Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association

Tasmanian Agricultural Conference Speakers

Stay tuned for more featured speakers.

Keynote Speaker, Felicity Richards

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After completing a law degree at the Australian National University, Felicity pursued a career in policy development and regulatory frameworks for ten years. Returning to the family farm in Tasmania in 2013, some rogue cattle led to a romance across the boundary fence. She and her husband Mark now manage a beef and lamb enterprise across property on Flinders Island and near Launceston.
In the family business, the demands of two small children and an enthusiasm for process, data collection and analysis has seen Felicity take on an administrative role. She heads the combined departments of Human Resources, Accounting, Occupational Health and Safety, Compliance and Risk. Felicity’s motivation for thorough record keeping lies in the conviction that successful business decisions come from analysis of quality data.
Felicity juggles her family and farm responsibilities with volunteering as Secretary on the Board of Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market, and President of Primary Employers Tasmania. She recently completed the Tasmanian Leaders I-Lead program and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Foundations of Directorship course.

Sean Starling - General Manager Donor Company and Research, Development & Innovation, MLA

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Sean Starling is General Manager – MLA Donor Company and Research, Development & Innovation.  A member of Meat & Livestock Australia’s executive team, Sean is responsible for MLA’s $170 million annual R&D investment across the Australian red meat industry value chain.  Innovation areas cover: global innovation insights; value chain innovation; food safety and industry traceability and integrity systems; product development and value-adding; automation technology; and building industry innovation capability.
Sean has been engaged in food value chains for most of his career.  Having worked in a range of organisations and positions from factory engineer to general manager in manufacturing, R&D and engineering organisations, underpins Sean’s ability to work with business and scientific thinkers to facilitate delivery of their concepts into commercial reality.  In addition to ensuring no good opportunity is wasted, Sean has a passion of supporting young people to strive and deliver in an ever changing and complex environment.

Stephen Cahoon - Director, Sense-T

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Associate Professor Stephen Cahoon is the Director of Sense-T at the University of Tasmania in which he has managed $22 million of innovative and cutting-edge research projects that utilise data analytics and sensor technology to provide solutions for companies across multiple industries.  Previous to this role he was the inaugural Director of the Sense-T NICTA Logistics Lab that attracted research funding to undertake technology driven projects for transport, freight and logistics providers.  Stephen was also the Head of the Department of Maritime and Logistics Management for seven years at the Australian Maritime College (UTAS) where he led a team of 13 academics in developing three undergraduate degrees and an MBA postgraduate program in a hybridised on-campus and distance learning format.  Stephen is also Associate Editor of the Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics as well as the Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment, and Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Marine Science and Technology, Maritime Business Review, and Sustainability journal.  He holds a PhD in seaport marketing strategy, a BCom (Hons) in industrial relations and a BBus in human resource management.  He currently supervises seven PhD candidates at the Australian Maritime College in fields related to supply chain management, transport, shipping, and port management and has published over 120 papers in these areas.

Mandy Richardson - Business Advisor and Certified Chair

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Mandy is a professional advisory board chair, non-executive director and business management consultant.
Prior to starting her own business, Mandy held senior financial and management positions across a range of businesses and organisations, including; public and private companies, government business enterprises and research institutes. She has broad, multidisciplinary management experience, giving her a holistic understanding of business structures, processes and culture, throughout the lifecycle of a business.
In addition to extensive experience in the agribusiness and environmental sectors, she has worked with businesses and organisations involved in; retail, wholesale, manufacturing, social and personal services, gaming, research and education.
Mandy holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) and a Graduate Diploma of Environmental Management, giving her a unique perspective on business management, and the ability to work and communicate across disciplines and organisational levels.
She is a Fellow of CPA Australia (FCPA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), and a Certified Chair and Approved Advisor with the Advisory Board Centre.

Wayne Mitchell - Owner, Energy Street

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Mark Cocker - CEO, Worksafe Tasmania & Phillip John - Senior WHS consultant, Manager of Safe Farming Tasmania Program

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In 2015, the State Government in “cultivating prosperity” committed funding to enable the establishment of the Safe Farming Tasmania Program. The Program is designed to raise awareness of farm safety issues across the State and is free and confidential to all Tasmanian farmers and rural communities. It is an agreement between the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and WorkSafe Tasmania, and operates out of DPIPWE.
Its purpose is to assist and support Tasmania’s farming communities to raise awareness of farm safety issues through the provision of free and practical WHS advice and guidance. It is aimed at reducing workplace injury, and improving the health and safety performance of the states rural sector.
Mr Mark Cocker is the Chief Executive of WorkSafe Tasmania and WHS Regulator, Asbestos Compensation Commissioner and Competent Authority for Dangerous Goods. He has held senior positions within the Tasmanian Department of Justice for the past 30 years in operational management, strategy, planning and regulatory roles. He is the former Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, Travel Compensation Commissioner, Residential Tenancy Commissioner and Director Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading.

