Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council

The Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council (the Council) is a ministerial advisory council that provides independent and strategic advice to the Minister for Agriculture on how the agriculture sector can prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change.

The Council supports the Victorian Government’s commitment to deliver strong and lasting action on climate change for the agriculture sector, which is already experiencing the impacts of an increasingly variable and extreme climate. This includes working with industry to build on action already being taken and identify opportunities for the sector as we transition to a climate resilient community and net zero emissions economy.

The Council plays a key role in this work by:

  • providing independent advice about the challenges the Victorian agriculture sector faces from climate change
  • supporting the Minister for Agriculture to develop actions that respond to climate change, reduce emissions and build sector resilience
  • identifying networks and approaches to engage and manage key stakeholders
  • providing advice on other strategic components of government’s climate change responses for the agriculture sector.

The Council meets formally up to four times a year, and its members represent a diverse set of skills and experience in agriculture, climate change, regional and rural development, water management and finance.


Chairperson – Alexandra Gartmann

Ms Gartmann is an experienced leader of rural, agriculture and community development focused organisations and is currently the CEO of the Rural Bank, a division of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Ms Gartmann has served previously as CEO of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and the Birchip Cropping Group. She contributes to a number of boards across agriculture, banking and the environment, including the Australian Farm Institute and the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust.

Deputy Chairperson – Mark Wootton

Mr Wootton is a beef and wool farmer who is well-known in the Australian agriculture industry as a pioneer in carbon-neutral farming, having achieved carbon neutrality on his property – Jigsaw Farms.

Mr Wootton has also held a number of national and state-based roles including Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan, as well as being instrumental in the creation of the Climate Institute, a not-for-profit organisation focused on climate science and policy in Australia.

Fiona Conroy

Ms Conroy is a carbon neutral sheep and cattle producer. She was previously a journalist and livestock editor at The Weekly Times before becoming a partner of Nicon Rural Services, a rural consulting business.

Ms Conroy has also worked for the Victorian Government in agriculture research and advisory roles. She is currently Secretary of the Victorian Farmers Federation Bellarine Branch and sits on various other local agricultural boards and committees.

Lisa Dwyer

Ms Dwyer is a south-west Victorian dairy farmer and is currently a Non-Executive Director of the Murray Goulburn Cooperative and Australian Livestock Export Corporation.

Her career spans roles in finance, sales, marketing and business development. She was previously a member of the Dairy Australia Board and currently serves as a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Great South Coast and Chair of the Great South Coast Regional Partnership.

Professor Richard Eckard

Professor Eckard is a Professor and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on carbon farming, managing extreme climate events and options for agriculture to respond to a changing climate.

Professor Eckard holds a number of national and international science leadership roles and sits on various advisory panels for the Australian, New Zealand and UK governments, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the European Union, on climate change adaptation, mitigation and policy development in agriculture.

Gillian Hayman

Ms Hayman is a Managing Partner at Montrose Dairy in Fish Creek and has over 20 years’ experience in natural resource management, agriculture extension, project management and engagement activities.

Ms Hayman runs her own consultancy business in Gippsland, consulting with government, industry and community groups. In 2015, she was awarded a Victorian Landcare Award for innovation in sustainable farm practices. She also serves on Board of the Promontory District Finance Group, which oversees the operation of local Bendigo Bank branches.

Jack Holden

Mr Holden is the General Manager – Sustainability, Asia Pacific at the Fonterra Group focusing on climate impacts, water security and animal welfare.

Mr Holden was previously Associate Director of KPMG’s Sustainability and Climate Change practice and an advisor to the Victorian Government. He is also the President of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (Australia), Chair of the Revegetation Committee at Greenfleet and sits on the Steering Committee, Dairy Sustainability Framework at the Australian Dairy Industry Council.

Caroline Welsh

Ms Welsh has over 25 years’ experience working with government on horticulture, irrigation and grains policy. She is a partner in Renney Farms, the family grain farm in Berriwillock.

Ms Welsh is a Director of the Birchip Cropping Group and currently serves as the Deputy Chair of GWMWater. Ms Welsh is well-connected with stakeholders across the water sector, farmers, local and Victorian government groups and local community, and belongs to Australian Institute of Company Directors.


There is currently one vacant position on the Council. Mr Timmothy McCartney, a Wotjobaluk man and Chair of the First Nations Bushfood and Botanicals Alliance Australia, recently resigned to take a new position. Mr McCartney served on the Council from November 2020 to late October 2021. A new council member will be appointed in line with the Victorian Government’ Appointment and Remuneration Guidelines.

More information

For more information about the Council please submit your enquiry below:

Page last updated: 08 Dec 2021