The Board

Robert Johanson Chairman

Robert Johanson is the Chair of Australia India Institute Board; Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, MBD Energy, and Australian Friends of Asha; as well as Director of Neuclone Ltd and Robert Salzer Foundation.

He was the Deputy Chancellor of University of Melbourne (2007-2017) and member of Takeovers Panel. He worked at corporate advisory firm Grant Samuel and since 1993 was responsible for its Melbourne office. Robert has 30 years’ experience in corporate finance and investment banking, including the corporate division of Macquarie Bank, and has been involved in a wide variety of capital markets transactions for leading corporations. Previously he worked as a solicitor, a law lecturer and as a consultant to mining and finance businesses. He is also a sheep farmer.
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Professor Rachel Huxley La Trobe University representative

Professor Rachel Huxley is Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for the College of Science, Health and Engineering at La Trobe University, a position that she has occupied since January 2018 and where she is also Co-Director of the recently established Research Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Disease.

She currently holds a Visiting Professorial Appointment at the University of Oxford where she studied (1992-2001,) and she is also an Honorary Professor at the George Institute for Global Health (University of New South Wales).

Her research is primarily focused on the determination and quantification of major and modifiable risk factors for chronic disease and sex and ethnic disparities in these relationships. She has published more than 180 research articles, has a Google Scholar H-index of 62 and > 18,000 citations. She currently holds several competitive NHMRC and Heart Foundation research grants in areas related to women’s health, obesity and diabetes.

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Ross Fitzgerald Australia India Leadership Dialogue representative

Ross Fitzgerald is a Director of Visy Industries, and the Founding CEO of Spectrum Venture Management.

Ross is committed to promoting greater friendship, mutual understanding and co-operation between Australia and India. To this end, he is:

Co- Chairman, the Australia India Leadership Dialogue; and the India Australia Israel Food and Water Security Dialogue

Board member of the Australia India Institute;the Australian Friends of ASHA; and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Ross was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Co., and he has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Craig Jeffrey Australia India Institute representative

Craig Jeffrey is Director of the Australia India Institute and former Professor of Development Geography at the University of Oxford and Official Fellow of St. John's College. He is a leading authority on South Asian youth and writes on Indian democracy, educational transformation, globalisation, and the 'social revolution' that he sees occurring across India in the Twenty-First Century.

Professor Jeffrey has spent a total of five years since 1995 conducting anthropological fieldwork in western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He is the author of numerous journal articles as well as six books, including Timepass: Youth, Class and the Politics of Waiting in India (Stanford University Press, 2010) and Keywords for Modern India (with John Harriss; Oxford University Press, 2014). Oxford University Press have recently commissioned Craig Jeffrey to write A Very Short Introduction to Modern India, part of its prestigious Very Short Introduction series.

Professor Jeffrey is currently working with Dr. Jane Dyson on an Australian Research Council funded project on youth and prefigurative politics in north India. Professor Jeffrey was recently elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and, in addition to his academic work, is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and The Conversation.

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Laurie Pearcey University of New South Wales representative

Laurie Pearcey is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at UNSW Sydney.

Laurie is responsible for developing the transformative global partnerships portfolio that underpins the global impact pillar of UNSW’s 2025 Strategy.

Prior to his appointment, Laurie led the development of UNSW’s China and India Priority Country Strategies which resulted in a range of major outcomes including the establishment of the $100 million Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW as part of a groundbreaking partnership with Chinese industry. Laurie has also served as the Executive Director of the International Office and the Director of the Confucius Institute at UNSW.

Before joining UNSW, Laurie was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australia China Business Council where he led the Council’s strategic engagement with the Chinese and Australian Governments and represented the collective interests of major industry stakeholders in the Sino-Australian trade and investment relationship.

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Travis Power Commonwealth Government of Australia representative

Travis is a Branch Manager in the International Division of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Travis is an experienced senior government official with broad experience across international, agriculture and education issues. Travis started his career working on water policy, one of Australia’s most critical resource challenges for the future. Since then he has worked extensively on agricultural policy issues, including food regulation, trade issues, natural resource management, biofuels and research and development.

From 2009-2012, Travis was the Minister Counsellor in the Australian Embassy in Rome. As a part of this role, Travis served as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and as a member of the Australian Delegation to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In these roles, Travis worked with partner countries from around the world to improve global food security and agricultural development issues.

Travis holds a Bachelor of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) from the Australian National University and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. He joined the Department of Education in late 2017 in the Quality Framework Branch, International Group. His branch is responsible for the regulatory frameworks and systems that underpin Australia’s well‑respected international education sector. Travis’s branch also leads on our partnerships with India and other South Asian countries as well as North America, Europe, Japan and Korea.

