The Commissioner's Reference Group was established in April 2015 with the approval of the Minister under 9(2)(b) of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003 (CES Act).
The purpose of the group is to provide advice to the Commissioner that reflects the current strategic direction and deliverables within the CES Act.
The Reference Group is comprised of non-government members, identified and invited by the Commissioner, with a range of interests and expertise that support the work of the Commissioner. Members represent a broad range of interests including environmental and industry associations and/or representatives, traditional owner and community, local government, energy and primary industries.
Our valued members
Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Local Governance Association
Ms Arndt is a senior executive and a non-executive director across a number of sectors, and has an understanding of high standards of… governance, accountability and performance whilst managing strategic risks and delivering outcomes within budget constraints. Ms Arndt is the CEO of the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), a high profile independent governance organisation supporting councils and councillors through leadership, advocacy and professional development. In her capacity as CEO, Ms Arndt is a member of the Local Government Victorian Project Control Board overseeing the implementation of the Local Government Act 2020, the state government’s COVID-19 Local Government Roundtable, the COVID Response CEO Stakeholder Group, and Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Women Women’s Roundtable for Local Government. Ms Arndt sits on the boards of Diabetes Victoria and is Company Secretary of the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. Ms Arndt was a Member of the inaugural Victorian Ministerial Council on Women's Equality which concluded its term in mid-2020.
Chair of the Victorian Marine and Coastal Council
Dr Boxshall is a marine ecologist who has worked in Australia and the USA across Government, academia and the private industry.… He is the Founder and Principal of Science into Action Pty Ltd, a science impact company turning great science into greater actions. A former National President of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA – the largest learned society for professional marine scientists in Australia), he has worked at UC Santa Cruz USA, Deakin University, and has been on several innovation boards. A Melbourne Enterprise Fellow in the School of Biosciences at The University of Melbourne, he was until late 2017 the Director, Applied Sciences at the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria.
Independent Water Sector Expert
Mr Chesterfield is nationally recognised for his leadership in waterway and urban water management, and for his contribution to establishing… Melbourne as a world leader in water sensitive urban design. Previous roles include General Manager of the Waterways Group at Melbourne Water, where Mr Chesterfield was instrumental in building and leading the Waterways Group business, providing waterway management and developer services to a region of five million people. Mr Chesterfield has chaired a number of Ministerial advisory committees related to urban and water planning that have led to significant planning and legislative reforms, and was recently appointed by the Minister for Water to chair the Birrarung Council, which brings together Traditional Owners and community to act as the ‘voice’ for the Yarra River. He continues to be the Commissioner and Chairperson of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.
Policy Manager Environment and Regulatory Services for Municipal Association of Victoria
Ms Dunn is a highly skilled public policy professional with a proven track record of achieving desired outcomes through negotiation… and advocacy. Ms Dunn has developed strong policy expertise from a variety of roles in the federal government, both in Australia and internationally, as well as industry experience. Ms Dunn holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Public Policy and Management from The University of Melbourne, and also completed the Melbourne Business School’s New Leaders Development Program.
Jonathan La Nauze
Chief Executive Officer of Environment Victoria
Mr La Nauze was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in January 2019. He has experience in the environment movement and… is a respected leader with a track record of securing big wins for our environment and building a stronger movement. Jonathan is also an Executive Director of the Climate Action Network Australia. Jonathan spent 11 years at Friends of the Earth where he led the River Red Gum Campaign and negotiated alliances between environment groups and Traditional Owners. He also led highly successful campaigns for the Australian Conservation Foundation for five years as Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager including the creation of the historic Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Chief Executive Officer of Trust for Nature
Corinne is the CEO of the Trust for Nature, an organisation focused on private land conservation and the development of… nature markets. She has a Masters in Environmental Science and a passion for conservation, sustainability and nature which has dominated her personal life and aspects of her career. Corinne has worked across the NGO, government and commercial sectors. She is passionate about ensuring nonfinancial value is understood and included in how we do business and has a background in impact investing, microfinance and fintech as well as the application of social procurement and was a recipient of A Churchill Fellowship as well as a ASIC Money Smart Award for her contribution to financial literacy. Corinne has a deep and long-standing commitment to nature—getting out and about as much as possible to camp, run and (tentatively) surf.
Executive Director of Victorian National Parks Association
Mr Ruchel has been the Executive Director of Victorian National Parks Association since 2007, and has a strong background in… environmental policy. Mr Ruchel has worked in the non-government environmental policy areas at state, national and international level for more than 30 years, including roles with the Australian Conservation Foundation, Hume City Council and Greenpeace. Mr Ruchel has held senior positions in leading international and national conservation organisations and in local government.
Chairperson of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council
Mellissa Wood was appointed VEAC Chairperson in July 2021. Ms Wood has 30 years’ experience in leading and providing scientific… and strategic advice on food, land and water systems, sustainable development, resource and environmental management, agency and board governance and public policy. She has held senior leadership positions with the Australian Government and internationally, including UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and CGIAR. She recently moved to Victoria after retiring as General Manager, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and member of CGIAR’s System Council and System Management Board and as Chair of Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes. Ms Wood is a Visiting Scientist CSIRO, Food Systems and Global Change, Expert Evaluator for the international AGFUND, Independent Advisor, University of Queensland and a member of international and domestic steering committees. Mellissa Wood holds a Master of Public Policy (Development Policy) from Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, and a Bachelor of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) from the Australian National University.
National Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Australia
Ms Young is a social and environmental justice campaigner with high levels of experience in campaigns to protect Victoria’s native… forests from logging and wood chipping. Ms Young has also worked to restore environmental flows to Victoria’s stressed rivers, including the Murray River. Ms Young has experience in strategic campaign planning, development and implementation, as well as policy analysis and research. She is proficient in writing and delivering presentations to a vast range of audiences, including major donors, political figures and community. She is interested in and committed to developing winning campaigns that deliver better outcomes for people and places. She developed the Great Forest National Park, Emerald Link and Ethical Paper campaigns.
Deputy Chair – Partnerships, Landcare Victoria. North Central - Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance Inc.
Paul is a highly regarded and skilled ecologist and botanist and with over 30 years of experience in land management… and nature conservation across a range of sectors specialising in botanical, vegetation management, strategic planning and biodiversity conservation services. Paul is also an ecologist with Biolinks Alliance – an NGO catalysing community-driven conservation and sustainable land management based on the principles of science, collaboration and innovation – and a member of the Muckleford Landcare group near Castlemaine in central Victoria.
Chair of Vic Catchments
Cath Jenkins was appointed Chair of Corangamite Catchment Management Authority in 2021 and was a board member for 5 years… prior to this. She lives on her family farm in South Purrumbete (SW Victoria) and runs an independent rural coaching and consulting business. With over 20 years’ of experience working across a range of industries and sectors, Cath has worked extensively with farming families, businesses, industry groups, government agencies, and rural communities. Her governance experience has given her extensive networks throughout rural Victoria, in the agricultural and natural resource management sectors. Cath enjoys working in roles that allow her to contribute to the improvement of regional and rural communities and the natural environment.
Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Farmers Federation
Brendan started as CEO of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) in November 2022. From a farm just outside of Ballarat,… Brendan brings over 25 years of experience to the VFF from his extensive background in public health, agri-food and emergency management, having held senior leadership positions at the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries and as Chief Executive Officer at PrimeSafe. Brendan has expertise in governance, strategy and organisational reform, and a personal interest in natural resource management and regeneration.
Members are reappointed annually by the Commissioner under the Commissioner's Reference Group Terms of Reference, download below.