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The 2017-18 Executive Committee

The Executive is made up of four elected representatives from within the ACIUCN membership - two from government and two from non government members. In addition, the regional IUCN Councillor resident in Australia serves on the committee and a Treasurer may be seconded. The Executive is responsible for carrying out the administrative affairs of the Committee and attending to matters between meetings. The Chair is elected from the Executive and the role alternates every two years between government and non-government members.

The 2018 Executive Committee (from left): Fiona Fraser (Department of the Environment and Energy), Peter Cochrane (IUCN Regional Councillor), Darren Grover (WWF Australia), Rachel Walmsley (Chair) (EDOs of Australia) and Jo Hopkins (Parks Victoria). With ACIUCN Director, Katherine Zischka (far right).


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Rachel Walmsley (Chair)

Policy & Law Reform Director, EDO NSW

Rachel Walmsley is the Policy and Law Reform Director at EDO NSW and on behalf of EDOs of Australia. She is a practising solicitor with 15 years’ experience working on environmental law and policy in Australia and overseas. She has written extensive law reform submissions and discussion papers, and advised governments and NGOs on a range of environmental law issues including protected area, world heritage, marine and terrestrial biodiversity laws.

Rachel is Co-consulting Editor of the Australian Environment Review, a member of the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL), and a member of IUCN – World Commission on Environmental Law. Rachel is currently the Public Officer for ACIUCN. Rachel is also a Legal Advisor to the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, guest lectures in environmental law at UNSW and University of Sydney, and is a member of a number of government & non-government advisory committees on natural resource and environment issues.

Darren Grover

Head of Living Ecosystems, WWF-Australia

As Head of Living Ecosystems, Darren leads the Species, Oceans, Science and Impact teams at WWF-Australia. His geographically dispersed team delivers projects that seek to improve the conservation status of species like the black-flanked rock-wallaby and Carnaby’s black cockatoo in southwest Australia, the bilby and Gouldian finch in the Kimberley, southern right whales in the Great Australian Bight, and marine turtles on the Great Barrier Reef.

WWF-Australia projects are delivered through partnerships with universities, government agencies, other environmental organisations, community groups, and by empowering Indigenous communities and ranger groups to play an active and effective role in threatened species and marine conservation.

Darren also leads WWF-Australia’s contributions to species and marine conservation in the Asia-Pacific region, most notably for species such as the tiger, and the snow leopard and in places such as Solomon Islands and Borneo.

He is an ecologist by trade and has studied at the Queensland University of Technology and James Cook University. Darren has over 20 years' experience in species conservation, environmental impact assessment, Indigenous education and land management, and the development of environmental and water policies.

Darren is most at home in the bush and is an avid birdwatcher and bushwalker.



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Dr Fiona Fraser

Director, International Policy Section, Department of the Environment and Energy

Fiona has worked for the Australian Government for the past nine years playing lead roles in the implementation of Indigenous land and sea management policies and programs, natural resource management issues including design and implementation of the National Landcare Program and since 2016 working on cross cutting international policy for the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Before joining the public service Fiona spent many years with the Northern Land Council in the Northern Territory leading work with Aboriginal traditional owners and the NT Government to design and implement joint management arrangements across protected areas. Prior to this Fiona was responsible for management of Aboriginal land and sea management programs, including Australia’s first Aboriginal community ranger programs – a model which has since been successfully adopted and expanded nationally by the Australian Government.

Fiona has a PhD in savanna ecology from ANU and completed her post doc at Charles Darwin University.

Jo Hopkins

Manager National and International Engagement, Parks Victoria

Jo Hopkins is the Manager National and International Engagement at Parks Victoria and has extensive experience in park management. She is responsible for the consolidation of high level partnerships that deliver on Government policy and facilitates initiatives with mutually beneficial outcomes between partners. As a result of this work, Jo has a strong network of industry contacts at local, national and international levels.

Jo has a combination of substantial professional experience with a deep commitment to the vital role that parks and protected areas play in ensuring a healthy natural world.
Jo is the Chair of the IUCN/WCPA Health and Wellbeing Specialist Group, Chair of Health Sciences Advisory Board for Deakin University, member of the World Urban Parks Healthy People Healthy Cities Committee and holds a B.A. in Recreation with Distinction from RMIT University. With experience in establishing two start-up not-for-profit organisations, Jo has a proven track record with ensuring good governance, developing policy and proactive communications with a membership base.

Jo is a keen swimmer and enjoys spending time in nature, particularly in many of NSW and Victoria’s spectacular coastal parks.



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Peter Cochrane

Peter has over twenty years experience in senior executive leadership and governance roles in the public and private sectors. He was elected in September 2016 to the IUCN Council to serve a four year term, nominated from Oceania. Peter is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and was a member of its Executive and Steering Committees (2014-2016).

He consults on environment and sustainability issues, and is currently an adviser to the national State of Environment Report 2016 focused on building its audience and utility, and its potential form post 2016.

He chairs the Steering Committee of the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub and its Research Users Committee. He is a Director of Ecotourism Australia, TangaroaBlue Foundation, and chairs the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute. He sits on the Steering Group of the Protected Area Learning and Research Collaboration. Peter is an Adjunct Fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. He is an associate with two consulting companies: Futureye and Empowering Engagements.

Peter was Director of National Parks and head of Parks Australia from 1999-2013. He was Deputy Executive Director of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (1994-1999) and an adviser to two federal Ministers for Primary Industries and Energy (1990-94). He worked in the Australian National University Research School of Biological Sciences as a technical officer and departmental manager in plant ecology and physiology (1974-1990).

He has a BSc (ANU) and a Masters Public Policy (ANU).


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Bláthnaid Byrne

Bláthnaid is currently the Group Treasurer of AGL Energy, based in Sydney, Australia where she is responsible for funding, risk and liquidity management. With her career starting in Dublin, she spent over 15 years working in treasury roles across various industries including healthcare, travel and recruitment. 

Bláthnaid holds the AMCT Diploma in Treasury from the Association of Corporate Treasurers, the Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants as well as a BA Degree in International Business & Languages (French & German) from Dublin City University.

Currently Bláthnaid is a member of the Finance and Treasury Association’s State Committee, with specific responsibility for Women in Treasury. At AGL, Blathnaid is a member of several committees including Superannuation, Health Safety Environment Wellbeing, Innovation and Transition Steering Committee, as well as the Corporate Citizenship Program, which manages AGL’s employee giving, volunteering and fundraising events including strategic partnerships with community organisations. Bláthnaid is a governor at WWF Australia.