18 May 2022

Sharone Carter, Lisa Burns and Margeret Van Den Bosch are all part of the tide of change in working on the waterfront at the Port of Mackay.

The North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) trio are part of a steady number of women working in traditionally male-majority roles like lines handling.

This inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime (18 May) they’re sharing their experiences in retrieving, handling, and securing ships, a role that differs from their day jobs.

[Sharone] my day job at NQBP is Property Coordinator and I am responsible for administering NQBP’s land and tenure portfolio across its four ports.

[Lisa] I’m the Senior Administration Officer supporting the Commercial Team with a broad range of financial and administration services.

[Margeret] As the Customer Service Officer I assist the Operations and Security Officers with updating the shipping schedules and keeping things ticking along. I also do administration, contract, and procurement support.

While it was the extra money that drew all three to lines handling, Sharone, Lisa and Margeret have all found unexpected enjoyment from the job.

[Sharone] I have been doing lines handling for 20 years, if I cast my mind back that far, being a single parent at the time I was first attracted by the opportunity to earn some additional income. I loved the idea of undertaking a role that was so different to anything I’d ever done before; it was exciting and so interesting.

[Lisa] One attraction was that it was not just a male dominated role, other women were already part of the lines handling crew. Another attraction was the opportunity to carry out a task that was completely different to my usual role within NQBP.

[Margeret] I saw an opportunity for me to learn and grow with new skills and to benefit personally, professionally and financially.

Prior to undertaking lines handling, Sharone, Lisa and Margeret were supported to upskill in the role. This meant formal training in lines handling as well as peer support and fitness and strength tests.

All three have very different reasons for why they enjoy and stay working in lines handling.

[Sharone] Watching massive vessels navigate, turn, and push alongside our wharves always impress me. I love having the opportunity to work with staff outside of the office, and I love seeing my fellow ‘Women in Maritime’ pulling lines and loving what they do. There’s a real comradeship with the lines handling crews

[Lisa] I enjoy the physical aspect of lines handling and being outdoors. It’s such a different role to my day job where I spend a lot of my time at a computer. I really enjoy the variety it gives me.

[Margeret] It’s really rewarding doing a hands-on role in a busy multi-commodity port. I get to work across four wharves which cater primarily to the export of sugar and grain, as well as the import of petroleum products and the import and export of break-bulk cargo. It’s such a diverse job!

Working more than 25 years combined in lines handling all three echo the same advice for other women thinking of jumping ship into the maritime industry.

[Sharone] Do not hesitate to get involved. It is such an interesting and welcoming industry. You don’t work alone, and you are well supported by your lines handling team. Together we secure a ships line or see a ship off all the while watching out for everyone’s safety whilst undertaking lines handling tasks.

[Lisa] Give it a go, you’ll enjoy it!

[Margeret] The only one size fits all advice I can give is this: do what will make you a successful working woman in any job you do, based on your skills, talents, passions, and goals.