Celebrating our women in waste

Meet just a few of our people who are leading the way for women in the waste management industry.

Our People

March 6, 2020


"I strongly believe that no matter where we come from, the size of our bank account, the colour of our skin or even where we went to school, we all bleed the same."


"I strongly believe that no matter where we come from, the size of our bank account, the colour of our skin or even where we went to school, we all bleed the same."

For International Women’s Day, we interviewed team members from a variety of roles to get their thoughts on diversity and inclusion in the waste management industry.

Rosa Naseri
Project Process Engineer, Liquid & Technical Services (Narangba, QLD)

After almost ten years working as a project/process engineer, I had the opportunity in 2017 to join Cleanaway as a technical supervisor and after almost two years I got promoted to my current role.

Working on different projects with different people and organisations is the best part of my job at Cleanaway. This provides a constant challenge and plenty of opportunities to learn and grow.

On this year’s International Women’s Day theme – ‘Each for Equal’ – I strongly believe if each one of us can help to create a gender equal world, our world will be a wealthier, healthier and more peaceful place. An inclusive and diverse workplace produces happier and more productive employees who will feel valued, welcomed, integrated and included in the workforce, which is crucial to growing and sustaining businesses.

I see professional development as a way towards equality, and that’s why I am planning to become a chartered chemical engineer – the gold standard in process engineering which demonstrates the professional competencies and commitment to employers, policy makers, regulators and society.

To women who are keen to join the waste management industry – don’t be afraid to follow your passion and stay motivated. People will have no choice but to respect you once you have proven yourself and your abilities.

Rosa won the Continuous Improvement award in the 2019 Cleanaway Star Awards. She showed tremendous initiative, patience and diligence to turn ship bunker waste into a value-add product.

Natalie Morton
Operations Supervisor, Solid Waste Services (Katoomba, NSW)

Taking over the Katoomba depot is what I have loved most about my job. It wasn’t long before the team all gave respect and support and were happy to take on the challenge with me to make Katoomba better. I also love that I’m spending half of my time in the office and the other half driving my truck, which gives me both freedom and knowledge. The interaction with the community is also something I’m passionate about as I love the challenge of helping the underdog and keeping local small businesses going.

What do I think about ‘Each for Equal’ this International Women’s Day? Earn respect for the work you do. Don’t ask for what you can’t and won’t do.

My workplace is very inclusive – the respect and support I receive from all around me has made me feel very welcome. Training is still required for some with outdated views, but I believe they are a minority now. Plus, Cleanaway has a Diversity and Inclusion Policy Statement that supports a diverse work culture.

To make equality work, we need an attitude to learn, a willingness to listen and the flexibility to take on more training. I’ve learnt more from other people during my time here and realised that my way is not always right.

A woman looking to make a career in the waste management industry should first make sure this is what you really want as it’s very physically and mentally demanding. As a truck driver and as part of the management I know firsthand how the hours can consume you – not just for a woman but for everyone in the industry. But it is still rewarding all the same.

Natalie won the Community Spirit award for coordinating a work role for Blake, a young truck enthusiast with disability.

Terri Kerse
Operations Supervisor, Solid Waste Services (Chevron Wheatstone, WA)

Working for Cleanaway for the past seven years has presented me with so many opportunities. My Cleanaway journey started out in the Malaga workshop. I chose to make quite a big lifestyle change in accepting my first fly in/fly out job as resource operations coordinator on the Chevron Wheatstone contract. It was a daunting change, but I felt welcomed and comfortable from day one.

Within my first 12 months I earned a promotion and I am now the operations supervisor. I continue to learn from the waste veterans around me and grow my knowledge every day. I really enjoy my job and have no regrets in the path I chose to take. I receive nothing but support and encouragement from my managers and the whole Cleanaway Wheatstone team and I look forward to a brilliant future here.

Tianna Milovanovic
Regional Account Manager, TOMRA Cleanaway (Tamworth, NSW)

I started with TOMRA Cleanaway in December 2017 working in the administration side of things in Tamworth, NSW, just as the container deposit scheme (CDS) was being rolled out. My family and I were very keen collectors so when the opportunity popped up to join TOMRA Cleanaway I jumped at it. Working for a company I respect in a role I love was an easy decision for me.

