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Staff and Key Facilitators

April Seymore - Executive Officer 

April Seymore serves as EcoCentre Executive Officer since 2015, previously coordinating EcoCentre Education Programs for five years. April brings innovative, integrated expertise with over 15 years of community development, tech projects, sustainability initiatives and school teaching experience in Australia, Ireland and the USA.

April applies improvisation, citizen science, music and digital storytelling to teach Early Years, Prep to year 10, secondary specialist programs and adult education. She brings a global systems perspective, and is committed to empowering meaningful action across our whole community. She is also a ResourceSmart Schools facilitator and assessor, a Board member for Tomorrow's Leaders for Sustainability Inc, and a member of the global Waterkeeper Alliance.

April is available for keynote speaking, workshop facilitation, media appearances, MC-ing events and panel discussions/facilitation.

Book April for your event

Neil Blake (OAM) - Port Phillip Baykeeper

Neil.jpgFor over three decades, founding director of the EcoCentre Neil Blake (OAM) has been widely recognised and loved by the community for his deep knowledge, personable character, and extensive experience in environmental management, local history, biodiversity and community development. Neil is the Port Phillip Baykeeper for the global Waterkeeper Alliance, providing an independent voice for our Bay and its inhabitants large and small. He has a unique capacity to bring diverse stakeholders together, facilitate collaboration and produce tangible outcomes.

Neil regularly participates on environmental panels and consults with groups including EPA Victoria, Melbourne Water, local and state government, and community groups. Hear Neil the last Sunday each month on Radio Marinara (3RRR) or in the award-winning doco Baykeepers.

Neil inspires all ages to prevent plastic pollution, assisted by his alter ego Captain Trash, the musical pirate who teaches the five ‘ARRRGHS’: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Remove. He is available for keynote speaking, media appearances, workshop facilitation and consultancy services.

Book Neil or Captain Trash for your event

Dr Cécile van der Burgh - Education Manager


Cécile is a versatile campaigner and educator working for a nature-rich future. She studied human geography in the Netherlands and holds a PhD in conservation biology/social sciences from Charles Sturt University. For nearly twenty years, she has led a wide range of award-winning advocacy campaigns and collaborative initiatives protecting and celebrating nature across Australia. She is the director and co-founder of the Kids In Nature Network and Nature Play Week.

Born and raised in The Netherlands, Cécile spent a large part of her childhood playing outside. A few of her favourite things include exploring the world on foot and through music. She is passionate about giving everyone - especially young people - the opportunity to experience and look after special places, both locally and in the wider landscape.

Cécile’s PhD research explores the practice of connectivity conservation in Australia; a collaborative, networked approach to large-scale nature conservation and restoration. She is a fellow of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, an alumnus of Women's Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA), a recipient of the Mary Byles Award and a Milo Dunphy Award Finalist.

Book Cécile for your event

Sharron Hunter - Education Programs Facilitator

Sharron.jpgA pedagogy expert at place-based learning and nature play, Sharron runs the EcoCentre’s Expert In Residence program. She helps teachers and principals integrate sustainability and environmental connection into school curriculum of all year levels, including for Early Learning Centres. She trains teachers for the Teacher’s Environment Network and is an experienced facilitator of Tomorrow’s Leaders for Sustainability and Resource Smart Schools.

Following her studies in Anthropology and Koorie Studies, Sharron became a secondary school teacher. In this setting she brought together her passion for cross-cultural initiatives and her commitment to social and environmental justice issues. Her teaching career began in the western suburbs of Melbourne working in a school setting that was culturally diverse, working with students and their families across socio-economic divides and from many cultures, including refugee families from the Horn of Africa.

In recent years Sharron has travelled extensively through the United States and Vietnam conducting research into the effects of Climate Change on the interface between human endeavour and the natural world and the needs for strategies of mitigation and adaptation. Place Based Education for young people has been a focus for Sharron in her design and delivery of community education curriculum. She has trained with Al Gore in Cedar Rapids, U.S.A and applied that training to her work in communities. 

