10 May 2023

Jubilant scenes as local women score royal recognition

| Sarah Martin
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An emotional Larissa Hale celebrates the Earthshot win with family and fellow QIWRN members following the live announcement from Boston.

A MODEST group of Queensland Indigenous women, led by trailblazing Cooktown ranger Larissa Hale, have gone down in history as the first Australians to win Prince William’s prestigious £1 million Earthshot Prize.

Cape York Weekly was given access to the BBC’s exclusive filming of the awards, which took place in Boston on Friday night, with a live cross to Cooktown on Saturday morning where an emotional Ms Hale received the Revive Our Oceans award on behalf of the Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network.

Ms Hale vowed to build a worldwide network to further environmental change.

She said the global platform and $1.8 million prizemoney would be a game changer.

“We’re going to create a global opportunity for First Nations female-led conservation programs, a network for women coming together to help repair the planet,” she said.

“With hope and with positive actions we can be hopeful for the future of our seas.”

Ms Hale established QIWRN in 2018 to provide a forum for women rangers to share information, support each other and connect in remote communities.

“I am so humbled by this award,” she said.

“I’m grateful for every woman ranger in our network; thank you for being a part of this and walking this journey with me.

“In 2008, I was the only woman ranger coordinator in Queensland. We now have 135.”

Launched by His Royal Highness Prince William and Sir David Attenborough in 2020, the Earthshot Prize is considered the most prestigious environmental award in the world.

The award aims to discover, spotlight and scale groundbreaking solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, with awards across five categories: protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world and fix our climate.

“I believe that the Earthshot solutions prove we can overcome our planet’s greatest challenges,” the Prince of Wales said during the ceremony.

“By supporting them and scaling them we can change our future. Alongside tonight’s winners and finalists and those to be discovered over the years to come, it’s my hope the Earthshot legacy will continue to grow, helping our communities and our planet to thrive.”

Ms Hale said the platform Earthshot offered was extraordinary.

“Thank you to Earthshot for bringing into focus the urgent need for action to protect our planet,” she said.

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