The Coral Sea Foundation initiated the Sea Women Great Barrier Reef program in 2022 to facilitate training and networking of First Nations women from around the Coral Sea arc. The program builds on the success of the award-winning Sea Women of Melanesia training program in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and operates from the Coral Sea Foundation base on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) with the consent of the Wulgurukaba traditional owners. This is an ideal location, as it is close to a regional city and airport, has all modern services including dive training facilities, and it has well developed fringing coral reefs that are easy to access.


To strengthen the connection between Indigenous women and their traditional Great Barrier Reef sea-country.

To empower indigenous women from Great Barrier Reef sea-country with the practical marine science skills and the marine conservation knowledge they need to be more effective advocates for sustainable management of their marine resources, both within their communities and the broader society.

To forge new links between indigenous Sea Women around the Coral Sea arc, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Torres Straits, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Program Delivery

In response to strong interest and demand from First Nations women along the Queensland coast and into the Torres Straits and Papua New Guinea, and fantastic support from our program partners, the Sea Women Great Barrier Reef training program is set to significantly expand in scope. The program will deliver a series of 6-week marine science and conservation intensive courses at Magnetic Island and the nearby areas of the Great Barrier Reef, supported by the Coral Sea Foundation team and our vessel fleet. During the training program, women will be interviewed for our documentary series and participate in mini-workshops and social science surveys to learn more about the barriers that First Nations women face in terms of their involvement and engagement in the marine conservation space.

Trainees would be selected from Queensland, Torres Straits and Papua New Guinea, and would gain the skills necessary to meet our Sea Women Level One Standard, which includes:

Scuba certification to Rescue Diver level

Advanced First Aid and Resuscitation certified

QLD Recreational Shipmasters licence

Ability to identify major groups of reef fishes and corals and perform the Sea Women Locally Managed Marine Area Survey Method.

Ability to use the Olympus TG6 geotagging camera systems for marine conservation surveys

Ability to use Google Earth and Garmin GPS systems for site selection and maritime navigation

Maritime expedition planning, risk assessment and security

Indigenous community engagement and leadership development

Our Sea Women Programs

The Sea Women Great Barrier Reef program is a geographic extension of the Sea Women of Melanesia training program, which started in Papua New Guinea in 2016 as a response to direct requests from Indigenous communities for assistance with conservation and management of their marine resources. The program empowers indigenous women with the training, skills, equipment, and resources they need to take an active role in helping Coral Triangle communities create and manage marine protected areas on their own reefs.

The Sea Women of Melanesia has been incorporated as a not-for-profit association in PNG, with 8 full time staff and offices in Port Moresby, Kimbe, and Alotau. The success of the program and the outstanding work of the indigenous female leaders has been recognised at the highest international levels, with the Sea Women of Melanesia receiving the United Nations “Champions of the Earth” Award in the Inspiration and Action category in December 2021.

With your support, we will continue expanding the scope of the Sea Women programs to First Nations communities around the Coral Sea Arc!

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