“Our focus is on preventative nature-based health and wellbeing design: practical, scalable and proven solutions that can be incorporated into our everyday living.  They can be linked to technology, built into design and accessible to all regardless of ability, age, gender or socioeconomic status. Nature being an untapped source of  wellbeing  benefits for the health of individuals and communities.”

Who we are

Waminda Parker: Co-Founder and Director 

With over 20 years of strategic planning, operations and project management experience Waminda is accustomed to and enjoys building multidisciplinary programs that translate innovative concepts into executable plans. Waminda has a high-end capacity to build transdisciplinary networks across government, land managers, industry groups, community and research and as aligned to legislative frameworks, policy and planning instruments. As a Director of Programs Waminda has successfully established a range of large, long-term and complex projects, alliances, networks, consortiums and programs addressing holistic models of sustainability, community resilience and conservation, and is an Infrastructure Sustainability Accredited Professional.

Dr Miles Holmes: Co-Founder and Director 

Miles is a professional facilitator, anthropologist and nature connection mentor, who has been working with groups in the outdoors for over 25 years. He has been mentored in deep nature connection, wilderness survival and meditation by leading experts in Australia and the USA and holds a PhD in anthropology completed in partnership with Warlpiri people from Central Australia. He consults as a trainer and facilitator in nature connection experiences. He also has over 15 years’ experience as a social anthropologist working with Aboriginal people in some of the most remote regions of Australia. Through this work and research he has developed a deep understanding of the processes through which humans become connected to nature, and an insight into the knowledge that Aboriginal peoples can offer in the practice of nature connection and environmental stewardship.

Ross Wissing

Ross is a landscape planning, design and management professional with over 25-years of experience in delivering integrated sustainable solutions in the green and grey infrastructure sectors across the public, private and academic domains.  He is passionate about involving people in the creation of sustainable urban environments that meet both ecological and human needs. Ross’s broad experience has been gained from technical fieldwork, community facilitation and senior appointments within policy across local, state and federal government. His PhD (submitted) in Landscape Architecture (Deakin University) investigated the influence of natural, human (physiological and psychological), social, economic and built environment contributions to the use and design of backyards.  Central to this was the development of an Australian Philosophy of Landscape and an Australian Theory of Landscape Engagement incorporating Australian Aboriginal and Western approaches to the design and management. 

Dr Matthew Zylstra

Matthew is an ecologist, educator and facilitator with over 15 years of international experience in research, education and facilitation of collaborative social-ecological change processes. He has a PhD in conservation ecology and transdisciplinary sustainability (Stellenbosch University, 2014) and his research explored how meaningful nature experience and nature connectedness can support transformative education for sustainability leadership. He has published and peer-reviewed widely on these themes. He has a long-standing curiosity with the evolving scientific understandings of consciousness and is keen on exploring how emerging insights can enhance our nature experiences, conservation practice and, ultimately, our neurophysiology in support of optimal health and wellbeing. Matthew is a founding director for Noetic Ecology and coordinator of the Masiyembo Association, aimed at creating more meaningful opportunities for South Africans to find health, wellbeing and connection through nature. 

John Allen

John has 30 years of experience working with State and Local Government, self-employment and community organisations. John has worked in the fields of biodiversity and landscape conservation, ecology and threatened species management, environmental education, Aboriginal cultural practice and heritage conservation, fire management and environmental planning.

As an experienced place and nature-based facilitator, John’s authenticity, honesty and experiential approaches to facilitation create an intimate and meaningful outcome across both individual and group work. John also has extensive experience in horticulture and landscape design.

