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Nessie Hardy

With her quiet and non-confrontational approach, Nessie Hardy took on the chemical giants operating near her home.

Honour Roll

"Nessie was inspirational to so many people, in a very quiet way. She was both an ordinary and extraordinary woman taking on the chemical industry" - Sue Pennicuik MLC

Nessie was instrumental in the 1989 formation of the Altona Complex Neighbourhood Consultative Group, which brought together the chemical industry, regulators and residents to work to reduce the negative effects of the industry on the local environment. Her work led to fundamental reforms to the operation of companies in the Altona complex and her consultative model is now used as a template for industrial neighbourhood environmental improvement programs throughout Australia.

Greens MP Sue Pennicuik says there was initially a lot of resistance from industry but that didn't deter Nessie: "She patiently chipped away at that in her very nice way. She wasn't conflict-driven or ego-driven, and she wasn't confrontational. She was about bringing people together and seeing if they could work together. She cared. She really did care about people and the environment."

At the time, the chemical industry was largely the domain of men. Sue says "Nessie wasn't a trained chemist. She was an ordinary woman from the local community who cared about the impacts that the chemical plants in her area were having on the people who lived in their shadow and on the local environment and she wanted to do something about it.
She played a big part in the industry becoming more responsible."

Nessie was dedicated to ensuring the workers and the broader community were always informed of health, safety and environment issues. Her work on behalf of the community earned her the respect of those in the chemical industry. Nessie was also a friend to many friends' groups. The list of groups she was involved with is vast, and includes the Altona Properties Soil and Groundwater Review Group, Hobsons Bay Interfaith Group, Hobsons Bay Community First, Altona Clean Air Project, Truganina Explosives Reserve Preservation Society, Friends of Cherry Lake and the Enviro Friends of Hobsons Bay.

In 2001 she was awarded the Centenary Medal for her services to the Altona community and the environment.