Phillip John, Senior WHS consultant and former manager of WorkSafe Tasmania’s WHS advisory service, manages the Program. Phill has a practical approach to safety having grown up in the dairy farming community of South Riana; he worked on farms and worked in both the rural and forestry sectors for many years prior to moving into Health and Safety.
He is also a former senior inspector with WorkSafe Tasmania specialising in the rural and forestry sectors, this included farms, milk and vegetable processing factories, the forest industry, and the many spin-off businesses that are associated with each of these sectors. In this role he has investigated many fatalities and serious accidents, and has been directly involved in prosecutions for breaches of Health and Safety laws. 
Phill has been working as a health and safety professional for over 25 years now and has extensive experience in working with Tasmania’s Health and Safety laws and providing practical advice and guidance to businesses both large and small right across the State.
He attends safety meetings and sessions as a guest of organisations to support their efforts to keep their workers safe, and shares his direct experience in dealing with what happens when things go wrong, raising awareness about the importance of working safely, and in general, pointing people in the right direction.
Phill works state-wide, so if you would like some FREE and practical Work Health and Safety advice, give him a call on 0407 015 400 to organise a visit. 

Dr Stephen Ives - University College

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Stephen began his working career as a design draftsman in the construction and agricultural machinery manufacturing industries in both Tasmania and Queensland. He completed an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science in 2002 and then worked as an agronomist for a private agricultural consulting company until completing his PhD in 2012. Stephen retains ongoing relationships with agribusiness and maintains contact with a wide network of farmers and major land holders. He is currently the course coordinator of the Associate Degree in Agribusiness at the University College, UTAS, whilst leading a research portfolio in Australia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia related to livestock, soils and value chains. This enables Stephen to combine his agricultural knowledge and skills with his passionate for building education to employment pathways.

Michael Chilvers - GRDC Southern Panel Member

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Michael runs a family farming enterprise at Nile in the Northern Midlands of Tasmania (with property also in northern NSW) having successfully transitioned the business from a dryland grazing enterprise to intensive mixed farming. He currently serves as the Board Chair of TAPAgrico (a Tasmanian-based grain storage, stock feed and logistics company), Director of Tasmanian Irrigation, Director of Starson Farms and Director/Secretary of Winburn Tas. Michael is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has a broad range of experience in resource management, strategic planning and risk profiling, human resource management and operational logistics. Prior to joining the GRDC Southern Panel he served as part of the High Rainfall Zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network for six years. Michael received a GRDC supported Nuffield Scholarship in 2012 to study systemisation and expansion models. He then served on the Board of Nuffield Australia for two years and acted as state chair for three and regularly leads the China leg of the Nuffield Global Focus tour.

Penny Terry, Conference MC

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Penny Terry is an expert in community storytelling who loves a good yarn, because she knows good stories are the quickest and most effective way to make people care about who you are, what you do and why it’s important. Penny spent 10 years as an ABC radio presenter, broadcasting more than 20,000 stories from diverse perspectives; from politicians to prisoners, talkback callers to ted-talkers. Penny has had the unique experience to witness how quickly attitudes change and common ground is found when people are given permission, guidance and a platform to share their perspectives; Penny believes these stories are key to sustainable systems change.  
Through her work Penny has found many people inadvertently restrict their best stories from being heard, affecting how their community interacts with, values and feels about them. To overcome this, she’s developed a purpose-built process to help build the knowledge, skills and confidence people need to use their stories to create lasting change. She now helps individuals, organisations and communities tell the right stories, in the right way to create their own willing tribe of advocates.
In 2016, Penny founded Healthy Tasmania Pty Ltd with her sister Lucy Byrne, an expert in health promotion and community-wide initiatives. They’ve pooled their expertise and lead a range of projects and workshops to support people to live the best life they can, in communities that are thriving. Penny grew up on a farm in rural Tasmania, has lived and worked all over the world and is now based in Launceston Tasmania. She’s a Telstra Business Woman of the Year national finalist, and is never far from a microphone, whether it’s in the studio, on the stage or with a guitar in hand!