My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
We spoke to actress and For the Love Of ambassador Jess Tovey about what the Great Barrier Reef means to her.
Why are you participating in For the Love Of the Reef?
There are so many reasons why I decided to participate in the For the Love of the Reef campaign. The main reason is obvious. At a time where the Reef is being threatened by so many forces, I think everyone needs to do what they can to protect this World Heritage site. It's hard to believe we even have to convince our Governments how important the protection of this place is to every Australian and many around the world. The chain reaction of devastation that would be caused by the extension of the port at Abbot Point is too vast for us to even imagine and we really must do whatever we can to protect the Reef and the thousands of species that call it home.
When did you first fall in love with the Reef?
I've always loved the outdoors and wildlife and The Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest area seemed like a holy place for the nature lovers of Australia. When I was 20 I had a week off filming Home and Away and decided to travel there on my own. I stayed up at Cape Tribulation and it poured with rain non stop. On the last day, the sun came out and I went on a Reef snorkel dive. It was the most incredible day.
The tour guides ran a very eco friendly experience and they were so enthusiastic about spreading the message of the danger the Reef was facing. They pointed out all the different species, explained how the changes in weather and pollution were affecting their survival and located pockets of coral bleaching so we could see for ourselves. It was frightening to witness but at the same time a breathtaking experience. Swimming amongst the fish and coral was so peaceful and minutes before we left for the day, this beautiful turtle swam past me, centimetres from my face. I can't imagine, after having that experience how you could not want to do everything in your power to protect that place.
What's going to keep you focused on days when you are tempted by sweets and treats?
Ha- well, I'll think about all of the people supporting me through the weeks, who are counting on me to abstain for the time. Doing the 4 degree challenge I have one advantage that I am already a vego so that part should be easy. But yes, sugar and the odd glass of wine are definitely going to be my biggest challenge. It's worth it though, 110%
What's your Reef spirit animal?
Well after swimming with that turtle I kind of want to say that, but I think I'm kidding myself to imagine I'm that graceful and wise yet. So till I'm older and more graceful, I'll say the Cardinal Fish- like me they have big eyes and a big mouth and are generally nocturnal.
What would your message be to the young Australians of AYCC?
I would high five every single one of you. I'm always so impressed by the enthusiasm and hard work of the organisation. I've proudly worked with you for some years and it gives me hope that this country's future is brighter than it's current state. It's hard to fight against such powerful companies but it is working. People are seeing the value in protecting our environment and securing the health and wellbeing of our future. I'm so proud to be working with you guys again.
Join Jess Tovey in protecting the Reef at https://fortheloveof.org.au