| 01 January 2023

Meet your Newcastle committee for 2023

Engineers Australia would like to welcome Bret Barton, Colin Duck, Gillian Marchant and Rhett Watters to the Newcastle Committee for 2023. Elected committee members, headed by the President, Stephen Palmer, will contribute their knowledge and time throughout the year to provide leadership in key areas, including the overall governance and strategic direction of Engineers Australia Newcastle.

This year, one of the committee’s top priorities will be reconnecting with members and other engineers across Newcastle, including working with local migrant and refugee engineers, hosting workshops and networking opportunities. The committee will support the NSW Indigenous Engineering Group; continue work to highlight the importance of the engineering team through the Associates and Technologists working group; and revamp the STEM engagement activities with engineering studies teachers. Each of these initiatives will be important areas of focus for the year. 

Committee President Stephen Palmer says we are in a very exciting period of history for our entire engineering team.

"Infrastructure development, the energy transition and a focus on sovereign capability will continue to see our profession adding incredible value to society. Engineers Australia has an important role in this and I’m excited to be serving our Newcastle in our important pursuits,” he says.

Each new member will serve on the Newcastle committee for two years. You can find out more about each of the committee members below.

Profile image of Bret Barton in a navy suit
Bret Barton
Committee member

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. Bret moved to Australia in 2004 to help start-up defence consulting business, Nova Systems grow.

Profile image of Colin Duck in a white shirt and navy tie
Colin Duck
Committee member

After more than 35 years in the energy sector Colin has retired so he can give back to the engineering profession. Following graduation from UON he began his career as a coal-fired power station engineer and remained in the industry until retirement. His most recent role was Executive General Manager/Operations of two major power stations, Bayswater and Liddell in the Hunter Valley.

Profile image of Gillian Marchant in an orange safety jacket
Gillian Marchant
Committee member

Gillian has extensive experience managing a variety of civil construction, environmental restoration, environmental management, legislative and best practice programs. This includes asset management for water, wastewater and waste, regulation application and risk mitigation on projects. She works for Tenterfield Shire Council as the Manager of Water, Wastewater and Waste.

Profile image of Rhett Watters in a navy suit
Rhett Watters
Committee member

Rhett is a Chartered structural engineer with more than 10 years’ experience, primarily working in professional services. Rhett provides structures management services to clients in the transport, water and energy and resources sectors. Rhett considers himself lucky to be based in Newcastle and is focused on assisting clients in achieving durable and sustainable infrastructure. 

Members returning to the Newcastle Committee include;

Close up profile image of Stephen Palmer
Stephen Palmer

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 around the world. Stephen is passionate about the profession and keen to see it reach the recognition in Australia he commonly experiences in Europe and America.

Profile image of Hilary Barton in a grey blazer
Hilary Barton
Deputy President

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

Close up profile image of Pierre Gouhier wearing a black suit and blue shirt
Pierre Gouhier
Past President

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

Profile image of Annie Lancombe in a pink blazer
Annie Lancombe
Committee member

Annie is a chemical engineer who wants to be involved on the Newcastle Committee to help develop the strategic plan for engagement in the local district and its implementation. She wants to contribute to matters on education and curriculum standards in secondary and tertiary education, specifically encouraging more women to choose engineering as a career.

Profile image of Natalie Perfrement wearing a floral top
Natalie Perfrement
Committee member

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

Black and white profile image of Paul Reynolds
Paul Reynolds
Committee member

Paul graduated from Newcastle University with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in 2003. He has been actively involved with Engineers Australia having held several positions including President, National Congress Rep, Mechanical College Board Rep and Chair of the Education Sub Committee. Paul works at Ampcontrol in the role of General Manager, Technology. His experience is in the industrial sectors of mining, transportation and general industry. 

Profile image of Jo Withford with an Engineers Australia background
Jo Withford
Committee member

A civil engineer with more than 25 years of road and bridge construction experience, Jo has a strong knowledge and experience in project planning, construction, maintenance and management. A particular strength and strong passion of Jo’s is to encourage young girls and women to study and develop an ongoing interest in STEMC subjects. Jo is also an Ambassador for the Sydney Build Expo, was named as Top100 Women in Construction 2020 and sits on the Education Sub Committee for Engineers Australia.

Close up profile of Brock Kerslake
Brock Kerslake
Committee member

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

We would like to thank the committee members whose terms ended in 2022 for their exceptional work on the Newcastle Committee, Peter Orford, Frank Sammut and David Sparkes. 

The 2023 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.