Implementation Working Groups

The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency was with the communities of North East and North West Queensland in the immediate aftermath of the devastating flood event of early 2019, and continues to walk alongside them as they recover.

Coordinator-General Shane Stone AC QC, Regional Recovery Officers and other Agency staff have travelled extensively throughout the region talking to people about their vision for a strong and prosperous North Queensland that is better able to withstand future challenges.

The “locally led, locally understood and locally implemented” approach that drove the development of After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery continues to drive its implementation.

It’s vitally important that the people who will benefit from this strategy have a voice in how it’s brought to life.

Leveraging local knowledge and expertise

The Agency has established two Implementation Working Groups – one for the North East, and one for the North West - to ensure local voices remain central to the development of the strategy’s implementation.

They will ensure that the steps taken to support recovery and resilience continue to best serve their communities.

They are also another way the Australian Government can keep in touch with local needs and issues.

You can read their terms of reference below.

Broad representation

People who live and work in the affected regions have a strong voice on the Implementation Working Groups.

We’d love to hear from you

If you’d like to contact an IWG representative, please send us an email at IWGSecretariat@pmc.gov.au and we’ll put you in touch.

North West Implementation Working Group

Carly Cox - community representative, Winton


Carly Cox - community representative, Winton

Community representative Winton

Carly Cox is currently the President of the Winton Show Society and Winton Pony Club, being part of these clubs that bring a lot to her community is something that she is extremely proud of.

Being part of a 6th generation Winton Family, Carly is passionate about everything the region has to offer and believes there are no limits in what can be achieved.

“I look forward to being part of this committee, and seeing what we can do as team to help support and grow our region,” Carly said.

Susan Dowling - community representative, Cloncurry


Susan Dowling - community representative, Cloncurry

Community representative Cloncurry

Susan Dowling is a committed health professional with a passion for rural and remote communities and their ability to holistically cope with disaster recovery management and future preparation against adversity.

Based in Cloncurry in North Western Queensland, Susan is a local business owner and active community member.

Susan is the North West Queensland Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) and played a vital role in the formation of the charity Sisters of the North (SOTN) after the 2019 North West Queensland flooding event.

Under the leadership of Susan and her team, the ACNC registered charity raised over $1.3 million, distributing the funds locally to over 500 primary producers and their workforce across six shires all the while guaranteeing the funds were only redeemable at local small businesses and effectively contributing to the Flood Region’s impacted local economy.

Susan has 20 years’ experience in remote and rural nursing. Her dedication to strong partnerships and continued support between Government, Private and Corporate sectors in community-led disaster response has been vital in the north-west.

She lives, works and plays every day in Rural Australia and so understands what needs to happen to revitalise communities not only after disaster but survive and at best thrive above the ongoing and future challenges faced.   

Patrick Hick - community representative, Winton


Patrick Hick - community representative, Winton

Community representative Winton

Patrick Hick is a Julia creek based grazier. Along with his wife Edwina he operates properties in the McKinlay and Croydon shires.

As well as a passion for the beef industry Patrick has an interest in seeing further education opportunities being available and promoted to those in our region operating businesses, and believes this can only improve the vigour and stability of the region.

Sandy Gillies - Western Queensland Primary Health Network


Sandy Gillies - Western Queensland Primary Health Network

Representative Western Queensland Primary Health Network

Born and raised in Winton in Western Queensland, Sandy Gillies began her career in health as a nurse in Charleville in the State’s South West, where she gained invaluable experience at the coalface of rural and remote primary health care.

Often working with scarce resources across vast distances, Sandy developed a deep understanding of the challenges of outback health, particularly the plight of Indigenous communities in the region.

A proud Gunggari woman, Sandy is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, a trait that led her to work as an Aboriginal Health Worker, then onto senior roles with the Queensland Mental Health Commission in 2013 and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council in 2015.

In 2017, the Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) recognised Sandy’s expertise in meeting the challenges of Indigenous health and her Strategic Planning and Project Management skills, appointing her an Executive Manager with a focus on commissioning Mental Health Services and Healthy Ageing Initiatives across almost 1 million square kilometres of Western Queensland.

