NSW/ACT Region Council

NSW/ACT Region President

Simon James, City of Ryde

Simon James has over 20 years’ experience as a Sport Administrator, working in State and Local Government organisations and including a stint in the University Sector. Working for the Sydney Olympic Organising Committee and at the Australian Masters Games, Simon has experience in managing the use of recreation facilities for all levels of sport. Simon has also been a committee member in a number of community sporting organisations and has developed a strong understanding of the competing demands and pressures across the industry in relation to the use of sports facilities. His experience in developing and managing community facilities, and a knowledge of the objectives of policy makers gives him a unique understanding of the challenges and opportunities there are for organisations to align their agenda’s and achieve better outcomes.

NSW/ACT Co-Vice President

Mark Taylor, Liverpool City Council

Mark is a recreation manager, landscape architect and recreation planner with over 25 years working in community and park management at a senior level in local and State Government. Mark has been a long term advocate for regional planning and partnerships between the community, Councils and the State Government to deliver better recreation services and facilities.

I first attended the National Parks & Leisure Australia, Conference in Sydney 2001, knowing little of the organisation; I found it complemented my views of what the leisure industry should represent. It sparked my interest in recreation planning and a holistic approach to park management.

Being involved with Parks & Leisure Australia, Mark has seen the professionalism of the sector grow and mature. Mark was the NSW State President of Parks & Leisure Australia NSW Region from 2005 to 2008 and during this time established the model for the NSW State Conference Program. The industry and PLA has grown immensely in this time.

Currently Mark is the Community Planning Policy Officer Social Infrastructure at Liverpool City Council.

NSW/ACT Co-Vice President

Fiona MacColl, Office of Sport

Fiona is a long-time member of PLA with several decades working in the industry, having been employed by private industry, Federal, State and Local Government. Fiona is currently the Principal Advisor, Facilities, Strategy and Planning at the NSW Office of Sport. Her passion is developing evidence based planning for public open spaces and sports facilities for current and future generations from grass roots through to elite sports. Fiona’s qualifications include: Bachelor in Landscape Architecture, Advanced Certificate Horticulture, Masters in Management, and a Masters in Planning.

Treasurer

John Siemon, Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney

John is a Horticultural Scientist who has worked for CSIRO, the University of Sydney. He has undertaken research in areas of plant physiology, plant breeding, tissue culture and germplasm conservation. John’s focus has varied across different horticultural and agricultural crops from tomatoes to rice, macadamia and threatened species and ecological communities. For the last 19 years John has worked for the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. From 2014 to 2019 John was the Curator Manager of the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan where he was instrumental in building the Australian PlantBank. In 2020 John was appointed Director of Horticulture for Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney leading Horticultural operations across 750 hectares of greenspace including the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, The Domain, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

Councillor

Ian McAlister, Dubbo Regional Council

Ian has worked in the local government sphere for the past 30 years and currently holds the position of Manager Recreation and Open Space at Dubbo Regional Council. This position crosses a number of disciplines including asset management of parks, sporting facilities and natural resource management, strategic planning to meet the changing needs of the community, management of aquatic leisure centres, street tree management and project management.

As a strong advocate for the need of a connected park network to promote human health and well-being Ian has consistently pushed the discussion on the need for long term planning for the integration of Green and Grey Infrastructure to achieve intergeneration benefits to the Dubbo community.

Councillor

Debbie Sibbick, Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council

Debbie has worked in the Parks and Recreation sector of local government for over 20 years, being heavily involved in recreational infrastructure planning and project management, community consultation, and heritage places management. She is known for her services to community engagement, working with the community to achieve outstanding recreational infrastructure. Numerous awards for projects that Debbie has been involved with include the multi-award winning Queen Elizabeth Park Queanbeyan, Sensory Gardens at Roy Morton Park Queanbeyan, and the All Abilities Playground Apex Park Queanbeyan. Debbie strives to engage with the community and to provide positive outcomes for all but in particular, providing outlets for recreational pursuits for the lesser advantaged in the community.

Her passion is healthy living and encouraging the community to engage with the great outdoors. Debbie is also passionate about heritage and management of heritage items and places. Debbie also has a number of years’ experience working with the National Trust of Australia (NSW) managing a heritage property in Goulburn, using local resources and volunteers to transform a hidden gem into a thriving and prosperous heritage item.

Debbie has tertiary qualifications in Parks, Recreation and Heritage, and Business and People Management, providing her with skills and knowledge to complement her years of experience in property and land management. Debbie is keen to be part of the management of open spaces, for use by future generations.

Councillor

Fiona Tucker, Sydney Olympic Park Authority

Fiona has over 20 years experience in the development and delivery of natural and cultural heritage focused visitor experiences. In her role as Manager Visitor Programs for Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Fiona leads a strongly customer service focused team of Park Rangers and Interpretive Program Officers.

In creating and delivering visitor experiences, Fiona places emphasis on not only exceeding customers expectations, but also on ensuring each connection includes an opportunity to provoke thought about the heritage and conservation values of the Park.

Fiona has experience in leading volunteers who facilitate youth leadership programs for girls and young women though her volunteer role of District Manager with Guides NSW & ACT.