Sharron is available for keynote speaking and workshop facilitation, including immersive teacher’s Professional Development sessions of which the learnings can be taken straight into the classroom.

Book Sharron for your event

Fam Charko - Marine Biologist 

Fam Charko staff photo.jpgFam is a marine biologist (MSc) with specialisations in ecology, nature conservation and marine plastic pollution. Fam helps people connect to nature through science, storytelling and immersive experiences into their local environment. She leads several marine research projects for the Port Phillip EcoCentre, helping volunteers become skilled citizen scientists and contributing to a growing body of research on the health of Melbourne's big rivers and Port Phillip Bay. She is a passionate science communicator and uses science literacy to empower local communities in change-making.

Fam is a Fellow of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in Melbourne. She is also SCUBA instructor and radio host on Radio Marinara, a weekly show about all things marine on 3RRR Community Radio.

Having visited 27 countries and lived in 3, Fam is a true global citizen. During and after finishing her Masters, she worked as a terrestrial ecologist in the Netherlands, helped establish a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in South Africa and worked with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on coral research. Diving coral reefs and temperate waters all over the world keeps showing her that her true passion lies with the one ocean that connects us all.

Fam is available for keynote and public speaking, panel discussions, media appearances and workshop facilitation. 

Book Fam for your event


Zaylee Saint-James Turner - Community Engagement Coordinator

Fam Charko staff photo.jpg

Having always shown a keen interest in animals and the environment, Zaylee chose to study Environmental Science at Victoria University. She has spent much of her career in community education and engagement for not-for-profit organisations, private businesses and universities. Zaylee is an experienced events manager and has coordinated volunteers and hosted community events for several Victorian environmental organisations. Community engagement is one of her passions, as she loves working with people from all walks of life. 

Fuelled by her love for wildlife, Zaylee volunteered with Andean Condors in South America, helped with Black Swan research projects at Albert Park, and has lent a hand to university students collecting research data on Bearded-dragon lizards.

When she’s not engaging with the community or learning something new, she’s spending time at home with her two ragdoll cats or taking photos for her small photography business.

Book Zaylee for your event


Reiko Yamada - Education Programs Facilitator

Reiko.jpgWith a background in engineering and experience in the corporate sustainability space, Reiko understands the big picture when she explores tangible community solutions to environmental challenges. She champions cultural diversity and seeks to foster inclusion within our multi-cultural communities through sustainability and improve our well-being by connecting deeply with our culture and the natural environment.

Born in Japan and having lived in four countries, Reiko is a cross-cultural maven. She spent two years in Indonesia where she encouraged local schools in low-income urban communities to take up recycling, composting and classroom-based environmental education.

Reiko is a Fellow of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in Melbourne. She volunteers in community gardens and enjoys long-distance running along leafy urban trails. 

Book Reiko for your event

Deb Punton - Garden Coordinator & Education Programs

Deb.jpgDeb comes from generations of farmers. She brings Landscape Design and Horticulture training to ther roles as Garden Coordinator and Education Programs Facilitator. Her 5 years working in Singapore in early childhood settings has allowed her to use reconnection and sensory exploration pedagogy to empower individuals to take sustainable actions.

She also has a background in nursing and community work and aims to support individuals interweaving sustainability of self, environment and community through mindfulness of the everyday things in nature, sensory joys and growing, cooking and sharing food.

She volunteers with Climate For Change organisation with an interest in our changing climate's effects on well-being and food security. In her spare time Deb conducts workshops and facilitates online ecopsychology and eco-art classes. 

Book Deb for your event.

Ella Ryan - Education Programs Facilitator

Ella Ryan staff photo.jpgElla is a qualified primary school teacher, specialising in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and ResourceSmart Schools. She completed her Masters of Teaching from University of Melbourne in 2015 and has since been teaching in schools around Melbourne. Ella has experience integrating science and sustainability into all areas of learning, inspiring students to see the connections in their everyday lives.

Born in Canberra into a family of scientists and nature lovers, Ella grew up with a deep love for the bush and all things outdoors. Ella also loves to experience and learn from different cultures, having volunteered for one year teaching English to children in a refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestine. She is involved in the worker-owned co-operative movement which aims to provide people from diverse backgrounds with meaningful and dignified work, with a particular focus on creating more green jobs in and around Melbourne.