Sandy’s ability to manage adversity was tested in a region prone to natural disasters, including the protracted drought, unprecedented flooding and the ongoing pandemic. 

Her rapid response to the 2019 flood crisis in the North West was recognised by the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service, who named her an “RFDS Local Hero” for going above and beyond her official role with the WQPHN.

Her selfless qualities, her leadership abilities, her engagement skills and her passionate desire to help improve the health of all Western Queenslanders led to her appointment in 2021 to the role of Chief Executive Officer of the WQPHN, making her the first Indigenous person to be appointed CEO out of the 31 Primary Health Networks across Australia.

 

Geoff Penton - Southern Gulf NRM


Geoff Penton - Southern Gulf NRM

Representative Southern Gulf NRM

Geoff Penton comes to the IWG with over 30 years’ experience in natural resource management and Landcare. Geoff has previously worked in Landcare and catchment management within State Government and has worked in the community not-for-profit sector for the last 18 years.

Geoff has a family farming and tourism business background. He has been CEO of a community not-for-profit company in Southern Queensland for 10 years, and is now CEO of a similar community organisation in North West Queensland, based in Mount Isa.

Geoff is married with 2 grown up children, enjoys furniture and house renovations.

David Arnold - Rural Financial Counselling Service, North Queensland


David Arnold - Rural Financial Counselling Service, North Queensland

Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland

David Arnold is the CEO of the Central Western Qld Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD – www.rapad.com.au) a position he has held since 2003.

Through RAPAD’s administration of the Rural Financial Counselling Service, David is also the CEO of Rural Financial Counselling Service North Qld ( www.rfcsnq.com.au) which delivers the Australian and state government funded program across the North Queensland region. RFCSNQ provides both rural and small business financial counselling to those eligible businesses facing financial hardship.  

David is currently the Chair of RESQ ( www.resqld.com.au) which delivers the Australian Government’s Community Development Program across the Central West and South West Qld region.

David is also the Deputy Chairman of the Central West Hospital and Health Service (CWHHS), chair of its executive committee and member of the audit & risk committee, since its inception in 2012, and member of its finance committee since 2016.  

David currently resides in Longreach and through his various roles he has an intimate understanding of the issues, opportunities, and challenges of the greater outback Queensland region.

 

Vol Norris - AgForce


Vol Norris - AgForce

Representative AgForce

Based in Longreach, Vol Norris is North West Regional Manager for AgForce Queensland Farmers, the state’s peak advocacy group representing the interests of the broadacre agriculture industry.

He covers North West Queensland from the Queensland/NT border to Blackall in the southeast and Croydon in the northeast, supporting AgForce members, promoting and facilitating extension, information services and events, and supporting the AgForce North Regional Council.

With qualifications and training in natural resource management and group facilitation, Vol’s 30 years work in NRM, much of it in the Rangelands, has included State (Territory) and Federal government, water policy research, private consultancy, and remote Indigenous community land management.

Having lived and worked in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland, Vol has been based in Longreach since 2003, first as Lake Eyre Basin Facilitator, then in his own facilitation and strategic planning consultancy, then with Desert Channels Queensland as Project Manager. He has been with AgForce for 3 years.

Ross Thinee - MITEZ


Ross Thinee - MITEZ

Representative MITEZ

While Ross Thinee has been with MITEZ for two years, MITEZ and the MITEZ region has been a passion of Ross and his family for over twenty-five years – he was born, raised and lived in Mount Isa and the North West his whole life.

Ross brings to his role a lifetime of experience in many areas including mining (5 years), real estate/small business (20 years), regional development (4 years), housing (5 years), and agriculture (10 years, ongoing).

The regular travel for work with MITEZ and for leisure sees Ross travel through and often stay over in the regions hardest hit by seven years of ongoing drought and the devastating flood of 2019. 

The MITEZ region has seen booms and busts consistent with all industries in Australia however, now more than ever the region faces some incredible challenges.

Whilst governments can’t control the weather, getting policies right and projects underway will enable a fast recovery for when seasons do change.  A famous Politian once said “get the policy right and the rest looks after itself” (Bob Hawke)

In my role as IWG member, I look forward to helping to drive priorities for the north-west in its recovery and I have full confidence in the resilience and adaptability of existing and new businesses in this incredible part of the world.

