“We were one of the first communities in Queensland to prevent the approval of a proposed coal mine. Throughout the five years, friends and others told us repeatedly we wouldn’t win, but we were able to carry on in spite of this.” Hanna McCreath
Hanna McCreath is a SecondMuse Associate, supporting LAUNCH and SecondMuse programmes. Prior to joining SecondMuse, Hanna worked in People and Culture for a youth-led development organisation, transforming the organisation’s processes and strategy. She has experience in creating environments for individuals to build leadership towards creating social change. Hanna graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2015 with a B.A in politics and international relations, and geography.
In today’s blog, we invite you to meet Hanna and hear more about her background, her passion for making our world a better place, and her vision for a better, brighter future.
Hanna, what inspired your passion for the work you do at SecondMuse?
I grew up on a farm in Queensland, an hour from the town where I attended school. In many ways it was an idyllic childhood – exploring every corner of the place with my two sisters, learning to put our energy into caring for animals and plants, being walked to the school bus by our pet pig Spotty. I imagined being a farmer when I ‘grew up’, and took every opportunity to be on the farm as was possible. But when I was 12, a coal mining company proposed a plan to mine the valley in which we lived. This would not only take away our farm, but destroy the physical and social environment. This was the beginning of a five year battle against the mine – five years which radically changed the way I understood the world, and my role within it. I was exposed to many challenging issues – the changing environment and climate, to historical injustices inflicted upon Australian First Nations people, the relationship between corporations and our governments. Among these, was an enduring lesson on the power of communities to create change.
Since then I have landed in a mixture of places, taking opportunities I’ve been fortunate to have come my way. Often at the heart of these opportunities was a person or group of people I admired – young people volunteering their time to work toward a future free of poverty, others who gave countless hours trying to enable a government that would bring about a better future. At SecondMuse, it’s a different kind of community of colleagues and partners committed to collaborating and working in new and unusual ways to drive change in the areas closest to society’s health.
How have you applied those experiences from the farm in Queensland to the work you do today at SecondMuse?
If there’s one thing I’m increasingly realising, it’s that I’m pretty ineffective on my own. Only through speaking with people, exploring ideas and sharing feedback have I found myself producing meaningful outcomes. For me, this means I often preference amazing teams over amazing work. I try to find people near me who may challenge me in a certain way, bring a new perspective, or reassure me that an idea isn’t so crazy after all. In my everyday work, I’m lucky to work in an office with people who provide these insights, but I also look to mentorship and close friends to fulfill this requirement.
I mentioned earlier the coal mine the community I lived near fought over five years. We were one of the first communities in Queensland to prevent the approval of a proposed coal mine. Throughout the five years, friends and others told us repeatedly we wouldn’t win, but we were able to carry on in spite of this. That experience has instilled a determination which, however frustrating it can be at times, encourages me to persevere when I believe something to be the right path. This can be both a strength and a weakness, and learning how to follow this in a truly collaborative environment is something I continue to explore.
What are your aspirations and ways you hope to make an impact over the next year or few years?
As I’m sure anyone at any given time has said, it feels like our society is at a point which is exciting and simultaneously vulnerable. We are revolutionising the way we work, live and interact, and it has the potential to be immensely beneficial for society and the environment, or it could continue to entrench inequalities and degradation. I passionately believe that young people have the ability to create utopias for our society – something we can aim toward as we navigate shifts and complex questions. Over the next few years, I would love to explore ways through which we may achieve this.
SecondMuse is a special place in lots of ways, but particularly in that it is an environment where I feel safe to push myself and put myself into situations I otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable with. This creates an incredible learning condition, especially when it is surrounded by incredible thinkers and challengers. Personally, this provides an invaluable opportunity to experiment, learn and strengthen my understanding of key issues. And as a community, it gives us the potential to continue to be deliberative in the kind of futures we want to work toward.