National Council

We’re pleased to announce AELERT’s National Council, the newly established governing body of AELERT.

The National Council will set strategic direction and ensure AELERT delivers value to its members.

The new National Council has 9 members:

  • Monica Collins (Chair): Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (Cth)
  • Adam Gilligan: Chief Executive Officer (Seconded from NSW EPA)
  • Amy Dennison: Environment Protection Authority (NT)
  • Cindy Ong: Environment Protection Authority (Tas)
  • Derek Poulton: Lake Macquarie City Council (Local Government)
  • Germaine Larcombe: Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA)
  • Grant Barnes: Natural Resources Access Regulator (NSW)
  • Mary O'Kane: O'Kane Associates (Independent)
  • Paul De Ionno: Department for Energy and Mining (SA)
  • Stuart Smith: National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Cth)

Council Members

Monica Collins,  Chair (Cth)


Monica is a highly esteemed regulatory specialist and applied scientist, with expertise in the delivery of modern and effective regulatory regimes across State and Commonwealth government agencies.

Monica has a wealth of experience in leading the maturation of regulatory capability, including building regulatory policies and frameworks, risk identification and management strategies, delivery of regulatory programs and field operations, and leading outcomes-based compliance and enforcement.

In her current role, as Assistant Secretary, Plant Import Operations, Monica leads the Biosecurity Plant Import Operations program. This program is responsible for establishing risk-based measures for import of plants and plant commodities, responding to instances where biosecurity risk material is identified at Australian borders, leading the development of innovative technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness of our border controls, and leading the delivery of policy and reform programs to continuously improve our management of biosecurity risks.

Monica has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Monica has been AELERT’s Chair since 2020.

Adam Gilligan, Chief Executive Officer

Adam GilliganAdam is seconded from the NSW EPA where he is a Director Regulatory Operations, based in Newcastle. In that role, Adam was responsible for a team of environmental regulators involved in a range of work across NSW, from coal mining and power stations to rail regulation and PFAs contamination.

He has spent time in emergency management, environmental regulation at a local government level, and spent time as Co-Chair of the AELERT Better Regulation Working Group. Adam Gilligan joined local government in 1996 as an Environment Protection Officer, before leading a number of regulatory teams.

From 2009, Adam was Compliance Services Manager at Newcastle City Council, responsible for environment protection, environmental health, food surveillance, development compliance, fire safety, rangers and parking regulation.

Adam joined the EPA in 2014 as Manager, Hunter Region and was Regional Director North from 2016 to 2020. Adam led a number of environmental regulatory activities in the Hunter, including the Dust Stop Mine Program, the EPA’s response to lead contamination in North Lake Macquarie, and the Williamtown PFAS Contamination issue.

Adam’s strong interest in regulatory reform has seen him present on the topic at several public inquiries. He holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Newcastle) and a Masters in Leadership and Management (Policing) from Charles Sturt University.

As AELERT CEO, Adam is establishing new governance frameworks, a new funding model, and driving the delivery of AELERT’s strategic priorities and modernisation agenda, to provide greater value to its members.  

Amy Dennison,  Environment Protection Authority (NT)

Amy DennisonAmy is the Executive Director of the Environment Regulation Division in the Department of Parks, Environment and Water Security.

She specialises in energy and environmental policy and has been committed to the sustainable economic development in the Northern Territory (NT) for over 12 years.

She first came to the NT in 2010 as a solicitor at the Northern Land Council. She moved to Government in 2014 and has been mainly working in the environment and energy space during that period. Amy has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons 1, University Medal) and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales.

She has a Master of Laws (University Medal) from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, UK. She completed a Masters of Public Administration as a Fulbright Scholar from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2019 and is currently working on a Master of Liberal Arts (Sustainability) from the Harvard Extension School as a Monash scholar.

Cindy Ong,  Director Environmental Regulation, Environment Protection Authority (Tas)

Cindy OngCindy joined the Tasmanian State Service in 1999, having previously taught natural sciences at the University of Tasmania.

Since that time, she has worked as a principal policy officer for biosecurity, took a two-year secondment into the Deputy Premier’s Officer as a Departmental Liaison Officer and managed a team responsible for supporting economic development in northern Tasmania.

More recently, Cindy spent a year as Acting Director Natural Heritage, a year as acting Deputy Director, EPA, and enjoyed a shorter stint as acting General Manager, Parks Operations, in the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

Cindy came to the Tasmanian EPA in 2015 as an operations manager. Cindy is currently Director, Environmental Regulation, responsible for strategic oversight of staff undertaking environmental industrial, waste and contaminated land regulation, investigations and enforcement, incident response, and marine pollution operations.

