Risks and Rewards speaker profiles



Gabrielle has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She began covering politics in the 1990s for The Australian in NSW parliament and the Canberra press gallery. Since 2013, she has worked for Guardian Australia as a political correspondent and Politics Live blogger. Gabrielle has also worked for ABC radio, the Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. She has written and edited histories and biographies.

The city-born daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved to a sheep and wheat farm near Harden Murrumburrah in 1996. She noticed the economic and cultural divide between city and country and the yawning gap between parliament and small town life. As a result, she wrote Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up, released in 2018 by Penguin Random House.


Richard Bull is Chair of the statewide Local Land Services Board. Richard is a sheep producer and runs a part-time agricultural consultancy practice. Richard has an affinity with rural NSW, having lived on the land his entire life. He spent more than 16 years on the NSW Legislative Council during which time he was Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Shadow Minister for Agriculture. Richard was an inaugural member of the Murray Local Land Services Board and appointed Chair of the Murray Local Land Services Board in March 2017.  More recently Richard was Chairman of Water for Rivers, a public company formed to fund infrastructure projects to return water savings to the Snowy and Murray rivers. The company funded projects totalling $450 million over 10 years. He is a past Chairman of Water for Rivers, Sheep Genetics Australia, Beef Genetics Review and Lamb Lot-feeding Review.


Twitter: @richardaheath

Richard is the Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute (AFI). The AFI is an independent policy research organisation whose objective is to enhance the economic and social well-being of farmers and the agricultural sector in Australia by conducting highly credible public policy research and promoting the outcomes to policy-makers and the wider community. Previous to this role Richard was Associate Professor of Agronomy and Farm Management at the University of Sydney and before that was involved in a large family farming business in North West NSW. Richard is a director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and sits on the Advisory Committee for CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He is a Nuffield scholar and was a director of Nuffield Australia.

Peter Ampt

Twitter: @PeterAmpt

Peter is an interdisciplinary researcher, teacher and consultant who strongly believes in integrating agricultural production with environmental conservation. He applies participatory, mixed method approaches to better understand the complex adaptive social-ecological systems in which agriculture and conservation are embedded. He has applied this approach to environmental policy and management for production landscapes, agricultural and environmental extension, conservation through sustainable use and investigating the eco-innovators at the forefront of the transition to agro-ecology. He has also worked with Indigenous communities to develop working knowledge that integrates traditional knowledge of land and food with other approaches. His career has included high school teaching, Australian Museum education, research management at UNSW and academic teaching and research in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at The University of Sydney.

John Angus

After retiring as an agronomist at CSIRO, John has run a farm in Stockinbingal near Cootamundra with his wife, Patricia. The farm produces wheat, barley, canola, pulses, lambs and fine wool. Ten percent of the farm area is remnant vegetation. John remains an honorary fellow at CSIRO and is an adjunct professor at Charles Sturt University. He is a fellow of the Australian and American Societies of Agronomy and served as President of the Australian Society. He received the Australian Medal of Agricultural Science in 2006. His scientific interests are the efficiency of water and nitrogen cycles and how crop and pasture sequences affect the productivity and sustainability of dryland farming systems. His PhD was on CO2-exchange in crops at the University of Melbourne in the late 1960s, where he became aware of the increasing concentration of atmospheric CO2.

Lynette Bettio

Twitter: @LynBettio

Lynette is a senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology in the Climate Monitoring team and has a PhD in climate science. The Climate Monitoring team records, monitors and analyses Australia’s climate, including rainfall and temperature. Lynette works on improving services within Climate Monitoring and how these are best communicated to the community. This included leading a project within the Bureau on updating drought services which involved nationwide stakeholder engagement and implementing the subsequent recommendations. Lynette is a member of the World Meteorological Organization expert team on drought. Lynette is one of the authors of the biennial Bureau of Meteorology-CSIRO State of the Climate report which examines and communicates long-term changes to Australia’s climate and has presented extensively around this.

Steven Crimp

Twitter: @StevenCrimp

Steven is a climate applications scientist with the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University. His role in the Climate Change Institute is to examine opportunities for improved climate risk management, within primary industries, both in Australia and internationally, as well as seek opportunities to work more closely with multinational and global food producers, telecommunications, and other industries in this area. Before joining ANU, Steve worked for the Agriculture and Food Business Unit of CSIRO, contributing to the Global Food Security in a Changing world research program.

