Council members represent Traditional Owners, environmental and agricultural industry groups, water industry experts, landscape architects, Yarra River community groups and other members selected for their specific skills.

The composition of the council is specified in the Yarra Protection Act. Our members bring a range of knowledge and industry experience to the council and a passion for protecting and improving the Yarra.

Who we are

Chris Chesterfield

Chris Chesterfield, Chair

Chris has been involved in river and catchment management in Victoria for more than 30 years. He has contributed to advancing the protection of rivers through recent roles as chair of several ministerial advisory committees that have led to significant planning and legislative reforms, including the Willip-gin Birrarung murron (Yarra River Protection) Act. Chris is also Commissioner and Chairperson of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.

Margaret Gardiner

Margaret Gardiner

Aunty Margaret Gardiner is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder, a board member of the Wurundjeri Woi -wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, a member of the Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Limited, and a member of the Secretariat for the Victorian Land Justice Group.

Uncle David Wandin

David Wandin

Uncle David Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder and Cultural Practices Manager (Fire and Water) at the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. He is a recognised leader in the promotion and execution of cultural (cool) burns in Victoria. He has also sat on the Waterways of the West Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Dianne Kerr

Diane Kerr

Aunty Diane Kerr is a Wurundjeri Woi -wurrung Elder, and a well-known advocate in the health, welfare, childcare, education and land rights arenas. She has sat on committees advising the Royal Women’s Hospital, served as Director and Chair of the Board of Native Title Services Victoria and also sat on the Victorian Aboriginal Working Group.

Kirsten Bauer

Kirsten Bauer

Kristen is a director of ASPECT Studios – a global, urban design and landscape architectural practice. Kirsten is a longstanding design reviewer and advisor to the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, RMIT University (where she is adjunct professor) and Melbourne University.

Prue Digby

Prue Digby

Prue has had over 35 years of experience in providing community and publicly related services to Victoria in the state, local government and not-for-profit sectors and is currently a Board member of Chisholm Institute and a trustee of the Ross Trust. Her previous roles include Deputy Secretary, Planning and Local Government; CEO, Victorian Building Authority; and CEO, City of Yarra.

Andrew Kelly

Andrew Kelly

Andrew has until recently been the Yarra Riverkeeper, the spokesperson of the Yarra Riverkeeper Association. The association was instrumental in the advocacy for Yarra protection legislation and a Yarra Trust. Andrew was active in contributing to the formulation of the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Act.

Dr Erin O'Donnell

Dr Erin O’Donnell

Erin has worked in water resource management since 2002, in both the private and public sectors. She is recognised internationally for her research into the ground-breaking new field of legal rights for rivers, and the challenges and opportunities these new rights create for protecting the multiple social, cultural and natural values of rivers.

Alexandra Lee

Alexandra Lee

Alexandra is a Landscape architect with over 20 years’ experience in the private and public sectors, with a career focusing on urban water management. She is currently a member of the City of Melbourne Parks and Gardens Committee and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victoria’s reconciliation committee.

Warwick Leeson, OAM

Warwick Leeson OAM

Warren is the Chair of the Yarra Riverkeeper Association. He is a former mayor and councillor of the Shire of Nillumbik and has been a powerful advocate for Victorian waterways and open spaces in the Riverine corridor. His 2013 Order of Australia Medal citation recognised his work in community rebuilding and recovery and in encouraging fire awareness planning in the aftermath of the 2009 bushfires.

Bronwyn South

Bronwyn South

Bronwyn is Finance Manager at her family’s apple and pear orchard / Angus cattle grazing enterprise on the Arthurs Creek. She is an active participant in Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage Management program and is a life member of the Strathewen Landcare Group.

How we work

The council understands that the way it works is as important as what it achieves. We commit to being independent, transparent, accountable, consultative, expert and considered.

As a bi-cultural body, we seek to work as a true partnership between Traditional Owners and non-Indigenous members. We recognise the unique perspective of Elders and ensure other members hear and understand these views.

Our logo – the Sacred Kingfisher

The council's emblem, the Sacred Kingfisher, symbolises our role in understanding and speaking for the Yarra. The kingfisher is perched high over the river, patiently observing everything happening on the banks and in the water. The council observes what is happening on, in and around the Birrarung, acknowledging that the river is interconnected and is one living natural entity. With the inquiring eye of the Sacred Kingfisher, the council gathers information about what is happening along the length of the river so it can be better protected and improved.

Sacred Kingfisher

Contact us

The Secretariat for the Birrarung Council is provided by the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning. To contact us email the Birrarung Council.

Page last updated: 30/11/21