Research Advisory Committee

The Research Advisory Committee assists in the development and implementation of the Regional Australia Institute’s research agenda.

The Committee is responsible for ensuring that our research aligns with the research vision, framework and priority areas of the Institute, and that it is within our capacity and is of a quality that can be recommended to the Board for consideration and endorsement.

Professor Annabelle Duncan (Chair)

Professor Annabelle Duncan is the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of New England. She joined the University in September 2010, initially as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and then as Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Prior to joining UNE, Professor Duncan spent 16 years in the CSIRO, including 6 years as Chief of the Division of Molecular Science. She has also served in managerial roles within the Bio21 Institute at University of Melbourne and AgriBio Institute at La Trobe University.

Professor Duncan acted as an advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on biological weapons control, representing Australia at international arms control meetings and acting as a biological weapons inspector with the United Nations in Iraq.

She was awarded a Public Service Medal in 1996, and Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) from Murdoch University in 2005 for her work in arms control

Professor John Tomaney

Professor John Tomaney helps governments and agencies in Europe and China understand questions about regional development. John, who is also a who is also a Professor at University College London, brings vital experience in building relationships between academic research and policy making.

Kate Charters

Kate Charters is a Director of Management Solutions (Qld) Pty Ltd, a professional development and training company with particular interest in regional and rural issues at public policy and service delivery levels. Kate has worked at senior levels in government in policy and management, and conducted a number of organisational and service reviews across a range of agencies including community groups, peak bodies, government, and tertiary institutions. Kate’s interests are particularly in maintaining program and service integrity in the transition from policy to implementation, and creating environments which optimise organisations’ abilities to be creative and motivated to set and achieve their goals. 

Kate chairs the National Steering Committee for the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference. SEGRA is recognised as Australia’s most credible independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia.

Maree Parker

Maree is committed to advancing Queensland’s regional communities by building thriving, competitive and diverse regional economies, generating new jobs and economic growth. She leads the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning’s Regional Strategy and Programs division which has responsibility for delivery of the Building our Regions infrastructure program as well as regional economic strategies.  The division also works closely with the department’s network of regionally-based offices providing services and front-line support to regional development stakeholders.

Following early work as a teacher and in professional development in the education sector, her career progressed into policy work associated with national, state and local level initiatives—a base from which she subsequently gained diverse senior executive public service leadership experience.

Maree actively contributes to national policy forums, such as the Regional Australia Institute policy group, and is passionate about fostering and forming strong partnerships between organisations to deliver regional economic priorities.

She holds academic qualifications including a Research Masters degree in policy analysis and a Bachelor of Education.

Professor Andrew Beer

Andrew Beer is Dean, Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia Business School. His research interests include the operation and functioning of Australia’s housing markets, the drivers of regional growth, economic change in major cities and the impacts of an ageing population.

Tim Shackleton

Tim is a Director of health services consulting firm Virtual Health, Chair of the Western Australian Regional Development Council and Wheatbelt Development Commission and a non-executive director of medical education provider, Western Australian General Practice Education and Training Limited. He was previously the CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Western Operations) and Regional Director of the WA Country Health Service’s Wheatbelt and Pilbara-Gascoyne Regions.

Chris McDonald

Chris has experience in a range of leadership roles in government and academia. This includes executive and management level roles in regional and rural development, community development, and land use planning and infrastructure policy across 13 years with the State Government of Victoria. He has worked as a Policy Analyst in the Regional Development and Tourism Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since 2015, which includes management of the Territorial Review of the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA), the National Territorial Review of Peru, contributing to the Monitoring of Sweden, and thematic projects on Indigenous economic development, and mining and regional development.

Chris’s undergraduate qualification is in urban planning and he has a PhD in regional development. He has published on these subjects in peer review journals, and has undertaken teaching and lecturing roles in public policy, regional development and economic geography including as an Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Geography at Monash University. Chris also has experience as a consultant to the government and university sectors in Australia.

Nicole Pearson

Nicole Pearson is currently General Manager Regional Economics Policy Branch In the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development in Canberra, where she leads the design of long-term, big-picture reform of regional economic policy and overseeing the implementation of the Government’s decentralisation agenda.

Nicole has a diverse background as a senior executive in the Australian public service that crosses strategic policy, program delivery and corporate service delivery.  Over the past ten years she has successfully delivered in a wide range of roles within these disciplines.  Her career has focused on implementing major reform agendas and working in service related programs to drive outcomes. She has led multi-discipline teams across diverse and remote geographic locations and successfully administered large appropriations and capital budgets.  She is a trusted advisor, legally trained and admitted to the ACT Supreme Court, with a wealth of experience working across government and internationally to shape outcomes for the Australian Government.

Nicole was born and raised in Townsville, Far North Queensland Australia.  Throughout her life she has resided in Cairns, Brisbane and Canberra.  Ms Pearson began her career as a regional psychologist in the then Commonwealth Employment Service and has senior management experience in regional, metro, national and international environments in a number of government departments including the Family Court, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Geoscience Australia and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Past Members:

Professor Graeme Hugo (1946 – 2015)