Rockhampton’s 50 Most Influential: Number 4
Like 'em, love 'em or "never heard of 'em", these are your locals who strive to make Rockhampton a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Some of them were born here and some of them moved here to make the most of the family-friendly facilities, opportunities for employment or to spend more time with their extended families.
Whether they're a community leader or someone working hard behind the scenes, we think you'll be surprised how humble and grateful our Fifty Most Influential are.
Number 4: BRITTANY LAUGA
When asked what influence means to her, Brittany Lauga raised the notion of humility over and again.
"Influence has to be earned; it doesn't just go to the loudest or the one in the most powerful position," she said.
"You must have empathy and to be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand where they come from in order to help them."
Ms Lauga hit the ground running following her appointment as the Labor Member for Keppel, just ten days before the onslaught of Cyclone Marcia.
"I would never wish it on our community again but, ironically, that experience allowed me to fast-track strong and longlasting relationships which would have otherwise taken a lot longer to forge," she said.
"In moments of disaster, that's when our resilience really shines through and it's a beautiful thing to be a part of."
In the last year alone, she has met and tried to put herself in the shoes of farmers who lost their properties during the bushfires, of the elderly who were scared and alone during a pandemic, and of children who don't have mentors to point them on the right path.
It's a difficult job at times, especially when balanced with raising a young child.
She has "no regrets" over the February 2018 event which saw the Queensland government rethink its policy on parliamentary members being allowed to breastfeed while in the House.
"I was at work with a three-month baby who needed a feed so I did what any mother would do," she said.
"Being a working parent is really challenging. But I also am far more efficient and creative in my work since becoming a parent."
"I do believe women in politics are more heavily criticised. An old man told me once that I should wear my hair up more because he likes it best that way so, yes, it can be tough for women in politics."
Ms Lauga's role models go back two generations of tough, smart women. Her grandmother was central Queensland's first female auctioneer whom Ms Lauga would accompany as a child to sales.
Her mother is a primary school teacher devoted to providing every child with a good start in life. And her aunt was a child safety worker who adopted four children from Colombia.
"She and my cousins taught me a lot about racism and the importance of equality," Ms Lauga said.
Then there was her Year Nine (male) teacher, at Rockhampton Grammar School, who instilled in her a lifelong of geography.
"Mr Peckett taught us how cities and communities are transformed by the people who live there and how people, in turn, work together to transform the places where they live."
Little wonder, then, that the Urban and Regional Planning graduate counts the unveiling of some of Central Queensland's most people-friendly developments among her proudest moments in office.
Ms Lauga visits the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre's Cecil Pritchard Wing four times a year so she has seen first hand the impact of the $8.5 million refurbishment she lobbied the Health Minister for.
She also supported the Emu Park Surf Lifesaving Club fight, following Cyclone Marcia and other destructive storms, for the funding without which its historic facilities were "on the brink" of closing.
"And I still get a thrill every time I pass the Yeppoon foreshore and lagoon developments, to see the kids smiling and the families spending quality time together," she said.
"My daughter's too young to understand it now but I hope one day it will click that her Mum was involved in developing a really important piece of infrastructure which has a role in facilitating a stronger social fabric."
"I want her to grow up and be a strong woman in our world who sees no boundaries, who achieves her full potential but has the humility and empathy to fight for what's right."
As for her current role models, Ms Lauga said the Covid-19 crisis has reawakened her fascination for maths and medicine.
"Seeing the work Dr Khandaker and the public health unit carried out with Covid-19 testing and contact tracing was awe inspiring," she said.
"Then there's Dr Hoota who, when she's not working with pregnant women who experience addiction, volunteers to work Christmas Day so other doctors can stay home with their families."
"And Sandra Jarvis, the way she leads the nursing unit at the Capricorn Coast Hospital is amazing."
So, if she wasn't involved in State politics - or maths or medicine or urban planning - what would continue to inspire Brittany Lauga?
"The stars," she said.
"I'm an avid amateur astronomer - I've joined an amateur club online - and I'd like to see a feasibility study on whether Mt Archer would prove a prime position for a Queensland observatory.
The very term word 'influence' derives from the belief that power flowed from the stars, having a direct impact on a person's character and destiny.
"The key to leadership is making good decisions while you're present," Ms Lauga said.
"And to make sure your legacy lasts after you're gone."
Number 3 will be revealed 12 noon Saturday 04 July.