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TSRA celebrates International Women’s Day

Proud to be a Ranger: TSRA Ugaram Senior Ranger Belphine (Gloria) Stephen

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is acknowledging inspiring women as part of International Women’s Day (8 March 2024), including a record number of female rangers and board members.

With 19 female rangers – up from 8 previously – women now make up about a third of TSRA’s ranger workforce who care for land and sea country.

TSRA Ugaram Senior Ranger Belphine (Gloria) Stephen said being a ranger was among the best jobs in the world.

“The work we do as rangers benefits not only the environment of our unique region, but also the people who call it home,” Ms Stephen said.

“Since joining the TSRA Ranger Program in 2019, I have had so many wonderful experiences from monitoring nesting green sea turtles in the northern Great Barrier Reef to removing marine debris from beautiful uninhabited islands.

“Working with AIMS scientists on field trips to monitor crown-of-thorns starfish along eastern reefs around Ugar, Erub and Mer was another great experience.

“It is very rewarding and I am proud to say I am a part of preserving, restoring, protecting and promoting the cultural and natural values of the Torres Strait.

“I come to work each day and enjoy my daily tasks and duties.

“I don’t think many other people can say that they genuinely love their job!”

In recent years, TSRA female rangers have been part of the first Torres Strait Great Reef Census and the international award-winning Queensland Indigenous Womens Ranger Network.

TSRA Chief Executive Officer Vonda Malone – formerly the first female Mayor of Torres Shire Council – said women continued to challenge gender stereotypes and break barriers.

“Empowering women with opportunities to earn, learn and lead enables our communities to thrive,” Ms Malone said.

“We are proud of the women in our workforce, including our record number of TSRA female rangers and board members who are inspiring the next generation of leaders.”

The TSRA Board currently has the strongest level of female representation since establishment in 1994, with six female members, up from three in the previous term.

The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress. This theme focuses on the need to invest more in women to achieve gender equality.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said it was an opportunity to celebrate trailblazing women in the region and beyond.

“On International Women’s Day we acknowledge the contributions of women who keep our families, workplaces and communities strong,” Mr Stephen said.

“We also pay tribute to inspiring women who have passed, but continue to guide our way forward.”

Fast Facts

  • The Torres Strait stretches 150 kilometres northwards from Cape York Peninsula to Papua New Guinea.
  • The 48,000 km² area includes more than 270 islands and reefs.
  • TSRA’s Land and Sea Management Unit delivers the Environmental Management Program.
  • The TSRA Ranger Program started in 2009 with one ranger group on Mabuiag and has grown to 13 Ranger groups across 14 Torres Strait communities (13 islands) – supporting 55 ranger roles.
  • The Torres Strait is the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef, home to culturally significant and scientifically important seagrasses, marine migratory species like dugong and sea turtle species and abundant fish communities.
  • Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle (green, hawksbill, loggerhead, flatback, leatherback and olive ridley turtles) feed, nest and migrate through Torres Strait.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.