Information is key in Pittwater Council environment regulations role, Carolyn Rance writes.
Emma Mackay spent much of her childhood and early career travelling but she's now working closer to home, helping Pittwater residents understand local laws and regulations.
As one of Pittwater Council's two environmental compliance education officers, she has a broad role, helping staff with compliance duties to get their messages through to the public.
She works with rangers, building development officers, environmental health officers, and the waste management team, organising events, preparing brochures and ensuring information reaches the people who need it.
She also promotes sustainability and encourages recycling, composting and vegetable-growing.
"I create the waste calendars that are sent out to residents and I am preparing information on changes to the clean up and recycling collections that will take place next year. I organise workshops on composting and worm farming and run them in schools. I work with schools on the Ready Set Grow program that is supported by the state government. The variety is the thing I really like about my job," she says.
It's not surprising. Mackay became used to change early, travelling frequently between Sydney and Europe when her father worked for Alcatel.
She did most of her primary schooling in Belgium and, after returning to Australia, did a student exchange to Singapore during her secondary education.
After school she studied for an advanced diploma in Asia Pacific marketing and worked with large hotel chains here and overseas.
"I went into hospitality because I wanted to continue to travel. I did back office work and organised banquets and events."
Her next job was with Student Exchange Australia and its sister organisation Student Placement Australia, organising exchange programs and scholarships for high school and university students in countries across the globe.
"I loved giving other people opportunities to travel and learn new languages. We worked with partner organisations in other countries and held people's hands from the time they applied to the time they finished.
"It was quite a shock for a lot of people to go to countries where they didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language. There's always an adjustment period but student exchanges work really well for most people and they come back fluent, more mature and often with a lifelong passion for travel. It can be a life- changing experience."
After seven years, Mackay decided she needed a job that would give her more time at home and she moved into her current role four years ago.
"I still like the idea of being able to help people and not having to sit in an office all day. A big part of my job is organising events.
"They include the annual Dog Day by the Bay and this year we offered free dog training and companion animal education nights.
"I am updating the food safety folder that is given to all the food businesses in Pittwater and I have prepared information on building regulations.
"I'm also organising stalls at markets and shopping centres to provide information on new swimming pool regulations that require swimming pool and spa owners to be on a statewide register."