For Australian Rural Leadership Program Course 18 graduate Torres Webb, bridging divides is his life’s work, acting as a conduit linking culture, education, and science.
With a mantra to focus on ‘what’s strong rather than what’s wrong’, Far North Queenslander and Torres Strait man Torres Webb is a Cultural Capability Advisor with the CSIRO’s Office of Indigenous Engagement.
“It’s a role that affords me the opportunity to work with scientists to support Indigenous led approaches that strengthens and shares knowledge around land and sea management,” Torres said.
“Importantly it also makes it possible for true understanding and knowledge exchange to take place to support cultural best practice by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.”
It’s been a natural role for Torres to step in to, after years leading the way in improving outcomes for young people as a science educator, also with the CSIRO.
“I studied environmental science management at university and am now responsible for helping educators incorporate Indigenous science in the classroom,” Torres said.
“As a kid who was told graduating high school let alone university wouldn’t be likely, it’s a pretty great thing to be helping teachers teach better these days,” Torres said with a smile.
Early in his career he saw an ad for the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) in his local paper, The Torres Strait News, and decided to apply.
“That was nearly 10 years ago now and hindsight is a wonderful thing – I signed up thinking the time was right because I felt like a leader, but I was in my twenties, a baby!” Torres laughed.
“However, that’s the exact reason it couldn’t have come up at a better time, because it grounded me and put me in my place.
“I accepted I was someone growing in to a leadership role, and this opportunity gave me the platform to connect to new mentors and strengthen my network with people who had the same vision as me to improve the livelihoods of Indigenous Australians and start making inroads on finding the positives and the things worth celebrating,” he said.
“It gave me a really clear direction around the type of leader I needed to be – not wanted to be – and also gave me the spark to grow into that role and be able to support others too, especially the younger generation.”