[Onscreen text: DEECA celebrates: Int. Day of Women and Girls in Science 2023]

Elly Hanrahan: Hi, I'm Elly, I am a project officer and a firefighter at DEECA, and I have a background in environmental science. Representation is definitely important to have those really valuable role models. When I left high school, I met this girl, she was a few years older than me. She told me she was doing her Ph.D. in organic chemistry, and I just remember thinking, Wow, she can do that?

I had to stop myself and be like, of course girls can study science. I thought, what am I really, truly passionate about? And I went and enrolled in an environmental science degree. Currently, I work as a project officer coordinating The Community Based Bushfire Management Project in Port Phillip. But I started as a project firefighter. In the 2018-2019 bushfire season,

[Onscreen text: 2018-2019 Eastern Victorian Bushfires]

it was something different to be on the frontlines realising, hey, something is really broken on the ground here. I wanted to understand what that was. I started researching methodologies to understand how the natural water system would have looked in Australia before colonisation. I came across the Rehydration Methodology. 200 years ago when Australia was colonised by settlers. Some of the first things that were implemented were big scale drainage projects.

Water was quickly channeled into streams, creating erosion, gullies and destruction. What this methodology aims to do is just put speed bumps in the waterway, slow water down, and really make itself available for the surrounding environment.

[Onscreen text: Landscape Rehydration Methodology Trial]

I talked to Monash University about creating a partnership with three honours students to trial this methodology over 2022. We use lots of natural materials to hold the sediment behind the structure and let the water pass through, slowly, creating a fertile bed for more vegetation to begin growing.

The trial was incredibly successful. Fuel moisture increased as well as relative humidity, which are two key criteria for understanding whether an environment is going to be flammable or not. Science is for everyone. Scientific exploration is just skyrocketing. We have to have as many people as we can thinking about those possibilities and where we can take them.

[Onscreen image: DEECA logo, Victoria State Government, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action]

Page last updated: 14/02/23