The Hon. Ryan Smith MP
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Minister for Youth Affairs
Zoos Victoria is one of eight key agencies that fall within Ryan Smith’s portfolio. As the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan is responsible for action to effectively manage and protect Victoria’s natural environment, with a focus on building greater community engagement and supporting local communities with practical measures.
Visit the Department of Sustainability and Environment for further information.
The Zoological Parks and Gardens Board is the governing body of Victoria’s three great zoos: Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Set up in 1973 as a statutory authority, the board’s role is to protect and promote the zoos and their roles in conservation, research and education.
The board is appointed by the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
The Zoological Parks & Gardens Act 1995
The Zoological Parks & Gardens Act 1995 was originally enacted on 14 December 1936. It sets out the objectives and functions of the board.
The Werribee Zoological Park (now known as Werribee Open Range Zoo) was established by the board in December 1975 and opened to the public in September 1983.
Healesville Sanctuary (originally The Sir Colin MacKenzie Zoological Park) was placed under the management of the Zoological Board on 27 June 1978.
The Hon. Alex Chernov, AC, QC Governor of Victoria
Ms Anne D F Ward B.A., LLB (Melb), FAICD
Anne was appointed as Chair in March 2013. She came to the Board with over 30 years of extensive experience in business management, strategy, finance, risk and governance across a range of industries including banking, agriculture, property and tourism. Prior to becoming a professional director, Anne was a commercial lawyer advising major corporations on strategic transactions, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, contract law and regulation and corporate governance. She was a corporate partner at two major Australian law firms, Minter Ellison Lawyers and Herbert Geer in Melbourne. Anne is presently Chairman of Colonial First State Investments, Avanteos Investments, Qantas Superannuation and the Centre for Investor Education and a director of FlexiGroup Ltd.
Dr Kenneth Hinchcliff BVSc (Hons), MS, PhD, DACVIM
Kenneth was appointed to the board in May 2008. He is a graduate of the Melbourne Veterinary School and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne. He has completed an advanced training program in large animal internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD at the Ohio State University. Kenneth was a faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University, rising to professor before joining the University of Melbourne in 2007.
Mr Sahil Merchant LLB (Hons), B Comm, MBA, GAICD
Sahil was appointed to the Board in April 2013. He is the CEO of REDStrategy and brings a deep level of expertise in marketing, online commerce and digital consumer engagement to the Board. Sahil also founded Mag Nation, a chain of retail stores specialising in mainstream and niche magazines and stationery. He was nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009, and prior to Mag Nation, spent 4 years working for international management consultancy McKinsey & Company.
Ms Natasha Bowness B Ec, ACA, GAICD
Natasha was appointed to the Board in April 2013. She is an Executive Director of the Wilbow Group, a private family investment group whose activities include property, listed and unlisted investments and private equity. Natasha has experience in governance, strategy, business management, finance, accounting, audit and philanthropy. Prior to joining Wilbow, she had a 7 year career with PricewaterhouseCooper in Australia and Internationally. Natasha is Chair of the Bowness Family Foundation and has been Deputy Chair of the Zoos Victoria’s Foundation Board.
Ms Helen Thornton B.Ec ACA
Helen was appointed to the board in February 2010; she was appointed as Chair of the Audit & Risk and Compliance Committee in March 2010. Helen has extensive experience in risk management and both internal and external audit. She has worked in a number of executive positions in the private sector. She was an independent member of the Audit & Risk and Compliance Committee for a number of years prior to her appointment to the board. Helen is also on the boards of Rural Finance Corporation and Big Sky Credit Union.
Mr Jon Hickman M.B.A, DCom
Jon was appointed to the Board in 2011 as Deputy Chair. Jon is Chair of the Victorian Coastal Council and an Alternate Member of the Heritage Council of Victoria. His professional roles have included Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, Deputy Secretary responsible for planning, heritage and local government at the former Department of Infrastructure, National Director at the Australian Crime Commission, Deputy Secretary at the Tasmanian Treasury and Chief Executive Officer of the City of Port Phillip. He has worked in school education, property and marketing and communications.
Associate Professor Geoff Wescott B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc, M.Sc, Ph.D FEIANZ
Geoff was appointed to the Board in 2011 and is Associate Professor of Environment at Deakin University in Melbourne, a Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, a member of the World Commission for Protected Areas of the IUCN and Vice President of the Australian Coastal Society. He has served on the Australian National Oceans Advisory Group, the Victorian Coastal Council, Parks Victoria and has just written a new edition on rocky shores, flora and fauna of Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Ms Carolyn Jackson LLB, BCom MPA
Carolyn was appointed to the Board in August 2014 and is the Acting Executive Director of Finance and Planning (CFO) with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. Carolyn has extensive experience in policy and strategic financial management across the Victorian Government, including roles with the Department of Treasury and Finance. Carolyn has a double degree in Law and Commerce (Economics), and a Master Degree in Professional Accounting.
Mr Mark William Powell B.Ec
Mark was appointed to the board in August 2014. He brings to the board 17 years banking experience; specifically in global financial markets risk management with Societe Generale Australia and the Commonwealth Bank. Current role as director of private family investment company and has over 20 years experience in small business including agriculture, building and property management. He has 15 years experience on rural DEPI committees of management. Mark is also a board member of Moorabool and districts community bank.