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Advisory Panel

Professor Robin Jeffrey
Emeritus Professor, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Robin Jeffrey studied at Canada’s University of Victoria in British Columbia and the University of Sussex in the UK.
He first worked as a journalist at the Daily Colonist in Victoria, before beginning his teaching career in North India’s Chandigarh region at the Regional Institute of English and the Canadian University Service Overseas. Following this period he undertook a Doctorate in Modern Indian History at Sussex. Jeffrey came to ANU as a Research Fellow in 1973 and taught in the Politics Program at Melbourne’s La Trobe University from 1979-2005. His special interest is in the modern history and politics of India. Professor Jeffrey maintains an interest in matrilineal societies, particularly in Kerala in south India, which arose from his doctoral thesis, later published as The Decline of Nayar Dominance. Having worked as a teacher in Punjab, he was driven to try to understand the Khalistan secessionist movement that arose from 1981. This resulted in What’s Happening to India? and a continuing interest in ethnicity, nationalism and identity formation. His two other main interests are ‘development’ in a wide sense (Politics, Women and Well-Being) and newspapers and media (India’s Newspaper Revolution). His current substantial project is an account of India in the second half of the twentieth century, based on portraits of the six years in which the great Kumbh mela was held.
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Ross Fitzgerald

Ross Fitzgerald is a Director of Visy Industries, and the Founding CEO of Spectrum Venture Management.

Ross is committed to promoting greater friendship, mutual understanding and co-operation between Australia and India. To this end, he is:

Co- Chairman, the Australia India Leadership Dialogue; and the India Australia Israel Food and Water Security Dialogue

Board member of the Australia India Institute;the Australian Friends of ASHA; and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Ross was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Co., and he has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Brian Hayes QC
Brian Robert Hayes QC holds a LLB (Hons) at London University, is a Honourary Life Fellow at the Planning Institute of Australia and is a Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia.
He has led six business delegations to India with the Premier of SA and two Federal Government trade delegations and has been involved over the last twelve years in building bilateral trade between Australia and India. As National Chairman, he has chaired two Joint Business Council Meetings in Australia and India. In 2008 he was appointed the Premier of South Australia’s Special Envoy to India to develop bilateral trade and business between South Australia and India and to assist South Australian companies to export and import.
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Maxine McKew
Maxine McKew is a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow with the University of Melbourne and works as an advisor on education for the not for profit group Social Ventures Australia.
She is also Chair of Playgroup Australia and a member of the board of Per Capita. Maxine’s career spans both politics and journalism. At the 2007 federal election Maxine McKew won a spectacular victory against John Howard and wrote herself into Australian political history as only the second candidate to have ever defeated a Prime Minister in his constituency seat. She was immediately elevated to the executive and served as Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood, and later as Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government. Before making the switch to politics, Maxine had a thirty-year career as a broadcast and print journalist. Her hosting of Lateline in the mid 1990’s, and later, as the part-time anchor of The 7.30 Report, earned her a reputation as one of the country’s most authoritative interviewers. Her television reporting has been recognised by her peers with both Logie and Walkely awards for broadcast excellence, while her work for the Bulletin Magazine saw her secure the Magazine Publisher’s award for Columnist of the Year. Maxine is involved in a range of voluntary activities. She is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for Macquarie University’s School of Advanced Medicine and is an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia.
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Neville Roach AO
Mr Roach AO is Chairman Emeritus of the Australia India Business Council and a member of the New South Wales Government's Asia Business Advisory Council. Mr Roach is a well known leader in the Australian ICT industry.
He previously served as Chairman and CEO of Fujitsu Australia Limited, Chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association, Founding Chairman of National ICT Australia, President of the Asian Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation and as a member of several Australian federal and state ICT industry development committees. He was appointed Convenor of the Australia India Information Industries Business Network by the Australian Government. He is currently an Advisor to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest IT Company, and Chairman of FNS and TCSM, Australian companies acquired by TCS. He is also the Founder of the Australia India Foundation and a Director of ASX-listed OneSteel Limited. Mr Roach was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2000 for service to business, particularly in the information technology industry and for his contribution to the development of Australian multiculturalism. In October 2001, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, by the University of New South Wales for his eminent service to the community. As recognition of his contribution as the Founding Chairman of National ICT Australia (NICTA), the partners and board of NICTA have named the new NICTA research facility at The University of New South Wales the Neville Roach Laboratory. In December 2005, Mr Roach was named by the Indian Link Newspaper as the Western Union Indian Australian of the Year.
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Greg Sheridan AO

Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, is the most influential foreign affairs commentator in Australia.

