. And I was lucky enough this year to also be able to go along to this year’s award ceremony because I had nominated somebody myself that I thought was doing really great work. And yeah, it was, it was awesome to see some of the progression as well of some of the people who like sizzle for Diana. So last year she was a finalist in the small business achievement award. And this year she took out the anti government youth leadership award, and I just, her speech had me in tears and I think she’s just doing some really, really amazing work because there’s a lot of young people out there who are hurting and they need they need support and she understands that better than anyone. So yeah, to see the kind of progression of people there and to see people like myself that have been nominated the year before and they were there supporting their friends. It was just yes, really wholesome. I really loved it.
It’s a beautiful word, wholesome, and it, it is lovely and it was so good that you have nominated someone and you’re paying it forward. And that is the special part about the Awards, who’s appreciating the value of that to you, but then paying that forward and giving the chance to someone else to have that experience as well. And I’m sorry, I didn’t say you would have been lovely because I crave the sizzle and many of our our finalist and winners were extraordinary. All of them were extraordinary. But there are many fabulous speeches. And just feeling the passion, the boost from them, the pride with them getting up to receive their award boxes is always just wonderful. And you know, to having so many ministers and senators, and extraordinary people, young people, there was a real thrill to
thank you so much for all the work that you and your team do to put on these Awards as well. Because they do mean a lot.
Thank you, it’s absolutely our pleasure and delight to be a part of so what keeps you going Brittany? The Times, as we said, are not always easy. And a lot of pressure is what drives you.
I would say it’s definitely the people around me. There’s so many young people as well people younger than myself. I’m probably on the higher end of the young people now who are coming up and doing some amazing things, especially in the environment space. Advocates for climate change action just so. So brave and speaking out it’s, it’s really, really inspiring. And I also just feel inspired by the environment around me. Every day. I just love, I love going like I live in an apartment, but I live very close to the ocean and I go for walks frequently and we’ve got Cody and finches really close to the city at the moment, which is just a huge deal. They were my study spaces when I did my Honours and they don’t, they’ve never really come up this far to the coast before. So to have them so close in our backyard and to be able to kind of go out birding so frequently. And it’s just down the road. Yeah, it’s really, really special. So that definitely drives me.
Fantastic. Is that what motivates you today? What else motivates you to be so positive and keep doing what you’re doing?
I think I’m a kind of a bit of a eternal optimist in a way. Yeah, I always like to see the best in people and hope for the best. I think even though we’re facing some pretty significant crises, the, the value of capable people. Power is huge. Going to some of the climate change protests was so empowering when you see that many people in one place all asking for the same thing. Yeah. That, that is incredibly motivating for sure. And also I don’t mean to put a huge dampener on things, but there’s a bit of fear involved as well. But like I mentioned with Eco anxiety, you know, there is a fear that if we don’t take action now on a lot of these issues, future generations are going to miss out on a lot of the things that we have enjoyed. And I think that’s incredibly unfair. On them.
Yeah. And fear is not a bad word, it’s not a bad thing. It’s how we deal with fear. What do we do about it? What causes our fear and how do we change that? How do we react to it? Which is what young people do so beautifully, they understand the problem and the fear that’s associated with the issue. But they then go about making a difference and trying to change
that. Yeah, you definitely see the, the kind of mobilization of that, especially with the school strike, the climate movement. Yeah, I think that’s huge and that’s definitely, you know, talking about Eco anxiety. You know that, that fear it can be debilitating for a lot of people. And it’s real, so definitely finding those ways to take action is huge, but I didn’t mention before. I think a huge aspect as well is speaking to a speaking to a professional, if you’re experiencing Eco anxiety, I think it’s really helpful.
Yeah, good advice. Good advice. What’s the biggest hurdle we have to overcome as the country regards the environment that threatened species as well?
