Maddy Braddon is a born campaigner. From flood recovery to renewable energy, she’s worked with grass-roots programs such as Lock the Gate and Lismore Helping Hands, before landing her current job as Research Assistant, at the University Centre for Rural Health in Lismore.
With a research focus that explores mental health, wellbeing and community resilience after extreme weather events, Maddy’s passion for regional communities is a common thread.
“I’ve spent much of my life moving between small towns in rural NSW and my approach to change-making stems from a growing understanding that we share common experiences and skills that unite us in the face of adversity,” says Maddy.
Her words could not be more profound as we find ourselves sharing a common experience, globally, because of the pandemic.
“Many communities around the world right now are feeling ‘virtually’ united in the face of adversity – striving for global resilience in a sense, while sadly others are being totally forgotten. Having support networks and viable communication channels is crucial for our individual, family and community wellbeing at this time.”
Since completing her Bachelor of Environmental Science/Bachelor of Marine Science and Management in 2017, Maddy has been building her work around this approach, saying the research skills she gained from this degree were priceless.
“The degree gave me a window into our incredible natural environment and that’s had a big impact on how I look at the world around me and approach the challenges of our time. Experiencing the 2017 Lismore flood as a community volunteer, a climate activist and having studied environmental science, has helped me better appreciate the interconnectedness of people and our natural environment,” says Maddy.
The research she’s currently undertaking at the University Centre for Rural Health encompasses the broader climate change impacts such as drought, fire, flood and heatwaves and how that affects our mental health in rural areas, particularly for people who are already doing it tough.
“I'm really excited about this work, and Southern Cross gave me the strong foundation I needed to be part of this important research. With my interest in climate justice and building community resilience, I have the best toolkit possible.”
Maddy’s favourite University experiences included the unit 'Coral Reefs on the Edge' at Heron Island, swimming with turtles and reef sharks; and fundraising for a trip to Sumatra where she learned about human-elephant conflict and how to support environmental and societal issues globally.
“We live in a changing world and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to undertake these activities during the course,” says Maddy.
Maddy won the Lismore Chamber of Commerce Darcy Goodwin Community Service Award for her contributions to the recovery efforts after the 2017 Lismore floods. She was a Southern Cross University Young Alumnus of the Year finalist in 2019 for her community leadership to address issues affecting the environment and Lismore community.
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