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About BEAM

BEAM Mitchell Environment Group is an independent, membership-based and volunteer-driven environment group based in the Mitchell Shire, on Taungurung and Wurundjeri lands.  Our vision is of a thriving community that is locally active for a healthy environment. BEAM supports a wide-range of skills, life stories and areas of expertise. Our members are engaged in supporting sustainable outcomes in government projects, advocating for our local region, supporting green initiatives and generally causing a fuss about protecting the environment. 

Some time this century, the day will arrive when the human influence on the climate will overwhelm all natural factors.

Tim Flannery FFA

Our Vision

Our Vision

A thriving community that is locally active for a healthy environment.

Our Principles

  • Advocate and act to protect natural systems and ecologies

  • Respect First Nations’ connection to this Country and be informed by their wisdom and knowledge

  • Recognise our place and responsibilities in local and wider ecosystems

  • Support each other and collaborate with others

  • Respect each other and celebrate diversity and difference

  • Be accountable for what we say and do 

  • Respect for every living being and their communities


Our goals and plan

1. Double BEAM’s membership and increase member commitment and action

2. Build an ongoing relationship with Taungurung and Wurundjeri

3. Protect, expand and restore natural habitat in our region

4. Champion renewable energy and emissions reduction in our region 

5. Improve waste management and recycling in the Shire

6. Support local food systems

Read BEAM's five year plan, set in June 2023

Sign up to join BEAM today! 

Our Committee


Vanessa Malandrin

Vanessa’s Italian roots have not stopped her becoming quickly attached to the Seymour area, and she wants to see it improved both materially and through the bonds of community and identity. After a Masters in Agriculture (Natural Resource Management), Vanessa worked as an academic, lecturing at the International Master in Rural Development for ten years in sustainable food consumption, food security and agroecology. Vanessa is currently employed by Hughes Creek Catchment Collaborative Landcare group, coordinating the following projects: Soil Carbon, Regenerative Agriculture and Whiteheads Bioblitz projects. She wants to see Seymour heartily adopt its ‘green soul’, supporting a network of activities and events about sustainability. With her experience in education, Vanessa would like to see BEAM outreach more, and advocate for information centres to encourage engagement and spread knowledge to both locals and visitors about our natural environment. Vanessa believes in including the whole community, and enjoys networking and sharing knowledge.


Tim Budge
Vice President

Tim’s professional career includes secondary teaching, community development and international development. He and his wife Meredith worked overseas for more than seven years, in Timor-Leste and Zambia supporting local initiatives. Tim and Meredith are now landholders for a conservation-covenanted property in Mitchell Shire and they enjoy the life-sustaining work of being on the land and seeking to nurture and support the local ecosystem there. Tim has a PhD which involved research in informal settlements (townships) in Southern Africa and he is an (honorary) Adjunct Research Fellow at La Trobe University. Recently retired, Tim’s passion remains focused on supporting community building and social movements, particularly in fostering responses to the climate crisis.


Georgia Webster

Having grown up in Shepparton during the millennium drought, Georgia is passionate about supporting action on climate change and embracing all the opportunities that renewable energy can bring to our region. She joined BEAM to be part of a community effort to look after our region's landscapes, food-growing areas, wildlife, and climate. Georgia brings to BEAM a background in advocacy, campaigns, non-profits, and politics.  She currently works in the climate movement, using a broad set of skills including project management, governance, strategy development, people & culture, and communications. Georgia and her partner Brad have a small farm in the Tallarook Ranges, where they live part-time with their young child. 


Peter Gaffney

Dedicated to the well-being of both the planet and its inhabitants, I am an impassioned environmental activist and palliative care nurse specialist. With a commitment to fostering a sustainable and compassionate world, my journey has been marked by a diverse range of experiences. Having served as an advocate for environmental causes, I found a home at Edgars Mission, a vegan farm animal sanctuary. Here, I contributed to the sanctuary's mission of providing a loving and caring home for rescued farm animals while promoting the principles of veganism. Through my work, I aimed to raise awareness about the environmental impact of animal agriculture and the importance of ethical treatment towards all living beings. In my role as a palliative care nurse specialist, I extended my passion for compassionate care to human lives. Working in palliative care allowed me to bring comfort, support, and dignity to individuals facing life-limiting illnesses. Embracing a holistic approach to healthcare, I emphasized the interconnectedness between environmental well-being and human health. Throughout my career, the planet's welfare has remained a central priority. I strive to bridge the gap between environmental activism and healthcare, recognizing the intricate relationship between a healthy planet and the well-being of its inhabitants. My advocacy extends beyond traditional boundaries, promoting sustainable practices in healthcare and fostering a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life. As I continue on my journey, I remain steadfast in my commitment to creating a world where environmental stewardship and compassionate care are integral components of a harmonious and sustainable future.


