Meet the Founder
Mathew Townsend – Founder & CEO
Mathew Townsend, the founder of Nature Freedom was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in his youth. He also lost his hearing when he was 18 months old. These disabilities did not stop him from exploring his passion.
A journey to discover your passion:
Mathew grew up in the beautiful Northern Rivers Region of Northern NSW before moving to Brisbane in 2015. He developed a passion for the outdoors and nature while participating at annual Deaf Camps through his district network for deaf and hard of hearing school-age students. Through the camp activities, he found enjoyment in the beautiful green bushlands, weather watching and canoeing. Over time, these hobbies grew into his greatest passions.
In 2010, Mathew travelled to James Cook University in Townsville to study a Bachelor of Environmental Science. During his time there, he discovered the beauty of the tropical environment and how it was impacted by climate change. He also contributed to sustainability at the university by reducing their energy and water consumption. Mathew completed his degree in 2012, and then went on an 8-month long trip across the United States. This was his first trip overseas, and he was stunned by the effects of climate change around the country. But despite this, the beauty of the National Parks and wildlife were inspirational, and when he returned home, Mathew began his journey into environmental conservation.
A journey to grow beyond obstacles:
However, life is not always smooth. In 2013, Mathew was unable to find employment when he returned home. Finding secure employment remained a constant challenge due to employers not understanding his disabilities. The ongoing job rejections and social isolation in the environmental and sustainability fields caused him to develop anxiety and depression. They even dampened his ambitions to work in the industry.
Mathew understands the difficulties of living with disabilities, being isolated within the community, and being rejected for job offers. In order to create an inclusive space for everyone, Mathew took the next step – Nature Freedom was founded in May 2017.
“Nature Freedom is dedicated to helping others to grow and thrive in similar challenges and journeys.” – Mathew Townsend, Founder & CEO
Nature Freedom was founded with the goal of facilitating engagement for people with disabilities within the community. Mathew understands he is not alone in his passions for the environment and sustainability, and he wants you to know that despite all obstacles, you are not alone in pursuing your own passion.