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Who we are

Our Board and Executive

Our Board

NRAR has an independent board responsible for decisions about its compliance and enforcement functions. The board started work in late 2017 on the formation and strategic direction of NRAR.

The NRAR board has four members, appointed by the NSW Minister for Lands and Water. Whilst the board reports to the minister, it is an independent body. Any directions by the minister must be made in accordance with the provisions of the Natural Resources Access Regulator Act 2017.

Learn more about the board, including its role, operation and function in the NRAR Board Charter below.

NRAR Board Charter (PDF, 176.23 KB)

Hon. Craig Knowles AM - Chair

Hon. Craig Knowles AM

NRAR chair Craig Knowles’ previous statutory appointments include a four year spell as chair of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) from 2011-2015. In that role, he represented Australia at the 2014 United Nations General Assembly Forum on Water and Energy as part of the UN mission to develop Sustainable Development Goals in the context of climate change.

Ilona Millar

Ilona Millar

Ilona has more than 20 years’ experience advising on natural resources law, including innovative responses to climate change and sustainability problems. She has been involved in legislative and policy reviews and advises on the implementation of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and the Water Amendment Act 2008 (Commonwealth).

Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown

Bruce has served as both a director and member of a number of government committees at state and federal level, including the National Rural Advisory Council (1999-2005). He was also a university lecturer in agricultural economics and farm management prior to transitioning to the private sector via a lobbying role with a farmer organisation.

Phil Duncan

Phil Duncan

Phil joined the NRAR Board in 2020. He also serves as chair of the Basin Community Committee of the Murray Darling Basin Commission.

Throughout his career and volunteer community work, Phil has worked extensively with Indigenous people and government to improve the lives of First Nations people. He also provides high-level policy, strategic advice, and leadership to key Indigenous representative organisations, universities, and state and federal government agencies.

Our Executive

Grant Barnes

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 freshwater science, strategic planning and science leadership in both established organisations and start-ups.

Greg Abood

Greg Abood

Passion for environmental protection, years of regulatory experience, a thorough understanding of the Natural Resource Access Regulator’s purpose, vision and values and a natural connection with people are among the skills and qualities Greg brings to the role of Director Education and Engagement. Gregory was previously NRAR’s Director Water Regulation East where he led innovative compliance programs and strategic engagement activities that have supported NRAR's stakeholders while enhancing the organisation’s reach and influence.

He has led NRAR to improve understanding among water users and voluntary water law compliance, and he has championed protection and recognition of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual values connected to water.

Greg has spent the last 15 years leading people in environmental protection and regulatory agencies in NSW. He has led to solve complex regional, industrial, and statewide regulatory issues and is a collaborative leader who inspires staff to form strong working partnerships and connections across government and stakeholder organisations.

Margaret Sexton

Margaret Sexton

Margaret is Director Innovation, Systems and Intelligence and leads development of NRAR's regulatory policy and regulatory priorities and builds organisational capability in intelligence, spatial and data analytics, innovation and technology.

Margaret is responsible for setting strategy by identifying and solving important compliance problems and directing the operational efforts of the agency. Her team identifies compliance trends, anticipates future requirements, and delivers intelligence, integrated analysis, and expert advice to guide decision-making and improve regulatory practice. Margaret’s remit includes NRAR’s ICT and operational technology strategies and providing innovative business solutions to solve regulatory problems efficiently and effectively.

Margaret’s objective is to improve NRAR by providing suitable systems, information and technology to allow operational staff to carry out their regulatory and compliance work more easily, quickly, accurately and safely, across wide areas, large numbers and complex circumstances, both proactively and responsively, remotely and in field.

Margaret is a leadership and development expert, adept at building and leading high performing teams. She leads to inspire continuous improvement and delivery of measurable results and enduring value to water management in NSW.

Tim Gilbert

Tim Gilbert

Tim is the Director Regulatory Excellence. He champions improvements in the water resource management framework where it impacts on compliance and enforcement, and provides assurance of and continuous improvement in NRAR’s processes and staff capabilities and funding base to ensure NRAR remains efficient and effective.

Tim brings a wealth of knowledge and pragmatism to this role, having a Masters degree in Environmental Management focused on soil, water and irrigation engineering, and over 30 years of experience in natural resources management regulation, policy and funding programs in both public and private sectors and at State and Commonwealth government levels.

Tim’s vision for excellent water management compliance is where the rules are designed to deliver fair and equitable water access for all water users and the environment, the rules are easy to understand and are accepted by all, and where compliance is normal practice.

Lisa Stockley

Lisa Stockley

Lisa joined NRAR as Director Investigations and Enforcement in 2022 and is responsible for leading investigations into alleged offences and non-compliance with the Water Management Act. Lisa's team undertakes a range of activities in response to non-compliance and are tasked with securing compliance and enforcement outcomes that build public confidence in NRAR.

Lisa was previously the Assistant Director (Industry Regulation) for the NSW Police Force Security Licensing & Enforcement Directorate (SLED) and is well-versed in overseeing complex investigations, regulatory programs, interpreting legislation and instructing solicitors. Prior to working for SLED, Lisa worked in investigative roles for the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption for some 14 years, leading numerous high-profile corruption investigations. Lisa prides herself on her strong work ethic, ability to foster and maintain cohesive professional relationships and ability to perform under pressure to achieve results.

Ian Bernard

Ian Bernard

Ian has played a pivotal role in leading NRAR on the path to becoming a best practice regulator and will continue to build on this work as Director of Regulatory Initiatives. Ian has been instrumental in setting NRAR’s priorities, building its regulatory expertise and developing a reputation as a problem solver across the organisation. He has designed approaches to solve some of our most complex compliance issues, including non-urban metering, floodplain harvesting and irrigated agriculture.

Ian has worked in regulation and enforcement for over a decade, leading intelligence-led strategic programs that solve complex problems and influence both industries and regulated communities.

He is a leader of cultural change and a supporter of inclusivity and diversity.

Ila Lessing
Ila Lessing

Ila Lessing joined NRAR as the Director Regulatory Coordination in 2022. With an Executive MBA focused on business and financial management, Ila has managed teams responsible for governance, budget management and portfolio management across the government and banking sectors.

At NRAR, Ila is responsible for leading the corporate services function for the agency including communications, front-of-house and call centre, financial management, business performance, PMO & project governance, as well as coordination between the different services within NRAR.

Sarah-Jane Morris

Sarah-jane Morris

As Director Legal, from the Department of Planning and Environment, Sarah-Jane Morris supports NRAR's crucial work in enforcement of the State's water laws, ensuring positive outcomes for people, the environment and economy.

She is a highly experienced government lawyer and manager who values a collaborative approach to solving the complex problems of water regulation.

As a former Director and Special Counsel at the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office, she has 20 years’ experience providing legal advice and representation across a broad range of areas, including administrative law, criminal law, and environmental law.

Sarah-Jane brings a wealth of water law knowledge to her role with NRAR.  At the Crown Solicitor’s Office, she was responsible for managing the conduct of water prosecutions for NRAR from its inception. She has also recently managed the water law advice team at the Department of Planning and Environment for a period and acted as Director of the Water Enforcement Taskforce at NRAR.

She will continue to build on her strong record of accomplishment of managing reform and leading operations to ensure the delivery of legal services in line with NRAR's strategic goals.

Board minutes

The board meets 11 times each year, taking a well-deserved break in January. The minutes from the previous board meeting are endorsed at the next one and then uploaded below.

2022 Minutes

2021 Minutes

2020 Minutes

2019 Minutes

2018 Minutes