Jon Elder

Jon’s international career spans farming, fisheries and mining with a focus on environmental systems and community relations. In 2011 Jon and his partner Karin returned from working in the United Kingdom to manage their family farming operation in Narromine, NSW. This operation currently focuses on a summer cropping program of cotton and winter cropping program of wheat. In response to the cost of fuel to run their irrigation system, Jon commissioned Australia’s largest solar/diesel bore, slashing fuel costs and carbon emissions. Jon has a Master of Business Administration (Corporate Responsibility) and Bachelor of Applied Science (Fisheries). 

Ryan Gale

Ryan is a member of MinterEllison’s Climate Risk Governance Team, focusing on climate change risks (and opportunities) through a financial, corporate governance and liability lens. Ryan works broadly across corporate and government clients, and is known for his ability to communicate complex legal issues across the scientific, business and community sectors. MinterEllison is an international law firm, headquartered in Australia and regarded as one of the Asia- Pacific’s premier law firms. Their teams collaborate across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the UK. They think beyond the law, offering clients advisers who are multi-disciplinary and industry-facing to help them realise their strategic goals, grasp business opportunities and create value for their stakeholders.

Lorraine Gordon  

Lorraine is the founder of the National Regenerative Agriculture Alliance based out of Southern Cross University (SCU). As Director of Strategic Projects at SCU and Associate Director of the University’s Centre for Organic Research, Lorraine acts as a conduit between industry and research, delivering sustainable and regenerative agriculture solutions nationally. Lorraine is a beef trader from Ebor, NSW. Lorraine was awarded the 2018 Australian Rural Community Leader of the Year for her work with farmers. Previous positions have included CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast, Regional Agribusiness Manager with Westpac Bank, Director of the Graduate Network of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, and Executive Director of Economic Security for Women. A graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and previous NSW ABC Rural Woman of the Year, Lorraine is currently completing her PhD in Ecological Economics through UNE.

Dylan Gower

Dylan Gower is principal of d-CONSTRUCT architects and a director of the CORRIDOR project, a not-profit organisation currently based in Central West NSW. Dylan is co-founder of CLEAN Cowra Inc, a community enterprise developing a unique model for a regional Biomass to energy project, utilising agricultural residues and organic waste for resource conversion as a decentralised energy option. For over 20 years, he has been advocating for Ecological Sustainable Development. Dylan was Awarded the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship by the NSW Architects Registration Board, which he completed in 2009. In 2015 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to further his research. The CLEAN Cowra Inc. initiative is a great example of how circular economic models can benefit regional agricultural- based economies such as Cowra, which may be replicated in other regional communities.

Ben Keogh

Ben has been involved in carbon farming since 2004 when he first undertook a study of the carbon sequestration potential in Central Victoria. Ben established Australian Carbon Traders (ACT) and managed the accreditation of Landcare CarbonSMART under the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme and the Australian Greenhouse Office Greenhouse Friendly programs. Ben worked on several consultative committees, provided practical input into the development of the Carbon Farming Initiative and was instrumental in the development of the Human Induced Regeneration (HIR) methodology. Ben has advanced skills in the technical aspects of carbon management as well as detailed knowledge of the legislation and practicalities of carbon farming. In partnership, ACT has established HIR projects on nearly one million hectares of privately-owned land throughout Australia and continues to advocate for landholders rights in the burgeoning carbon industry.

Robert Lee

Robert has farmed on his family’s property “Coorah” since 1986 where he and his wife Kim have raised three children. Robert and Kim have consolidated the ownership of the farm over the past 22 years. Since taking over the management they have generated farm profitability consistently above average in the Holmes Sackett benchmarking database. Robert has been involved with Landcare for 25 years, including three years as chairman of Little River Landcare Group and now Central Tablelands Landcare Group. He credits the Landcare movement with transforming his attitudes to sustainable land management. He is currently focused on mentoring his son Lachlan, who left a career in finance to continue the family’s stewardship of “Coorah”. Together Rob, Kim and Lachlan are focused on reducing the carbon footprint and increasing biodiversity on their farm.

Reiss McLeod

Reiss is a senior economist with the Institute for Development of Environmental-Economic Accounting Group and plays a leading role in the practical application of environmental economic accounting. Reiss works with IDEEA Group’s partners to understand the different uses for environmental-economic accounting and focuses on the design of environmental economic accounts that are fit for purpose. The accounts are designed to support decision making in local contexts, and Reiss draws on public and private data sets to populate them. Reiss has applied environmental-economic accounting in the context of Irish peatlands, Australian oceans, Tasmanian forests, Melbourne’s urban and peri-urban areas, and China’s industrial parks. Reiss is interested in exploring how the accounts can be used by businesses to support decision making by helping to reduce natural capital risks and take advantage of financial incentives in a changing policy environment.