Greg Hoffman - North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils


Greg Hoffman - North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils

Representative North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils

Greg Hoffman PSM is one of Australia’s leading local government professionals with 50 years’ experience working in State and local government across three states and the Northern Territory.

He has held positions of CEO, Commissioner, Managing Director, policy analyst, advocate and industry representative. In his current role as Executive Officer of the North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NWQROC), Greg’s focus is on the people, policy and politics of the State’s remote and productive North West Region.

Greg is passionate about regional Queensland and has devoted a lifetime assisting councils, regional bodies and communities to ensure their voices are heard, and that they receive a fair return for the contribution they make to the State and national economies.

Greg holds qualifications in accounting, management, public policy, media and company directorship.

He has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to local government having received a Public Service Medal in 1993, a Centenary Medal in 2002 and a National Emergency Medal in 2011 for his contribution to Australian society, government and emergency services.

Jo Killick - Queensland Reconstruction Authority


Jo Killick - Queensland Reconstruction Authority

Representative Queensland Reconstruction Authority

Jo Killick is the General Manager, Liaison and Recovery at the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA), assisting communities prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

Jo manages the QRA’s on-the-ground relationship with local and state government agencies involved in the delivery of reconstruction, recovery and resilience projects.

Jo has extensive working knowledge with local governments in Queensland in disaster recovery and critical infrastructure programs, having worked in various roles within QRA and other government departments since 2012.

In her current role, Jo has overseen the development of three state recovery plans within just 18 months, related to floods and bushfires impacting 55 of the 77 local government areas in Queensland.

Within her work, Jo is passionate about engaging with communities across Queensland, particularly in regional and remote areas, and working with them to improve outcomes, and to recover and reconnect after natural disasters.

 

David Phelps - Standing observer – Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries


David Phelps - Standing observer – Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Standing observer Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

David Phelps has worked as a Scientist, Flood Recovery Coordinator and Manager, Regional Agribusiness Strategy with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) in Longreach since 1990.

He grew up on the family wool, beef, grain and pulse farm in north-western New South Wales in the 1970s and experienced the 1971, 1974, 1976 floods and many droughts in between. He inherited a lasting interest in Mitchell grass from his father and grandfather from an early age.

David has been addressing resilience during the extended drought which began across western Queensland in 2013 through voluntary roles in the Rotary Club of Longreach, founding Chair of the Western Queensland Drought Appeal and through the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program GrazingFutures project. He has authored a number of papers and reports on regional and community resilience based on his experience through these groups.

David was appointed Adjunct Professor with Central Queensland University in March 2019, awarded his PhD from the University of New England in 2006, and a Churchill Fellowship in 2002. He is the current President of the Australian Rangeland Society, Australian representative on the International Rangelands Continuing Committee and member of the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists committee.

David is on the organising committee to host the joint Australian Rangeland Society and Desert Channels Queensland rangeland conference to be held in Longreach in early October 2021. They will showcase the resilience of outback communities, industries, businesses and groups, and invite the rest of Australia’s outback to join the discussion of building resilience to drought, floods, and other unexpected events for a better future.

Nigel Tomkins - Standing observer – Meat and Livestock Australia


Nigel Tomkins - Standing observer – Meat and Livestock Australia

Standing observer Meat and Livestock Australia

Nigel Tomkins manages the MLA Grass fed beef program. This portfolio of R&D and E&A activities covers both northern, southern systems and extends to the rangelands of Western Australia.

Before joining MLA in 2015, Nigel was a research scientist with CSIRO in Rockhampton and Townsville and managed projects across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

His publications extend across both scientific and industry journals and he maintains an active engagement in R&D activities in Australia and overseas.

As R&D program manager he is responsible for ensuring the delivery of MLA funded activities across universities, state agencies and commercial entities that deliver a profitable and increasingly productive beef industry.

He has had a long interest in delivering R&D to industry that supports productivity and sustainability for a carbon neutral and vibrant beef industry across southern and northern Australia.