Peter Lockyer
Committee Member

BEAM President for a record-breaking seven years, Peter returned to the backbench in October 2023. Peter is a registered architect and builder, and has worked on energy efficient building design and construction for decades. He was a Councillor with the City of Geelong for two terms before moving to the Mitchell Shire. His interests in this field are local opportunities and working with one’s context. He has worked for years in Aboriginal communities creating competence in building skills, and more recently in India (Punjab) building a ‘sustainable’ demonstration house for regional consideration of what an energy efficient house might entail (in this case, rice straw bales, tin roof, bamboo structure and water collection). Peter has been a BEAM member for 17 years, and sees local communities as having enormous capability to secure a durable future through local action. He lives in the Tallarook Ranges with his potter partner Sandra.


David Clarey
Committee Member

David is a born-and-bred local to Seymour, and having retired from a position in IT specializing in software quality in the aviation industry, has become more involved in various community groups. David enjoys outdoor activities such as kayaking, and is involved with the Scouts. He ran the Repair Café initiative in Seymour and hopes to do so again pending location changes and guarantee of turnout. His outlook is ‘spiritual atheist’, and combines it with a practical mindset, and enjoys BEAM for its network of like-minded people.


Marie Gerrard
Committee Member
& Monument Hill Representative

After graduating from RMIT, Marie spent her working life as a medical laboratory scientist working first in diagnostic pathology laboratories and then in infectious diseases diagnostics. She did some consulting  work with the WHO in biosafety and biosecurity. Marie also has qualifications in immunology. Biological sciences led to her interest in the environment. Marie’s other long term interests have been in Human Rights and public health. She is currently on the board of Nexus Primary Health and an active member of the Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell as the International Director and as the club Environmental representative.


Paul Macgregor
Committee Member

Paul has lived for 20 years on the eastern edge of the Tallarook Forest. With partner Jocelyn Bennett, he runs Clearview Retreat, a yoga and meditation retreat centre, where he teaches ‘nature meditation’ retreats. He is also an historian, and runs archaeology programs. Paul has been a member of BEAM since 2008, and helped in the campaign in 2012 to get planning approval and community support for the Cherry Tree Range Windfarm project. He is currently leading BEAM’s Save the Tallarook Forest campaign. Paul loves discovering more about the ecology and environmental history of the region, sharing this with people, and campaigning to protect and expand Mitchell Shire’s natural communities.


Emily Buchanan
Committee Member

Emily moved from Melbourne’s inner North to Seymour in 2021. Initially drawn by the Tallarook ranges, to which her family has historical ties, Emily fell in love with the land, animals, and township of Seymour. The discovery of threatened squirrel gliders and white bellied sea eagles on and near her property fired Emily with the fierce wish to ensure that the habitat of Seymour and its surrounds be preserved and strengthened. A criminal defence advocate of 20 years, Emily hopes advocacy can align pride in place with strong community investment in conservation and biodiversity.

Committee-AJ Zara-Girstuns photo - AEGNDinner-404 - E from AJ 3.11.23.jpeg

AJ Zara-Girstuns
Committee Member

Growing up in the Philippines, AJ witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of climate change and poor waste management on the environment. The frequent typhoons and floods caused widespread damage to communities and ecosystems and served as a constant reminder of the need to protect the environment. These experiences sparked a deep passion for nature in AJ. She realised that the environment is not something to be taken for granted, but rather something to be cherished and protected. In 2012, AJ moved to Australia and is now working as an operations professional for Australia’s peak membership organisation for environmental and climate philanthropy. In 2021, AJ and her partner moved to Broadford and they have decided to reach out and be a part of the BEAM and support their goals and advocacy.

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