Chair, Indigenous Advisory Committee, Australia

Melissa George is a Wulgurukaba Traditional Owner with traditional connections to Magnetic Island and the greater Townsville region, Far North Queensland.

Melissa has a background in Archaeology and Protected Area Management, and as a saltwater woman is passionate about the environment, particularly focussing on critical issues relating to sea country and its management. She is actively involved in protecting and managing land and sea through the empowerment of Traditional Owners cultural lore and obligations to care for country.

It is both Melissa's technical and cultural skills that are highly valued by Australian and State governments, as well as non-government organizations with interests in both environmental and Indigenous issues. Her political acumen has positioned her as one of the Federal Government's key Ministerial advisors on Indigenous issues, relevant to the Australian Government's key environmental legislation: the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Melissa provides leadership at the highest level as the Chair of the Federal Environment Minister's Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC). She has been a member of the IAC since 2002 and the Chair since 2006.

As Chair of the IAC, Melissa provides strategic advice to the Commonwealth Minister for Environment on a wide range of issues including: Indigenous engagement in the management of iconic threatened and vulnerable species (such as dugong, turtles and inshore dolphins); Indigenous engagement in marine management; Carbon Farming; Clean Energy Futures Plan; Freshwater (including cultural flows); proposed World Heritage nominations and existing World Heritage Properties; and National Environmental Research Program and the National Environmental Reform, including reviews to both the EPBC Act and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

Melissa was also appointed as a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Board on 29 August 2008 for a four-year term. The MPA is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's governing body. Since her appointment, she has worked constructively towards a positive management framework for sea country planning and cooperative management initiatives.

Melissa has delivered several key policy papers on environmental issues, particularly around turtle and dugong management and broader sea country management, and is in demand as a keynote speaker to numerous natural and cultural resources, land and sea management forums, locally, nationally and internationally.

IUCN WCPA Parks Australia NSW NPWS