A passion for the planet – Australia Day honours

January 25, 2022 BY

Rewarding work: Madeline Townsend is involved with local groups including The SoupBus, The Hidden Orchard, and Friends of Canadian Corridor. Photo: SUPPLIED

CONSERVATION and environmental advocate Madeline Townsend has been acknowledged as part of this year’s Australia Day honours list with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Currently Beyond Zero Emissions’ people and culture manager, she has also coordinated the organisation’s volunteers.

“A highlight for me in my role is to see the amazing input of volunteers that willingly give their expertise in engineering, science, economics, business, finance and communications to create climate solutions,” she said.

As part of the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Ms Townsend had various roles; director of community programs in Australia and New Zealand, Tasmanian state manager, national programs manager, Landcare and Environment Action Plan Advisory Committee member, and team leader and volunteer.

“I’ve always been interested in the environment and looking after it. Our parents brought my two brothers and I up to be interested in the natural world, and to appreciate and look after it,” she said.

“Looking after our environment is crucial. We all share the planet with each other, and with nature. We know that our environment is under more pressure than ever before, and we all have a role to play in looking after it.”

A passionate volunteer who values the power of community service, Ms Townsend is involved with The SoupBus, The Hidden Orchard, Friends of Canadian Corridor, Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

She has worked with Volunteering Victoria as their volunteer engagement officer and has also given her time to the New South Wales Environmental Trust Community and Sustainability Subcommittee, Parks Volunteer Network Working Group, and Clean up Australia initiatives.

“I first started volunteering in my teens. Volunteering led me to travel from England to Australia, and to a career in volunteer management and coordination roles, particularly focusing on the environment sector over the past thirty years,” she said.

“It has been really rewarding, helping people to start volunteering and understand how their actions add up to make a real difference, and of course, volunteering is a great social activity too.

“It’s an amazing way to be part of the community, to give back, to learn new skills or try new things that you haven’t done before. Working with Volunteering Victoria as well was also a great opportunity to support the massive contribution that volunteers make across all sectors, not just the environment.”

Ms Townsend was “shocked and surprised” to hear OAM would be added to the end of her name.

“It’s lovely on a personal level, but much more than that, I think it’s recognition both for the importance of volunteering, and the continuing need for us all to take care of our environment,” she said.