North East Implementation Working Group

Allan Milan - Community member, Home Hill


Allan Milan - Community member, Home Hill

Community member Home Hill

Allan Milan is a primary producer from the Burdekin region in North Queensland with 35 years combined experience in horticulture, sugarcane and grain growing.

Allan is passionate about bringing diversification to farming systems, which more efficiently utilises land and brings increased economic activity to farmers and communities throughout North Queensland.  Currently he and his family are one of the leading growers in re-establishing a northern rice industry.

Allan has been involved on a number of local school and sporting committees and is a former Director on the board of Burdekin River Irrigation Area Irrigators Ltd.

He joins the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Agency - North East IWG as a community representative and looks forward to assisting the Agency in achieving their goals.

Capt Leanne Stevens - Community member, Townsville


Capt Leanne Stevens - Community member, Townsville

Community member Townsville

Leanne Stevens is an Officer in The Salvation Army. 

Since 2005 Leanne has been involved in Disaster Recovery through floods, fires and cyclones throughout Queensland. 

Leanne’s current role is Associate State Emergency & Disaster Coordinator for Queensland.

Sandra Elton - Community member, Townsville


Sandra Elton - Community member, Townsville

Community member Townsville

Sandra Elton is the Manager of North Townsville Community Hub. 

During the 2019 monsoonal floods, this small community centre became an integral community support for disaster recovery, including for those living with disability. This situation has repeated during 2020 under the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sandra has worked extensively in the community services field and holds a Business Degree from the University of Southern Queensland. 

She is a long term North Townsville local and currently co-ordinates a dedicated team of passionate volunteers that make this important work possible. 

Melissa Freestun - Northern Queensland Primary Health Network


Melissa Freestun - Northern Queensland Primary Health Network

Representative Northern Queensland Primary Health Network

Melissa Freestun is the Executive Director for Northern Queensland Primary Health Network – Townsville.

Melissa is a Townsville local, and grew up on her parents’ property North West of Townsville.  Melissa is also a psychologist and has a strong interest in mental health, wellbeing and community resilience. 

North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) is responsible for the commissioning of healthcare activity in the community.  Its aim is for communities to be more agile in responding to the health needs of individuals, families and communities, helping North Queenslanders to live happier, healthier and longer lives.

NQPHN is proud to be part of this IWG, working in partnership with the other members, to shape the recovery and growth of drought and flood affected communities.

Natalie Hughes - Rural Financial Counselling Service, North Queensland


Natalie Hughes - Rural Financial Counselling Service, North Queensland

Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland

Natalie Hughes, a fourth-generation grazier raised in a multi-cultural region of Far North Queensland, is a Rural Financial Counsellor delivering support to farmers, fishing enterprises, forest growers and harvesters, and related small business owners in Queensland’s North West, an area devastated by the 2019 monsoon and ongoing drought.

Prior, she spent nearly a decade teaching secondary school before turning her focus to agricultural economics and research into the effect of environmental legislation on farmers’ attitudes and beliefs towards natural resource management.

Natalie serves as a Board Director for Southern Gulf NRM and remains passionately involved in her family’s cattle and horticulture enterprises.

She continues to be an ardent proponent for on-going business skills development for agricultural and small business, and investment in infrastructure for rural and regional centres. 

Scott Crawford - North Queensland Dry Tropics NRM


Scott Crawford - North Queensland Dry Tropics NRM

Representative North Queensland Dry Tropics NRM

Nikki Hoffman - AgForce


Nikki Hoffman - AgForce

Representative AgForce

Nikki Hoffmann is the North East Regional Manager for AgForce Queensland Farmers, the state’s peak advocacy group representing the interests of the broadacre agriculture industry.

Nikki is based in Townsville and covers the North East region from the Whitsundays to the Cape and west to the Gulf and Flinders, supporting AgForce members, promoting and facilitating extension, information services and events, and assisting the AgForce North Regional Council.

Nikki grew up on her family’s beef cattle property on the Western Downs near Wandoan in Southern Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Production) and a Bachelor of Agribusiness.

Nikki’s experience growing up in a regional community and previous work in the agricultural industry has given her a genuine understanding of the issues faced by people living in rural and regional areas.

