Dr Gillian Sparkes AM was appointed as Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability for Victoria in July 2014.
Dr 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.
“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
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).