Jenni Gormley hands over reins after nine years heading Sutherland Shire Environment Centre

Change of positions: Jenni Gormley (left), Tassia Kolesnikow and board member Phil Smith. Picture Chris Lane
Change of positions: Jenni Gormley (left), Tassia Kolesnikow and board member Phil Smith. Picture Chris Lane

Jenni Gormley has taken a step back after nine years heading the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre.

The new chairwoman, Tassia Kolesnikow, was previously the secretary of the community organisation, which was founded in 1991 to protect the shire’s natural environment.

A statement from the organisation said Ms Gormley, who has taken the role of executive officer, told a meeting of members the centre had changed considerably over the past decade.

“We now have a strong emphasis on global issues and how we can act locally about them,” she said.

“Climate change and a desire to reduce emissions, whether from the cessation of coal mining to the installation of solar panels, takes up a lot of our interest.

”But, we also continue to act to protect our local bushland in our campaigns for Spring Gully, Royal National Park and raising community awareness of the need to protect the trees and bushland in our shire.”

Dr Kolesnikow told the meeting she wanted to encourage members to become more actively involved in the organisation.

She said she would be seeking to gather information about members’ skills, interests and availability.

Dr Kolesnikow encouraged members to consider how their friends and neighbours might be able to use their skills to further the aims of the centre.

The centre’s founder and patron Bob Walshe attended the meeting despite recent health problems.

Treasurer John Nelson, who has been treasurer since the centre was founded, was awarded life membership.

Speakers included Rob Dixon, recipient of the 2017 SEC UOW (Sutherland Shire Environment Centre /  University of Wollongong) community scholarship valued at $2500, and Johnathan Prendergast, convener of Sunny Shire, the bulk buy and community solar campaign.