07 4032 1746 admin@cafnec.org.au
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

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. 

Bess Murphy | Treasurer

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. 

Dirk Werner-Lutrop |  Secretary 

Dirk, an economist by trade, has worked for large NGOs in South America and Papua New Guinea supporting social and economic development and justice. Following a passion for scuba diving, Dirk and his wife, Claudia, settled in Cairns in 1994 establishing a flourishing dive tourism business. Through that business Dirk was able to witness first-hand the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. He is keen to face the challenges posed to the GBR and reef systems globally through involvement with CAFNECDirk was an active member of Aquis Aware and is a keen singer in a number of Cairns choirs. 

Denis Walls  |  General Member

Denis has been a member of CAFNEC for 26 years and has extensive political, social and environmental campaigning experience. He was a broadcaster and newspaper columnist for 10 years and is the author of books on Rwanda and Malaysia (the latter with Stella Martin). He has worked as a sociology and environmental studies lecturer and Indigenous education program manager. Since the early 1990s Denis has led and been involved in numerous campaigns to protect our precious natural heritage. Denis has a passion for languages and enjoys focused travel, bird watching and a cappella singing. He continues to defy the years by playing veterans league soccer.

Claire Galvin |  General Member

Claire is a university student and has co-organised a social movement in Cairns, empowering young people to take on leadership roles and fight for climate justice. She started her activism by organising a number of climate strikes in Cairns. Upon seeing that more young people were engaging in climate activism she decided, along with other climate strike organisers, to start an Australian Youth Climate Coalition group in Cairns. AYCC Cairns is actively campaigning in the community to achieve climate justice through a number of exciting campaigns. Claire has also won multiple national Eureka Prize awards for science communication.