Meet our board members

Board profile - Sharon Starick

Sharon Starick

Presiding member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

In partnership with her husband, Sharon runs a 1,500 hectare dryland cropping property and a piggery near Cambrai on the plains to the west of the River Murray. In addition to her farming experience Sharon also has 19 years of involvement in natural resources management and community organisations. In addition to primary production, Sharon’s experience includes water resources management, soil conservation, conservation and biodiversity management, pest, animal and plant control, and community and industry development at state and national levels. In 2003, Sharon was awarded the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

Sharon is a board member of the Royal Automobile Association of SA and Animal Health Australia as well as Chairing the Board of Rural Business Support. In the past, Sharon has been the Presiding Member of the South Australian Natural Resources Management Council, the state’s peak NRM advisory body and a member of the Community Advisory Committee of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council. She has also served on the Board of Land and Water Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australian Landcare Council and the National Rural Advisory Council.


Mike Williams

Regional Director, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Mike started work in the Environment & Natural Resources sector in 1976 as a Ranger in the Kosciuszko National Park. He spent 23 years working for the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service in the Riverina, Cobar, Baronga and Broken Hill regions.

In 2000, he moved to SA to establish what is now DEWNR’s state wide Fire Management Program. Since 2008 Mike has worked in the Director Regional Coordinator role, Manager Parks & Sustainable Landscapes in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty region and more recently as the Director of Major Projects.

Mike’s experience include Sustainable Landscape Management, Protected Area Management, Fire Management, Wildlife Management, Recreation Management and working with rural communities.

 Board profile - Owen Love

Owen Love

Mr Love made his career in theatre and the arts as a playwright and toured Australia with his  own play for eight years. Raised on 160 acres belonging to his grandfather on the banks of Lake Alexandrina, Mr Love’s formative years were all about soil, land, plants, animals and water.

Having grown up in Wellington, Mr Love has a solid understanding of the way the entire river system operates: the wildlife, flora, the overlapping of land, water, community, and the changes impacting on them.

Mr Love runs workshops in schools for students and teachers in the art of storytelling. Communication and sharing stories is critical in understanding and describing the natural world to children who live in the suburbs and are unfamiliar with the larger system.

Board profile - Deana Mildren

Deana Mildren

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

A passion for sustainable farming brought Deana and her husband Greg to purchase a small farm near Tungkillo.  Her small business background enables them to successfully produce and market their olives and continue developing their plan to maintain and improve the sustainability of their farm through balancing production needs with those of the environment.

As chair of Tungkillo Landcare Group, Deana has led the group through planning and implementing numerous projects throughout the region including hosting Guilford grass field day, plant propagation workshop, bird watching mornings, feral olive control, soil pit workshop and gaining several small and medium grants to improve local patches of remnant.

With two young girls, Deana has particular interest in developing children’s love of and connection with their environment and has been proactive in helping her local schools develop programs within and outside of the classroom. This has culminated in an annual visit to a local remnant where children gain first-hand knowledge of what their backyard may have looked like years ago and why biodiversity is critical in maintaining sustainable farming.

 Board profile - Kerry Simcock

 Kerry Simcock

 Ms Simcock is a self-employed management consultant to a diverse range of regional businesses, local government, community groups and not for profit organisations across the region. Living in the Lower Murray region, she has a strong understanding of the community economic development issues across the Murraylands/Riverland and is an active member of her local community.

Ms Simcock was an inaugural member of the Murraylands Riverland Regional Development Australia Board, and is currently Chair of the Tailem Bend Primary School Governing Council.

Board profile - Gioia Small

Gioia Small

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Gioia Small from Adelaide is Regional Manager, Sustainability with Treasury Wine Estates. In that role she leads and supports a range of technical and sustainability initiatives for the world's largest pure play listed wine company. This includes working with primary producers to facilitate the adoption of environmental management systems for winegrape production. Prior to joining Treasury Wine Estates, Gioia spent five years working with producers in an agricultural extension role with the Department of Agriculture in New South Wales.

