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International Women’s Day

Minky Cockshell – SA

For International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the stories of women in Scouting and the contribution they make to our movement. Minky Cockshell is one.



BC Sub Aqua, AVL Beefacres Venturer unit, Adventurous Activity leader Scout Caving Group, Rover Advisor Aesir Rover Crew.


ASL Hillcrest Scout Group

What Brought You Into Scouting?

As a kid I hated all sports, so to get me to do something and socialise somewhat my Mum convinced me to join Cub Scouts.

What Keeps You In Scouting?

More than anything it is all my friends who are leaders. Most of which I have known for years who were in Scouts, Venturer Scouts or Rover Scouts with me but even new ones I’ve met along the way. I’ve had depression and anxiety for many years and it is the support network of these friends in Scouting and doing all of the activities that have helped me get through the hard times. Honestly, I would be pretty lost without it.

What’s the best thing you’ve done in Scouting?

All the type 2 fun! Never heard of type 2 fun? Essentially everything outdoors is fun, you aren’t at work for starters! Some things are fun all the time (type 1), some things are fun, but suck a bit at some point (usually the uphill part (type 1.5)) Some things suck the whole time but you will endlessly brag about it afterwards or the challenge of it will build your character (type 2 fun). Google it for more!

The best things I have done in Scouts fit in this type 2 fun, often involving tears but afterwards knowing the experience has changed me, made me stronger for it. Things like hiking in the Annapurna’s in Nepal as a Venturer Scout, cross-country skiing to the Bogong Rover Chalet (even after a knee reconstruction), learning to dive despite a fear of deep water, becoming a scuba instructor, abseiling and canyoning despite a fear of heights and caving despite a fear of getting stuck.

Would you recommend Scouting to other women and why?

Absolutely, there are such a huge range of activities to be involved with, not just to learn and do yourself but to pass on that passion and knowledge to the youth.

What do you think is the most important thing that women can bring to Scouting?

I would love to see a more even spread of women in the adventurous activity sections. Not to take anything away from the amazing, dedicated, passionate and inspiring guys out there but to see more amazing, dedicated, passionate and inspiring women out there with them. I think it’s important for young people to see strong female leaders in the outdoor sections doing their best. I think it’s particularly good in historically male dominated areas to see more female leaders coming in and showing the other leaders what they can do.

What do you do in life outside of Scouting?

I am a research scientist working in the Centre for Cancer Biology at UniSA. Our lab is focused on vascular biology (blood vessels) and immunology in numerous diseases. I work across various projects investigating melanoma, breast and pancreatic cancers, cell therapies, diabetes, and biomaterial development for vascular disease. 

Who is your female ‘hero’?

Growing up it was my Mum. I was always inspired that as a single mum she went back to uni to do a degree while still being a very active leader in the Venturer Scout section, on the Queen’s Scout Award committee and running expeditions for Venturer Scouts. As a Rover Scout and leader there were unfortunately much fewer female leaders around to look up to especially in the Adventurous activity groups. I found inspiration closer to home with a Rover Scout older than me and one younger. Both nurses, Alex Rungie and Heather Seibert have both pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones. Alex doing 2 tours in Iraq and Heather learning to fly, dive, cave and ski neither of them seem to have limits. Each have each pushed me to try new activities even when I really didn’t want to only to find that those activities were awesome and that I couldn’t imagine not doing them now.

Do you have any other ‘heroes’?

There are some exceptional adventurous activity leaders in South Australia who I find especially inspiring, encouraging and their enthusiasm for the outdoors is infectious. The top of this list is Michael Woodward, Mark Corbett and Matt Smith from the Caving group and Stefan Caddy-Retalic from the Sub aqua group. They have helped me push myself well beyond what I ever thought I could do and given me the support and belief in myself and my capabilities when I have needed it the most.

Do you have a personal philosophy that motivates you?

Scouting and life in general can be stressful, it can be hard to maintain your motivation and enthusiasm even for things you love. Five years ago, we lost a close Scouting friend to suicide. It was heart breaking. Yet at his funeral it was moving to see all the lives he had touched, all the youth he had helped, taught and inspired. Since then I have done all I could to try and have a positive influence on others to show people, youth especially, the joys and wonders of the outdoor opportunities that are out there particularly diving, caving, hiking and cross-country skiing.

We read a portion of our friends Baden-Powell Scout Award acceptance speech at his funeral about enthusiasm. I still reflect on it often, especially when I find my own is lacking.

“People can disagree with your fashion sense, or quality, but they cannot disagree with enthusiasm, especially if it’s hand wavingly over the top. Did you think that sunset you saw was the greatest sunset ever? Great. If someone tells you it’s not – who cares? “Greatest sunset ever” is not objectively measurable. Thus, if you are excited about a sunset, or a rock climb, don’t let anyone get you down. Enthusiasm doesn’t have to stand up to criticism. It’s not illegal to use more exclamation marks in your emails and giving out high fives is not a hanging offence. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, don’t just be interested, be enthusiastic!” – Cameron Roy


However you may be feeling after reading this article, we encourage you to connect with your family, friends and community.

For information and support during this time, community organisations such as HeadspaceLifelineBeyond Blue and Kids Helpline are available to assist.