Renewal of the NGT Board officially marks the end of NGT’s establishment phase

Just over 12 years ago, on the 10th of September 2011, a small group of six colleagues that I had approached over the couple of months prior met with me formally together as a group for the first time. That was the day we formed a committee to oversee the creation of a new multi-regional NGO, with its heart and soul in regional south-eastern Australia, now known as Nature Glenelg Trust. Of course we didn’t have a name or logo at that stage, and – a bit like my then recently completed home owner-building project – I can see clearly with the benefit of hindsight that I personally underestimated the enormity and complexity of the roller coaster ride that was about to begin!

(To learn more about the journey, you might find this overview of common questions about NGT I wrote in 2020, or this story and video about NGT’s first 10 years from last year, of interest.)

The NGT Committee of Management: From Left to Right: Nick Whiterod, Michael Hammer, (former member) Becky McCann, Lachlan Farrington, Melissa Herpich, Cath Dickson, Mark Bachmann
The original NGT Committee of Management in 2013 at the newly finished NGT community nursery site in Mt Gambier. From Left to Right: Nick Whiterod, Michael Hammer, Becky McCann, Lachlan Farrington, Melissa Herpich, Cath Dickson, Mark Bachmann

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and after 10 years of continuing to operate like a ‘start-up’ organisation, it was clear that the scale that NGT had reached meant we needed to begin transitioning the organisation into a shape and form that would ensure its long-term sustainability. The ’10 year review’ that we have methodically worked our way through since then, has resulted in a number of key changes over the past couple of years.

Many of those changes have been operational, such as the recent retirement of our formal use of alternative trading names owned by NGT (e.g. Aquasave and NGT Consulting), the creation of other senior manager roles to oversee our ecological work, and a new business operations manager role to support our internal systems in things like Admin, IT, HR and OHSW.

Other changes have included some strategic amendments to our governing document, our Deed of Trust, to ensure that Our Purpose is up to date and reflects the commitments that have been made to our partners and supporters – particularly in relation to our Permanent Reserves and the NGT Foundation.

Today I am writing to share the final important change to come out of our review – renewal of the NGT Board (previously referred to as our Committee of Management), to create the requisite degree of ongoing future separation between the governance of NGT and the organisation’s operations. At our recent Board meeting on the 8th of September 2023, we officially welcomed three new members: Ann McGregor OAM (Chair), Todd Burger and Cecilia Myers.

The Nature Glenelg Trust Board in September 2023 (L-R): Todd Burger, Cecilia Myers, Ann McGregor OAM and Mark Bachmann.

While I am remaining on the Board, this was also the moment when our final other remaining original members, Lachlan Farrington and Melissa Herpich, resigned their Board positions, noting that they both remain deeply involved in NGT via their vital operational roles (to learn about our team of professional staff, please click here). This is a significant milestone for NGT, and officially marks the end of our establishment phase.

NGT team members, Bryan Haywood and Andy Lines, showing the new NGT Board members around Eaglehawk Waterhole in September 2023. Photo: Mark Bachmann

Prior to the recent Board meeting, the new members joined me for an intensive three day trip across the south-eastern Australian landscape to meet with a wide range of more than a dozen NGT staff, and to gain an insight into the breadth of our work across the fields of threatened species recovery, ecological restoration and environmental education.

Reflecting on the past 12 years, it is with great pride and gratitude that I look back at what we have achieved for the environment by working cooperatively with people on the land, supported by an increasing number of so many other wonderful people in the wider community who have joined us for the journey.

As this chapter closes, I would especially like to thank and recognise the efforts of the other original NGT Committee members for their role over the years in helping to shape the successful organisation that NGT is today: Dr. Lachlan Farrington (member: 2011 – 2023), Melissa Herpich (member: 2011 – 2019, 2022 – 2023), Dr. Cath Dickson (member: 2011 – 2022), Dr. Nick Whiterod (member: 2011 – 2021), Dr. Michael Hammer (member: 2011 – 2021), and Becky McCann (member: 2011 – 2013).

Looking ahead to the future, our new independent Chairperson, Ann McGregor OAM, has kindly shared her thoughts with us too, as the new Board members settle in to their roles:

“For some years I have admired and supported (along with my partner Bruce) the excellent work of NGT. For the new Board members our recent induction tour introduced us to some of NGT’s knowledgeable and dedicated staff, as well as an exciting sample of project sites and reserves. As Chair, I look forward to being more closely involved in supporting NGT’s well-established strategic directions and the continuing achievements and viability of this visionary and high-performing organisation.”

Mark Bachmann