Shalise Leesfield is a young, yet powerful warrior in the war against waste. For her efforts, the Year 6 student has recently been recognised with a Premier’s Community Service Award.
Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams visited St Columba Anglican School to present Shalise with her award. Members of Parliament may only present two of these awards per year to a nominee that is held in high regard in the community with strong ethical and community values.
Mrs Williams stated that Shalise’s ambitious efforts to conserve our marine life through initiatives such as her fishing line bin installations was the basis for her nominating the local eco-warrior.
“Shalise has been doing amazing work. She didn’t just see a problem, she actually did something about it,” Mrs Williams said.
Shalise is the first school-aged person to receive the prestigious award and hopes that this honour can further inspire her young peers to engage in activism.
“I believe that as kids we should have our voices heard. Everyone, even kids, who have a passion should pursue it and you should do anything you can to make it happen,” Shalise said.
What started as environmental studies inspired by her affinity with the ocean has led to Shalise presenting her ideas to both Local and State Government. Most recently she has been approved to receive part of an EPA funding from the State Government.
“When the first fishing line collection bins were installed I stepped back and looked at how well they were going. They were going fantastic so that is when I decided to apply with the council for an EPA grant. It got approved and I was so excited.
“With the grant, I will be able to install more of the bins around the region, I’ll be getting a local Ranger to monitor everything and make sure it is going great and also educational signage around the community displaying the harmful impacts fishing line and rubbish does have,” she said.
Speaking to members of Parliament excites Shalise and for her, it means the potential for change to protect the ocean that she loves.
“I have gone out in the ocean on a boat a few times and have seen some calf whales and some mother whales and it’s been so heart-warming. Whenever I do speeches or speak to people in Parliament I just think of the whales and I do my hardest,” she said.
Members of Parliament have heard Shalise’s message with Leslie William pledging her continued support of Shalise’s work as she presented her with the award.
“I have worked with Leslie in the past and still am. She’s just a lovely lady, she’s so supportive and I was happy to see her again and to receive the award. I am so grateful, I can’t believe it.”
Shalise hopes that she can continue to spread the message about plastic pollution and the effects on our marine life, especially in our SCAS Community.
“There have been some positive changes at SCAS with our bins, but I think we could go further. I’d encourage that everyone packs a blue lunch box. Blue stands for the ocean so that means packing a plastic-free lunch box using reusable containers.
“We could encourage more people to recycle and perhaps even get a special bin for bottles, cans and glass bottles that can be taken to recycling stations.”
To learn more from Shalise you can visit her Instagram @shaliseoceansupport.