He is the author of five books on international relations and has been foreign editor since 1992. He entered journalism in 1979 as a staff writer for The  Bulletin and joined The Australian newspaper in 1984 as an writer and in 1985 was appointed the paper’s first ever Beijing correspondent. After various other postings he took up the position of foreign editor in 1992. Greg Sheridan’s work has appeared in newspapers and journals around the world, including the Sunday Times, The Wall Street Journal, the South China Morning Post, the Jakarta Post and the Hindustan Times. In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary of Federation medal by the Australian Government for services to journalism. Sheridan has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers in the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and Israel, and cabinet secretaries and vice presidents in China, the United States and numerous countries in the Middle East and Europe. He is a frequent commentator on TV and radio and a sought after speaker at regional conferences. His work has been anthologised in many books and has been translated into many other languages.
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Harish Rao
Harish Rao has been very active in the Australia India space over the last 15 years, has led numerous delegations to India, and was formerly the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) National Chairman (2010 & 2011), President AIBC (Vic) 2005 – 2009 inclusive and President Australia India Chamber of Commerce (2003-2005).
With a background in chartered accounting, Harish saw the opportunity in 2001 to pioneer the offshoring model for accountants in Australia and then partnered with Sundaram Business Services Limited (SBSL) in 2004 to develop the largest offshore processing centre for Self Managed Superannuation Funds. SBSL is part of the Sundaram Finance Group, a US$4billion conglomerate, headquartered in Chennai, India. SBSL now offers a wide range of back office financial services to Australian corporates and Harish continues as the face of the group in Australia, and through this role continues to foster the Australia-India relationship. Harish currently holds various board positions including as a Patron Australian World Orchestra, Board Member Friends of Asha Australia, Advisory Board Member for the India Australia Business Community Awards & Advisory Panel Member for the Australia India Institute.
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Dipen Rughani

Dipen is a leading authority on trade and investment within the Australia-India corridor. With over 25 years’ experience working with the public and private sector at the highest level, including numerous highly successful senior executive roles, Dipen is currently CEO of Newland Global Group, a corporate advisory firm simplifying and strengthening business between Australia and India.

  His forte and focus has been on International Trade & Investment with exposure in Renewable Energy, Education, Consumer Goods (FMCG), Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, Mining & Resources, Real Estate, Infrastructure and Sport. Dipen is a former National Chairman of the Australia India Business Council (AIBC), he served two terms from 2012 to 2016. Dipen led many business delegations to various B2B summits held in India. He has also led many large business delegations to ‘Vibrant Gujarat, which is held every two years.  For two consecutive years, Dipen hosted the Joint Business Council (JBC) meeting between AIBC and FICCI which is held in parallel to the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) between the Trade Ministers of Australia and India. He has had extensive input into Australian government’s strategy papers relating to trade and investment with India. Dipen is President and Trustee of Anoopam Mission Australia Ltd a charity based out of Gujarat.
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Gabrielle (Briger) Thompson
In 1997, Gabrielle Briger left a career of over 23 years as a banker in the sphere of international finance. At that time Gabrielle sat on the Board of the International Chamber of Commerce and represented Australia at their forums worldwide.
Gabrielle then returned to the arts as a film producer, which had been her passion since childhood. Credits include Razzle Dazzle – A Journey Into Dance (Mockumentary), Snookered (short film gaining 2nd placing at the Tibecca Film Festival), Bringing Them Home (Documentary on the AWO in short vignettes style) and Goddess (Rom-com musical). In 2009 Gabrielle co-founded the AWO with Alexander Briger and is currently its CEO. Since inception the AWO has taken the Australia arts scene by storm and has been acknowledged as one of the great orchestras in the world. In 2016 the AWO won the 2016 Helpmann Award for the Best Symphony concert. The AWO has worked with luminaries such as Sir Simon Rattle, Maestro Zubin Mehta and Brett Dean. In 2015 the AWO was invited by Maestro Mehta to tour India and was the first Australian orchestra to do so in a 3 city tour of Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. The AWO invited Greta Bradman to join them. In 2016 they toured Singapore and are now acknowledged as a cultural ambassador.
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Peter N. Varghese AO

Mr. Varghese took up his position as the fourteenth Chancellor at The University of Queensland on 11 July 2016.