Fiona’s qualifications include Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma of Education and Certificates in Assessment and Workplace Training and Graphic Design and Flatwater Kayaking Instruction!

Councillor

Les Munn

Les Munn is a long time member and has been previously employed in local government for 41 years with 34 years experience in parks management ( including maintenance and design/construction). Les is a strong supporter of commercial use of public open space as a means of providing the necessary funding assistance for ongoing maintenance and improvement works as well as improving the recreational experience for visitors. Les holds a Graduate Diploma in Local Govt. Management and an Associate Diploma of Horticulture.

Councillor

Brad Billett, Otium Planning Group

Brad is an Associate at Otium Planning Group and has over 15 years of experience in the sport, recreation and open space planning and outdoor recreation industry. He has worked for both national and state sporting organisations, enjoyed 10 years as Recreation Planner and then Co-Ordinator of Recreation Planning and Design within local government at Blacktown City Council, and more recently was employed as the Principal Advisor Facility Planning and Strategy at the NSW Office of Sport.

Brad is passionate about the sport, recreation, open space and leisure industry due to its positive impact on community health, wellbeing and liveability. Brad has been involved with Parks and Leisure Australia for over 10 years, participating and presenting at various conferences over recent years.

With primary education background in Sports Management, Brad has also completed qualifications in Outdoor Recreation and Data Science.

On the weekend, you will normally find Brad on the trails – either trail running, hiking or mountain biking.

Councillor

Tony Duffy, Lismore City Council

Tony is the Program Manager Liveable and Active Communities for Lismore City Council, a role he has held for 6 years having worked in Local, State and Federal Governments for more than 35 years. Before coming to Lismore Tony worked in Italy with Australian Institute of Sport. He managed the Cairns Esplanade redevelopment and its operation when Program Manager for Precincts and Facilities for 8years at Cairns City Council. Tony also has worked for Gold City Council and several Inner Melbourne Councils. He is a keen triathlete being involved in high performance, an athlete and administrator with the sport for more than 40 years.

Councillor

Stephen Prince, Lake Macquarie Council

Extensive recreation planning experience obtained from almost 30 years working within the sport and recreation industry. This has included working in events management, facility management, sports development and open space planning. Over 25 – years’ experience working in a variety of roles within the local Government sector including sport and recreation planning, facility management, project management and delivery, strategic planning, policy development and community engagement. Tertiary qualification include Bachelor of Human Movement Science, University of New England and Graduate Diploma Urban and Regional Planning, University of New England.

Generate representative

Abinaya Rajavelu

Abinaya is a social-led urban strategist with over 9 years of experience in helping create public spaces that deliver quality social, environmental, and cultural benefits. She has substantial experience in evidence based public open space and recreational planning, social infrastructure planning, and community and stakeholder engagement across NSW. 

Having lived and worked across the world, she is acutely aware of how different people use our open spaces and is constantly looking for ways to create places where people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can recreate and have a great time together in our cities.

In 2017, she was awarded the ‘Jane Jacobs Fellowship’ with the Centre for Living City in New York with the goal of enhancing young people’s understanding and complexity of contemporary urban life and, as a result, promoting increased civic engagement.

Co-opted Member

Mark Bruhn, XYST

Mark has worked in local government in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, more recently overseeing the governance structure, stakeholder engagement and staff leadership within a primary health network.  Mark has been involved in the development of strategic plans and policies, the implementation of business improvement initiatives and have led the development of open space, sport and recreation strategies.  Mark has a background in reserves and parks management planning, asset management, community plans and am a highly experienced project manager across a wide range and scale of activities. He has also assisted in the development of play spaces, camping grounds, trails, cemeteries, amenities and facilities.

Qualifications include: Bachelor of Horticulture (business and technology) Hons, Accelerated Executive Presence Senior Leaders Course, Finance for the Public Sector, Senior Managers Development Programme.

Mark is an avid sportsman, playing hockey at club level and a keen kayaker.  Passionate about rugby and looking to learn more about mountain biking and how to avoid the trees when on the golf course!

Immediate Past President

Heather Nesbitt

Heather is an urban and regional planner who has worked for government, private sector, non-government organisations and local communities for over 30 years. She was the inaugural Social Commissioner, Greater Sydney Commission, where she drove an agenda to deliver inclusive, connected and healthy communities through innovative urban planning; social infrastructure provision and community/stakeholder engagement processes, collaborations and partnerships.  Ms Nesbitt has strong networks with local, State and Federal governments; business organisations, and universities. She is a Fellow Planning Institute of Australia, Graduate Australian Institute of Company Directors and volunteer Australian Red Cross Emergency Services.

Interested in becoming a part of the Region Council?

Join us today as a corporate or individual member and become a part of ‘the people behind the places.’ Our members are actively engaged across policy, planning, and the provision of assets, services, facilities, programs, and research in the parks and leisure sector. By becoming a member, you’ll have opportunities to volunteer in various PLA committees, Research Groups, Regional Councils, and the National Board, while enjoying exclusive PLA member benefits.

Find out how you can be a part of our mission and access these benefits today.