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Great Southern Reef Foundation – what lies beneath

Bridging the knowledge gap of reefs and the kelp forests that form our essential underwater ecosystems.
Published 16 Feb 2024   |   3 min read

With over 70% of Australians living near the coast, Great Southern Reef Foundation (GSRF) has a mission to foster knowledge and understanding of what lies beneath, starting by connecting kids with their local marine environments through the schooling system.

Why the Great Southern Reef Foundation was selected for a 2023 Visionary Grant

With very high biodiversity and ecological importance, the Great Southern Reef needs more exposure and protection, with new and existing fossil fuel extraction projects threatening its existence.

Currently there is little knowledge and understanding of the reefs and the kelp forests that form essential ecosystems underwater. Australian Ethical Foundation believes that improving education and awareness around the Great Southern Reef will foster an increase desire and ambition for greater conservation and stewardship efforts of this important ecosystem, making expansion of fossil fuel projects into the region more difficult.

Great Southern Reef Foundation is a grassroots, community-owned project that leverages the skills and knowledge of the volunteers scientists, academics and other professionals that make up the team.

Man pointing out coastal reef features on a projected chart to a room of people

Great Southern Reef Foundation is a grassroots, community-owned project that leverages the skills and knowledge of the volunteers scientists, academics and other professionals that make up the team.


Science-based knowledge brokers

“We describe ourselves as ‘knowledge brokers’, communicating the importance of the Great Southern Reef with everyday Aussies.” Stefan Andrews, Cofounder & Director of GSRF said.

“We’re a collective of science, media and education professionals, deeply committed to advocating for the Great Southern Reef.”

The Great Southern Reef is a series of reefs that extend around Australia’s coastline covering some 71,000 square kilometres from NSW around the southern Australian coast to Kalbarri in Western Australia.

“We’re forging a strong connection between students and their local marine environments by creating original and engaging content about Australia’s underwater kelp forests and weaving it into the school curriculum.” Stefan explained.

“We’ve created and successfully trialled unique educational videos and resources in schools around Australia. The positive feedback and greater awareness of the reef and its ecosystems has encouraged us to broaden our impact.”

While the charity was formally established just over six months ago, GSRF’s mission has been evident over the last five years as the cofounders collaborated extensively on projects advocating for the Great Southern Reef.

How will the Visionary Grant bring about real change?

“This grant will help fund the launch of interactive portal that will extend our reach, and help us get our resources to a wider audience.” Stefan explains. “Our digital approach means we can engage both nationally and around the world - offering educators, students, policymakers, and the general public valuable insights into the Reef's role and ways they can actively contribute to its preservation.”

The Visionary Grant also significantly bolsters GSRF’s efforts to align with global initiatives like the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. It allows them to strengthen their position as leaders in marine education and advocates for the Great Southern Reef.

“This recognition and support from the Australian Ethical Foundation comes at a critical time – as the Reef faces rapid environmental changes.”

"We believe the GSRF’s role in educating, informing, and inspiring action has never been more crucial.”


See all 2023 Visionary Grant recipients


Australian Ethical acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and recognise and celebrate their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and thank them for protecting Country since time immemorial.

See our Reconciliation Action Plan