Sue Haseldine said she was proud to have received the 20th annual Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection at the SA Environment Awards last month.
Hosted by Conservation SA, the awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge South Australians who give their time, expertise and passion to help protect the environment, with special presenters on the night including the Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs.
The Jill Hudson Award is the event’s top honour and is awarded in memory of Jillian Hudson, who was born, lived, studied, taught and died in South Australia.
Most of her working life was spent teaching primary school children, and she had strong concerns for the environment and made sure these concerns were passed on to her students.
Ms Haseldine was recognised for a lifetime of work aimed at protecting and caring for the environment.
A proud Kokatha Elder, she has campaigned to defend land and people against nuclear testing, which culminated in the award of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize as part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Another cause close to her heart is the situation of drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Ms Haseldine said she did not expect to win the award.
“I was pretty surprised and proud to get it,” she said.
“It is a prestigious award and not something I was expecting at all.
“This ranks pretty high for me, it is a great achievement to be recognised for the work you do.”
Ms Haseldine has spoken on behalf of ICAN about her experience growing up in Koonibba in the 1950s, in the shadow of nuclear testing at Maralinga.
“What first started me down the path was the Maralinga fallout, that led me down the path to fight for the rights of life – all life – and the environment,” she said.
“I don’t want to see anything like that happen again and we need to remember our past to fight for the future.
“Regarding the Bight, it is not just marine life, but is about people dependent on that life – and it is a way of life for me too through my cultural background.”
Conservation SA chief executive officer Craig Wilkins said it was great to recognise environmental activists from across the state.
“South Australia is blessed with so many wonderful people looking after our environment,” he said.
“It is such a thrill to acknowledge and celebrate their enormous contribution.”
Ms Haseldine said she would continue to fight for causes she believed in and said others could get involved on a local level.
“To get started you can say no, and you can speak to politicians, asking them to look after us and the environment and not the corporations, who don’t look after the environment.”