Meet the EDO
The Western Australian EDO is part of a national network of EDOs servicing each Australian State and Territory. Australia's first EDO was established in New South Wales in 1986. In the early 1990s EDOs were established in Victoria and Queensland.
A group of concerned lawyers joined forces with the Conservation Council of Western Australia Inc to form the Western Australian EDO in late 1995. Funding was obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, and the EDO commenced full time operation in March 1996. The first employees of the EDO were a full-time solicitor (Michael Bennett) and part-time Coordinator (Margaret Robertson). The first Convenor of the EDO was Justice Michael Barker, President of the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia.
Like EDOs in other States, the Western Australian EDO operates independently from government.
With the help of our members, donors and volunteers, the EDO has been able to argue a number of important environmental issues before the courts. Here are just some of the highlights of cases the EDO has been involved with:
- 1997 – Community objections to mining activities permitted
- 1997 – CALM not bound by fauna protection laws or forest management plans
- 1998 – Environmental objections can be made to mining activities
- 1998 – Forest protester conviction overturned
- 1999 – Brickworks banned
- 2001 – Minister for Mines wrong in not referring mining proposal to EPA
- 2001 – Documents on land clearing released under Freedom on Information
- 2002 – Unlawful coastal subdivision
Patrick Pearlman (Principal Solicitor)
Patrick became EDOWA’s Principal solicitor in February 2013. Prior to this, Patrick was the Principal Solicitor for the EDO serving Far North Queensland since April 2010. Before that, Patrick held a number of legal roles in both private and public practice in the United States, including as a Deputy Consumer Advocate with the West Virginia Public Service Commission from 2003 to 2010, primarily representing telecommunications consumers in federal and state proceedings. Patrick received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 1985, his law degree from the University of Texas – Austin in 1988, and completed his Australian legal studies at the University of Sydney in 2008.
Patrick is particularly interested in expanding public access to the judicial system and ensuring that environmental issues are given preeminent consideration in government decision-making and policy implementation. During his tenure with the Northern Queensland EDO, Patrick ran several merits appeals in the Planning & Environment Court as solicitor-advocate, including helping to obtain a victory for local activists seeking to prevent development of an iconic coastal headland near Cairns in the latest chapter of litigation that had already been the subject of two prior court cases in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.
Jessica Smith (Outreach Solicitor)
Jessica Smith started work as the Outreach Solicitor at EDO WA in February 2010. Prior to this, Jessica worked as a lawyer at Clayton Utz for three years, specialising in environmental and planning law, and energy and resources law. Jessica is a co-editor and chapter author of Climate Change Law and Policy in Australia, an online LexisNexis publication. Jessica recently co-authored a paper entitled "Developing a Regulatory Regime for Carbon Geosequestration in Australia", which was presented at the 2008 National Environmental Law Association Conference and published by Thomson Reuters in Climate Change Law: Comparative, Contractual and Regulatory Considerations.
Annaleen Harris (Outreach Solicitor)
Annaleen recently joined EDOWA as an Outreach Solicitor in July 2012. Prior to this, Annaleen worked for several years as an energy and resources lawyer at a top tier national firm, specialising in Mining and Construction law which included a stint in Paris. Annaleen was an Environmental Committee Convener from 2009 to 2012 and is currently a director of NELA and a member of the WA NELA working committee.
Jane Siddall (Coordinator)
Jane joined EDOWA in September 2012. Jane has PhD in Literature along with a background in fundraising, management and community relations. She is looking to diversify EDO's funding sources and increase engagement with members and other key stakeholders. Jane believes strongly in environmental protection, and is looking forward to contributing her skills to the important work of the EDO.
Djuna Hallsworth (Administration Officer)
Djuna joined EDOWA in November 2012. Djuna is a Communications and English major at the University of Western Australia. She provides administrative assistance to the solicitors and is currently involved in developing governance policies and procedures. Djuna has a strong commitment to environmental protection.
The rules for the Environmental Defender's Office WA (Inc) incorporating all amendments made up to and including 7/10/2011 is provided here.
The EDO is an incorporated association. Its affairs are overseen by a Management Committee which is elected annually by EDO members. The current Management Committee includes conservationists, community representatives and practising lawyers.
The current Management Committee of the EDO is:
- Dr Hannes Schoombee (Convenor) - Barrister, Francis Burt Chambers
- Ms Lee McIntosh (Secretary) - Solicitor, King & Wood Mallesons
- Ms Sarah Van Gent (Treasurer) - Accountant, Ernst & Young
- Mr Peter Robertson - Director, the Wilderness Society of Western Australia
- Ms Susan Liddicoat - Operations Manager, Conservation Council of Western Australia
- Ms Marilyn Ashton
- Ms Renee Asher - Solicitor, King & Wood Mallesons