Sheep Producers Australia has appointed two independent directors to its skills-based Board – Chris Mirams in the capacity of Executive Chair and Dr Anne Astin as an independent, non-executive director, who will Chair the Audit and Risk Committee.
SPA’s new constitution outlines that the board can comprise up to nine directors – seven appointed through member elections following a selection process and two independent, Board-appointed directors to fill any skills or knowledge gaps.
SPA President Allan Piggott said as SPA bedded down its new processes as a company limited by guarantee, the Board felt it was integral that it had input from skilled governance professionals with experience in similar organisations.
“The board is looking forward to working with both Chris and Anne. Chris will be filling the role of Executive Chair following former CEO Dr Kat Giles’ return to Adelaide this month and will transition to the role of Independent Chair in future,” Mr Piggott said.
“He will manage the establishment and smooth operation of our new governance processes, working with Sue Dillon, who has been seconded for six months from Meat & Livestock Australia to the role of General Manager – Policy and Projects, and SPA’s existing policy team while the search for a new CEO is conducted. Sue has previous experience in advocacy at Agforce Queensland.
“An independent Selection Committee assessed the skillsets required for the SPA Board and a recruitment company made recommendations on applicants to the positions. Both independent directors are appointed for a term of three years.”
Mr Mirams has 30 years’ experience in farm management and has served in senior governance roles in a range of organisations including MLA and its subsidiary companies, the Graham Centre in NSW, and the Holbrook Landcare Network. He brings knowledge in governance, finance, sheep production systems, research and the application of new technologies on-farm to combine with his leadership and organisational development skills.
Dr Astin brings extensive governance experience and currently chairs the Food Agility Co-operative Research Centre, Sir William Angliss Institute of TAFE and Dairy Food Safety Victoria. She was an inaugural independent director when Australian Dairyfarmers changed its governance model to a company limited by guarantee – as SPA did in November – and is the immediate past Chair and President of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.
Mr Mirams said he was looking forward to working with the SPA team and providing leadership in the operation of the new constitution and governance structure.
“The Executive Chair role is quite hands-on now in rolling out the new governance structure and processes of the organisation and it is exciting to be involved at the beginning of what is a great change for the Australian sheep industry,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with staff and members during quite a defining period for SPA in ensuring we create an environment where we can generate outcomes for producers and effectively advocate on their behalf.”
Dr Astin said, having been through a similar governance transition period at Australian Dairyfarmers, she anticipated there would be significant expertise from that change which would be relevant to the SPA Board.
“It really is an exciting opportunity to help shape and build a new business model and a new governance structure for the organisation,” she said. “It’s vital that in such an important time there is contemporary thinking in its governance to benefit the industry and the members so I’m looking forward to being part of that and willing to contribute significantly.”
Mr Mirams and Dr Astin join member-elected directors Mr Piggott, Michael Craig, Jamie Heinrich, Ian McColl and Bindi Murray on the Board.
For more information about the recent governance changes at SPA, download the SPA Fact Sheet.