Gioia's background includes working with multiple stakeholders and organisations on a range of collaborative, cross functional projects. She is also the current Chair of the South Australian Wine Industry Association Environment Committee and a member of the Winemakers' Federation of Australia Environment Committee. Gioia brings to the Board skills and knowledge in business administration, horticulture and the wine industry.

Board profile - Rodney Ralph

Rodney Ralph

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Rod Ralph became a community member to the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board on 14 July 2011. Prior to his Board appointment, he had been a Local Government representative to the Board for four years while he was Chief Executive Officer of Southern Mallee District Council from July 2007 until July 2012. 

Rod’s previous employment included being Chief Executive Officer of First Mildura Irrigation Trust in the Victorian water sector industry. Prior to this role, he had been Manager of the Land and Water Management within Central Irrigation Trust’s office at Barmera for eight years. This role included his membership on five different Local Action Planning committees along the River Murray for many years. For a period of two years, Rod was a project officer employed by the former Engineering and Water Supply and then SA Water and was instrumental in securing the retirement of approximately 100 irrigators in the Riverland as a precursor to rehabilitation of highland irrigation areas. In the past five years, Rod’s senior management experience has enabled the Board to better manage the issues around governance and risk management policy and procedures for the Board. Rod now resides in Adelaide and continues to be personally involved in local NRM issues on behalf of the Board and has taken up part-time voluntary and contract employment.

Board profile - Peter Duggin

Peter Duggin

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Peter Duggin is a winegrape grower based in Renmark where he grew up on his parents’ property as a third generation irrigator. He is the current chair of the Renmark Irrigation Trust Board, a position he has held for the last seven years. This has led to numerous other commitments in the Riverland and in the irrigation and vine industry.

  • South Australian Board Representative of the National Irrigators Council
  • Deputy Chair of Riverland Vine Improvement
  • Chair of SEE Renmark 2024
  • Member of SAMI

Board profile - Kim Blenkiron

Kim Blenkiron

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Kim Blenkiron runs a consultancy business and has been actively involved in managing grazing properties. She has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) in animal nutrition, whole farm planning and sustainable land management. Kim is the national coordinator of Partners in Grain and a board member of Australian Women in Agriculture.

Board profile - Nick Bakkum

Nick Bakkum

Board member, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Nick Bakkum is a viticulture and grape supply manager for a large wine company and has experience in biodiversity and conservation, irrigation system efficiency, and financial management. He was a past member of the Riverland NRM Group, and former chair and member of the Renmark-to-Border Local Action Planning Group.

Board profile - Peter Forward

Peter Forward

Representative, SA Water

Peter Forward is a professional engineer having worked for SA Water in a wide variety of roles since 1977. Living and working in Berri from 1981 to 2000 he was involved in many aspects of irrigation and drainage, domestic and country lands water supply, water resources management and River Murray operations. Now Principal Engineer Salt Interception with responsibilities for South Australia’s Salt Interception Schemes, he is passionate about restoring and improving the River Murray’s environmental values and working closely with community groups to achieve these aims.

 Board profile - Tim Symthe


Tim Smythe

Representative, PIRSA

Tim Smythe is PIRSA’s Regional Coordinator for Murraylands and Riverland, Tim has a strong background in working with industry, enterprise and community. Tim has expertise in stakeholder and community engagement and project management, as well as technical knowledge and experience in daily operational and management logistics. Tim has worked as an Industry Development Officer with the Riverland Wine Industry Development Council, engaging with industry and facilitating working relationships between community, commercial businesses, industry bodies, and Government. Tim has formal qualifications in Applied Science (Viticulture).

Tim’s extensive networks in the region and his understanding of industry and of Government processes mean that his skills and knowledge are ideally placed to build the region’s capabilities.

Tim offers regional stakeholders a unique and valuable contact point to strategically facilitate, plan, and engage with key issues and opportunities, to encourage and support innovation and sustainable growth, and maintain and promote South Australia’s clean environment and its premium food and wine to Australia and the world.