About

The Commissioner is an independent statutory position established by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment Act 1993.

Our Vision: An environmentally sustainable ACT, region and Australia.

Our Mission: To act as an independent voice for the environment and sustainability in the ACT, and promote community engagement.

Our Values: Transparency, integrity, independence, research, rigour, inclusion.

The Commissioner is an independent statutory position established by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment Act 1993. The Commissioner undertakes the following functions and activities:

  • Investigating complaints about  the management of the environment by the Territory or a territory authority; and issues relating to ecologically sustainable development in the ACT;
  • Conduct investigations as directed by the Minister;
  • Conduct on the Commissioner’s own initiative, investigations into actions of an agency where those actions would have a substantial impact on the environment of the ACT; and
  • Deliver state of the environment reports (SoER).

State of the environment reporting has been one of the main roles of the Commissioner. SoERs have been prepared every four years since 1993.

The Commissioner must take into account the objects of the Act. These are to:

  • ensure regular and consistent reporting on matters relating to the condition and management of the environment in the Territory; and
  • ensure regular reporting on progress towards ecologically sustainable development by the Territory and Territory authorities; and
  • encourage decision making that facilitates ecologically sustainable development; and
  • enhance knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development and the environment; and
  • encourage sound environmental practices and procedures to be adopted by the Territory and Territory authorities as a basis for ecologically sustainable development.

Dr Sophie Lewis

Dr Sophie Lewis was appointed as the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment on 1 May 2020.

Her most recent role was as a climate scientist at the University of NSW Canberra. She was also a lead author on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, which are used worldwide to develop policies around climate change.

Dr Lewis was named 2019 ACT Scientist of the Year in recognition of her research, particularly on weather extremes and how climate change contributes to events such as bushfires and droughts.  In 2015 she was presented with the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) Early Career Researcher Award for her work in climate science.

Her experience will bring a strong focus on climate change given her research background in this field, and her strong knowledge and connection to Canberra.

Previous Commissioners

  • Professor Kate Auty
  • Ms Ann Lyons Wright
  • Mr Robert Neil
  • Dr Maxine Cooper
  • Mr Darro Stinson
  • Dr Rosemary Purdie
  • Dr Joe Baker AO OBE

Our Staff

Alongside our full time Commissioner, there is a small team of professional and dedicated staff employed by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

Sean Grimes

Director, Sustainability, Environmental Assessments and Reporting

Sean is enthusiastic about communicating environmental information and has a wealth of experience in public environmental reporting. He has produced State of the Environment reports for Victoria, NSW and south-east England. Sean was also responsible for the production of Victoria’s 2008 State of the Forests report.

Sean has a background in aquatic ecology, with many years’ experience researching and monitoring the rivers and wetlands of the ACT and NSW. He has an Honours degree in Applied Science.

Kirilly Dickson

Director, Investigations

Kirilly is a passionate, long term advocate for including sustainability into all business processes including investment decisions and strategic planning. With over 14 years in various roles in the water utility sector, Kirilly has a strong background in aquatic sciences, land management and environmental compliance associated with infrastructure.  She has managed various business elements including compliance, sustainability, operations, safety and quality.

Kirilly holds a Bachelor of (Environmental) Engineering degree with Honours from University of Wollongong and a Certificate in General Management from Harvard Business School.  She combines environmental stewardship with business pragmatism to assist in supporting a sustainable Canberra and region.

Key areas of expertise include environmental impacts and risk assessment, water resource management and energy and carbon.

Caitlin Roy

Assistant Manager, Investigations

Caitlin has a Bachelor of Arts/Science from the Australian National University, with majors in Anthropology and Environmental Science and a diploma in project management. Caitlin has recently completed the Lower Cotter Catchment Restoration Evaluation Project and is currently developing an issues paper on sport and the impacts of climate change.

Caitlin has a wide range of government experience within ACT and the Commonwealth. Her favourite aspect of working in ACT Government is seeing the impact of her daily work take shape in the community she lives in.

Serena Farrelly

Assistant Manager, Investigations

Serena studied a Bachelor of Arts/Science at the Australian National University, with majors in Sociology and Human Ecology. She is passionate about how to encourage behaviour change in people’s daily activities to reduce their impact on the environment, such as riding a bicycle or walking to work instead of driving a car.

Serena has extensive experience in nature conservation, having worked on projects such as the development of the ACT Environmental Offsets Policy and supporting the ACT Scientific Committee in the review of Threatened Species Action Plans in the Territory.

During her time at OCSE, Serena has completed the Independent Audits of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment.

Megan Reichstein

Executive Assistant

Megan Reichstein is Sophie Lewis’ executive assistant. She provides an invaluable contribution to the office, organising Sophie and her staff.

Megan has worked for the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate in a range of roles.  She has also worked in the Commonwealth and has had extensive experience in the private sector.