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What we do

We independently assess planning proposals by considering submissions, conducting hearings and preparing reports.

We give submitters an opportunity to be heard in an informal, non-judicial manner and give expert advice to the planning authority (usually the local council) or the minister about an amendment and about submissions referred to it.

Final decisions about planning matters are made by the appropriate statutory bodies, or the Minister for Planning.

Panel members overview

Our members include the Chief Panel Member, the Deputy Chief Panel Member and five senior panel members.

Our office is supported by 53 sessional members, of whom 10 are senior sessional members.

Our members have expertise in:

  • strategic, statutory and social planning
  • architecture and urban design
  • landscape architecture
  • civil and structural engineering
  • environment and environmental assessment
  • economics and development contributions
  • cultural, built form and aboriginal heritage
  • mediation
  • property development
  • traffic and transport
  • coastal management
  • water/flooding/groundwater
  • waste management and contamination
  • geomorphology and hydrology
  • noise, acoustics and vibration
  • air quality/emissions
  • native vegetation
  • land capability and agriculture
  • regional/rural land use
  • bushfire planning
  • open space/recreation planning
  • and flora and fauna.

Full time panel members

Kathy Mitchell

Kathy was appointed as the Chief Panel Member in 2004 and has undergraduate qualifications in town planning and post graduate qualifications in urban sociology and a Master of Arts in Research by major thesis. She has significant expertise in social and strategic planning, activity and precinct structure plans, retail development, environmental effects inquiries and built form. She has previously worked in the private sector, local government and as an academic.

Kathy is a Life Fellow of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association and an Honorary Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia.

Kathy was appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List in recognition of her significant service to urban planning and to professional associations.

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Con Tsotsoros

Con Tsotsoros was appointed as a full time senior panel member at Planning Panels Victoria in July 2013.

Con has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Planning, with 14 years’ experience in the private sector and stints in local government, and has been with state government planning since 2006. Con was formerly Assistant Director, Statutory Systems in the former Department of Planning and Community Development, where he led major planning reform agenda initiatives. He specialises in retail, economic and strategic planning and heritage.

Con has been involved in significant planning scheme amendments involving residential zones, building heights, mandatory provisions, solar energy facilities, master and strategic planning.

Con is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia and member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

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Sarah Carlisle

Sarah was appointed as a senior panel member in July 2018 after three years as a Senior Sessional Member.

Sarah has qualifications in law and arts. She has significant expertise in planning, environmental and administrative law, and social housing and strategic planning. Sarah has previously worked as a practising lawyer in private practice in Melbourne and the United Kingdom, as well as in the public sector in Victoria.

Sarah is a member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

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Tim Hellsten

Tim was appointed as senior panel member in August 2018.

He has qualifications in planning, management and project management. He has significant expertise in statutory and strategic planning, including heritage and urban design, activity and settlement planning, rural and coastal area planning. Tim has previously worked in local government in regional Victoria and in the private sector.

Tim is a member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association and a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia.

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Lisa Kendal

Lisa Kendal was appointed as a full-time senior panel member at Planning Panels Victoria in October 2020.

Lisa has a Masters of Environmental Science and a Master of Social Science (Environment and Planning) and has expertise in environment, strategic, rural and regional planning, sustainable development, climate change, community engagement and governance. Lisa has previously worked in local government, private practice and the not for profit sector, and was a sessional member of Planning Panels Victoria from 2015 – 2017.

Lisa is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia and the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

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Sarah Y Raso

Sarah was appointed as a senior panel member in December 2021.

She holds a Bachelor of Law and Arts, and has previously been a privately practising lawyer. Sarah has over 14 years experience in complex planning and environmental law associated with property development, planning scheme amendments and environment effects inquiries.

Sarah has extensive expertise in the retail and residential space, social and strategic planning, built form, renewable energy, land management issues and land use classification.

Sarah is a member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

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Alison McFarlane

Alison was appointed as a senior panel member in 2022.

She has undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in planning. Alison has significant expertise in regional strategic and statutory planning, having previously worked in local and state government.

Alison is a member of the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

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Sessional panel members

Sessional panel members provide a source of expertise on planning, architecture, urban design, engineering, environment and social planning.

They are appointed to a panel as required depending upon the nature and complexity of the proposal being considered.

Membership of the list of sessional panel members is reviewed on a regular basis.

Project and administration team

The project team work closely with the Chief Panel Member, Deputy Chief Panel Member and Panel Chairs to manage and co-ordinate all facets of major panel, advisory committee, Environmental Effects Statement and permit call-in processes.

The project team act as a conduit between panels and interested parties to ensure an independent and transparent process is upheld.

Amy Selvaraj is a Senior Project Officer and holds a Bachelor in Science (Geography and Biology) and Master of Science in Physical Geography (Hydrology). Amy Selvaraj
Chris Brennan is a Senior Project Officer and holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Hons). Chris Brennan
Georgia Thomas is a Project Officer and holds a Bachelor of Arts (History and Sociology). Georgia Thomas
Gabrielle Trouse is a Project Officer and holds a Bachelor of Science (Plant Science). Gabrielle Trouse
Georgia Brodrick is a Project Officer and holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Environmental Management and Sustainability.Gabrielle Trouse

The Business support team is responsible for the provision of high level financial and administrative services including:

  • management of the hearing process from the pre-set exhibition stage right through to the submission of the panel report to the planning authority
  • budget and human resource management
  • management of corporate issues including business planning, freedom of information and information technology
  • web page maintenance
  • payment of sessional member claims
  • sessional member support
Adrian Williams – Senior Business Coordinator Adrian Williams
Sharon Walker – Finance Manager Sharon Walker
Laura Travis – Office Manager Laura Travis
Laura Agius – Panel Coordinator Laura Agius
Amelia Theodorakis – Information and Communications Coordinator Amelia Theodorakis
Rashid Afsar – Administration Officer Rashid Asfar
Stefanie Wilson – Business Services Officer
On family leave until mid-2025 
Stefanie Wilson
Sarah Vojinovic – Business Services Officer

Sarah Vojinovic

Page last updated: 29/05/24