Virginia Chadwick Reef

Virginia Chadwick was the first female chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

During her eight years at the helm, she developed and led many significant environmental initiatives and was renowned for her outstanding leadership and environmental work. Virginia's passion, interest and involvement in environmental issues won acclaim worldwide and the respect of colleagues and stakeholders alike.

Among Virginia's most significant achievements at the GBRMPA was overseeing and leading the Representative Areas Program, which culminated in the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2004. The implementation of the Zoning Plan is a lasting legacy to ensure the protection of one of Australia's great natural icons.

The Representative Areas Program included the most extensive community consultation process ever conducted on an Australian environmental issue. It set an international benchmark in marine conservation and generated international awareness of Australia’s environmental conservation initiatives.

Virginia’s role in overseeing the agency’s involvement in other management initiatives – such as the Trawl and Reef Line Fisheries Management Plan, Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements – is also noteworthy.

Her genuine interest in environmental issues saw her actively involved across the agency’s core business – she was a keen supporter of everything from school education programs and tourism industry partnerships to conservation and research.

Before her appointment as Chairman of GBRMPA, Virginia served in the NSW Legislative Council. She held various Ministerial positions and was the first woman elected as President of the Legislative Council.

Her significant contributions in the field of research and education were formally recognised by her peers on many occasions.

Among the accolades, Virginia was awarded an Office in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2005 Honours List. In 2009, Virginia received an Honorary Doctorate at James Cook University in recognition of her significant achievements.

Virginia passed away on Friday 18 September 2009.