Minister Plibersek Smiling

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek was appointed Minister for the Environment and Water on 1 June 2022.

Tanya entered Federal Parliament as the Member for Sydney in 1998. Between December 2007 and September 2013, she served as Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Housing, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister for Human Services, and Minister for Health and Medical Research. Tanya served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party from 2013 to 2019.

Tanya graduated with a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Master of Politics and Public Policy from Macquarie University, before entering Parliament.

She is passionate about protecting and preserving Australia’s natural environments for future generations.

Tanya lives in Sydney with her husband Michael and is a proud parent to Anna, Joseph and Louis.

Black and white photo of Minister Watt

The Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Murray Watt was elected as a Senator for Queensland in 2016. He is the Albanese Government’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Emergency Management. 

Murray is Brisbane born and bred, and has strong family ties to regional Queensland, with both sides of his family having a long history in farming and teaching.

For over 20 years, Murray’s working life has been spent as an advocate for others, as a lawyer, a public servant and as Chief of Staff to former Premier Anna Bligh. Murray also served one term as a Queensland State MP and Assistant Minister in health and economic portfolios.

Since his election in 2016, Murray played a key role in Senate Estimates and a range of Senate Committees including the Rural and Regional Affairs Committee. As a Senator and Shadow Minister, he led a number of Senate inquiries into issues including regional development, energy and resources, emergency management and health care.

Murray and his wife Cynthia have two children who are both keen soccer players and he gets to as many games as he can!

Photo of Mark Howden

Keynote Speaker, Professor Mark Howden

Professor Mark Howden is Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University.

He is also an Honorary Professor at Melbourne University, a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is the Chair of the ACT Climate Change Council. He was on the US Federal Advisory Committee for the 3rd National Climate Assessment, was a member of the Australian National Climate Science Advisory Committee and contributes to several major national and international science and policy advisory bodies.

Mark has worked on climate variability, climate change, innovation and adoption issues for over 30 years in partnership with many industry, community and policy groups via both research and science-policy roles. Issues he has addressed include agriculture and food security, the natural resource base, ecosystems and biodiversity, energy, water and urban systems.

Mark has over 420 publications of different types. He helped develop both the national and international greenhouse gas inventories that are a fundamental part of the Paris Agreement and has assessed sustainable ways to reduce emissions. He has been a major contributor to the IPCC since 1991, with roles in the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and now Sixth Assessment Reports, sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other IPCC participants and Al Gore.


Andrew Metcalfe AO, Australia’s Director of Biosecurity

Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Andrew Metcalfe has been the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry since the department was created on 1 July 2022, following Machinery of Government changes. Prior to this Andrew was Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The department is focussed on assisting industry to grow to a $100 billion agriculture sector by 2030; and working to enhance our agriculture, fishery, food and forestry industries and trade. The department also has a key role in managing the threat of animal and plant biosecurity risks to Australia.

Andrew was born and grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland; and studied at the Toowoomba Grammar School and the University of Queensland (BA 1980, LLB 1985). Andrew joined the Australian Public Service as an Administrative Trainee in 1980, and has held numerous senior roles in the Departments of Immigration, and the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He was the Secretary (CEO) of the Department of Immigration from 2005 to 2012, and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in 2013.

Between 2014 and January 2020 Andrew was a senior partner in EY (Ernst and Young), the global professional services firm.

Andrew was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2012. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia. In 2010 he was named as the `Federal Government Leader of the Year’ by the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Black and white headshot of Ian Cresswell

Plenary Speaker, Dr. Ian Cresswell, Adjunct Professor, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of NSW

Dr Ian Cresswell is the co-Chair of the national 2021 State of the Environment Report, as well as author of numerous book chapters and scientific papers on Australian conservation, land and sea management and Indigenous land management.

An experienced environmental scientist with a demonstrated history of working across government, industry and society to achieve conservation and sustainable development outcomes, Dr Cresswell has led major programs in CSIRO both in marine science and terrestrial and freshwater ecology. Previously he also worked within the Australian Government as a Senior Executive leading oceans management, sustainable fisheries assessments and international wildlife management, and was the Director of the Australian Biological Resources Study.

Dr Cresswell is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of NSW, and currently serves as the Chair of the Atlas of Living Australia, the NESP Resilient Landscapes Hub Steering Committee, and the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute.


Victor Steffensen

Plenary Speaker, Victor Steffensen

Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician, and a traditional knowledge consultant for land and community wellbeing. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka people from North Queensland. Much of Victor’s work is based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values, particularly Aboriginal fire management, with Aboriginal communities and non-Indigenous Australians. He is the co-founder of the Firesticks Alliance which involves a large community network across Australia. Victor holds an Honorary Doctor of Science through James Cook University. He is the author of the book, Fire Country, and the children’s book, “Looking After Country With Fire.” Through his artistic label Mulong, Victor has published music tracks and videos such as Great Land, and Cool Burning.

