New Desert Knowledge CRC Deputy Chair, New Board Members

An Aboriginal business leader from Western Australia has been elected as Deputy Chair of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre Board, the organisation’s Chair, Mr Paul Wand, announced today.

Mr Noel Bridge is a business development consultant with a strong track record of helping Aboriginal enterprises and not-for-profit organisations to succeed.

Mr Bridge has been a director of the Desert Knowledge CRC Board since its inception in 2003.

An inaugural member of the Telstra Country Wide Advisory Board, Mr Bridge continues to represent the interests of the people living and working outside metropolitan centres and to promote the best possible telecommunications solutions for them.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and also serves as a member of the Governing Council of Central TAFE in Perth.

“Noel brings more than 15 years’ experience in Aboriginal economic development, business planning and the mining industry to the Desert Knowledge CRC,” said Mr Wand. “He has been a significant contributor to the Board’s work on strategy and serves on the Audit and Risk Management Committee.”

“Coming from a remote inland town, I am always interested in the practical application of research that benefits people and communities throughout desert Australia,” said Mr Bridge.

“We need to encourage creative ideas that further support sustainable livelihoods, service provision and structures that make people want to stay and live in our deserts – this includes research that respects and builds on the knowledge and efforts of those who have come before and that links them to new ways of thinking and the new technologies of the future.”

Mr Wand also welcomed two new directors to the Desert Knowledge CRC Board, Ms Christine Charles and Mr Mark Chmielewski.

Ms Charles is the Regional Director, Environmental and Social Responsibility of the Australia/New Zealand operations of Newmont, the world’s largest gold mining company.

Prior to joining Newmont, Ms Charles has been a Senior Consultant for the World Health Organization in Japan, a Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Human Services and has headed up the South Australian Cabinet Office.

With a background in community work and academia, Ms Charles has been active in a wide range of policy areas.

She is a member of a number of local and national groups, and her positions among them include the chair of the Women and Mining Dialogue, the chair of the NT Mining Board, a member of the Beacon Foundation Board, the Sustainable Development Committee of the Minerals Council of Australia and the Indigenous Affairs Committee of the WA Chamber of Mines.

“The Desert Knowledge CRC addresses important questions about how we live and work sustainably in Australia’s arid regions. I am looking forward to contributing to our understanding and capacity in this area,” she said.

Originally from Victoria, Ms Charles spent 10 years in the Northern Territory and now lives in Adelaide.

Mr Mark Chmielewski, Manager Indigenous Agriculture in the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food in Perth, works closely with Aboriginal communities and organisations to improve the participation of Aboriginal people in WA’s agriculture, food and fibre industry.

“I’m looking forward to helping realise the potential of the Desert Knowledge CRC’s pastoral and bush products research for job and enterprise creation across desert Australia, particularly in Aboriginal communities,” he said.

Mr Wand said: “I welcome Christine and Mark to the Desert Knowledge CRC Board. I am confident that their backgrounds and experience will enhance the work of the CRC over the next four years.”

“The Board is also appreciative of the contributions made by retiring members, Ms Lynette Liddle and Dr Rodney Thiele and wishes them well in their future work.”

The Desert Knowledge CRC is a nationwide research network that links Aboriginal and local knowledge with science and research training for the benefit of desert people.


Paul Wand, Chair, Desert Knowledge CRC, 0419 011 440

Noel Bridge, Deputy Chair, Desert Knowledge CRC, 040 889 7275

Christine Charles, Board Member, Desert Knowledge CRC, 0419 805 008

Mark Chmielewski, Board Member, Desert Knowledge CRC, 0427 449 926

Elke Wiesmann, Media Officer, Desert Knowledge CRC, 08 8950 7142 and 0427 009 240