By Angela Norval
Well-known for her commitment to the community and various local events, Ainsley Gatley has taken on a new challenge as Sea Turtle Alliance president.
She’s been on the committee since its inception in 2015.
While Ainsley wasn’t initially looking to take on the presidency, it was time for someone new to step up as Gary Brandon stepped down after six years in the role.
“Gary’s leadership has allowed us to gain momentum and gain credibility within the community and I believe it is important to see this continue,” Ainsley said.
“We have a great supportive committee and really do work as a team.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise to most people that I have taken this role on and I hope to do it justice.”
Ainsley is already working towards a strong future, looking at developing a five-year plan to give the Sea Turtle Alliance direction.
“We have also been fund-raising and are looking at partnering with community on a number of projects for next year,” she said.
“We do have a few exciting projects on the horizon and I have already been contacted by one community group and one business and we have hatched a project that I am excited about.
“I love bringing community together and harnessing the passion and ideas of others.”
Ainsley is extremely passionate about the future of turtles. She started volunteering at Mon Repos 24 years ago and this is her 16th season over this time.
“We have a natural wonder right on our doorstep and I truly believe we have a responsibility to look after these beaches and turtles and ensure their survival,” she said.
“The loggerhead turtles are an endangered species and we have an opportunity right here in this region to showcase best-practice development that showcases our community and protects our environment.
“It is about finding that balance.
“Mon Repos and the turtles are important culturally, environmentally and economically to our region and can bring the community together.
“There are already so many individual community members and businesses that are contributing to the conservation of our turtles such as Kelly’s Beach Resort, C Bargara, The Windmill and the Lighthouse Hotel to name a few.
“It is great to see the community come together for a shared goal and purpose.”
The Sea Turtle Alliance is a community-based lobby group formed by turtle enthusiasts looking for a way to protect Queensland’s nesting sea turtles – something very applicable for the Bundaberg region.
“We felt that the community needed an independent alliance to become an informed and united voice on matters relating to sea turtles,” Ainsley said.
“The committee are all currently volunteers at Mon Repos Turtle Centre and have a passion for the turtles and for our region.
“The Sea Turtle Alliance is dedicated solely to turtle conservation outcomes.
“The success of nesting and hatching turtles at Mon Repos is critical for the survival of the endangered loggerhead turtle and we saw an opportunity to help present best practice methods and practices to the public and all levels of government.”
Over the past five years, the Sea Turtle Alliance has worked in consultation with QPWS, Bundaberg Regional Council, BMRG and on numerous committees.
The alliance received funding to retrofit lights in Nielson Park and foreshore areas to help reduce the light spill onto the beach – which disorientates hatchlings away from the ocean, leading to their untimely demise – in partnership with Ergon Energy and Bundaberg Regional Council; developed two short videos on making a difference protecting marine turtles and environments; and undertaken community displays including Australia Day, shopping centres and Oceanfest.
“The Sea Turtle Alliance has representation on a number of community environmental committees, we have partnered and consulted with council-driven initiatives and promote key messages on how our general community and business community can reduce light pollution, reduce waste and generally look after our turtle nesting beaches,” she said.
“An important role is to lobby all levels of government to ensure potential impacts on turtles and the beaches are considered.
“It is important for people to know we exist and give the wider community an opportunity to be involved where possible.”