The Climate Hub Advisory Panel (CHAP) plays a significant role in directing the focus and efforts of the Hub. The CHAP is made up of both National and International climate and climate related experts and include experts in the field of law, climate adaptation, finance, insurance, tourism and agriculture.

Donovan Burton 

Donovan is a climate change adaptation specialist with a diverse portfolio of experience, having completed more than 150 climate change risk and adaptation projects. He is focused on influencing change adaptation governance through disruptive technology, big data and the internet of things.

Much of Don’s current focus, research and interest surrounds the interface between climate change, future technologies and big data analytics to better understand the barriers and enablers to change. His work utilises applied and empirical research to support climate change policy and informed decision-making. 

Over the past decade Donovan has helped numerous organisations identify risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Don’s sector experience in this space includes insurance, property development, infrastructure (including roads, rail, ports, tunnels), information communication technology, working with the United Nations, national governments, state governments, local governments, NGOs and research organizations.

Dr Justine Bell-James

Dr Justine Bell-James is a Senior Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the areas of environmental law and property law. Justine’s research focuses on legal mechanisms for protection of the coast, drawing upon environmental, planning, property and tort law. In addition to her work on sea-level rise, Justine is also particularly interested in novel legal mechanisms for protection of coastal ecosystems like mangroves and seagrass, protection of the Great Barrier Reef, and biodiversity offsets in the coastal context.

Michael Porter

Michael is the Manger of the Proserpine Cane Growers. Michael first came to the region in 1995 and his 20 plus years experience in banking and finance saw him open and manage the first NAB branch in Airlie Beach.

In addition to his role as the Manger of the Proserpine Canegrowers, Michael is also the company secretary for Sugar Services Proserpine, Kelsey Creek Water Co-operative and Six Mile Irrigators Co-operative.

Michael is also heavily involved with the Whitsunday community acting as Deputy Chair of Whitsunday Community Enterprises and the Proserpine Chamber of Commerce.

Professor Susanne Becken

Susanne is the Director of Griffith Institute for Tourism. She is a expert in tourism and global change and understands the challenge of facilitating business and community prosperity, whilst minimising resource use and environmental or social impacts.

Susanne has published widely and has provided advice to government, industry and international organisations. Her focus of research is on tourism and climate change, resource use, resilience and risk management, sustainable consumption, and environmental policy for tourism.

Susanne leads projects that span the full spectrum of scientific research, science communication and knowledge transfer, and implementation into practical outcomes. Also, she works closely with both public and private sector partners and stakeholders.

Sharanjit Paddam

Sharanjit is the Head of Environmental Risk at QBE Insurance Group and is a consulting actuary with over 20 years' experience in general insurance and accident compensation. He acted as appointed actuary to four Australian insurers and reinsurers.  He has advised various accident compensations in Australia and New Zealand, corporates that self-insure workers compensation, and federal and state government departments.


Sharanjit is known for bringing actuarial methods to new industries, such as valuing biodiversity credits for threatened species, assessing the economic impact of climate change on financial service providers, and developing methods to measure social impact.

Chris Porter

Chris has more than 13 years’ experience in engineering and management and is currently the General Manager of Premise Mackay and Whitsundays division.


His team delivers to both public sector and infrastructure clients, working on everything from airports to water treatments, and road design and assessment. He has managed many Premise projects, including the Cannonvale Bulk Water Supply for Whitsunday Regional Council.


Chris also sits on the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Mackay Whitsunday Branch Committee.

Stephen Williams

Stephen (Steve) Williams is a Professor in the College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Australia. His research has focussed on field-based ecology, understanding biodiversity, assessing the resilience of natural ecosystems to environmental change and using this knowledge to maximize the positive benefits of conservation management and adaptation.


Steve was one of the first to identify global climate change as a severe threatening process to biodiversity in the tropics, especially in mountain ecosystems. In 2006, he started the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University and was the inaugural Director for the first six years. He was lead author of the Australian National Adaptation Research Plan for Natural Ecosystems and was the Director of the Australian Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems (marine, terrestrial, freshwater) within the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).  He has over 130 publications and, with more than 25000 peer review citations, he is one of the most-cited global change biologists.


Over the last few years, Steve was the inaugural Chair of the IUCN Climate Change & Biodiversity Specialist Group and chaired the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area Science Advisory Committee. His research has focussed on Australian tropical rainforest, however he now has an emphasis on establishing an Asia-Pacific climate change research and monitoring network. His aim is to help foster international collaboration and information exchange in order to provide the resources needed by natural resource managers around the world to adapt to a changing climate.


Phone: 1300 WRC QLD


Address: 190 Shute Harbour Road, Cannonvale QLD 4802

Postal address: PO Box 104, Proserpine QLD 4800

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The Whitsunday Climate Change and Innovation Hub is an initiative of Whitsunday Regional Council.