A TRAIBLAZING Torres Strait scientist has been recognised by Australia’s peak marine science body for her contributions to connecting traditional knowledge and modern science to protect the country’s most northern waters.
Madeina David, who hails from the remote community of Iama (Yam Island), was awarded the Gigari MG Excellence in Sea Country Award at the Australian Marine Sciences Association conference on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
AMSA is Australia’s peak professional body for marine scientists from all disciplines, and the award recognises the outstanding contribution or leadership potential of an Indigenous marine scientist, ranger, communicator, or educator to the advancement of marine science and knowledge in Australia.
The 25-year-old is a senior natural resource management officer in Torres Strait Regional Authority’s Land and Sea Management Unit, with a Bachelor of Science under her belt and a passion for caring for her sea country.
“For me, looking after our oceans is much more than a job, it is a responsibility and my passion,” Ms David said.
“The ocean has and always will be part of my life and who I am.”
The former Tagai State College school captain hoped the award would shine a spotlight on the unique Torres Strait region.
“My dream is to see more people from the Torres Strait pursue science careers and excel,” she said.
“Who better to care for the land and sea of the Torres Strait than the people living on the islands?
“We know the land, the waters and the animals and together with science we can drive real change.
“Thank you to everyone who has guided my journey and everyone who continues to dedicate their time and knowledge in caring for country.”
TSRA chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen said Ms David started with the authority in 2017 as a cadet and continued to inspire others.
“Madeina David is an exceptional individual and represents the next generation of leaders and change-makers in our region and nation,” Mr Stephen said.
“Her work alongside traditional owners, rangers and world-class researchers is connecting our communities with the best ocean science to inform local decision making and outcomes.
“Connecting traditional ecological knowledge and Western science in the Torres Strait is critical in our custodianship of the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef, home to significant turtle and dugong populations.
“The future is bright as more Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal young people chase their dreams, drive change and keep communities at the heart of their careers and achievements.”