Our Governance

The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is a not-for-profit incorporated association under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Queensland) operating in Queensland, Australia. The principal activities of CAFNEC are to safeguard Far North Queensland’s environment through advocacy and education. 

The organisation is governed by a Management Committee in line with the requirements of CAFNEC’s Rules of Incorporated Association. The Management Committee is appointed by CAFNEC members at the Annual General Meeting, and are members themselves. Management Committee Members serve for a minimum one-year term and do not receive remuneration for their role, but may receive out-of-pocket expenses. 

The Management Committee govern the organisation and retain ultimate authority over its management, delegating the day-to-day management to the Director. The Director’s responsibilities are guided by an annual plan, performance criteria and monitoring adopted by the Management Committee. The Management Committee conducts an annual performance review of the Director. 

CAFNEC maintains a public gift fund, the CAFNEC Gift Fund, which is a tax-deductible gift recipient registered by the Australian Taxation Office and subject to the regulatory oversight of the Commonwealth Register of Environmental Organisations and the Australian National Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. All donations received are used to support CAFNEC’s charitable objectives.

Role of the Management Committee

The Management Committee’s primary role is the good governance of CAFNEC, including the development and monitoring of long-term directions and goals and the strategies and policies needed to achieve these goals. 

The Management Committee also appoints and manages the Director and ensures that the organisation complies with its contractual, statutory and legal obligations; remains financially viable and proactively manages risks. The Management Committee regularly engages with employees via strategy planning sessions, sub-committees, events and meetings. The Management Committee also invites staff to regularly present key information to the Management Committee, and the Committee Members are always available to provide support and advice or receive feedback. 

To meet our governance requirements, Management Committee membership is diverse and includes key competencies such as environmental policy and strategy, finance, legal, fundraising, strategy, audit, risk, communications and engagement. The Management Committee regularly reviews the skills necessary to undertake its activities and undertakes a formal appraisal of its performance annually. 

The Management Committee operates sub-committees to investigate various issues and make recommendations to the Management Committee. The Management Committee currently operates four sub-committees, with membership consisting primarily of Management Committee members with support from co-opted experts. The Management Committee does not abrogate its responsibilities to sub-committee members. Sub-committees currently in operation are HR, Campaigns and Finance.

2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan

Our Management Committee

Pia Harkness | President | She/Her

Pia was born and raised in Townsville and was fortunate to spend much of her childhood on Magnetic Island where the seeds of her interest in tropical marine ecosystems were sown. She studied a Bachelor Environmental Management at Newcastle University and a Master of Tropical Environmental Management at Charles Darwin University. Pia went on to complete a PhD which examined marine conservation and community development policies and their implications for coastal communities and their livelihoods in remote eastern Indonesia.

Pia is now a Social Scientist working with Traditional Owners to bring together Indigenous knowledge and western science) for land and sea management with multiple benefits. After nearly a decade living in Darwin, Pia is excited to be getting back into diving in Cairns, and has recently taken up mountain biking. 

Belinda Billing | Vice President | She/Her
Belinda has worked in sustainable tropical agriculture in the Mackay Whitsunday and Far North regions for more than ten years. Her focus has been on improving water quality in Great Barrier Reef farming regions by working collaboratively with agricultural communities.
She has a Bachelor of Communication and is currently studying Psychological Science and Sociology, her work experience spans journalism, adult education and, more recently extension and project management in sustainable agriculture.
Belinda's work and passion lies in bringing together science and community to create change for a more sustainable and equitable world. When Belinda is not working you'll probably find her playing with her dogs or hiking the region's beautiful trails.
Ellie Bock | Secretary |

Ellie has long been active in the Queensland and NQ /FNQ environment movement since her teens, as a supporter / participant and as a governance volunteer.

Living on Mamu Country inland from Innisfail, Ellie has had the wonderful privilege - over the past 2 decades - of learning and evolving as a professional land and sea country planner and facilitator, mainly contracted directly by Traditional Owners of the Wet Tropics, Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait. Ellie is undertaking a PhD through James Cook University, and has a part-time Regional Planner role with The Cairns Institute.

As a former member of the MC, Ellie feels it’s great to be invited back to renew a long-standing commitment to the exceptional regional peak body, and dedicated community conservation organisation, that is CAFNEC.

Bess Murphy | Treasurer | She/Her

Hailing from country NSW and trained as an Environmental Scientist/Biologist Bess is passionate about environmental advocacy, science, social change & sustainability. 

She has over half a decade of environmental campaigning and outreach experience spanning Bathurst, Wollongong and Cairns, including most recently working at CAFNEC from 2015-2020. 

When not at CAFNEC you can find Bess crafting sustainable timber jewelery in an off grid shed on the Tablelands, under the sea, or hiking in the rainforest nerding-out on botany. She now runs two eco-conscious businesses with her partner and teams.

Sioux Campbell | General Member |

Sioux Campbell currently works as a Disaster Resilience Officer for Cairns Regional Council. Until recently, she was a director of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and continues to provide governance advice for not-for-profit organisations.  She is a keen outdoors sportswoman on land and in the water. Sioux has a long history of involvement in environmental management through past employment with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, her own environmental PR consultancy and voluntary positions with marine conservation organisations. As a crisis manager and community engagement specialist, she is a Fellow of the PR Institute of NZ, a life member of the NZ Association for Environmental Education and an FNQ Ambassador for the International Association of Public Participation.

Avinash Chennuri | General Member | He/Him

Avinash is a multi-disciplined management and development professional with more than six years of experience. He was trained in international development, geo-political relations, sustainable development, and business management. Avinash has worked as a marketing and operations head for many enterprises in India and led several international projects. He recently finished his second masters and graduated from James Cook University in Masters of Global Development.

He is a passionate researcher and an ardent advocate of eliminating polarisations and inequalities and promotion of equitable development, social and climate justice, civil and political rights, and democracy.