TOMRA Cleanaway is responsible for the Return and Earn container deposit scheme in NSW, with over three billion containers returned since it began in 2018. The success of the scheme can’t be pinned down to just a single aspect. So much effort has gone into the scheme behind the scenes from more than one group to be able to provide Return and Earn to the public. It’s the public’s response to it that has seen the numbers skyrocket – without all our avid collectors out there we wouldn’t have hit such high collection rates in such a short time.

My role as a regional account manager sees me working alongside the backbone rural and remote communities of our state. Seeing such tiny communities collect such huge numbers used to surprise me at the start. Return and Earn isn’t just a form of income to these communities and businesses – it’s also an avenue to support people, sporting clubs and charities. People in the bush are honestly the kindest and most giving I have ever come across and working closely with them gives me an even greater sense of respect and pride knowing I’m helping to support them. This is exactly why I love my job so much.

I work with an incredible team with a fantastic support network behind me. I have really enjoyed forming relationships with all my sites and I get to see some of the most spectacular parts of our state in my travels. Honestly, it couldn’t get any better!

The core message for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Each for Equal’. I strongly believe that no matter where we come from, the size of our bank account, the colour of our skin or even where we went to school, we all bleed the same. We all walk the same earth, breath the same air, and no one is above or below another. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, “Let us be judged on the content of our character.”

Using the first letter of my first name, an adjective that best describes me would be ‘thankful’. I am grateful for every milestone and step in my life. Both good and bad, they have moulded me into the person I am today.

My vision for an inclusive workplace is one where everyone supports each other and raises each other up with words and actions. It should be a place where everyone feels welcome because they belong.

I believe that investing in my professional success is one step towards equality. With that said,
I intend to enrol in a leadership course. Not necessarily to obtain a position in leadership, but to learn how to better support my teammates.

To women looking to join the waste management industry, I would say DO IT! One of my supervisors once said to me: “In a world where economies are crashing and people are losing jobs daily, there will always be one industry that remains strong – the waste industry.” And those words have never been truer. The waste industry is more than just smelly rubbish. It’s about making a difference today, for a better world tomorrow.

During the recent bushfires, Tianna displayed great initiative by starting a donation drive amongst southern NSW communities to collect food and other supplies for fire and rescue crews.

Sydney Dolan and Tegan Hayward
High Pressure Water Jet Operators, Industrial & Waste Services (Whyalla, SA)

Sydney: We joined Cleanaway in September 2019 and are currently training to be all-rounders in the industrial cleaning field, specifically aiming to operate hydrovacs and hydrojets, amongst other equipment.

With these projects, I’ve been gaining lots of new experiences and developing skills. I’m really thankful that Cleanaway is helping me obtain my Heavy Rigid (HR) truck licence and everything else needed to fulfil my role here.

For International Women’s Day 2020, the theme ‘Each for Equal’ means to me that all women are equal to men and we deserve the same opportunities as anyone else. My vision for an inclusive workplace is what I currently experience – the jetting boys are always full of encouragement whenever we work together. I would strongly encourage more women to join the waste management industry. At Cleanaway, we always have all the support we need from the boys and our supervisors.

If I were to use the first letter of my first name to describe myself, it would be ‘sassy’, because why not? That’s who I am.

Tegan: We’re really pleased to have already completed several projects such as an intensive 40-day pellet plant cold shutdown, as well as cleaning of coke ovens and gas mains.

I love learning new skills like operating the hydrovac and hydrojets. It’s a different job every day and it helps that my social life has gotten a lot better ever since I started working at Cleanaway!

To me, equality is all about treating everyone the same way, whether you’re a man or a woman. I think it’s great now that more females are joining the team – this shows how inclusive our workplace is. I find Cleanaway is the best workforce to get into as all the guys are very supportive of the work we do.

If I were to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘tactful’ – I have the skills and sensitivity in dealing with people or with difficult issues.

Sydney and Tegan’s supervisor, Ian Cameron (Health, Safety & Environment Advisor/Driver Trainer) said, “Both of them have proven to be valuable team members out in the field performing industrial vacuum and water blasting tasks. They’re currently documenting all of their equipment and experience hours to eventually be senior operators.”

