Speaker Profiles

Adam Fennessy

Adam Fennessy PSM is the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). Adam has over 25 years of public sector experience at state and federal levels. His former roles have included Secretary of the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Secretary of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner and Dean & CEO of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). Adam has worked in the private sector as a partner with global advisory firm Ernst & Young.

Mel Brown

Mel Brown is the Head of Division for Farm Resilience, which works alongside government, non-government and industry stakeholders to provide strategic policy advice and support to build resilience in Australian agricultural communities, including, but not limited to drought.

Mel was born and bred on a cattle and sheep farm in the Snowy Mountains. She left school and went straight into working on the family farm, this was followed up with joining the APS, where she has been for the last 31 years, in key stakeholder engagement areas, building strong and trusted relationships.

Mel started her career at Australian Fisheries Management Authority, implementing Australia’s first Commonwealth fisheries management regulations and ensuring the fishing industry was sustainably managed. This included developing the key legislation for the management of the two Antarctic Fisheries.

After 20 years with fish, she joined the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, leading the biosecurity risk team, working with industry on implementing levies and responding to incursions under the animal and plant emergency response deeds. Mel also held roles in corporate, Agvet Chemicals and fisheries and forestry policy, including representing Australia as Head of Delegation at international negotiations to ensure Australia maintained its access to key fisheries consistent with Australia’s international obligations, before moving to lead the Environmental Approvals Division for two years. This involved working with and providing advice under the EPBC Act to ASX 100 companies, land holders and non-government organisations on environmental assessments and approvals under the EPBC Act.

At the end of 2022, Mel moved back into Ag to take up her current role. A role she is passionate about, focusing on the future of agriculture, working with farmers and stakeholders to ensure they are prepared for drought and administering the $400m Future Drought Fund (FDF), through innovation and adoption. 

Nadia Bouhafs

Nadia Bouhafs is the Assistant Secretary of the Climate Policy Branch overseeing development of the Agriculture and Land sectoral plan as part of the government’s Net Zero by 2050 goal. The area also leads government conversations around the development of potential technical, economic and social solutions to assist the Australian agriculture sector address climate challenges.

Nadia has previously represented Australia in various international agricultural climate change fora and was formerly Australia’s Agriculture Counsellor based in Japan, where she focused on increasing market access opportunities for the sector.

Nadia has worked across Commonwealth government agencies on issues related to mining and land access, biosecurity, climate change, communications and trade.

Principal Partners

Skip to content