Starfish Associates

Starfish’s sustainability specialists bring extensive professional experience, expertise and passion for rural and regional sustainability. The breadth of Starfish’s initiatives and services reflects this.

SF_Email_AssociatesStarfish Associates are freelance contractors as well as collaborators in creating Starfish itself ~ its services, systems, methods, intellectual property and initiatives.

Fit-for-purpose teams are formed for each Starfish initiative or engagement. This is to achieve high quality results by ensuring the necessary capabilities are involved. Starfish Associates are key members of Starfish’s Network because they are the primary pool of professionals for our contracted work. This is mostly in collaboration with other organisations and specialists, as indicated by the 600 such partnerships in the last five years alone.

Associates can contract work independently of Starfish, so long as it is relevant to rural and regional sustainability in a meaningful way.

We are aiming to triple the number of Associates by 2021.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Starfish Associate, check out our recruitment campaign:

What Associates bring …

Individually, each Associate brings their sustainability specialisations, experience and expertise ~ in areas as listed earlier ~ as well as capabilities in collaboration and change, namely:

  • Communications (e.g. Homes North Annual Reports, Starfish’s Strategic Plan)

  • Conferences (e.g. Complex Case Management & Behaviour Support, North Coast Energy Forum), Training (e.g. UNE Student Association) & Workshops (e.g. EdFest)
  • Facilitation (e.g. Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance Forum, New England North West Youth Accommodation Forum)

  • Governance (e.g. Home North Governance & Strategy Retreats, Coalition for Community Energy Governance Charter, Coledale Place-based Collaborative Governance Model)

  • Leadership development (e.g. New England North West Place Teams)

  • Project coordination (e.g. Biochar for Sustainable Soils, Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network)

  • Research (e.g. New England Wind Feasibility Study)

  • Strategy & planning (e.g. New England Sustainability Strategy, PCYC Strategic Positioning)

Collaboratively ~ with the Starfish Network ~ Associates can form teams involving other specialists who are a perfect fit for the purpose and requirements of each unique fee-for-service contract. They can also utilise Starfish’s Auspice Service for start-ups (e.g. earthfunerals) or multi-party projects that need a neutral collaboration space (e.g. Coalition for Community Energy).

In our experience, highly effective change can be achieved when the people and organisations who are involved are highly fit-for-purpose. While alignment of purpose is not enough on its own, it can create greater shared benefits and outcomes.

We’ve been a part of several successful change collaborations of this kind where teams have found flow and achieved fantastic results together.To ensure each project has the maximum potential for creating meaningful change, Starfish will even consider whether another service provider we know might be more fit-for-purpose than us. This unusual approach reflects our genuine commitment to focus on what is needed and what will work best ~ rather than on our self-interests!

Is there any way we can be of service to you with your change work or changes within your organisation?

Even though this fee-for-service work is one of the ways that we earn our living, we genuinely ask this question without any pressure or expectation; rather, we are simply looking for situations where our capabilities are useful and where there is an opportunity to work in a collaborative way.

Our clients will vouch for the fact that we’re not in this for the money. Doing meaningful work with peers who share our purpose and priorities is our passion.

We’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how we might be of service to you in your work for rural and regional sustainability.

The benefits of becoming a Starfish Associate include:

  • Leveraging Starfish’s track-record and reputation in rural and regional sustainability
  • Utilising Starfish’s Supporting Systems (as detailed below)
  • Creating, leading and implementing rural and regional sustainability initiatives, and more specifically:
    • Providing professional services on a fee-for-service basis to support others
    • Developing and leading their own sustainability initiatives and enterprises
    • Contributing to rural and regional sustainability more generally
  • Having the flexibility to work independently of Starfish, as a freelance contractor
  • Holding a preferred supplier status for sub-contracted work generated by Starfish.

To date, Starfish has developed the following systems and supports for Associates:

  • Fund Raising
    • Tax deductibility for grants and donations through the Starfish Foundation
    • Income tax exempt status for grant and government funding
    • Access to subscription services with regular updates regarding grants and tenders
  • Governance & Strategy
    • Strategic oversight by Starfish’s Board of Directors to ensure the financial and legal integrity of all sustainability initiatives and services
    • Independent financial audit by Roberts & Morrow
    • Mechanisms to manage multi-party collaborations and contracts
    • Access to expertise and peer support from other Associates and their networks
    • Access to Starfish’s Auspice & Incubator Service to manage contracts and hold intellectual property, licences and other assets in trust
    • Banking, finance, accounting, reporting and administration
    • Insurance coverage for initiatives led through Starfish Initiatives
  • Profile & Branding
    • Co-branding, and the associated recognition and reputation arising from Starfish’s track-record with grants, tenders, contracts and delivery of projects and services
    • Communication systems including email (with cloud back-up), websites, social media and subscriber databases
    • Collateral, such as business cards, web presence and car decals
  • Library of templates, open-source software, policies, etc. for project coordination

Contact us  if you are interested to find out more about becoming a Starfish Associate.

“The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life.

“And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.”