This is a really great, great question because there are so many things that we could be doing better, I think, in my opinion. But just thinking specifically about a threatened species, Australia has a really high track record of extinctions. So we’re kind of fifth in the world and thirty five percent of all mammal extinctions. Historically, have been in Australia. And we have lost more mammal and plant species since European colonisation, so in the last two hundred years than any other country. So that’s a pretty dismal track record in my opinion. So there’s a, there’s a couple of things that I think we can do to try to stop going down that trajectory. I worked on a research project last year where we assessed the extinction risk of australia’s most threatened species. And that paper going to be coming out soon, which I’m very excited because I think it has far reaching implications. But a huge thing that we noticed with a lot of the species that we’re assessing is that twenty five of the sixty three species we assessed were not listed on the threatened species legislation. And that is huge because when something is listed on the threatened species legislation, so that’s the environment Protection and biodiversity Conservation act. It’s afforded certain protections and quite often that means then it’s going to be prioritized for funding. So kind of at the top level that’s a very urgent thing. That needs to be done. A lot of the threats that face our threatened species are quite similar, as I mentioned before. You’ve got feral predators, so cats and foxes, they have a huge impact on eating native animals billions every year, competitors as well. So competitors for food or shelter. Those kinds of resources. Land clearing, that’s a huge issue in a lot of places in Australia and fire. So another research project I was involved in last year found that the black summer bushfires caused or contributed to the population declines in seventy two eighty two animals. And that would warrant them being listed as threatened. So they weren’t listed as threatened, but now they should be. So that’s yeah, that’s quite a big finding. So in addition to listing these threatened species, they also need increased funding. So funding in terms of immediate recovery to disasters. So things like the black summer bushfires to have a funding pool that can be mobilised immediately to help with kind of immediate recovery actions. That’s a really important aspect of threatened species and also more long term funding. So I think you find with a lot of environment projects is that they’re funded on a three year basis which aligns with the political world, but it doesn’t necessarily align with the natural world, especially in dynamic ecosystems like the North Australian Savannahs. So I think having more kind of long term funding over a five year projects, ten year projects that would make a lot more sense. Yeah, yes. So yeah, they’re kind of like the, the biggest hurdles I think we need to kind of value our species and also functioning ecosystems economically. So that’s kind of whole nother sphere. But finding a mechanism that means that these functioning ecosystems are valued and work to keep them functioning is felt, is valued. Can also, I think, be an important way to make sure that they are protected. So something there’s kind of a model that is similar to what I’m talking about, which is the carbon burning scheme where indigenous ranger groups they receive funding for doing fire management kind of early in the fire season to prevent large scale wildfires late in the fire season, and they receive credits from that, so if you go to offset your flights with Qantas quite often, that’s how you’re offsetting it. So the money’s going towards these programs. So it’s, it’s, it’s a bit abstract, but I think that’s kind of one of the ways that we’re going to be able to value our environment on a much larger scale that it’s needed to, is to kind of tie economics to it and maybe something like extending the burning scheme to cover biodiversity is something that we should be looking into.
Yeah, definitely. And I mean, I can see how this can that with a natural disaster like a fire action needs to be taken immediately to protect, to ensure our threatened species subsequently are protected, looked after and plans are put into place more to ensure that they looked after as quickly as possible to stop that from happening.
Yeah, definitely. And also yeah, the long term and high quality monitoring that that needs to be funded as well. So think you kind of know what’s going on with them before a huge disaster hits. So you can understand what impact it’s had and then how you can respond. Yes. Yeah, and yeah, definitely. I mean above all, one of the biggest hurdles that we face is inaction on climate change. We need to make sure that we’re decarbonising and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Now it’s yeah, it’s people have been asking for it for thirty fifty years because we know what’s happening and if we don’t do it soon. Yes it’s. It’s going to be a disaster. That’s the, that’s the fear that I’m talking about. Yeah.
Well, very passionate Britney. That’s for sure. What’s next? For Britney.
So I’m really happy to continue on in my job at the moment, working with the threatened species with Tatiana RAM. Yeah, I think that’s going to that’s a really rewarding job. So yeah, that, that’s kind of going to be my plan for the next few years. I continue volunteering as well and yeah, I’ll be advocating to see more action on climate change. Fantastic.
On a slightly different track, what’s something that we might not know about you something quirky might be, or is there a hobby or something that outside of your work or a fun fact?
Well, I actually lived and worked in Canada for a couple of years when I spoke about going travelling for a few years. Yeah, I took a I started my science degree, but kind of wasn’t really that into it when I was twenty. So all I wanted to do was travel and I lived in Canada and worked on ski resorts for a couple of seasons and yeah, it was a really awesome experience. I also got involved with the wine industry when I worked over there. So yeah, I did a couple of vintages in the wine industry in Canada and in Australia. So yeah, that was a really fun and formative experience as well.
Awesome. So what wine do you recommend?
Oh, well I mean the winery that I was that was where, where I and I work specifically on this chardonnay so I will always recommend the oak Ridge on a beautiful
and a US ski I can you are. You are an excellent skier now
I like to snowboard and I wouldn’t say that I’m excellent. But I certainly have a lot of fun.
Well, that is key, having fun in whatever it is that you’re doing. Yeah.
Yeah, definitely. It was a great experience because it taught me to get out of my comfort zone because I am not a very sporty person. So to like take up a kind of new sporty activity at the age of twenty eight. On my own. It was, it was a really big deal and it was really out of my comfort zone. And yeah, just kind of getting that still is really confidence building. Awesome.
Do you have any other words of wisdom or encouragement for our listeners?
Yeah, I’d just like to echo something that you said earlier about the small things add up. I really think that you can take action in your own sphere of influence and that can have a ripple effect. You might not realize at the time, but you might be affecting people, but you don’t even really realize with your positive actions. So I just encourage you that if you’re feeling a bit down about some of the global situations to act local. Definitely. Yeah.
