Our Directors


Company Secretary | Director

The founder of RiverSmart, Dr Bill Phillips was born in Lake Cargelligo, central NSW, and grew up in the rural  communities of Trundle, Harden-Murrumburah and Tocumwal on the Murray River. He attended Finley and then Bowral High Schools before completing a Bachelor of Science and PhD in Zoology at the Australian National University in 1985.

Bill then joined the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS).

While employed by the ANPWS, Bill worked across a range of program areas including the National Koala Conservation Program, Ocean Rescue 2000, Save the Bush and One Billion Trees.

Bill was also a key player in the establishment of Waterwatch Australia – a community education program focused around water quality monitoring and promoting integrated catchment management.

In 1989 Bill led the establishment of Australia’s National Wetlands Program, and then served as Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention based in Switzerland from 1997-2000.

Upon returning to the Federal Environment Department in early 2000 Bill was promoted to Assistant Secretary with responsibility for water programs – an area of specialisation he has developed through his 25 years of Australian and international experience.

Since 2000, Bill Phillips has worked at the ‘coal face’ of river management issues; facilitating a range of community-based solutions to river and wetland management challenges, and gaining a first hand understanding of the needs, issues and concerns of Australia’s river managers.

Contact Information:

Email: ceoriversmart@gmail.com

Street Address:
Window on the Wetlands Centre
2 Coonamble Road
(Oxley Highway, entrance opposite the Liberty Service Station)
Warren NSW 2824

Postal Address:
PO Box 322, Warren, NSW, 2824


Shona Whitfield – Director

Shona has worked with Bill Phillips and RiverSmart Australia since it was founded.

She was born in Gisborne New Zealand, moving to Australia in 1975. Shona lived in Bourke, NSW for a year before moving to the Northern Territory.

Over the next 25 years, Shona worked in the environment and conservation field, in all levels of government as well as not-for-profit organisations.

She has held various roles, from Information Officer/Librarian with CSIRO and The Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, to State Manager of Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

Shona also held the role of CEO of the Mataranka Community Government Council and worked for the State Local Government Association assisting remote and emerging Councils with integrated planning projects. During this time, she had the unique experience of being able to live and work in all parts of the Northern Territory and engage with all levels of community.

Shona moved to New South Wales in 2004 and took up a position in Gilgandra with the Catchment Management Authority. She worked in this role for 14 years and had the opportunity to work in the areas of river management, landcare and Aboriginal affairs.

Shona has continued her association with RiverSmart over this time and currently assists with landscaping and gardening at the Window on the Wetlands Centre.

Dr John Burke – Director

Dr Burke was born in Dubbo NSW, where he attended local school.  He then went on to complete degrees MB., BS at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1963.

Following being a Resident Medical Officer at Albury Base Hospital, John travelled in 1964 to England for post-graduate study and enjoyment.

On his return in 1971, Dr Burke did some locum work and was a partner in a General Practice in Paddington, Sydney.

He then left the Paddington Practice in 1977 and travelled around Australia.  During this time he was employed with the WA Government in the Pilbara, before coming back to the Eastern States and settling in Warren in 1978.

Dr Burke became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of GPs in 1982, and since 2012 has been a Life Member.

John retired from General Practice 17 years ago but continued part-time work at Lourdes Hospital, Dubbo, before retiring fully in 2016.

Dr Burke is an active member of various community organisations, as well as being a RiverSmart Director.

Doug McKay – Director

After leaving school Doug worked on the land in his family partnership until he was 30.  At this time he then commenced studying Law with the University of Sydney Law Extension Faculty.

Doug spent 5 years in employment with several well known Sydney law firms before being admitted as a Solicitor in 1979.

Since 1980, Doug operated a general legal practice at Lovett & Green, the long established Warren legal firm, with branch offices also at Nyngan and Cobar and, for 27 years, a fulltime office at Bourke.

His practice included a lot of water law and he developed a great interest in the management of the inland river systems, particularly the Macquarie and the Barwon-Darling.

For the last 5 years Doug has also been President of the Cobar Water Board, Alternate Chair of the Western Lands Advisory Council and Delegate from that Council to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Northern Basin Stakeholders’ Advisory Panel.

Doug continues to practice in the water related area of law at Peacockes Solicitors in Dubbo.

He has a deep interest in securing a balanced and equitable sharing of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin and he believes that Riversmart plays an important part in achieving those objectives.

Tony Sharley – Director

Tony Sharley graduated with a Masters Degree in Science in 1992 from Monash University following attainment of a Degree in Applied Science from Canberra College of Advanced Education (now Canberra University) in 1981.

Tony has spent the past 33 years working in natural resource management roles with emphasis on water management helping to sustain Australian rivers and wetlands.

His roles have included:

  • Research Assistant in the Alligator Rivers Region in Kakadu National Park,
  • Technical Officer in soils and irrigation management in the Riverland of South Australia.
  • Catchment Scientist with the Murray Darling Basin Commission in Canberra.
  • Manager of Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre in South Australia where Tony established an international wetland conservation program reaching out to more than 100 projects spread across 14 countries.
  • Principal Consultant with Flow on Business providing services in wetland management planning, ecotourism development and business and strategic planning
  • General Manager of Destination Riverland, promoting tourism and tourism development in the Riverland of South Australia.

He is a graduate of the Governor’s Leadership Program in 2009 (Leadership Institute of South Australia) and has also completed and graduated in the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.

His professional career has broadened to include roles in community economic development and governance through Regional Development Australia, Destination Riverland Incorporated and the RAA of South Australia.

In 2015 Tony established Murray River Walks; an award winning eco-tourism business in the Riverland of South Australia which he continues to operate today.

Visit the Murray Rivery Walks Website.