Book Ella for your event

Ben Francischelli - Education Programs Facilitator

Ben Francischelli.jpgBen is a Vertebrate Palaeontologist with a background in prehistoric ancient marine organisms of Australia’s southern coastline. As an avid participant of  palaeontological digs he has found evidence that is re-writing the known history of Port Phillip Bay including a new species of mega-toothed sharks (capable of eating baleen whales) and fossil evidence of the largest flying bird that ever existed. Ben is the science advisor for “Bayside Earth Sciences Society” and is creating a documentary series about the strange life of lesser-known animals that exist within Victoria.

Ben brings his passion for the strange biology of animals both past and present to the EcoCentre Education Team and is skilled in interpreting complicated science for diverse audiences. If Ben isn’t fossicking in the field or in the lab, he’s available for keynote and public speaking, panel discussions, media appearances and workshop facilitation.

Photo: Ben holding a 5.2 million year old beaked whale, representing a completely new species currently unknown to science

Book Ben for your event.


Matt McArthur - Education Programs Facilitator

Matt McArthur.jpegMatt grew up on the shores of Port Phillip Bay. His childhood hobby observing the organisms in the rock pools inspired his career in marine science. For the past 25 years Matt has researched and taught about marine systems around Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. His passion for diving with, studying and photographing marine life translates into the passion with which he shares his knowledge and experience. 

Experience in radio, talking books and podcasts combine his story-telling skills  for a variety of projects and roles in the science communciation field.

Matt lives in Altona and is married to a fellow marine ecologist with whom he is raising two young children.

Book Matt for your event.

Peter Kelly - Education Programs Facilitator

Peter Kelly.JPGOur talented and entertaining Educational Facilitator Peter has a Melbourne University background in Botany, Ecology, Psychology and Horticulture.

Peter has taught in a variety of Secondary Schools - typically Biological Sciences but more recently with a focus on Sustainability. As an Education Officer at the Victorian Schools’ Nursery, Museum Victoria and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Peter’s approach broadened into educational experiences for students outside of the mainstream classroom setting.

A longtime local resident to Port Phillip and father to two vegetarian daughters, Peter delights in promoting our relationship and connectedness to the living world, both for the current and for future generations.

Book Peter for your event

Kate Bulling - Education Programs Officer

Kate Bulling.jpgKate has worked broadly in education in several countries and with students of all ages. She studied Science at Adelaide University and has trained in outdoor education and drama in education.

The natural environment has always been a special interest for her. She believes that the survival of our planet depends on the next generation developing understanding and respect for the natural world. 

Most recently she was the garden specialist in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Program in a local primary school, incorporating themes of ecology and sustainability into the program. A committed environmental volunteer, Kate is involved at a grass roots level in local environmental issues and citizen science programs. 

She is a member of the Earthcare St Kilda penguin research team and coordinator of the local Waterwatch team. She is also a keen bushwalker and traveller and relishes opportunities to be out in the wild.

Book Kate for your event

Malcolm Dow - Education Programs Facilitator

Malcolm Dow.jpgMalcolm has worked as a Primary School educator for the past 40 years. He is passionate about the natural environment and sustainable living and has made these an integral part of his work in teaching children.

He has developed sustainability policies, established school gardens and Green Teams, and helped his school become one of the first 5 Star Sustainable schools through the Resource Smart Schools Program.

He co-founded the Stonnington Sustainable Schools Network and has assisted many other schools and teachers in their journeys toward sustainability. He has been a presenter at numerous sustainability conferences and in 2016 was awarded ‘Sustainable Teacher of the Year’ at the School Sustainability Festival.

Malcolm is a member of a wide range of environmental organisations and has developed a wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise across many aspects of sustainability, including renewable energy, climate change, sustainable transport, biodiversity and species loss and forest ecology.

