Local wildlife warrior

COMMITTED: Emily Rawlins has been very active in the community, organising events and supporting the local music scene.
COMMITTED: Emily Rawlins has been very active in the community, organising events and supporting the local music scene.

Emily Rawlings is no stranger to advocating for Whyalla’s environment – it’s been a big part of her life since Year 9. 

In fact she’s one of few people to unearth some of the shocking waste in our beach. Taking time out of her day to trawl through the water, Emily collected so much rubbish she made a sculpture out of it.

“We had to do a project on Junk to Funk for Community Studies and I decided I wanted to do something other than dresses, so I decided to make a jellyfish out of the rubbish,” she said.

Items that were pulled out of the sea to become the Junky Jellyfish included: a fan head, an old lamp, rope, a toothbrush, lighters, a puffer, lip balm, and much more.

Using sculptures like the jellyfish, Emily aimed to demonstrate the impact pollution has on the ocean.

“There was a lot of little things in there, especially microplastics. There’s so much microplastic coming into our ocean. I also found a lot of cigarette butts,” she said.

“But the main thing I found was glass. I ended up creating a sculpture using the thongs I found on top of the glass to show that that’s what we’re walking on.”

Emily first became an advocate after participating in Clean Up Australia Day at school.

“I started picking up rubbish around school every morning in Year 10. On Friday afternoon me and a friend would go down to the beach and cover the perimeter with a bag,” she said.

“We would have one bag full of rubbish and the other for cans and bottles. We would collect the cans and cash them in at the end of the month, sending the funds down to a chicken rescue in Stirling.”

Emily says the desire to clean up the shores came from her time fishing with her family.

“When I was a kid I used to see how much rubbish there was on the beach, that used to really upset me. So I’ve always had a connection with the ocean,” she said.

One thing about Emily is that she is always busy – being a member of the Youth Advisory Committee, a 5YYY presenter, and a very active local musician.

Emily runs the Sunday Jukebox on 5YYY, playing old music for listeners around Whyalla while promoting local events. She’s currently also helping revamp the building 5YYY is based in.

“I love working with the Whyalla Music Association, a few months ago I helped organise the Road Safety Centre gig. With the help of Brain Kawczyk and Paul Travers I got some young musicians together to perform,” she said.

She’s helped out with a number of community events, and even baked for 24 hours straight to support a fundraiser for Zia and Cyanne Westerman’s new van.

With all that on her plate, it’s a wonder she still has time for a part time job.