Biosecurity Council - Membership

Page last updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2024 - 11:00am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This page contains information on the current Biosecurity Council members. Nominations are sought from academia and community organisations, with appointments (for up to three years) made by the Minister for Agriculture and Food.

Biosecurity Council membership is drawn from people who are experienced or actively involved in agriculture, fishing, aquaculture, pearling or related commercial activities; or natural resource management, environmental protection and/or regional communities.

Mr Justin Bellanger (Chairperson) is the current Chief Executive Officer for South Coast National Resource Management (NRM). Justin has over 26 years’ experience in environmental, agricultural and aquatic biosecurity, at a senior level, and currently represents Australia’s NRM organisations on the national Environmental Biosecurity Advisory Group.

With a strong focus on aquaculture, his past roles in the Department of Fisheries saw him working across WA in various research and development roles, providing him with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the state’s biosecurity challenges.  Justin has chaired, and is a representative on numerous state and national Boards and advisory groups, where his active involvement, enthusiasm and strong leadership skills has earned him many recognition awards.

Mr Tony Dean is the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) representative appointed to the Biosecurity Council. He brings a wealth of experience in science, agriculture and advocacy. Tony has over 22 years’ experience in local government and is the current Shire President of Nannup.

Along with his work on various councils, boards and committees, he has 11 years experience teaching science in an agriculture setting and was the Principal at the WA College of Agriculture in Cunderdin. Tony is currently President of the South West Local Government Association, and the Warren Blackwood Alliance of Councils. He is a Board member on the South West Development Commission and State Councillor for WALGA, chairing the People and Place Policy Team.

Professor Owen T Nevin is an experienced conservation biologist and research leader with more than 25 years of experience in global conservation and management of biodiversity and extensive experience in senior leadership in higher education and research. Owen has held significant positions, including Head of the National School of Forestry (United Kingdom) and Associate Vice-Chancellor at CQ (Central Queensland) University Australia. He is currently a Specialist Director on the Board of the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania and has previously held appointments to the Society’s European and Global Boards. In 2008, he was elected as a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and holds appointments as an Anniversary Visiting Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Cumbria (UK) and Adjunct Professor of Conservation Biology at CQUniversity.

Owen is currently CEO of the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI), where he leads a joint venture whose members include CSIRO, Curtin University, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, The University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Museum. This partnership brings together leading scientific experts in WA to foster biodiversity research that is collaborative and more effectively addresses knowledge needs in our state to create opportunities for meaningful change in biodiversity conservation and enable sustainable development.

Renata Paliskis has a long history with the agricultural industry and is currently the Non-Executive Director of Animal Health Australia and Chair of its Audit and Risk Management Committee. She has held a total of eighteen board and committee positions over the last 24 years including Deputy Chair of the Cattle Industry Funding Scheme Management Committee, Founding Director of the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre, Director of the Western Australian Meat Industry Authority and Chair of the Western Australian Cattle and Pig Industry Compensation Research Advisory Committees. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Renata was Chief Executive Officer for the Western Australian Meat Industry for eight years and was responsible for the re-location of the Midland Saleyards to the $54m state-of-the-art Muchea Livestock Centre, the largest undercover dual species livestock selling centre in the southern hemisphere. For the last 20 years, Renata has been owner and manager of the Lakes Cattle Company which operates a beef breeding business unit and a feedlot business unit. As a member of the Biosecurity Council of WA, Renata seeks to ensure that an effective biosecurity system in WA is linked to a broader national biosecurity collective with deep stakeholder awareness and engagement.

Dr Kelly Pearce is the inaugural Director of the Western Australian Agricultural Research Collaboration (which includes DPIRD, CSIRO, Grower Group Alliance and the 4 public universities in Western Australia). Kelly’s portfolio includes Director at the WA Meat Industry Authority and Committee Member to the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee. Kelly is a Nuffield farming scholar, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, has worked in agricultural research for over 23 years and as well, runs a broadacre grain farm in Yealering. As a member of the Biosecurity Council of WA, Kelly seeks to ensure an effective biosecurity system in WA based on high-quality science and innovation on an international scale.

Dr Melissa Thomas is the Deputy Director of Biosecurity and One Health with the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University. She is working on projects to develop innovative surveillance tools to detect and deter introduced species using artificial intelligence, molecular biology, and chemistry. Melissa has worked across the entire biosecurity continuum throughout her career, from pre-border mitigation strategies, border quarantine procedures, post-border detection, and invasive species management. Before her position at Murdoch University, Melissa was the Biosecurity Scientist at Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, managing the non-indigenous species surveillance program on Barrow Island.

Melissa was also recently the Chair of Biosecurity and Environmental Science, where she had the opportunity to build research partnerships with industry and other stakeholders. Melissa has a keen interest in island and environmental biosecurity with a primary focus on terrestrial ecosystems and has published numerous journal articles on environmental biosecurity. As a member of the Biosecurity Council of W.A., Melissa aims to build on Australia’s biosecurity culture to protect industry and the environment from current and emerging biosecurity risks.

Dr Tracy Sullivan is a veterinarian with Masters and PhD degrees in Veterinary Science and has published numerous journal articles focusing on the impact of diet on heifer development during gestation. Tracy has over 20 years of combined experience working as a veterinarian in the capacity of clinician, researcher, and teacher. Tracy's work focused on reproduction, welfare, trade, beef production, and biosecurity. Currently, Tracy is a director for Yawuru Holdings Company Pty Ltd operating the Roebuck Plains Station and runs her own semen assessment business from Broome. Tracy recently handed over the Presidency of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) in May 2023 and now represents the ACV on the Board of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). Tracy was also a partner in a beef and cereal enterprise in Queensland for 20 years.

Tracy brings experience in policy as she is also currently the Policy Councillor for Cattle Australia and represents the CA on the National Farmers Federation Indigenous Engagement Working Group. Tracy's goal is to contribute to WA's biosecurity with a particular interest in One Health and agricultural production. 

Professor Shashi Sharma has dedicated over 40 years to the food and agriculture sector, making meaningful contributions across various roles. Currently, as the Founder Chairman of the World BioProtection Research Foundation, he actively shapes the narrative of innovation for sustainable development, underscoring his enduring commitment to the well-being of present and future generations.

Shashi's professional journey encompasses diverse roles, including positions such as Professor and Chair in Biosecurity and Food Security at Murdoch University, Australia; Director and Chief Plant Health Manager at the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA; Founder Co-Director of the Australia-China Centre for Abiotic and Biotic Stress Management in Agriculture, Horticulture, and Forestry, a joint centre of Murdoch University and the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, China; Program Leader for the Safeguarding Trade Program, Cooperative Research Centre for Plant Biosecurity, Australia; Chairman of Grains Industry Biosecurity, Horticulture Industry Biosecurity, and Bee Industry Biosecurity Committee in Western Australia; Professor and Head, Division of Nematology; Scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

His expertise extends internationally, serving as a biosecurity consultant to various countries in Asia and Africa. With a robust international background, Shashi has provided strategic direction and thought leadership in global plant health management. His role as an internationally elected Board President of The World BioProtection Forum and his contribution as a senior author of the book "Vision Infinity for Food Security" exemplify his commitment to advancing the field. Shashi Sharma remains steadfast in his dedication to contributing significantly to global biosecurity, food security, and planetary health.

Contact information

Monica Coates

+61 (0)8 9368 3809

Email the WA Biosecurity Council