Sheree Giffin
Executive Assistant to the General Manager, Solid Waste Services (Malaga, WA)

I started working with Cleanaway in October 2018, six months after the birth of my second child. My background has predominantly been within the construction and property industries, so coming into waste management has been a new world of learning.
What I love most about my job is the variety, the challenges, the people that I work with and the flexibility to be able to manage both work and care for two young children. Every day there is something new to learn about the waste industry. My role allows me to be a part of the leadership team where I can be a voice for my colleagues and have our views and ideas heard.

‘Each for Equal’ to me means every single person within an organisation, a workplace, or a home works towards the same goal of mutual respect and understanding of each other. An equal world is an enabled world!

An adjective that best describes me would be ‘smart’, with a little bit of ‘silly’. I’m very head strong and I know right from wrong. When it comes to making decisions with both work and personal life, I’m very smart and think things through without being too hasty. Then again, I also like to put a little bit of silly in there and you’ll often find me laughing (maybe a little too loud) around the office.

My vision of an inclusive workplace is one that makes all employees feel welcome, valued and included in the workplace. To have their ideas, views and thoughts heard and respected. It’s important to create a positive workplace environment that encourages respect for others – where no one is isolated or left to feel like they must work alone.

I’d encourage any woman looking to join the waste industry to do so! The perception is that the waste industry is a male-driven one, obviously due to a lot of truck drivers being male, and we therefore don’t get many women applying for those roles. The waste industry itself doesn’t always sound appealing at first, but there is so much more than emptying rubbish bins or going to the tip! Cleanaway has a number of women in senior leadership positions and it is always great to be a part of a company that sees women as equal and to work alongside them across the many different departments here at Cleanaway.

Sue Julius
Senior Health & Safety Business Partner, Industrial & Waste Services

I joined Cleanaway last year as the Senior HSBP for the Liquid Waste Services business. Prior to that, I had over 20 years of experience in oil refining, manufacturing, oil and gas, engineering and transport. Most recently I’ve been asked to take on the same role for our Industrial & Waste Services business so I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

I love that my job is so varied. No two days in safety are ever the same, so I get to draw on experiences from my chemistry degree and from working in oil refining, oil and gas, mining and transport, and share those learnings into the business. I also absolutely love getting out with the guys in the field. I love that our operators are open and willing to share their experiences with me and teach me about the high-risk work that they do every single day and how they control those risks. So, I learn something new every single day, which is something that I love.

For me, ‘Each for Equal’ means every one of us working together towards a more equitable workplace and ultimately a more equitable world. Each of us is responsible for our own thoughts and actions, and we can actively challenge stereotypes, fight biases and remove barriers. This isn’t simply a woman’s issue – it’s a business and a global issue. How we act and our mindsets can have a significant impact on our workplace and our society.

If I were to choose just one adjective to describe myself, the obvious one would have to be ‘safe’. I live and breathe safety on a day to day basis, inside and outside of work. In fact, my friends like to call me Safety Sue. Another word I’d like to describe myself would be ‘spirited’. For anyone who knows me, they know that I’m not backwards in coming forward, and I like to challenge the status quo so we can all move to a better, more safe position.

I believe that an inclusive workplace is one that celebrates our diversity. A workplace where there’s a sense of belonging, connection and community at work – where we can bring our whole selves to work and feel safe doing so.

Something that I am working on is mindfulness, both inside and outside the workplace. I’m working on my ability to stay focused and yet remain flexible, particularly in those high stress situations. I’ve mentioned before that I love the diversity every day at work, but sometimes this means it can feel a little hectic. I need to be able to switch between tasks easily and quickly and often this means switching between a very creative approach and one that’s quite analytical. I’m working on strategies to help me remain calm and focused, using tools that clearly set agreed expectations, and ensuring effective communication with stakeholders so that my team and I can deliver results that exceed their expectations.

Don’t be afraid of the perception that waste management is a blokey industry. It’s not all about bins and garbos. The innovation and technological advances that are happening every single day provide a wealth of roles and opportunities. Women bring a different perspective and skillset to the organisation, and it’s that diversity that can help us build success for the business, and ultimately make a sustainable future a reality.

Contact us today to learn more about how we make an inclusive and sustainable future possible for communities and businesses across Australia.