Board members

The RAA Board consists of the Chief Executive and six part-time members who are appointed by the Minister for Primary Industries. In accordance with the Rural Assistance Act 1989, two of the part-time members are appointed to represent farmers; two have specific qualifications and experience in banking or finance, farm management or an associated area; and two have backgrounds in social welfare, rural counselling, conservation or other areas the Minister considers necessary to enable the Board to carry out its functions.

The Chair of the Board, and the five other members, are all independent from the NSW Government and are appointed following an externally advertised application process. A Declaration of Interests register is maintained, and at each meeting, Board members must disclose any conflicts of interest in relation to their role or the matters under discussion in the Board meeting.

The term of office for appointed members is for a period not exceeding three years with members eligible for re-appointment for a further three year term.

Chief Executive

Profile photo of Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell: BSc(Arch) USyd; MComm UNSW; GAICD is the CEO of the RAA, following the consolidation of the roles of Director and Chief Executive in 2019. The role of the CEO is to provide high level strategic direction and leadership to the administration of program initiatives through the development of policies, operational programs and legislation to deliver financial assistance schemes to primary producers in NSW.

With a background in the government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors, Sean is committed to ensuring the RAA continues to deliver for its customers. Sean is also a director of the Addison Road Community Centre Organisation, which includes a not-for-profit food pantry, in Sydney.

Appointed - February 2020

Andrew Rice

Mr Andrew Rice, BRurSc, has a number of off-farm and on-farm roles and has a practical understanding of farm business management, finance and business performance analysis and management.

Andrew is currently the sole Director of Agricultural & Management Services at ASPIRE agri in Parkes, and an active partner and manager in a mixed farming business at Cookamidgera, NSW, east of Parkes.

Andrew is also non-executive director and chairperson of the not-for-profit company Field Applied Research Australia Pty Ltd, and non-executive director, Central West Local Land Services.

Appointed – 13 September 2021 (Chair)
Term End – 31 December 2023

Joanna Balcomb

Mrs Joanna Balcomb, GAICD, FCA, BBus (Accounting) has extensive skills and experience in risk management, regulatory compliance, governance and financial reporting, and accounting.

Jo is currently Chief Risk Officer for First Choice Credit Union in Orange and runs a mixed farming enterprise at Cudal, NSW.

Jo has been an independent member of the RAA appeal member dealing with matters arising from the Black Summer Bushfires and more recently the storms and floods of earlier this year.

Appointed – 13 September 2021
Term End – 31 December 2023

Profile image of Elizabeth Lyne

Mrs Elizabeth Lyne, B.Bus CPA GAICD, is a partner with her husband in a mixed farming enterprise situated at Cootamundra, NSW.

Professionally, Elizabeth is a qualified accountant with over 20 years experience in both public practise and commercial accounting. During this time she has provided taxation, business advisory and audit services to clients in the agricultural sector and also held senior finance roles in the meat processing industry.

Elizabeth is currently a sitting member of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal and conducts hearings throughout regional NSW.

Elizabeth has extensive board experience in the government and not-for-profit sectors and is currently a board trustee of the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund and a board director of the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Land Manager.

Appointed – 1 July 2020
Term End – 31 December 2023

Profile photo of Charlie Blomfield

Mr Charlie Blomfield, B. AgrSc, founded Agricultural Management Company in 2007 and over 10 years, grew AMC into a professional agribusiness management firm with 26 properties under management across northern and eastern Australia. Charlie worked with sovereign wealth funds, private families, private equity investors and indigenous organisations to acquire, develop and manage successful businesses.

During this time, Charlie co-founded CommStream Capital, an alternative farm finance provider and shifted his focus to investing in more direct on-farm production. In 2017, Charlie and wife Eleanor Falkiner, moved to the Falkiner family property Haddon Rig at Warren where Charlie joined the management team as General Manager.

Whilst still being involved with Haddon Rig, Mr Blomfield and family moved to Canowindra on a mixed farming property purchased in 2019.

Appointed – 1 July 2020
Term End – 31 December 2023

Profile photo of Lisa MonogueMrs Lisa Minogue B. Ag Econ, Dip. Community Services (Financial Counselling), GAICD is a partner with her husband in a mixed farming and grazing enterprise in Barmedman, Central West NSW.

Lisa is a director on other agricultural boards including NSW Farmers Association and the National Farmers Federation whilst also a member of the Veterinary Practitioners Board of NSW.

Lisa has extensive knowledge of the Rural Assistance Authority assistance measures from the Rural Financial Counsellor perspective having previously worked in both Deniliquin and West Wyalong and their surrounding districts.

Lisa’s diversity of experience as a farmer, counsellor and director ensure she has a good understanding of both the challenges involved in primary production and the strategic direction that is necessary for the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

Appointed – 1 February 2020
Term End – 30 June 2023

Profile photo of Derek SchoenMr Derek Schoen, MAICD. After finishing the HSC Derek started an apprenticeship as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer with TAA, graduating as a Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer LAME. He returned to the family's mixed farming business in 1983 to run beef cattle, prime lambs, winter cropping and irrigated summer crops at Corowa in the southern Riverina.

Derek has been a councillor on the Corowa Shire Council and was deputy Mayor. Board experience started with a local farmers co-op and later NSW Farmers Association serving as President for 3 years. Other board membership have included the Cattle Council of Australia, National Farmers Federation and he is currently on the board of Agstewardship and Beyond Blue.

Derek is passionate about sustainable agriculture, planning and building resilience into farm businesses and a strong advocate of early succession planning.

Appointed – 1 February 2020
Term End – 30 June 2023