ACT Bushfire Council

The ACT Bushfire Council advises the Minister of Police and Emergency Services on bushfire related matters.

ACT Bushfire Council

The ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner seeks Council advice before exercising functions related to bushfire; members provide advice to the Minister on the levels of preparedness across the ACT before each bushfire season, proposals for new or ongoing mitigation measures, and any other relevant matters.

The Bushfire Council also plays an important role in monitoring and reviewing recommendations from the Coronial Inquiry into the 2003 bushfires, and Bushfire Operations Plans.

It is required that Bushfire Council members have skills, knowledge and experience in:

  • Fire sciences;
  • Land management;
  • Fighting fires in built-up areas;
  • Fighting fires in rural areas;
  • Indigenous land management;
  • Representation of Rural Lessees interests;
  • Representation of the community’s interest in the environment; or
  • Representation of the community’s interests generally.

For more detailed information, see the following links to sections within the Emergencies Act 2004:

  • Section 127
  • Section 10
  • Section 130 (1)


ACT Bushfire Council Members

Dr Sarah Ryan (Chair)

Dr Sarah Ryan has a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) Honors Class 1 (UWA), a Graduate Diploma in Development Studies (DU) and a PhD in Agriculture (UWA). Sarah Ryan is currently the Deputy Chancellor of the University of Canberra and has extensive experience in natural resource management having previously been employed with CSIRO for over 25 years.  Dr Ryan has an understanding of the ACT Government planning processes and was the foundation chair of the ACT Natural Resource Management Council (NRMC) and has served for over 8 years on the NRMC.    Dr Ryan has previously served on a number of ministerially appointed advisory bodies including NRMC, CIT and Public Education.

Ms Natarsha Carney (Deputy Chair)

Ms Natarsha Carney has been a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service for over seven years. She holds a Certificate II in Public Safety, specialises in Aerial Fire-fighting, Remote area fire-fighting and rapid aerial response.  Ms Carney holds a Bachelor of Marine Science and Management (UNE), Masters in Environmental Science (UNE) and Graduate Certificate in Public Administration (UC). Ms Carney is an Aboriginal woman from the Wiradjuri nation and has undertaken courses in Indigenous land management and fire management regimes for the purposes of both biodiversity and natural regeneration.  Ms Carney was involved with a study undertaken by the Bushfire CRC into fire fighter safety and sleep patterns while on deployment and is currently employed at the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture.

Mr Tony Bartlett

Tony Bartlett has worked in forestry and natural resources management for more than 35 years, in Victoria, Nepal, Vanuatu, the ACT and with the Australian Government. He has extensive experience in the management of native forests and plantations as well as in forest fire management. He was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2006 and has been a firefighter since 1973. He has been a Regional Fire Protection Officer in eastern Victoria, a Deputy Chief Fire Control Officer in the ACT and he is an experienced Level 3 Incident Controller. From 1999 to mid 2005, he was the Director of ACT Forests and in that role he had significant leadership roles in the 2001 and 2003 bushfires. He has co-authored a number of articles on mega-fires and fire management in plantations.

Ms Cathy Parsons

Cathy Parsons holds a postgraduate qualification in urban and regional planning. She was most recently CEO of Green Globe Asia Pacific, a business offering environmental certification to tourism operations worldwide. Prior to that she worked as a Senior Executive for the Commonwealth and ACT Governments for over 15 years, responsible for dealing with a range of environmental, tourism and cultural issues. During that time she was head of the parks and land management functions for the ACT and chaired the ACT Bushfire Council. Cathy is currently an independent consultant providing urban planning policy advice to a range of organisations.

Dr Marion Leiba

Marion Leiba has a B.Sc degree from University of Tasmania, and M.S and PhD degrees from University of Hawaii in Geology and Geophysics.  During 1973-1974, on a Post Doctoral Fellowship, she studied volcanoes in New Zealand.From 1974-1977, she worked as a Research Fellow, Volcanologist/Seismologist at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.From 1981, Marion worked for Geoscience Australia in Canberra for 20 years as a Geoscientist, then an Earthquake Seismologist, and later as a Landslide Scientist.

Since then, she has variously worked as an Explainer at Mt Stromlo Observatory, a Guide at CSIRO Discovery and a Disaster Risk Scientist consultant (trading as ML Consulting) involved in multi-hazard risk assessments. She updates the Australian Landslide Database for Geoscience Australia. This includes gathering data on landslides and erosional floods.

Marion has been a member of the ACT Bushfire Council since 2008.  Apart from being a Disaster Risk Scientist, her personal involvement with bushfires is from living in a fire-affected suburb of Hobart at the time of the 1967 Tasmanian bushfires, and her involvement with Mt Stromlo Observatory before and immediately after it was partly destroyed by the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

For hobbies, Marion is a keen paddler with Dragons Abreast, the breast cancer survivors’ dragon boat team, and likes walking and volcanoes.  She and her West Indian husband, Courtney, have two adult children and two grandsons.