Doug McNicholl

Twitter: @DougMcNich

Doug is a research and development Program Manager experienced in livestock production, technology development, and business administration. He holds the role of Supply Chain Sustainability Innovation Manager at Meat and Livestock Australia, investing $12M p.a. into innovation management services for the Australian red meat industry. His focus is investing in initiatives that maintain consumer and community support for the red meat industry and increase profitability in a sustainable manner. Investment areas include developing technologies and practices with value propositions for improved management of natural resources, energy, greenhouse gas emissions and waste streams. Former positions include R&D Program Manager at the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and various renewable energy project development roles in the UK.

Verity Morgan-Schmidt

Twitter: @VMorganSchmidt

Originally a farm girl from the sheep and wheat country of Western Australia, Verity is a former Executive Officer for Western Australian Farmers Federation. No stranger to advocating for agriculture’s interests in the political arena, Verity managed WAFF’s response to both the introduction of $1 milk and the live exports ban, rallying farmers and rural communities to make their voices heard. Verity previously worked for Elders Ltd, including a stint at the National Wool Selling Centre in Victoria. She is the former Executive Officer for Country Noosa, an organisation linking hinterland producers to coastal communities in South East Queensland. Verity holds a Master of Arts (Politics) in Sustainability and Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Politics and Global Studies.

Charlie Prell

Twitter: @CharlieJPrell

Charlie is a sheep farmer from Crookwell, NSW. He is one of four farmers under the Crookwell 2 wind farm. He has had 19 years of experience in renewables, focusing on wind farms. He is a strong public supporter of the benefits wind farms can bring to small regional communities. Since 2014 he has been the NSW Regional Organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance. He was part of the working group and then the steering committee that formed Farmers for Climate Action. He was previously co-chair and is currently deputy chair. He is passionate about the health and well-being of small regional communities and in assisting these communities to meet the challenge of climate change. He also promotes the opportunities that meeting these challenges can bring to individual farmers and their communities.

Paul Ryan

Paul is the Director of the Australian Resilience Centre, an organisation that builds the capacity of regional communities and agencies facing uncertain futures. His primary focus has been on putting resilience science into practice. He does this through training, facilitation, mentoring, research and developing and supporting a national community of practitioners. More recently Paul has worked internationally to develop and apply resilience concepts in developing nations. He has previously worked for the Resilience Alliance, CSIRO and regional and state agencies. Paul grew up on a farm in northern Victoria where his family has been farming continuously for 150 years.

Jacki Schirmer

Twitter: @jackischirmer

Jacki is a visiting fellow at the Fenner School, and an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra. Her work focuses on the intersection of human wellbeing and use and interaction with natural resources. Jacki leads the Regional Wellbeing Survey Jacki also conducts research examining the social impacts of changing access to natural resources (including access to water, forests, fisheries and agricultural land), community acceptance of natural resource management, and supporting resilience, adaptive capacity and wellbeing in regional communities.

Joel Stibbard

Joel is a Senior Ecologist in the Sydney/Hunter Regional Delivery team of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Joel has a diverse background of research in both terrestrial and marine systems, and prior to the BCT had spent the previous 10 years employed as a private consultant, working within the natural resource and development sector to bring strategic development and conservation outcomes to the Sydney Basin and Hunter regions, and delivering offsets under the NSW Biodiversity Offset Scheme. Joel’s role within the BCT is equally diverse, from providing regional expertise for conservation site assessments and conducting annual audits for existing conservation sites, to providing landholder support across the spectrum of Private Land Conservation from offset sites to unfunded Voluntary Conservation Agreements.

Cathy Waters

Cathy is a Principal Research Scientist and Leader of Climate Research in the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Cathy’s current research aims to increase carbon farming opportunities for primary industries which includes identifying where carbon farming can be integrated into current agricultural production. Cathy has had more than 20 years’ experience undertaking research in rangeland ecology, specifically sustainable grazing management, soil carbon, addressing ground cover and total grazing pressure issues and policy development.

Guy Webb

Twitter: @guywebb12

Guy is the Managing Director of Soil C Quest 2031. Guy has over a decade of experience designing functional and practical microbial packages within dryland broadacre systems for semi-arid environments. Guy draws on a strong background in agronomy, and a deep understanding of the scientific principles of soil health, microbiology and sustainable land management. He has been the driving force behind the not-for profit research institute Soil C Quest 2031 for a number of years and has brought together a cohesive, passionate and committed team to work towards SoilCQuest’s vision. Guy is driven to find practical and scalable ways in which agriculture can play its critical part in mitigating climate change.