Dr Gillian Sparkes was appointed as Commissioner in July 2014. Dr Sparkes has a long career working with industry, community and government to care for and protect our environment. Dr Sparkes gained three decades of experience working in industries that interface with the environment and community, including in the manufacturing, industrial services, waste management and water industries, before becoming a senior public servant. This has enabled her to be an effective collaborator who has forged strong and productive partnerships between government, business, community and environmental stakeholders.
Dr Sparkes has held senior roles in the Victorian government environment portfolio including as Chair of the Board of Sustainability Victoria and Deputy Secretary Corporate and Business Services for the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Dr Sparkes also served two terms as a Director of South Gippsland Water and Chair of the Board Environment Committee and was the CEO of the Australian Sustainable Industry Research Centre at Monash University.
As Commissioner, Gillian has been leading reforms in environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting in Victoria, including advocating better use of spatial information, data analytics and citizen science to help government respond better and faster to environmental events, population growth and climate risk. Her 2018 State of the Environment (SoE) report was tabled in the Victorian parliament on 19 March 2019 and includes 20 recommendations to the Victorian government to help prioritise focus and effort over the next decade. It also establishes the UN SDGs and UN SEEA as SoE reporting frameworks for Victoria. As a result of the reforms Dr Sparkes has led since 2014, the Commissioner has been assigned seven new reporting functions, for the first time since being established in 2003.
As Commissioner, Dr Sparkes has published four baseline science reports for Victoria since 2016: The State of the Bays 2016, Forests 2018, Yarra and its Parklands 2018 and the Environment 2018.
Dr Sparkes holds a PhD in Applied Science (Chemistry), a Masters of Business Administration, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Victorian Fellow of the Institute for Public Administration Australia, a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and NZ and a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Dr Sparkes is Chair of the Western Port Integrated Water Management Forum and holds a portfolio of board positions including the Country Fire Authority; The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation; the Industry Capability Network and Chair Frontier SI (formerly the CRC for Spatial Information).