18 May 2023

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) is proud to participate in the global celebration of Women in Maritime.

This annual day, held on 18 May, elevates the roles and contributions of women in the maritime industry while advocating for efforts to address the existing gender imbalance.

Hear the insights from two of NQBP’s remarkable female staff members, Senior Administration Officer Lisa Burns, and Operations and Security Officer Leanne Ashenden.

Both women share their experiences, discuss why they chose to join the maritime industry, explore the challenges they have encountered, and what they find most rewarding about their work.

What is your role in the organisation?

[Leanne] This is my tenth year working as an Operations and Security Officer (OSO) for NQBP in Mackay. This includes working a 24/7 roster, monitoring CCTV security cameras, conducting regular patrols of the Port, supervising lines crew, coordinating shipping schedules, and working with pilots via VHF from the wharf for shipping arrivals and departures.

[Lisa] I am the Senior Administration Officer and support the Commercial and Maritime Services team as well as the broader organisation. I also partake in lines handling outside of my usual administration role.

Why the maritime industry?

[Leanne] 16 years ago, I was offered the opportunity to work as a ship’s agent. After that, there was no other interest than working in the maritime industry. I fell in love with the ships, the ocean and helping people from all around the world.

[Lisa] I started working for Mackay Port Authority (MPA) in Oct 1989 at the Mackay Airport office, then transferred to the Harbour office in 1994. After a few years, I resigned to have children but returned in 2007 and am still here 16 years later.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced?

[Leanne] The weather can be quite challenging when working on the wharf. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to position the larger ships in the berth pockets and into position for cargo operations.

[Lisa] The weather can be a challenge at times especially when it’s cold, windy, and raining whilst carrying out lines handling duties.

What do you love about it?

[Leanne] I love working in our beautiful surroundings of the Mackay Harbour, the people and the magnificent ships!

[Lisa] I enjoy my role because I can work across different areas of the business internally as well as deal with many people in port-related businesses externally through meetings and various functions.

I also enjoy carrying out lines handling duties, which is a task outside my usual role within NQBP.  I find this very rewarding to be able to work alongside other women also doing this work.

Not only is the extra money a draw card to carry out lines handling, but it is also great to work alongside other staff who I wouldn’t normally get to see.

Having the opportunity to see the large vessels up close coming in and out of the harbour is very impressive.

Images for download

Image 1: NQBP Operations and Security Officer (OSO) Leanne Ashenden's passion for the maritime industry has grown since she started as a shipping agent 16 years ago.

Image 2: NQBP Senior Administration Officer Lisa Burns wears many hats at the Port of Mackay.