September, 30 2012
Port Hedland
Annet van der Voort



I first came to Hedland in 1999. I was travelling around Australia and I met someone here. At the time I was studying at the University of Melbourne, a double degree Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Forest Science. I completed this, after my year of travel in 2000. When I got here, I noticed there wasn’t any environment group, yet, I was struck by the specialness of the environment. One night I went down to the beach where the Flatback turtles nest and lay the eggs for their soon to emerge hatchlings. On this particular evening, a busload of backpackers pulled up, then the leader of the tour group started digging up the sand to show them the not ready turtle hatchlings. I was really upset and wanted to do something to protect these beautiful, endangered animals. I was employed by the Town of Port Hedland as a Sustainability Development Officer, working on sustainability initiatives, and I thought this was my opportunity to formally start
a local environment group.

We started with about 20 people being interested. As Council’s direction at the time changed, we could no longer be a working group of Council, so we became an incorporated association, which is called, Care for Hedland Environmental Association. We now run a program to protect Flatback turtles and their hatchlings; we started with 30 people, we are now in our ninth year of doing it, and we now have 250 people who take part from all around the world. I enjoy getting people to be passionate ambassadors, everyone knows about the turtles now, and knows what is the right practice, how to protect and look after our environment.

I ran for Mayor in 2009 and I was elected as Mayor at only thirty two, it was the first time the community got to choose their Mayor, I also chose to be in the position, full time, which is also a first.

Each day varies, some mornings I start helping out at a school breakfast program, then, generally, the day is taken up with a variety of meetings, from development applications, to running an airport, to financial management and risk management. Every day is diverse. I work hard and often there are long hours and challenging issues to address. The return is having kids being excited about the Mayor, the Mayoral role and keen to ask the Mayor any questions that may be on their mind, of people being happy and proud of our town.

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