 

Joe Moro - Queensland Farmers’ Federation


Joe Moro - Queensland Farmers’ Federation

Representative Queensland Farmers’ Federation

Joe Moro was Born in Mareeba, has a farming background, and is now a mango farmer and is involved in a motor mechanic business called Moro Auto Repairs.

Joe has been President of Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association since 1995 and this has led him to become involved in a number of community actives and organisations.  Not only does he deal with fruit and vegetable issues, but also a wide range of economic development and social issues.

Joe has been a representative on a local, state and national basis.  He has always had a wide community interest and sees an important need for a strong voice, and someone who can find and pursue the issues for industry and the community.

Some of the organisations Joe is currently involved with include:

  • Board director for Growcom
  • Chair of the Queensland Horticultural Council
  • Board Director for Queensland Farmers Federation
  • Member of Mango Industry Strategic Investment Advisory Panel
  • Treasurer of the Rotary FNQ Field Day
  • Chair of FNQ Growers
  • Treasurer of Mareeba and District Flexible Service (Flexichoice)

Cr Mary Brown - Regional Development Australia, Townsville and North West


Cr Mary Brown - Regional Development Australia, Townsville and North West

Regional Development Australia Townsville and North West

Cr Mary Brown has long been a keen advocate of economic and tourism development in regional communities and especially in her own community of the Hinchinbrook Shire. 

Growing up in a large family and working in the diverse family businesses of agriculture and accounting from a very young age, Mary has a deep appreciation of the enormous contribution rural communities provide to the broader national economy as well as the benefits that a rural lifestyle offers to raise a family.  

In 1998 Mary and husband Geoffrey established and continue to operate an aviation business at Ingham airport, servicing a regional, national and international client base.  In recent years they have diversified into farming and provide business management services to regional clients.

Mary was President of the Hinchinbrook Chamber of Commerce from 2008-2016.  In 2016 Mary was elected for her first terms as Hinchinbrook Shire Councillor and re-elected again in 2020 for a second term. 

During her time in local government, Mary has had responsibility for the Planning and Economic Development portfolio, as well as Disaster Recovery chair for the LDMG. Mary is also treasurer for Townsville NW RDA committee.

 

Jo Killick - Queensland Reconstruction Authority


Jo Killick - Queensland Reconstruction Authority

Representative Queensland Reconstruction Authority

Jo Killick is the General Manager, Liaison and Recovery at the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA), assisting communities prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

Jo manages the QRA’s on-the-ground relationship with local and state government agencies involved in the delivery of reconstruction, recovery and resilience projects.

Jo has extensive working knowledge with local governments in Queensland in disaster recovery and critical infrastructure programs, having worked in various roles within QRA and other government departments since 2012.

In her current role, Jo has overseen the development of three state recovery plans within just 18 months, related to floods and bushfires impacting 55 of the 77 local government areas in Queensland.

Within her work, Jo is passionate about engaging with communities across Queensland, particularly in regional and remote areas, and working with them to improve outcomes, and to recover and reconnect after natural disasters.

Adam West - Standing observer - Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries


Adam West - Standing observer - Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Standing observer Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Adam West is a North Queenslander born and bred.

Growing up in the ideal surrounds of Townsville and Magnetic Island, Adam completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours from James Cook University in 1994, majoring in hydrology and catchment processes. His Honours was derived from a two-year research program undertaken in partnership with the University of Berne (Switzerland), investigating surface and groundwater hydro-chemistry within wet tropical catchments of North Eastern Queensland.

Adam joined the Queensland Public Sector in 1995, as a Technical Officer with the then Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Since that time Adam has held several positions within government leading and co-ordinating a diverse array of natural resource management, sustainable farming system and agricultural industry development and diversification initiatives.

Adam currently holds the position of Director – North Region and Flood Recovery, with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). His geographic area of responsibility encompasses the mighty Burdekin River catchment out to the border with the Northern Territory and north to the Torres Straits.

With 25 years of professional experience, Adam has developed a solid understanding of northern production systems and allied supply and value chains.

He maintains a genuine passion for and commitment to enabling appropriate and sustainable agricultural industry development, particularly as it relates to Northern Australia and the broader Asia Pacific Region.

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