Professor John Thwaites

John Thwaites is a Professorial Fellow, Monash University, and Chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (winner Banksia Award Research and Academia 2018)  and ClimateWorks Australia.


He is also Chair of Melbourne Water and the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust and a director of Fair Trade Australia New Zealand. John is a Co-Chair of the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (“SDSN”) launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations to provide expert advice and support to the development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2013, John was named as one of the 100 Global Sustainability Leaders by ABC Carbon Express.


John Thwaites was Deputy Premier of Victoria from 1999 until his retirement in 2007. During this period he held various Ministerial portfolios including Health, Planning, Environment, and Climate Change. He was the Minister for Water during the Millennium drought.

Dr Tessa Fluence

Dr Tessa Fluence is the Public Narrative Coordinator at the Australian Conservation Foundation, where she leads on research, monitoring and evaluation of ACF's public narrative and coordinates and delivers "Change the Story" presentations and workshops. She works to shape the narratives, frames and messages in public communication to shift the public conversation and engage communities in advocacy and civic action. She is a multidisciplinary change maker with experience in the non-for-profit sector, social change, design and academia.

Dr Jen Martin

Dr Jen Martin spent many years working as a field ecologist until she decided the most useful thing she could contribute as a scientist was to teach other scientists how to be effective and engaging communicators. Jen founded, leads and teaches the University of Melbourne's acclaimed Science Communication Teaching Program. She is deeply committed to helping scientists develop the skills they need to be visible, make connections and have impact.

Jen also practices what she preaches: for nearly 15 years she’s been talking about science each week on 3RRR, Australia’s

largest community radio station. She writes a popular science blog, is a member of the Science Gallery Melbourne Leonardos, writes for CSIRO's Double Helix Magazine and is a member of the Visibility Teaching Team for Homeward Bound, a leadership program for women in STEM. In order to face the imposter syndrome head-on, Jen is currently embracing a variety of new challenges. These include hosting medical podcasts, writing a science communication textbook and running marathons.

Amos Atkinson and Mick Bourke

Amos Atkinson (tribal name: Banjarra Warri) is a proud Bangarang, Djaara, Waveroo, Wiradjuri Man living in Mooroopna Victoria. He has spent most of his life in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organizations and for the past 10 years works in Natural Resource Management and Cultural Heritage. Currently, Amos is a Project Officer at Djandak focusing on bringing traditional fire back into the landscape and also working on implementing the joint management plan for Dja Dja Wurrung.  

Mick Bourke is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man working as a District Planner at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Mick works with Forest Fire Management Victoria, helping to incorporate the

connection of Traditional Owners to Country with planned burning and fire management programs. He has worked with Rumbalarra Aboriginal Corporation as Youth Justice worker helping his Community with at risk and troubled Youth. He spent 4 years working as a Field Service Officer at Parks Victoria on the Lower Goulburn River, working on planned burning and bush works and 2 years at Yorta Yorta Nation Cultural Heritage unit working alongside archaeologists during field work.

Amos and Mick believe that bringing back the practice of traditional burning will not only heal the country, but also heal the people. 

We acknowledge and respect Victorian Traditional Owners as the original custodians of Victoria’s land and waters, their unique ability to care for Country and deep spiritual connection to it. We honour Elders past and present whose knowledge and wisdom has ensured the continuation of culture and traditional practices.

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