Meet AWC’s interns: Chalali Holness

Brad Leue/AWC

AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Chalali Holness shares her experiences below.


When did you start your internship? How are you finding it?

I started in May with the The Pilliga team. I am thoroughly enjoying my time with AWC. 


What are your long-term goals in the science field?

I would like to learn more about the industry and eventually move up to my Country in the West Cape York, a small community called Kowanyama. Here I can help my people and hopefully integrate or expand on the knowledge I have learnt at AWC for the benefit of the native lands, animals, culture and people. Whether that is as a ranger or through an expansion of an AWC program I am hopeful and open to all options. 


How did you hear about AWC’s science program?

Through a family member who is a botanist previously involved with the Sydney Botanical Gardens.


What enticed you to apply?

It has always been a dream of mine to move into a career that will benefit my people and work closely with Indigenous practices and cultures. As a First Nations person I always want to keep my Country in the forefront of my mind no matter what I do. It has been a heart-warming experience seeing the Science and Operations teams across the industry use Indigenous names for native wildlife, as well as integrating any Indigenous practices that they have learnt into the industry. 


Chalali With Stripe Faced Dunnart
Chalali holding a Stripe-faced Dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura). V Stokes/AWC


What were some of your expectations going in?

I had no expectations only hope and excitement for anything and everything that I could learn.   


Have any elements of the program surprised you?

Just how stunning the properties are that the teams work on. The depth of work behind each action implemented. It is not all fluffy cute animals and fun times there is a lot of decisions made before an animal is translocated or a trip is made. There is risk involved working with wildlife yet AWC take every precaution necessary to ensure animals, workers and visitors are safe at all times. 


Have you experienced any unique or key takeaway moments during the internship? 

Being able to travel with the Pilliga team to Arid Recovery in Roxby Downs and be involved in the translocation of the Plains Mice was a momentous occasion. 


Would you recommend the internship to others interested in science-led conservation and why?

Yes, if this area is your passion, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is a perfect company to work for. It is clear each and every team member is strongly passionate about their work and wants to dedicate their energy and faith into creating a supportive and thriving environment for their native animals and plants as well as their workers, volunteers and supporters. 

Each team member will go above and beyond to leave a lasting positive impression and ensure everyone is developing and implementing the appropriate models of conservation.