Book Malcolm for your event

Costanza Rivarossa - Global Melbourne project officer

Costanza Rivarossa.jpegCostanza, AKA Coco, is driven by the belief that everyone, from the individual to the major corporation, can have a crucial role in shaping a more sustainable society. She left Italy to study Business Management and Marketing in London and became involved in marketing and strategic consulting for charities, not-for-profits, and start-up social enterprises; she uses the power of business to bring a change in the world. Coco has worked as coordinator of the marketing and
business development activities of a start-up a social enterprise, supplying sustainable access to safe drinking water in developing countries. 

Combining her professional experiences with her passion for travelling, Coco identified the tourism industry as a platform for social change. She sees travels as a transformational experience where people are more open to learn and to challenge their ideas. For this reason, she moved to Australia and did a Masters in Sustainable Tourism Management. She is actively involved in the creation of educational and sustainable tourism in Melbourne. 

Book Coco for your event

Josh Solomonsz - Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Josh Solomonsz staff photo.jpgJosh has worked in communications and marketing for various non-profits for the last five years. His life ambition is to use his strengths to empower others to use their own in whatever field they choose to pursue. His biggest passions lie in equality, justice, and sustainability, and he is currently studying a Masters of Environment & Sustainability to develop skills and knowledge in environmental security.

He has a varied background, including studying Politics and Literature in university, working in the banking sector, and developing youth leadership in a global non-profit. Josh’s current goal is to combine his experience with his passion for the environment and sustainability to engage more people in protecting the Port Phillip Bay. Outside of work, Josh enjoys reading, exploring nature, and supporting Essendon in the footy.

Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs - Boon Wurrung Elder

Arweet Carolyn Briggs.jpgWinner of the 2011 National NAIDOC Elder of the Year, Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs is Chair and Founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, which she established to help connect Aboriginal youth to their heritage.

Parbin-ata Carolyn is member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and also established the first Aboriginal Child Care Centre in Australia. She has contributed to the development of Indigenous employment strategies for the State Government and is a former Director of La Trobe University's Aboriginal Tertiary Support Unit in Bendigo. As a mediator with the Equal Opportunities Commission, Carolyn was seconded to work with the Federal Attorney-General as head researcher for Victoria on the Muirhead recommendations to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Carolyn gained entry in the 2012 and 2013 Who's Who of Australian Women, and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2005. Today, she is pursuing a PhD in language and linguistics in the hope of recording her Boonwurrung language in oral and written form.

Book Parbin-ata Carolyn for your event through the Boon Wurrung Foundation.


David Giles - IT Specialist

David Giles.jpgOur humble Dave is one of the longest standing staff, originally hired in 2003 to improve computer equipment, systems and mentor staff in IT. Now Dave is our essential 'jack of all trades'  with no task too big or small - solving a crashing computer system or fixing the seal on the fridge.

Hailing from the UK, Dave has worked in the corporate sector for names such as Coles Myer, Telstra and Honeywell, as well as for the UK Navy Army Air Force Institutes (N.A.A.F.I). Dave's Certificate IV in Assessment & Workplace Training, advanced MS Office and data processing skills and tireless trouble-shooting, make him a key component of the EcoCentres' operations. Dave fulfils valuable data monitoring, analysis and presentation of both the organisation's internal energy performance and for numerous project reports and research.

When Dave isn't solving a problem, you can find him winning a game of pool down at the local pub.


Dr. EcoDog Loki - K9 Therapist

Loki joined the EcoCentre team in 2014 when he was only 12 weeks old, and has never looked back. Moving from his family's farm in Leitchville to inner Melbourne, Loki pursued his career as a canine therapist with passion and dedication. His excellent tug o’ war skills and aptitude for inviting instant belly rubs lower staff stress levels on a regular basis. His dedication to improving both the human life experience and waterway health - including picking up littered plastic bottles and putting them in a recycling bag – have earned him the title EcoDog, the official mascot of the EcoCentre.

Loki is passionate about sleeping underneath the EO’s desk, swimming in the Bay and snacking on the community compost when the boss is not looking.


Boon Wurrung Foundation Logo The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional owners of the land on which we are located. We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Elder members of our multicultural community.