07 4032 1746 admin@cafnec.org.au
What Drives Us

Our Mission

To bring together the broad-based community and other organisations to take action to promote a vibrant Far North Queensland natural environment 

 

Since 1981

CAFNEC has been advocating for the protection of nature in

Far North Queensland since 1981.

ABOUT CAFNEC 

The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is a not-for-profit incorporated association that acts as conservation council for the region from Cardwell north to Torres Strait and from the east coast to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We work to protect the environment by enhancing the capacity of local groups and community members to act for conservation, strengthening networks within FNQ, facilitating region-wide cooperation to identify and coordinate action on issues of regional significance and when necessary, engaging in campaigns that are strategically important for the region.

The FNQ environment needs a strong voice, and the people of FNQ who know, love and live in the region are the best ones to be that voice. Protecting the world’s largest living structure (the Great Barrier Reef) and the oldest continuously surviving rainforests (the Wet Tropics) – as well as the other spectacular natural areas in the region – is a huge challenge and needs resources. These World Heritage Areas are important to Australians and global citizens alike so we also need people outside the region to join and support us in giving voice to the local community members who speak and act for these globally-recognised natural wonders. 

Like many not-for-profit organisations, we have a small number of staff that keep things ticking along but volunteers, members and donors are the real power behind the organisation so the more we have, the more we can do.

OUR HISTORY 

CAFNEC was formed in 1981 by members of a number of local conservation groups. It was felt that group coordination and a higher profile for regional environment issues was needed with a single, accessible contact point. Since 1991 that contact point has been both an office and library in Cominos House, a restored Queenslander at the corner of Greenslopes and Little Streets, where the then city council chose tenants for their contribution to restoration and to co-operative management. Cominos House is one of the most well know cultural and historical buildings in Cairns, close to the Flecker Botanic Gardens. Since CAFNEC’s establishment it has been the focal point for environmental action and education in the region.

MEMBERS

SUPPORTERS

VOLUNTEERS

STAFF

Team

Our Staff

Lucy Graham | Director | She/Her

Lucy was born here at the Cairns Base, and grew up on the Atherton Tablelands. She has a deep love for our World Heritage Areas and the wide ranging nature that our region has. 

Prior to her appointment in August 2019, Lucy has been actively involved with CAFNEC for more than five years, as a volunteer, management committee member and representative. Lucy has strong networks with a wide range of organisations and community groups in Far North Queensland, as well as at a State and National spheres.

Lucy has a B. Sustainability from JCU, and has trained with The Change Agency and for many years worked in Outdoor Education and Tourism. Lucy has worked with organisations such as The Wilderness Society, GetUp and the Queensland Conservation Council and brings knowledge and exprience valuable to CAFNEC.

Email: director{at}cafnec.org.au 

Mari Short | Office Manager

Marie has worked for us for many years and maintains a vast knowledge bank in relation to our work and the not-for-profit sector.

She says there is never a dull day in the CAFNEC office and that she is fortunate to be able to interact with so many interesting and energetic people, and of course the myriad of environmental issues.

Apart from her CAFNEC life, she enjoys exploring the walking trails and waterfalls the region has to offer.

Email: admin{at}cafnec.org.au

Aïsha de Barros Lopes | Community Organiser | She/Her

Aïsha has been working for CAFNEC for 5 years, initially as our Projects & Events Coordinator, and now as our Community Organiser.

Aïsha has a B. Environments Degree MAJ. in Architecture from the University of Melbourne, currently studying a B. Law at JCU, and has trained with The Change Agency. Over the years Aïsha has undertaking on-ground land management, working alongside Conservation Volunteers Australia, and volunteering at CERES Community Environment Park. 

Aïsha is empowered by the passion and drive of others in our community who continue to strive to protect our natural environment; and thrives in supporting and fostering leadership in others. 

Aïsha will always take time for hiking, painting, a good book and a cup of coffee!

Email: getinvolved{at}cafnec.org.au

Shannon Bredeson | Projects Officer | She/Her

Shannon is originally from California, USA and arrived in Australia as a Master of Science student in early 2020. She studied at JCU, specialising in Tropical Biology and Conservation. Being amazed at how green and beautiful Cairns is compared to the Californian deserts, she decided to make it her home and began volunteering with CAFNEC in early 2022. This fostered a deeper sense of community and connection within her, and she later joined CAFNEC as an employee in early 2023. She is passionate about helping others develop a love of the environment, and feel empowered to take care of it.

Email: projects{at}cafnec.org.au

Vanessa Hoedlmayr-Wales | Fundraising Coordinator | She/Her

Coming all the way from Austria, Vanessa has settled down in Cairns in 2019 despite preferring the colder climate.

Having done an internship with CAFNEC in 2019, Vanessa has found her way back to CAFNEC as the Fundraising Coordinator after gaining work experience in sustainable tourism and marketing in small businesses.

Vanessa is hoping to be able to combine her broad spectrum of different knowledge and work experience to lead CAFNEC’s fundraising into a bright future. Vanessa has a B. in Tourism and will start her Master of Global Development next February at JCU.

In her freetime she enjoys being underwater and what better place is there to get wet and enjoy a great abundance of fish life and corals than the Great Barrier Reef.

Email: community{at}cafnec.org.au 

Bronwyn Opie | Community Campaigner | She/Her

Originally hailing from Ontario, Canada, Bronwyn has been in awe of the FNQ environment since she arrived in Australia in 2014. She joined the CAFNEC team in 2021 as the Climate Organiser, and has since taken on additional campaign work, including our Water Advocacy campaign.

As the Community Campaigner, Bronwyn’s role is to lead and coordinate CAFNEC’s Climate Justice Campaign and Water Advocacy Campaign. These campaigns aim to bring concerned community members together to advocate for better policies and actions to prevent further climate destruction, and ensure our local government is pursuing sustainable water security solutions that protect our vulnerable river systems and are resilient to the changing climate.

Bronwyn has a B. Sustainability from JCU and is currently completing a Master of Environment, majoring in environmental economics and policy, through Griffith University. When she is not working or studying, she enjoys hiking with friends, breakfast food, and painting.

Email: climateaction{at}cafnec.org.au 

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.
Avinash Chennuri | Secretary | 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.

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.

Claire Doherty | General Member | They/Them

Hailing from Far North Queensland and living on Gimuy-walubarra Yidinji and Yirrganydji Country, Claire has been building the power of young people in Regional Queensland to fight for climate justice for a number of years: starting with the school strike movement and joining the CAFNEC management committee in 2019.

When they’re not organising, you’ll catch Claire practising photography, in the ocean, or having a float in the many beautiful freshwater creeks FNQ has to offer.
Claire currently works as the Regional Queensland Organiser at AYCC.

 

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.

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