Dr Margaret Moreton

Margaret has a lifelong connection to rural and regional Australia and over 30 years experience working in government, as a private consultant, and most recently conducting research in relation to community resilience and disaster recovery.  She works with communities, governments (local, state and federal), non-government organisations and others; supporting them to identify, understand and strengthen their assets, and prepare for and recover from natural disasters such as fires, flood and cyclones.   She believes that the creation of a network of resilient communities across Australia is essential to face the crises of the future.

Recent projects include:

  • PhD – ‘A study of four natural disasters in Australia: how the human response to fire, flood and cyclone contributes to community resilience and recovery’.
  • Membership of the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience (AIDR) Community Recovery Handbook Working Group – Attorney General’s Department.
  • Working with the Social Recovery Reference Group (COAG) to consult affected communities about the review of the National Community Recovery Principles.
  • Delivery of the Community Recovery Unit, Diploma of Public Safety (EM) – Riverina (NSW) TAFE.
  • Speaking at international conferences about the community perspective of disasters and resilience/recovery e.g. AFAC 2016, ANZEM 2016 and 2017.
Mr Steve Angus

Steve was born and bred in Canberra and has been a member of the ACT Rural Fire Service for 30 years.  Steve has been actively engaged with the Southern Volunteer Brigade since first joining up in 1986. He was the Captain of that brigade, and has served in that capacity from 2012 until 2017. Prior to his position as Captain, Steve held the position of Deputy Captain actively from 1990. Steve has also been active in the local rural industry for the majority of his life, and purchased a property in the Naas Valley in 1999. Steve’s local knowledge, practical approach and understanding of local issues, in particular as relates to the rural community, blend effectively with his significant bushfire management experience.  These qualities combine thoroughly qualifying Stephen as a valuable contributor to bushfire management across the ACT.

Mr David Snell

David is a highly qualified and experienced government lawyer with an exceptionally strong background in legislation, policy and governance in the ACT. David has a very strong reputation for strategic problem-solving in challenging review and reform environments and has undertaken major statutory and structural reform projects in a wide range of legal and operational settings.

David’s most recent role with the ACT Government was as a consultant to the ACT Waste Feasibility Study. In this role, David was responsible for the comprehensive review of the ACT’s waste legislation and the development of a flexible new framework for stronger compliance and enforcement, and closer operator engagement in the commercial waste industry.

Mr Bhiamie Williamson

Bhiamie Williamson is an Aboriginal man from the Euahlayi peoples of north-western NSW and south-western Queensland with familial ties to north-west Queensland. He has an extensive career researching and supporting Indigenous land management initiatives throughout various parts of Australia. He has worked closely with Aboriginal Ranger groups researching and supporting fire initiatives including his time with ACT Parks and Conservation Services where he designed the ACT Aboriginal Fire Management Framework. Mr Williamson holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from ANU and Masters of Indigenous Governance form the University of Victoria, BC, Canada.

Ms Kylie Coe

Kylie Coe has over twenty years of experience in the local government arena in planning and natural resource management.  She has a Masters Degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Wollongong and has spent the last ten years employed in the rural planning field, coordinating a multi-disciplinary development services team.  This work has involved the development and production of strategic planning policy, the review, preparation and administration of statutory plans, as well as the assessment of a variety of developments, primarily in bushfire prone areas.  Kylie has a wealth of experience in applying bushfire construction standards to residential development, and has completed training in Planning for Bushfire Prone Areas, from the Centre for Local Government, at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Currently Kylie is a town planning consultant working in both the government and non-government sector.

Mr Jeremy Watson

Jeremy has 20 years’ experience as a government land manager, both in the ACT region and nationally. Throughout his career, he has been heavily involved in bushfire management planning, prevention, suppression, and contracted services. His experience also includes the management of large scale two-way radio networks and the design of bushfire resistant buildings and infrastructure.  Jeremy has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Parks, Recreation and Heritage, and is an experienced GIS practitioner. He is a workplace assessor and has a Certificate IV in workplace training and assessment.  Jeremy lives in the rural community of Royalla and is member of his local Volunteer Bushfire Brigade which he first joined in 1997.

Mr Nick Lhuede

Nick Lhuede has worked in forestry, fire management and emergency services for over 25 years. He was closely involved in reviewing fire management policy and practices following the 2003 Canberra bushfires and he led the development of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan for the ACT in 2009 and 2014. In is work with the ACT government, he has also been involved in developing broader emergency management policy for the Territory, with a focus on collaboration across government in times of emergency and for his work, he was awarded the ACT Community Protection Medal in 2016. He has co-authored a number of presentations on subjects ranging from emergency risk management, fire management planning and fire management on the urban rural interface.

Nick has a Bachelor of Forest Science, and has been a fire fighter since 1995. He is experienced in operational and incident management functions for bushfire and other emergencies. He has focused on planning functions, and has delivered training for Level three planning and incident control.