Do your little bit and that can help connect. As you said, volunteering with people who are like minded, can lift you as well because you feed off the energy of others. And sometimes I think no matter what it is that we do, we can feel alone. Am I carrying a burden myself? Is anybody else doing their bit? And I say that very broadly, because we know people are about, it’s nice to know that there are others that are doing the same thing as you, but equally passionate. Want to see change. Want to make a difference and that can help you as well. But yeah, that’s, that’s great advice Brittany.
Yeah, definitely. But the empire collective was a huge, huge one that made me realize that you know, that was kind of at the beginning of my Environmental advocacy journey. And I was feeling a bit alone and then to meet like minded people and be volunteering, working together to make a difference. It was just, yeah, it was huge. And yeah, I couldn’t, I couldn’t recommend volunteering more and might feel like a really small action that maybe it doesn’t make a big difference. But you just don’t know what the ripple effect is
anyway to inspire someone else to do the same.
Who yes, that’s right.
Someone else who might inspire someone else?
Well, I think a good example is my friend methode, who I mentioned at the very beginning of the story, shout out to my friend Matilda Gordon. She’s. She’s a really great advocate. She’s the one that kind of opened my eyes to plastic pollution and ways that we can reduce plastic in our lives and actions that we can take. And so she inspired me and then I’ve gone on to do the work that I’m doing and kind of spread the message and then that’s gone out to other people. And then I’ve had other people who follow me on social media who said, Oh well that’s, I never knew that. And I really like your videos show you like the kind of swaps you can do to reduce your single plastics. And now I’ve started doing that and then they’ll go on and tell their friends. So yeah, that’s the kind of impact that I’m saying like you, you don’t really realize, but it is making a difference.
One hundred percent and people like yourself are inspired. Annette too, who’s our producer, of course, and my lovely wife who doesn’t use any plastic or glad wrap or anything like that, where humanly possible. And I mean that little green aliens that cover everything around has coverings for whatever it is to be used for. Glad wrap and so on. And it’s a good thing. I always give her a bit of grief about a mockery of what they are about. But it is awesome. It’s also not that you’re doing a tiny bit. Yeah. Yeah, everybody’s doing that tiny bit. It would reduce plastic by a significant amount. Yes,
absolutely. And like I said, you know, you do one small thing and then it kind of leads you to a larger thing. So, you know, I Government’s action on plastic waste might be a huge issue for you at election time. So you kind of vote accordingly, you know, so I think those, those are the kind of actions you can take
and we’re not going to drown in plastic sooner. Than later
in some places already. Yeah. So in Australia we need to take responsibility for our own waste.
And I think we realise how bad the situation is. So people cut out their plastic. Right. Yeah. Aware of your threatened species to make a difference where we can. But also I think We can our listeners connect with the online to find out more about what you do.
So you can find me on LinkedIn, Brittany Hayward-Brown, or you can find me on Instagram @brittersbrown. I post a lot of kind of nature photographs and videos of places that I go. So yeah, it’s probably the main place. And if you’re a CD student and you happen to be listening to this, you can connect with empire collective that in by reflective CDs on Facebook.
Fantastic and shout out again to say to you, we love you guys. You do a great job, and you train people like Britney to be extraordinary humans. Britney. It’s been a real pleasure chatting with you today. You’ve inspired me. I hope you inspired all of our listeners. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.
Thank you. So much for having me. I hope that some of the things I’ve said today have resonated with some other young people. Please do get in touch. If anything I’ve said has kind of provoked any ideas, I’m not always happy to have a chat.
So important. What’s those connection points? Again?
Blanco, LinkedIn and Instagram. Fantastic.
Well, I hope everybody’s enjoyed my chat with Britney as much as I have. And I hope that you, as I will need to do now to just make a little more difference for our environment. Let’s think of ways that we can do that. It’s really critical as Britney is alluded. And if you know an organization or a business that might like to support our young people through the Awards, get in touch with me and let me know who you’re thinking of. Try a, just an Awards Australia or Visa Awards, Australia dot come forward. Please partner with US, because together we make a difference until next week. Please stay safe and be kind and keep inspiring. See you next week. I hope you enjoyed today’s interview as much as I had. We would love you to subscribe to our podcast that you won’t miss an episode. Join US each week as we talk with ordinary Australians shaping extraordinary things. Did you know that Awards Australia is a family owned business that proudly makes a difference in the lives of those that make a difference for others? And we thank our corporate not for profit partners for making our award programs possible. Do you know someone that’s making a difference or maybe your business might like to sponsor an award? Contact US throughout Instagram page, inspirational dot Australians, or head to our website. Awards Australia icon. Would be great if you could share the tips with your network. Because who doesn’t like a good news story, please write and review US. We would really love to hear your thoughts until next week. Stay safe. And remember together we make a difference.