Last night over 350 people gathered at the AIS Arena to celebrate Canberra’s volunteer workforce…
“My goal or dream is for Canberra to be the most liveable city in the world year after year—and for us, Australia, and the rest of the world to believe it.”
When Tara Cheyne was little, she wanted to be everything from a teacher to the Prime Minister. She grew up to study journalism and, late in her degree, realised she wanted not to just report stories, but to create them. Working in the public service has allowed her to do that in many ways, but her blog, In the Taratory, and her community involvement have taken this further.
Where Tara really identifies is as part of the ‘Canberra Pride’ movement. “I’m just one voice of many,” she says, “but together I think we’ve doggedly kept at trying to change perceptions about Canberra—for Canberrans themselves as well as those in broader Australia and overseas—and there’s a sense of change.”
It’s an impassioned response from someone who moved to Canberra as recently as 2008 as a graduate in the Australian Public Service. “I’d never visited Canberra before—not even on a school trip—and I had no idea what I was in for. I knew deep inside that the decision was the right one, but I didn’t know why or what was waiting for me—all the while feeling a real loss. I’m so glad that deep feeling prevailed!”
Through her role as Chair of the Belconnen Community Council and her blog about what to see, do and eat in Canberra, Tara is keen to help make Canberra a better place and tell people about it.
“The OECD ranked the ACT as the best region in the world last year. My goal or dream is for Canberra to be the most liveable city in the world year after year—and for us, Australia, and the rest of the world to believe it. I want visitors to Canberra to think, ‘Hey, this is somewhere I could really see myself living’. It all starts with individuals coming together. Fortunately, I think many people have the same dream as me!”
Tara sees Canberra as a city of quick thinkers. “One of Canberra’s strengths is its citizens’ varied backgrounds and experiences and the new ideas this brings. People think through problems and issues and spot problems very quickly. I think conversations about how we want to look in the future need to happen more regularly to ensure we contribute to and own a vision for Canberra.”
Has this improved in the five years that she’s been here? “Yes. I think we’re so much better at promoting ourselves—what we do, why we exist, who we are—than when I first arrived. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the huge amount of new businesses opening so quickly—aided by some wonderful locations and innovators and visionaries, but also by your average Canberran’s enthusiasm for things that are interesting and inspiring.”
How refreshing it is to have Canberra represented by such engaged, excited ‘newbies’ like Tara—willing to stand up for our city, to get involved, to help out and to share new and positive messages with the world about our city.
Discover the rest of our 15 Women to Watch in 2015 here.
Read about Nellie Peoples, Meegan Fitzharris, Zoya Patel, Belinda Neame, Tegan McAuley, Louisa de Smet, Heidi Stratford, Dr Sudha Rao, Carla & Emma Papas, Tara Cheyne, Sally Moylan, Kylie Travers, Kaleid, Julie Okely, Michelle Melbourne and Joanna Allebone.