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Remembering Phillip Toyne

Damian Alway
Published 14 Jun 2015 
by Gerard O'Neill  
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Past President and Life Member, Phillip ToynePhillip Toyne, Life Member and former President of Bush Heritage Australia.

Bush Heritage Australia would like to pay tribute to Phillip Toyne, Life Member and former President of Bush Heritage Australia, who passed away in June 2015 after a long battle with cancer.

Phillip Toyne was one of Australia’s most distinguished environmentalists.   

His achievements are immense. He pioneered new approaches to bringing together Aboriginal and environmental issues that have been adopted around the world.

He set up National Landcare with Rick Farley that radically changed land use practices in Australia. He was the lawyer who successfully lobbied the Hawke Government to grant title to the Traditional Owners of Uluru. He wrote The Reluctant Nation, a book on the environment, law and politics in Australia while teaching at the Australian National University.

As a young man, Phillip worked as a teacher in the remote Haasts Bluff Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, a time which shaped his views on the imperative of self-determination for Aboriginal people.

He led the Australian Conservation Foundation for several years, significantly influencing government policy, and served as Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Environment.

At Bush Heritage Australia, Phillip brought his vast knowledge and experience to the table as President from 2001 to 2009. He was loved for his characteristic mix of confidence, optimism, humour and realism.

He brought a new energy as President; his time at the helm was one of incredible growth. He was instrumental in helping Bush Heritage focus on acquiring and managing private land for conservation on a national scale. He helped Bush Heritage gain a reputation for putting values into action to safeguard Australia's natural heritage for future generations. 

His deep personal commitment to Aboriginal engagement greatly enabled and influenced the commitment Bush Heritage has made to conservation management partnerships with Aboriginal communities around Australia. Phillip became a life member of Bush Heritage in 2013. He will be sadly missed.

We honour and remember him for his leadership and the enormous difference he made.

Read more about Phillip's life and achievements on The Conversation.