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3 September, 2021

First Indigenous Chair appointed to Wet Tropics Management Authority Board

The Wet Tropics Management Authority is celebrating the appointment of two Rainforest Aboriginal women to its Board.


An Eastern Kuku Yalanji woman has been appointed as the new incoming Chair, while Ms Ailsa Lively, a Gunggandji woman, has been appointed as a Director of the Wet Tropics Management Authority Board.

Ms Chrissy Grant, who has more than 35 years’ experience working with national and international issues of World Heritage, Indigenous Peoples, natural and cultural management and biological diversity, will become the Authority’s first ever Indigenous Chair of the Board of Directors as of 24 September 2021.

The appointment was made following a joint nomination by the Federal Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Sussan Ley and the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, the Honourable Meaghan Scanlon.

Outgoing Chair, Ms Leslie Shirreffs, said the appointment would ensure continuity, based on Ms Grants extensive World Heritage experience, capacity and knowledge of the Authority’s business.

 “Ms Grant is an existing Director of the board and has a breadth of knowledge that is an asset to management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. She has worked with communities on cultural and natural resource management and with Traditional Custodians to identify their cultural values, heritage management, conservation, and protection,” Ms Shirreffs said.

 “A previous Director with the Australian Heritage Commission Ms Grant has a strong knowledge of all aspects of cultural heritage identification, management, conservation, protection and promotion of the Register of the National Estate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 “Ms Grant is also a founding member and current chair of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on World Heritage - providing a voice for Indigenous peoples about nominations, policy and reports at World Heritage Committee meetings,” she said.

 Ministers Scanlon and Ley have also endorsed Ms Ailsa Lively, from Yarrabah, east of Cairns, as their joint appointment for the Indigenous Identified Director position.

 Ms Lively is a Gunggandji woman with strong cultural connections to both the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas.

 In welcoming the appointment, Ms Shirreffs said “Ms Lively has extensive board and committee experience and has been involved in significant community development and leadership work with the Yarrabah community.

 “She has broad experience across Indigenous organisations and local government, including as former Deputy CEO of Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council,” she said.

“As the current CEO of a complex organisation and director on two Prescribed Bodies Corporate, Ailsa has a sound understanding of the role and function of boards, with strong governance and financial management skills.”

 The Wet Tropics Management Authority Board’s key function is to implement programs to meet Australia’s international obligations for the World Heritage Area under the World Heritage Convention.

 Persons are qualified for appointment as directors if they have qualifications or extensive experience in a field related to the Authority’s functions.

 Ms Shirreffs has been Chair of the Authority Board for six years and, in accordance with the Wet Tropics legislation, will leave the position on 23 September 2021.


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