Meet Newcastle’s committee members for 2022

This year we introduce four new members to Engineers Australia’s Newcastle committee. These members will help the committee to provide leadership in the direction and governance of Engineers Australia Newcastle in 2022.

Engineers Australia would like to welcome Annie Lacombe, Hilary Barton, Jo Withford and Paul Reynolds to the Newcastle Committee for 2022.

Elected committee members, headed by President Pierre Gouhier, will contribute their knowledge and time throughout the year to provide leadership in key areas, including the overall governance and strategic direction of Newcastle Division.

Pierre Gouhier, returning committee President, is looking forward to continuing the initiatives led in 2021, such as the Technologist and Associates recognition work, in collaboration with the Queensland committee, working with migrant and refugee engineers, and the Engineering Studies Teacher support program.

“I am also planning to initiate some new activities with a focus on informing decision making around power security, sustainability and the future of the profession in the Newcastle region,” he said.

In 2022 we welcome four new members to the Newcastle committee. Each new member will serve the Newcastle committee for two years. You can find out more about each of them below.

New committee members for 2022

Annie Lancombe  

 Annie Lacombe MIEAust

Annie is a chemical engineer joining the Newcastle committee to help develop the strategic plan for engagement in the local district and its implementation. Annie will look to contribute to matters on education and curriculum standards in secondary and tertiary education, specifically encouraging more females to choose an engineering career.

Hilary Barton  

 Hilary Barton FIEAust CPEng

Hilary is a degree-qualified mechanical engineer, in the final year of an EMBA at the University of Newcastle. Hilary is both curious and passionate about emerging technology and how it can improve safety and efficiency and believes in Engineers Australia's role as a key stakeholder in this progress. 

Jo Withford  

 Jo Withford FIEAust CPEng APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Jo is a civil engineer with over 25 years of road and bridge construction experience. She has a strong expertise in project planning, construction, maintenance, and project management. Jo’s passion is to encourage young girls and women to study and develop an ongoing interest in STEM subjects. Jo is also an Ambassador for the Sydney Build Expo, has been named as Top100 Women in Construction 2020, and has served on the Education Sub Committee for Engineers Australia.

Paul Reynolds  

 Paul Reynolds FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Paul is the General Manager - Technology for Ampcontrol, Australia’s largest privately-owned electrical engineering company. Paul is an active member of Engineers Australia having held several positions including Division President, National Congress Rep, Mechanical College Board Rep, Committee member and is the current Chair of the Education Committee. In 2022 he joins the committee in an appointed position. 


Existing committee members for 2022

Pierre Gouhier  

 Pierre Gouhier, President FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Newcastle Committee President Pierre is a Chartered Professional Engineer who holds a Master of Engineering degree from Polyetch’ Savoie (France) majoring in Composite Materials. He also holds a Master of Engineering Management and a Master of Business from the University of Newcastle. Pierre joined the committee in 2018 and is actively involved in the Education Sub-Committee and Engineering Awareness Committee. 

Bret Barton  

 Bret Barton FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Bret began a career in the Canadian Air Force as an aeronautical engineer, flight testing military aircraft and systems. He progressed to working with the US Air Force flight testing F-16 systems and subsequently moved to Australia in 2004 where he helped set up a start-up defence consulting business, Nova Systems.

Brock Kerslake  

 Brock Kerslake Young Engineers Representative MIEAust

Brock is a chemical engineer and the Chair of the Young Engineers Newcastle Committee. Brock brings a youth perspective to the table and provides the link between the two groups.

David Sparkes  

 David Sparkes FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

David is a proud Novocastrian and a passionate engineer practicing in structural and civil engineering. David looks forward to future advances in engineering and digital technology, including being part of the training and mentoring of future engineers and technologists to provide sustainable solutions for environmental challenges.

Frank Sammut  

 Frank Sammut MIEAust

Frank Sammut is a mechanical engineer with an impressive management and leadership career in the food manufacturing and engineering sectors. He is currently the president of the Regional Advisory Council for the NSW Business Chamber Central Coast, he sits on the state council of the Chamber, is on the board of Regional Development Australia Central Coast and is chairperson of Engineers Australia Central Coast Group.

Natalie Perfement  

 Natalie Perfrement FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Natalie is an engineer with more than 25 years experience in civil infrastructure development, design, construction and maintenance. Natalie is a problem solver and innovative solution seeker, driven to improve communities experience of infrastructure by making it safer, easier to access, less resource intensive and more sustainable.

Peter Orford  

 Peter Orford FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Peter has a master's degree in project management and works as a committed, analytical management professional. He has over 35 years’ experience in project management, project controls, information technology, shared services, management accounting, construction, contract and procurement management, and maintenance management. 

Rhett Watters  


 Rhett Watters MIEAust CPEng NER

Rhett is a Chartered structural engineer with over 10 years’ experience, primarily working in professional services. Rhett provides structures management services to clients in the transport, water and energy and resources sectors. Based in Newcastle, he is focused on assisting clients in achieving durable and sustainable infrastructure.

Stephen Palmer  

 Stephen Palmer, Deputy President FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Stephen is Managing Director of Safearth, an earthing specialist company. Stephen has made a significant engineering contribution as a leading specialist in all aspects of earthing, in Australia and world-wide. He is passionate about the engineering profession and keen to see it reach the same recognition in Australia that he commonly experiences in Europe and America.


We would like to thank the committee members whose terms ended in 2021 for their exceptional work on the Newcastle committee, Renny Chivunga, Karlie Collis, Leon Fabrikanov and Joe Townsend. 

The 2022 committee welcomes your ideas on how to best serve the profession in the Newcastle community. Please contact them at [email protected] with suggestions or discussion points.