EcoGeneration talks to Heather Campbell, General Manager of Health, Safety and Environment at CSIRO and newly appointed Sustainability Victoria chair.

The two catalysts that sparked my desire to work in the renewables industry were conducting a physics project back in Year 12 about the efficiency of different types of wind turbines and working in the retail property sector and being exposed to what some of the leading property companies are doing in the sustainability sphere.

In my role at CSIRO, I lead a large team whose main focus is the health, safety and wellbeing of the amazing scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff at CSIRO. The team is responsible for key environmental risk areas.

I find my work fascinating as the areas of science we cover are extremely broad. One day I can be looking at risks associated with producing the next variety of cotton and the next, I can be standing up the top of a radio telescope.

My main goal is the same in whatever role I take on – to make a difference. At CSIRO, this means enabling our researchers to do their work while remaining safe and having a minimal impact upon the environment in which we operate. Our goal is ‘zero harm’.

As chair of the Community and Industry Advisory Board at Melbourne University’s
Office for Environmental Programs, I – alongside other members of the board – provide community and industry input into the university’s Graduate Environmental Program so it remains relevant and up-to-date. This is a unique program that is highly flexible, allowing students to greatly enhance both their depth and breadth of environmental knowledge. The board I sit on is a critical link between the Graduate Environmental Program and industry, with members of the board representing a wide range of public, community and private organisations.

My aim as chair of Sustainability Victoria is that it will have a profound influence on Victorians, helping us all to live more sustainably. We have a new five-year strategy, which outlines how we will work with the Victorian community to take practical action on climate change, energy and materials efficiency, as well as waste management.

I also sit on the Board of the Earthwatch Institute Australia, am a mum to two very active primary school-aged kids, and when I get the time, I play in the Yea and High Country Pipes and Drums. What I do is no different to most people. If you enjoy what you do, you find a way to juggle it all.

My most fulfilling role is being a mum, but outside of that, my involvement with the Earthwatch Institute and as the former Chief Executive of Landcare Australia have been amazing. At Earthwatch, it is about connecting people with environmental science for a more sustainable world. By volunteering on a program working with scientists, I have learned so much about the complexity and the interdependencies of the world in which we live in and how I can make a difference.

Hopefully I have done my small part to help communities and individuals embrace their environment and understand that by our collective actions, we can have a positive impact upon our environment.

The facet of the renewables industry that most excites me is how individuals and communities are engaging with renewable energy options. I think people are taking more control of their energy use and also how it is generated.

My largest influencers who inspire me to continue doing what I do is the natural world in which we live in and what I see local communities do together. It only takes an hour of looking out at the ocean, working on a farm, walking in the bush or gazing at a snow-capped mountain to understand how precious the world is.

If I wasn’t working in renewables, I would probably be in the farming sector.


Heather Campbell is an experienced director and executive who has sat on a range of boards and advisory committees across government, education and not-for-profit organisations. She has spent more than 20 years managing issues such as risk, sustainability, safety, environment, government affairs and media relations at the highest levels within the research, property, not-for-profit, agricultural, paper and packaging industries.