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2015 Telstra VIC Business Women’s For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Winner – Jean Thomas

The 2015 Telstra
Victorian Business Women’s
For Purpose and Social Enterprise
Award winner is
Jean Thomas,
Tenkile Conservation Alliance.
# That tonight’s
gonna be a good night
# That tonight’s gonna be
a good night… #
Wow! (LAUGHS)Thank you so much, Telstra.This is an amazing honour.Thank you so much.I’m really privileged to be here.It’s a long way away from
Papua New Guinea, let me tell you.
I rarely get to go
to events like this,
so, you know,
when I come into rooms like this,
I’m in awe of white, clean
tablecloths and things like that.
So, thank you so much.
It’s such a privilege.13 years ago, my husband and I left
Australia to go to Papua New Guinea
and we were literally
thrown in the deep end.
And our go-to guy
who was in the country
basically said to us,“I’m leaving now.
I’m going to go back to Australia.
“Here’s the computer, here’s a car,
here’s a chequebook.”
And he basically said to us,
“You’ll work it out.”
So, it’s amazing what we’ve achieved
over the last 13 years.
I haven’t got an MBA.
I haven’t got any business training.
We don’t have a legal team.
We don’t have a marketing team.
We don’t have a PA.It’s just literally my husband and Iand we work directly with
the local people.
And over the last 13 years,
we’ve protected
not just the Tenkile
tree kangaroo –
there was only 100 left
when we got there,
there are now over 300 –there’s also the golden-mantled
tree kangaroo…
(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)..the northern glider,uh, species that you wouldn’t
have heard of,
and 100,000 hectares of pristine
rainforest is now protected
by working with these villagers.(APPLAUSE)So, even though our original mandatewas to protect animals
and rainforest,
we actually have evolved
into a holistic approach
to conservation and development.The development work that we’ve
achieved has been enormous.
We have implemented…distributed
350 water tanks to 50 communities.
Every single household has their own
toilet for the very first time.
They’ve never, ever had that before.So…
So, the impact of that meansthat there’s less transmission
of disease.
People don’t get diarrhoea.Diarrhoea was a regular occurrence
throughout the communities.
People just don’t have
diarrhoea anymore.
I was just there
a couple of weeks ago,
and one of the great stories
that came back to us
was that aid post officers –so, they’re like
the village health workers –
were basically complaining
’cause they had nothing to do.
So, what a great, significant
change story that is.
Thank you, again, so much, and it’s
been a real pleasure. Thank you.

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