In the months since the last issue of the newsletter, the TCT has gone through a few changes, not least of which is the departure of Trish McKeown, the long-serving office manager of 18 years, and the arrival of her successor, Heather Cassidy.
Who is this ring-in, you ask? Well don’t worry, the TCT is in good hands. Heather has her Tassie credentials in check as an eighth-generation Tasmanian (acknowledging how that pales in comparison with our Indigenous readers). She also has good conservation credentials as the daughter of the late Mike Cassidy, an important player in the fight against the Tamar Valley pulp mill, among other things.
Heather has never known a time in which caring for the environment, in one way or another, has not been a big part of her life. From a childhood that included maintaining an ecosystem for tadpoles, to holiday excursions for days at a time into places such as the Walls of Jerusalem, Lake St Clair, and Cradle Mountain. These were always accompanied by her father’s tuition in environmental science, cementing a sense of our place in, and impact on, the planet.
Heather’s dad, Mike, was also the convener of the Launceston branch of The Wilderness Society during the Franklin River campaign. And it is his involvement in that movement which has brought Heather back to our beautiful state.
Heather has been working in the film and TV industry in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne for the past decade, on shows such as Terra Nova, Nowhere Boys and Bespoke. But when Mike died in 2012, he left Heather the diary of his 1983 wilderness rafting adventure on the Franklin River over 18 days, with 14 days of supplies. He joined the blockade, was arrested, and finally arrived home only a couple of weeks before Heather was born into a world forever changed. All of this inspired Heather to return and retrace his journey and film it in a documentary called A River Made Us, which aims to rediscover the stories of those activists and inspire a new generation.
(Heather is keen to chat to our members who have stories from the Franklin campaign, so please get in touch. And she’d also be thrilled if you follow the film ‘arivermadeus’ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.)
Joining the TCT staff as office manager presented the opportunity for Heather to work part-time to support her filmmaking. However, the film's themes, and the challenges faced by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust seem more and more in alignment.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has been around for 48 years, and its future relies on a new generation of people becoming involved. And with the environmental issues facing everyone today, this new generation will only benefit from the archive of historical wins and losses, the what-worked and the what-did-not, the knowledge, the wisdom and the experience that you, our members and supporters bring. We all need this to reinforce us and remind us that we can win on conservation and environmental issues and, what's more this is how.
It is our job to make the TCT accessible and visible, invite people to join us, and possibly even shape us, so we can do all this again for the next 48 years and beyond.