The Care for Hedland Environmental Association is the perfect example of a community-driven organisation thriving on the passion of its members.
Care for Hedland started in 2003 and, according to founder and chairperson Kelly Howlett, its aims are still the same – to connect people with their local environment, and to build on that connection to get people passionate about looking after it.
Perhaps the highest profile of the group’s projects is the award-winning flatback turtle monitoring program. This work fills an important role for awareness and conservation of this threatened species which nests and hatches its young along the North West coast.
But with the November to March monitoring season now at an end, the group is turning its focus to other popular programs, all of which have a focus on sustainability.
Kelly says volunteer members are very active in participating in activities of the Hedland Garden Club, the local branch of the Containers for Change program, and Adopt-a-Spot which focuses on litter clean-ups.
The Hedland Garden Club has been running since 2006, educating local people about gardening in the Pilbara and getting them enthused about growing their own organic produce. It runs the RSL Community Garden in South Hedland where people can get involved in practical ways.
“With the weather turning a bit nicer, the gardening season is ramping up and we are getting back into the community garden again,” Kelly says.
People can volunteer to help keep the garden productive and weed-free or take part in regular workshops which are currently being delivered via Facebook Live.
Care for Hedland’s Containers For Change depot recently marked a milestone of 2 million containers returned this year alone. The depot at 15 Moorambine Street, Wedgefield, is open from 8am-4pm weekdays and 8am-1pm Saturdays, with friendly staff happy to receive eligible beverage containers, which are worth 10 cents each. Volunteers man the monthly mobile collection points that are held in both Port and South Hedland.
The Adopt-a-Spot program is a long-running campaign where volunteers meet to pick up litter at specified sites on the second Saturday of each month from 7-8.30am.
Kelly says new volunteers are always welcome in any of the group’s programs.
“We’ve had thousands of people go through our initiatives over nearly 20 years,” she said. “It’s a great way to meet new people and make a difference in the community.
“Everything we do is community-driven. Our group really fills the leadership space for the natural environment in Hedland. All of our programs have a real impact in the local area and beyond.”