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With sand and sea in her DNA, Dani McGlashen is making her mark in maritime and she’s passionate about encouraging more women to join the industry.

Born to navy parents and growing up by the ocean, Cairns local Dani McGlashen has the sand and sea in her DNA.

“Ever since I was young I have always felt really good and comfortable being on or near the ocean, and I decided early on that I wanted a career in the maritime industry,” said Dani.

“I spent several years working as a dive instructor in Thailand and on the Great Barrier Reef which was so fulfilling and a dream of mine since I was a little girl," she continued.

“I reached a point where I started wondering what I was going to do with my career long term, and I decided that the boat handling and driving side of things seemed like a natural progression for me.”

Natural for Dani but traditionally uncommon, women represent just 4.2 per cent of the marine transport industry’s national workforce.

But Dani didn't let this stop her. In order to take the next step in her career, she enrolled at TAFE Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC).

“I was blown away by the college, it is an amazing facility and it has the latest training gear and equipment,” Dani said.

Throughout her studies Dani learnt how to forecast the weather and predict ocean conditions, operate propulsion systems, radar and other electronic navigation equipment, manage a small crew, and act as a chief mate on a vessel up to 80 metres long.

“It was great to practice my boat driving skills in the full mission bridge simulator, as it’s a safe environment to troubleshoot problems which could happen in the real-world."

“I had a lot of fun studying and my teachers have all been very knowledgeable and approachable."

Since enrolling 29-year-old Dani has completed a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres Near Coastal) (MAR30918) and a Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal) (MAR40618).

Continuing to smash glass ceilings with these two boat driving qualifications under her belt, Dani has now reached a major professional milestone - becoming Sunlover Reef Cruises’ first ever female captain.

Dressed in her captain's whites and epaulettes, Dani's day-to-day now involves operating one of the largest tour boats visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

“Five years ago I couldn’t picture myself here so I am really happy and grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and for the support I’ve received from Sunlover,” she said.

Her advice for other people interested in pursuing a maritime career is simple.

“There are so many people in the industry willing to offer their time and advice, so if you want to work in the maritime industry don’t be afraid to ask questions, get some work experience and enrol in training.”

“If I can do it anyone can, you’ve just got to give it a go.”


There's never been a better time to consider a career at the helm as qualified marine transport professionals are in demand with 2,000 Australian positions predicted to come online by 2023. TAFE Queensland is also joining the International Maritime Organisation's mission to empower women in the industry.

More about maritime courses  More about the (GBRIMC)

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TAFE Queensland