“We all have a responsibility to understand the impact of our activities on the environment. The decisions we make matter for the future of our environment and our liveability. Respecting and valuing each other and the role of science is fundamental for the future prosperity and environmental health of Victoria.”
Dr Gillian Sparkes AM was appointed as Commissioner in July 2014.
Dr Gillian Sparkes was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours “for significant services to environmental sustainability, and to public administration”. The award recognises Dr Sparkes career specialising in environmental, industrial, waste management, community issues and public administration.
Dr Sparkes has a long career working with industry, community and government to care for and protect our environment. Dr Sparkes gained three decades of experience working in industries that interface with the environment and community, including in the manufacturing, industrial services, waste management and water industries, before becoming a senior public servant. This has enabled her to be an effective collaborator who has forged strong and productive partnerships between government, business, community and environmental stakeholders.
Dr Sparkes has held senior roles in the Victorian government environment portfolio including as Chair of the Board of Sustainability Victoria and Deputy Secretary Corporate and Business Services for the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Dr Sparkes also served two terms as a Director of South Gippsland Water and Chair of the Board Environment Committee and was the CEO of the Australian Sustainable Industry Research Centre at Monash University.
As Commissioner, Gillian has been leading reforms in environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting in Victoria, including advocating better use of spatial information, data analytics and citizen science to help government respond better and faster to environmental events, population growth and climate risk. Her State of the Environment (SoE) 2018 Report was tabled in the Victorian parliament on 19 March 2019 and includes 20 recommendations to the Victorian government to help prioritise focus and effort over the next decade. It also establishes the UN SDGs and UN SEEA as SoE reporting frameworks for Victoria. As a result of the reforms Dr Sparkes has led since 2014, the Commissioner has been assigned seven new reporting functions, for the first time since being established in 2003.
As Commissioner, Dr Sparkes has published four baseline science reports for Victoria since 2016: State of the Bays 2016, State of the Environment 2018, State of the Forests 2018 and State of the Yarra and its Parklands 2018.
Dr Sparkes holds a PhD in Applied Science (Chemistry), a Masters of Business Administration, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Institute for Public Administration Australia, a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and NZ and a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Dr Sparkes is Chair of the Western Port Integrated Water Management Forum, a Member of the MSDI Advisory Council and holds a portfolio of board positions including the Country Fire Authority; The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation; the Industry Capability Network and Chair Frontier SI (formerly the CRC for Spatial Information).
Meet the Team
Michael Reid is Director, Office of the Commissioner. He has a background in sustainable development, government policy and research in State Government in NSW and Victoria. He has experience with organisations including the Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), Databuild Research, the NSW Ministry of Health, and the Department of Human Services (Victoria). His most recent role was Managing Director of the strategic sustainability consultancy The Keyline Group that specialises in operationalising the UN Sustainable Development Goals; Energy, Environmental and Climate Change; and a range of social justice and community portfolios. Michael has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland and a Master of International Studies from the University of Sydney. He has also held non-executive roles with the International Energy Policy and Programs Evaluation conference and has been a mentor with the School for Social Entrepreneurs.
Dr Scott Rawlings is Director, Science and Reporting for the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria. He has worked for the Commissioner's office since 2010.
Previously, Scott had worked in numerous roles across the environment portfolio including greenhouse policy, indigenous policy, and natural resource management. Scott managed the Land & Biodiversity White Paper implementation and research and development for the former Department of Sustainability and Environment - focussing on procurement, partnerships, knowledge exchange and the research-policy interface. Scott has a PhD in environmental studies.
Fiona McKenzie joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on secondment as Principal Science Writer in August 2020. She has more than 20 years’ senior research experience at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Fiona has a background in public policy, spatial research and analysis and brings to her role a broad understanding of planning, policy and environmental issues. She is the recipient of multiple awards including Public Sector Award for Achievement and Innovation; a British Commonwealth Scholarship and awards for Planning Scholarship Research and Teaching. Her professional expertise includes lecturer and course designer on urban planning at the University of Melbourne and Research Officer with the Australian Government. Widely published, Fiona has a PhD in Economic Geography from the University of South Australia; a Master of Science (Urban and Regional Planning Studies) from the London School of Economics; and a Master of Arts (Geography) from the University of Melbourne.
Dr Kangmin Moon joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability as a Data Analyst and Science Writer in April 2018. Dr Moon has strong analytical skills and experience with data management, which will elevate the confidence in our interpretation of complex and often large datasets for the majority of reports produced by the Office. Kangmin was the lead author of the State of the Forests 2018 Report.
Kangmin had previously worked at the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority, National Institute of Forest Science and Department of Sustainability and Environment. Kangmin holds a PhD in forestry and fire from the University of Melbourne.
Andrew Marshall joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability as a Science Writer in May 2018. Andrew has completed degrees in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and Statistics at the University of Melbourne. His expertise is well-placed to write on Victoria’s air and climate in the State of the Environment 2018 Report.
Andrew has a wealth of experience in both state policy and science, having spent nine years at the Environment Protection Authority, Victoria. He worked in the Air Quality team before moving into a new challenge as an Intelligence Analyst investigating environmental data sets to identify threats and opportunities relating to environmental quality.
Claire Ruedin joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability as Communication and Engagement Advisor in August 2020. She has a background in the government sector in environmental education, health and tourism at state and local government levels.
Previously she was a Project Lead/Advisor (Communities and Climate Change) at Sustainability Victoria; she also has experience as a Policy Analyst at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office; and a Project Officer with the Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria). She has a Bachelor of Arts (Public Relations) from Deakin University; a Professional Certificate in Positive Psychology from The University of Melbourne; and a Certificate IV, Project Management Practice from the Institute of Project Management.
Katherine Li joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability as a Business Support Officer in August 2019. She has experience in the private sector, working in legal practice for several years during the course of her study, as well as State and Federal Government roles. Katherine has a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from Deakin University and is currently completing a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.
Ashley Sroka joined the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability as a Communications and Engagement Project Officer in February 2021. She has experience in communications and project management, undertaking roles in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's Biodiversity Division and Solar Victoria. Ashley brings a range of knowledge combining perspectives from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. She has a Masters of Environment from The University of Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology and Bachelor of Arts in Geography, Environment & Population and English with the University of Adelaide. Ashley is interested in improving ecosystem health and human wellbeing, as well as the role of the arts in generating creative solutions to sustainability challenges.
Penny Orbell joined the Commissioner as Senior Science Writer - Melbourne Strategic Assessment in May 2021. Previously she worked in bushfire risk and evaluation for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), and has undertaken an operational fire and emergency role since 2017. She specialises in working with stakeholders to develop and apply evidence-based methods in environmental management, and brings to her role a broad understanding of strategic planning, policy and environmental decision making. She was nominated for a DELWP Science Award in 2019 for investigating fuel management planning to protect the Leadbeaters Possum from the risk of bushfire.
Penny has a science communication and journalism background, having produced content for the Australian Broadcasting Association and The Conversation. She holds a Master of Science (Behavioural Ecology) and a Bachelor of Science (Genetics) from the University of Melbourne.
Dr Ian MacPhail, 2003-09
Prof. Kate Auty, 2009-14