~ Henry Moore

“It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”

~ Arnold Toynbee

Starfish Associates apply their professional capabilities and passion to bring about the essential changes needed for sustainability.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

~ Socrates

“When an old culture is dying, the new culture is created by those of us who are not afraid to be insecure.”

~ Rudolph Bayo

Janelle Speed

Janelle Speed

Health, Wellbeing & Culture Specialist

Janelle is passionate about Aboriginal culture, health and wellbeing and has a diverse career spanning community, health, three tiers of government, professional development, tertiary education and reconciliation.

Janelle’s current work focus is inter-cultural facilitation; professional cultural awareness and competency; health governance (Board member of Hunter New England Local Health District); and the Myall Creek Centre for Reconciliation.

Janelle has qualifications in leadership, management and community development.
m: +61 (0) 458 937 785 | +61 (0) 2 6733 6737

Kathryn Brooks

Kathryn Brooks

Social Developer

Kathryn has strong roots in the country, is passionate about community building and purposeful impact.

Kathryn has broad experience in the community sector including in youth, disability, seniors, rural and regional, mental health, community capacity building and with human rights issues.

Kathryn has a Bachelor in Arts (Peace Studies) and Laws, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and Certificate IV in Cultural and Community Development.
m: +61 (0) 400 336 091

Chris S Harris

Chris S Harris

Sustainability Strategist & Specialist Generalist

Chris brings a breadth and depth of experience in senior and strategic roles across wide range of nationally and internationally significant environmental and social campaigns. This experience underpins Chris’ specialty in strategic and senior leadership organisational and project roles.

Chris’ work has included water issues, land management, planning, climate change, forests and mining. Chris has a degree in in Economics and Politics and is a journalist by training.
m: +61 (0) 411 509 322

Pete Arkins

Pete Arkins

Design & Creative Collaboration

Pete has extensive professional experience in communication design across the Vocational Education, Commercial and Community sectors. He has been involved with Starfish from its very beginnings and contributed to a number of high profile initiatives.

Pete has a Master of Design from RMIT and holds qualifications in Communications (BA), Information Technology and Multimedia (Cert III).
m: +61 (0) 431 268 534

Liz Gardiner

Liz Gardiner

Renewable Energy &
Sustainable Business Specialist

Liz has leading project coordination roles with Zero Net Energy Town, Farming the Sun and New England Wind plus co-facilitates the Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network.

Liz has also been involved with many of Starfish’s youth-focused initiatives.

Liz holds qualifications in Economics (Honors) and an Advanced Diploma in Arts (Peace Studies).
t: +61 2 6778 7249

Kev Hartley

Kev Hartley

Founder & Marketing Director
Earth Funerals

Kevin Hartley is founder and Marketing Director of Earth Funerals.

Kev brings more than 20 years of practical experience in the funeral industry, is recognised as an authority, and advocate, for natural burial, and has won awards for his novel innovations.

Kev holds a degree in Psychological Sciences from UNE, studied in Europe as a Vice Chancellors Scholar, and is a natural born problem solver with a unique ability to analyse and de-construct complex issues.
t: +61 (0) 401 206 342

Bob Neville

Bob Neville

Micro Business Facilitator

Bob is one of Australia’s longest serving Economic Development Practitioners and is passionate about small communities and the micro-economy. Bob has identified, tested and documented a Natural Science for Small Community Regeneration ~ resulting in the Community Gold Program which supports community and economic development with the untapped ‘seed-ideas’ that exist in every small community.
m: +61 (0) 428 976 882

Adam Blakester

Adam Blakester

Executive Director &
Community Entrepreneur

Adam is a community entrepreneur and social change strategist with diverse environmental, community, business and government experience.

With qualifications originally in accounting and taxation law, Adam blends strong business and organisational acumen with expertise in leadership, management, community development, facilitation and communication.
m: +61 (0) 419 808 900 | +61 (0) 2 6775 2501

Bruce Gardiner

Bruce Gardiner

Resilient Agro-Ecosystems & Farming Enterprise

Bruce specialises in the resilience of farming enterprises and has a degree in Agricultural Economics. Bruce is a freelance consultant, however has worked with Border Rivers Gwydir Catchment Management Authority, NSW Department of Agriculture and the FarmBis program.

Over the past 20 years Bruce has has worked with more than 3,500 farmers and in parallel has worked extensively to develop the theory of resilience in agro-ecosystems.

Bruce is also a farm planning and farm business resilience lecturer with the University of New England for post-graduate and external students.
t: +61 2 6778 7249

Ian Gesch

Ian Gesch

Technology Solutions Innovator

Ian is a creator and implementer of innovative technology solutions and holds qualifications in science, renewable energy, engineering and business analysis.

Ian’s work career is similarly diverse, including satellite operations, technical support for scientific instruments, building secure communications products for the Australian Defence Force and managing secure information systems for geographically dispersed users.
m: +61 0 447 564 246

Chris Serow

Chris Serow

Legal & Charity Specialist

Christopher is the founder and Principal, Solicitor Director of Legal Minds.

Chris has extensive experience in the practice of civil litigation, employment and industrial law, family law, estate planning, equity and trusts, administrative and business law, education law, wine law, consumer law, notarial practice and migration law matters.