Prior to this appointment Mr Varghese was Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 3 December 2012 to 1 July 2016. His diplomatic appointments include High Commissioner to India (2009-12), High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-02) and postings to Tokyo, Washington and Vienna. From 2004-09, Mr Varghese was Director General of the Office of National Assessments, a statutory office which reports directly to the Prime Minister and also coordinates the Australian intelligence community. In 2003, Mr Varghese was the senior international adviser in the office of Prime Minister John Howard. He also headed up the international division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1998-99. In 1996-97, Mr Varghese headed up the secretariat which drafted Australia’s first White Paper on foreign and trade policy. Mr Varghese was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010 for distinguished service to public administration, particularly in leading reform in the Australian intelligence community and as an adviser in the areas of foreign policy and international security. He was awarded a Doctor of Letters honoris causa by The University of Queensland in July 2013 in recognition of his distinguished service to diplomacy and Australian public service. In October 2016 Mr Varghese took up the position of non-Executive Director on the Board of AMP.
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Her Excellency the Hon. Linda Dessau AM Governor of Victoria

On 1 July 2015, the Honourable Linda Dessau AM was sworn in as Victoria’s 29th Governor, the first female in the role.

Governor Dessau was born in Melbourne in 1953, and was educated at St Catherine’s Girls’ School, matriculating in 1969, before attending the University of Melbourne, where she gained the degree of LLB (Hons). In 1975 she was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

In her early years as a lawyer, the Governor practised in commercial litigation and family law as a solicitor at Wisewoulds, later specialising in family law after signing the Roll of Counsel at the Victorian Bar in 1978.

In 1982 she married fellow Victorian barrister, Anthony Howard, and together they took up roles as Crown Counsel, and later Senior Crown Counsel in the Hong Kong Attorney-General’s chambers, where they prosecuted criminal trials.

Soon after returning to Australia in 1985, the Governor was appointed a part-time member of the Small Claims and Residential Tenancies Tribunals, taking her first judicial appointment as a Magistrate in 1986, at the age of thirty-three. In that role, she served in the Children’s Court, Coroners Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court where she ultimately headed the Civil division and later the Committal Court.

During her time as a Magistrate, the Governor coordinated a significant criminal case management project, culminating in the Pegasus Report, implemented across the three tiers of courts to help reduce cost and delay in the criminal justice system. In 1994 she was awarded the Percy Baxter Churchill Fellowship to further her study in criminal case management in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In June 1995, the Governor was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia, where she served for 18 years until July 2013. During that time she chaired or participated in various national projects within and outside the Court in relation to child abuse, family violence, mediation, less adversarial trial procedures and case management, and represented the Family Court on the Commonwealth Family Law Pathways Advisory Group. She was a Board member of the US based Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, a Council member of the Legal Aid Consultative Committee, and a Board member of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

The Governor was actively engaged in the area of judicial education, including as a Director of the National Judicial College of Australia, and as a long-standing faculty member and facilitator of the National Judicial Orientation Program. For many years she helped create and teach judgment writing courses on behalf of the National Judicial College of Australia, the Judicial College of Victoria, and for courts and tribunals throughout Australia.

Outside the law, the Governor was engaged in a broad range of community organisations, including as founding Chair of the Essendon Football Club Women’s Network, President of Middle Park Primary School Council, Vice-President of Wesley College Council, a Board member of Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, a member of the Royal Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee and the La Trobe University Professional Consultative Council, and a Patron of the Epilepsy Foundation and One Umbrella (food recycling charity).

Immediately before her appointment as Governor, she was President of the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Victorian Regional Committee and a national Board member of the Trust, a Commissioner of the Australian Football League, a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a Board member and former Chair of AFL Sportsready and Artsready, a Board member of the Unicorn Foundation, and a Patron of Sports Connect.

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Anthony Pratt Executive Chairman of Visy

Anthony Pratt Executive Chairman of Visy, one of Australia’s largest privately owned companies.

Visy employs more than 9,000 people, mainly in Australasia and the USA. Visy’s focuses on recycling, paper, packaging and clean energy production. The paper making arm, Visy Paper, is one of Australia’s largest manufacturing exporters to China, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and the United States. Group sales exceed $4 billion.

Prior to his return to Australia in April 2009, Anthony was based in the United States where he led the Pratt family’s business expansion in the United States. Under Anthony’s leadership as Chairman, Pratt Industries USA expanded to more than 50 sites across 20 states with group sales of over $1.5 billion.  With some 4000 Americans employed in ‘green collar’ jobs, Pratt Industries USA now employees more US citizens than any other Australian company.

Anthony is firmly committed to environmental causes.  In 2007 he made a commitment at President Clinton’s Global initiative in New York City to invest $1 billion in clean energy and recycling infrastructure over the next ten years.  He has completed this pledge in just 6 years.  He is also a member of the Climate Group, a leading international environmental group founded by former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Anthony sits on the National Board of the Muhammad Ali Museum and Education Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and is active in numerous charity organisations throughout Australia and the United States.

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