She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Tasmania, with Honours in Ecology, and a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management.

Derek Poulton, Environmental Regulation and Compliance Manager, Lake Macquarie City Council (Local Government)

Derek PoultonDerek has been working in Local Government specialising in the Environmental, Health, Regulation and Enforcement and Emergency Management functions for the past 20 years in QLD and NSW councils.  

He has an interest in exploring principles of best practice regulation and standardising program delivery and decision making, to improve the regulatory outcomes for the community whilst managing increased demand.  

Currently as the Environmental Regulation and Compliance Manager at Lake Macquarie City Council, Derek leads a department of specialised compliance teams that historically operated in silos.

The development and implementation of a risk based regulatory activities policy and frame work has seen the creation of a uniform and risk based compliance team that deliver transparent and measurable services to the community.

Germaine Larcombe, Executive Director Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA)

Germaine LarcombeGermaine is a Senior Regulatory Executive with over 20 years’ national and international experience in regulatory delivery and reform under a range of legislative frameworks to deliver a variety of government priorities and objectives. 

Germaine has experience in international waste shipment regulation under the European Union’s Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law Program and in the practical application of a wide range of environmental legislation both in Ireland and Australia.

She is on the Steering Committee of both the Australian Environmental Regulators Network and the Western Australian Chapter of the National Regulators Community of Practice.  She is passionate about contemporary regulatory practice and effective public service as well as values-based leadership. 

Germaine holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Grant Barnes, Chief Regulatory Officer, Natural Resources Access Regulator (NSW)

Grant Barnes As NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant is responsible for the day-to-day operations of NRAR.

This includes building NRAR’s regulatory capacity and capability to deliver on the NSW Government’s commitment to best practice regulation, as well as building and sustaining effective relationships with key stakeholders, establishing good governance and high levels of ethical practice within NRAR, and working with the board to progress its agenda.

Grant has more than 10 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in natural resource management and regulatory practice.


Emeritus Professor Mary O’Kane AC, O'Kane Associates (Independent)

Mary OkaneMary O’Kane is Chair of the NSW Independent Planning Commission, Aurora Energy, and Sydney Health Partners, and Executive Chair of O’Kane Associates, a company specialising in major reviews.

She is also Chair of the advisory boards of the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania and the Australian Centre of Excellence in Antarctic Science.

She was NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer from 2008-2018; and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001.

For the last 25 years, Mary has served on many Australian and overseas boards and committees in the public and private sectors, especially related to research, engineering, ICT, energy, and international development.  

Paul De Ionno: Director, Mining Regulation, Department of Energy and Mining (SA)

Paul De lonno

Paul is an experienced leader with a proven record of achievement in the public and private sectors, including 16 years as a regulator across the mining and environmental sectors.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science (First Class Honours) and a Master of Business Administration. Paul is employed as the Director, Mining Regulation with the Department of Energy and Mining, South Australia.

In his current role, Paul is responsible for all aspects of the regulation of the mining and quarrying sector in SA under the Mining Act 1971 and related legislation, including environmental assessments, licencing and approvals, compliance, investigations and enforcement, and mine closure.

Paul is passionate about change management and driving regulatory capability development. He looks forward to providing a strategic contribution to the broader regulatory network through the AELERT National Council, where he can share his knowledge, experiences, leadership skills and understanding of the regulatory environment, whilst continuing to learn from others.

Stuart Smith: CEO, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Cth)

Stuart Smith Stuart has served as CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) since 2014 where he has transitioned the agency into Australia’s offshore energy regulator.

This transition has included expansion of the environment regulatory remit to include carbon capture and storage, climate related issues and offshore renewables while raising environmental standards and performance.

Prior to his current role, Stuart served from 2008 as Director General of the WA Department of Fisheries. He has also held other senior positions with Federal and State environmental regulatory responsibilities including the rehabilitation of mine-sites and wells, dangerous goods, fuel standards, hazardous waste and native vegetation clearing.

Stuart has served on numerous Boards including the International Regulators Forum, the Institute of Public Administration Australia WA Council, FORM, the Central Regional TAFE Governing Council and the WA Marine Science Institute Governing Board.

He is a graduate of the AICD Directors Course, a Churchill Fellow and he holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Western Australia and post graduate qualifications from the Australian National University.

2022  changes

We are making significant changes to our governance, funding, and membership to modernise AELERT.

These changes will deliver improved value to members, greater accountability, and provide a more sustainable funding base. 

We look forward to working with the Council to deliver these improvements for our members.