Photograph: O. Eclipse; image © Wanta Steve Jampijinpa Patrick and Same But Different

Mr Wanta (Steven) Patrick Jampijinpa

Wanta currently sits on the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation board as Senior Cultural Advisor for his community, Lajamanu, in the Northern Territory. Mr Patrick was a contributing author for ‘Ngurra-kurlu: A way of working with Warlpiri people’ – a report which outlines key elements of Warlpiri culture being land, law, language, ceremony and skin. He is the founder and creative director of the award winning Milpirri cultural performance with Tracks Dance.  Mr Patrick, along with other Warlpiri elders, developed an app to tackle Indigenous youth suicide in 2017 and he has worked as a Community Liaison Officer and Teacher’s Assistant at the Lajamanu Community Education Centre. Currently he is a member of the National Co-design group as part of the Indigenous Voice process. He is a passionate educator for his own community and for cross cultural understanding, with many projects completed to date. Wanta’s vision is connecting all Australians with country to maintain a strong sense of identity and personal wellbeing. 

Giles Kershaw

Giles is an independent Creative Director, Designer and Development Coach specialising in projects that attempt to make the world a better place. He has been creating brands and campaigns for over 20 years, most recently as the Creative Director for an acclaimed ‘Do Good’ advertising agency in Sydney named The Republic of Everyone. Giles has helped put pressure on the Australian government to protect the Great Barrier Reef, successfully campaigned to introduce a Carbon Tax, increased green space in urban areas by 20% by 2020 and help Mirvac become one of the most sustainable property developers. Having worked for internationally recognised agencies such as Michael Nash Associates (London), Moon Design (Sydney), The WHAM Agency (London), Generation Alliance (Sydney) and The Republic of Everyone (Sydney) – he is interested in design for good, and the power that good design has in effecting positive change.

Working with the Macqaurie University research team

Associate Professor Peter Davies

Peter is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Planning at Macquarie University. His research draws on more than 20 years’ experience in state and local government and consultancy. Peter has held senior management positions in a number of state agencies and councils, including Senior Manager Sustainability at the Sydney Catchment Authority and Manager Corporate Planning and Sustainability at Ku-ring-gai Council. Peter has led and contributed to many multi-disciplinary research projects in the areas of environmental planning and sustainability, corporate planning and decision making and community participation and engagement. His current scholarship and teaching focuses on urban environmental policy and planning adopting a multi-disciplinary approach linking theory to practice. 

Professor Maria Kangas

Maria is a registered Psychologist with dual endorsements in Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology and endorsed supervisor with the Psychology Board of Australia. She is also a Professor in Psychology in the Department of Psychology and Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University (MU). She has developed a program of research focused on understanding the biopsychosocial variables and emotion regulatory processes contributing to the mental and physical well-being of individuals exposed to traumatic and stressful life events as well as life-threatening medical and benign health conditions across the lifespan including children and adults. Maria has expertise in conducting large scale, rigorously conducted systematic, scoping and integrative reviews published in high impact international journals.

Dr Kath McLachlan

Kath comes from a strong background in the community development sector, particularly in regional settings, as a Practitioner, Educator and Researcher. She is passionate, pragmatic, and articulate in communicating ideas and concepts to a diversity of stakeholders. As a reflective practitioner and lifelong learner, she is deeply committed to furthering a social-ecological consciousness and eager to build on the learnings and insights gained from research and lived experience. Kath’s research focuses on community based research involving social, environmental, political, economic and cultural domains. From a systems perspective, collaboration is essential to understanding and working with and for people to find solutions to the endemic social problems we face as a society. Kath believes participation is critical to uncovering differing perspectives generated through dialogue, which facilitates a sharing of lived experiences.

Associate Professor Mel Taylor

Mel is an Occupational Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Organisational Psychology team at Macquarie University. She is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Her research focuses on risk and public, occupational, or organisational safety, and she has a particular interest in psychosocial response and recovery, uptake of protective behaviours, and risk communication strategies. Mel specialises in applied research with high levels of end-user engagement and working with policy developers and practitioners who are generally responsible for protecting and improving public safety, promoting safer practices, or developing more effective risk communication and/or training. Mel has considerable experience in working in natural hazards research contexts having conducted research with the NSW RFS post-bushfire taskforce and managing animals in disasters.