2021 National Landcare Conference Speaker Doug Humann

Doug Humann AM, Chair Landcare Australia

Doug Humann AM (GAICD, BA (Hons), Dip Ed) has had around 40 years involvement in regional Australia including 25 years leadership experience in the environmental sector.

Doug led Bush Heritage Australia (1997 – 2011) to national prominence before establishing his own consultancy working for environmental NGOs, Indigenous groups, traditional owners and natural resource management /catchment management authorities.

Doug provides advice and support on a range of strategic, investment, project and governance matters, and is particularly involved in building partnerships and collaborations.

Ella Maesepp

Plenary Speaker, Dr Maxine Cooper

Dr Maxine Cooper is the Deputy Chair, National Landcare Network; independent Chair of the Landcare ACT Board; Adjunct Professor, University of Canberra and Chair, ACT and Regional Catchment Coordination Group. Previously she was the Auditor-General for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Prior to that appointment, Maxine was the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, and before that, the Head of the ACT Water Security Taskforce. She has also held other professional senior executive positions in the Government sector in various jurisdictions. Maxine has long history of taking action to protect and restore the environment.

Maxine is a Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Environment Institute of Australian and New Zealand.

Ella Maesepp

Plenary Speaker, Ella Maesepp

Ella Maesepp (BSc (Hons) Env Sc) has been the Landcare Officer with Katanning Landcare for 16 years, delivering sustainable agriculture, wetland management, eco-living, salinity and biodiversity projects alongside the broadacre farming community. She is a well-versed grant writer, and enjoys bringing people together to make on-ground change a reality.

Ella was the 2015/16 WA and National “Young Landcare Leader” Landcare Awardee, won the Environment category of the 2004 West Australian Youth Awards, and was part of the 2012 National Landcare Conference Steering Committee and served a term on the Australian Landcare Council.

Ella is a passionate advocate for the environment, and has an outcomes-focussed approach. She regularly speaks at conferences and with the media, and also runs a small business teaching people about household-level sustainability, such as low-waste living.

Ella is a farmer’s wife, mother of two young boys, and lives in an off-grid solar-passive strawbale house on their Katanning cattle, sheep and grain property, 300km south-east of Perth. When not busy with Landcare, Ella is an enthusiastic Scout Leader and enjoys sailing and dance.

Black and white photo of Penelope Wensley

Plenary Speaker, the Hon. Penelope Wensley AC, National Soils Advocate

The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC was appointed National Soils Advocate in August, 2020, succeeding Australia’s first soils Advocate, Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery AC, AO (Mil), CVO MC (Retd).

Former Governor of Queensland and distinguished Australian diplomat, Ms Wensley’s interest in soils, soil health and sustainability dates from the early 1990’s, when she was Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment. She was a key contributor to the negotiation of the three major environmental treaties launched by the UNCED process: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Biodiversity Convention and the Convention to Combat Drought and Desertification.

As State Governor, Ms Wensley was active in promoting environmental knowledge and awareness and was a strong supporter of community groups and organisations involved with environmental management, conservation and protection, including as State Patron of Queensland Water and Land Carers.

Ms Wensley is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and an Honorary Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand. In addition to her role as National Soils Advocate, she is a Director of the Lowy Institute, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Advisory Committee, Patron of Soil Science Australia and of the Soil CRC.

Black and white photo of Claire O'Rourke

Plenary Speaker, Claire O’Rourke

Claire O’Rourke is a climate advocate and author of Together We Can: Everyday Australians doing amazing things to give our planet a future. Claire’s advocacy work helps people and organisations take action to support faster and fairer action on climate change, currently as Energy Transformation Program Co-Director at The Sunrise Project.

Previously Claire was National Director of Solar Citizens, a community-led renewable energy organisation. A former journalist, Claire has extensive experience campaigning for social impact, including driving communications for the Every Australian Counts campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and as a senior leader at Amnesty International Australia.

Black and white photo of Jayden Gunn in the bush

Plenary Speaker, Jayden Gunn

Jayden Gunn is a freelance photographer and passionate conservationist that specialises in Australian birdlife and vertebrate pest animal management.

He is a dedicated environmental educator and enjoys spending the majority of his time introducing people to Australia’s unique wildlife through digital storytelling paired with the photographs he captures.

Jayden possesses a comprehensive knowledge of avicultural husbandry and devotes much of his spare time rehabilitating sick and/or injured birdlife and also breeding endangered Australian avian species. He has an undying obsession with Australia’s Black cockatoo species and hopes to one day be a large part of their conservation.

Jayden has been an active member of Mid-Lachlan Landcare since 2011 as a volunteer and as an employee where he completed a contract in 2019 as a regional vertebrate pest animal coordinator in the NSW Central Tablelands.