We are incredibly grateful for the support we receive across South Australia. And this much-needed backing continues to grow.

There are many wonderful people and organisations who help us achieve our goals and better support you.


Our Board


A key part of our governance structure is our Board who are made up of industry professionals, they provide support and guidance on our direction as a not-for-profit organisation and share our passion for making outdoor play in nature an every day part of children’s lives.

John Schutz (Chair)


John is the Acting Chief Executive of the Department of Environment and Water.  Previously the Deputy Chief Executive and Group Executive Director, Parks and Regions, as well as the Director National Parks and Wildlife SA, within the former Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, John has a strong background in viticulture, horticulture, conservation and land management. He started working in nursery and vineyard management, later progressing to management positions including Manager of the Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens, Manager of Mount Lofty Precinct and Head of Gardens, Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.

John has been an instigator and supporter of Nature Play SA since its inception, helping to found the organisation and maintain its strong links to encouraging young people to explore the state’s unique natural environment especially the national parks system as part of encouraging more play in nature and building a lifelong relationship between people and the environment.


Julieann Riedstra (Deputy Chair)


Julieann is the Chief Operating Officer of the Department for Education and has over 25 years of experience in finance, corporate services and infrastructure roles.  Julieann holds a Bachelor of Economics and a Graduate Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a Fellow of CPA Australia.  Julieann served as a Director of a Credit Union for over 10 years, is on a number of Government boards and committees and is currently the Vice President of the Zoos SA Board. Julieann strongly believes in the individual and global benefits of connecting children with nature.


Sarah Abbott


Sarah has worked in public relations all her professional life. Her experience spans all genres of PR and she specialises in lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality.  Sarah’s PR experience is extensive, she has worked in PR both as a consultant and an in-house PR director for over 20 years. Her passion is PR and the adrenalin rush of seeing her client’s brands up in lights.  She’s now the owner and director of Sassafras PR.  Sarah has three children and is committed to ensuring they grow up to relish the outdoors and the harmony nature can bring to our busy lives.

Sarah Abbot-ed

Kylie Dermody


Kylie is an Entrepreneur and People and Culture expert with 10+ years in Global HR Leader roles in some of the world’s largest companies including GE and BHP Billiton. She co-founded global trampoline business Bounce Inc, was Co-founder and CEO of Educational Consultancy Lean Learning and is currently founder and Director of Edu Cultureworks, an organisation dedicated to transforming culture in Education. Kylie grew up in the Northern Territory and as leaseholder of two small people (who she encourages to run wild) she is a passionate advocate for unstructured play outdoors.

Kylie Dermody-ed

Dr Peter Sharley OAM


Peter graduated in 1984 from the University of Adelaide in medicine and undertook subsequent specialist training in both Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine. He has held senior management positions in both Intensive Care Medicine and Critical Care Retrieval Services at Royal Adelaide Hospital for 15 years and had specialist postings in California and in rural and remote areas of Australia.

He has been on 10 boards over the last 10 years, including National Doctors Health Pty Ltd and Chair of SAPMEA (SA Post Graduate Medical Education Association)

He is active as Chairman of the Adelaide University Football Club, the largest and most successful amateur football club in the world for young men and women. Peter has planted 20,000 native bushes and trees on a rural property south of Mt Compass to shelter his cattle and encourage the birds to sing again.


Portrait PHS-ed

Phil Kwan


Phil is the Executive Manager Brand and Member Experience at Credit Union SA. Phil has a background in both financial services and retail, including over 15 years in retail banking in both Australia and the UK across sales, distribution and marketing. His current responsibilities include leading all Credit Union SA’s customer facing functions, together with their long standing partnerships with the Education Community in SA.  Phil has a lifelong passion for outdoor education and nature play and the positive impact it has on young people’s lives.

Phil Kwan-ed

Garry Whitelock


Garry is the Business Director at Pulteney Grammar School. Garry is a Chartered Accountant with over 25 years of experience, in Australia, South East Asia and the UK. Garry’s previous roles included advising on agribusiness and aquaculture. He has two teenage sons who enjoy sharing their outdoor activities and “happy dirt”.

Rick Moody


Rick has over 35 years’ experience working in Australia and overseas in professional services and industry. He trained with PwC and has held senior executive roles with a number of large corporates, including Adelaide Brighton, Elders, Codan and Skywest Airlines; principally as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Company Secretary and Representative Director. Rick is currently Chief Financial Officer of Banner Mitre 10. He is a Fellow of CA ANZ and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He currently sits on the Bedford Group Audit and Risk Committee.


Amanda Blair


Amanda Blair is a columnist for the Australian Women’s Weekly and Patron for The Hutt Street Centre, Time for Kids, The Bedford Group and Foundation Shine. She’s the proud creator of Dulcies Shop of Real Opportunity, Australia’s first travelling op-shop on wheels which raises money for homeless services. 


As a broadcaster she won a MO Award for Best Live Show in Australia in 2003 and in 2011 and won the St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Award for outstanding contribution to the media. She also spent many years writing opinion columns for News Corp. Previous board experience includes, The Housing Trust and The Adelaide Festival. She is also a founding board member for Nature Play SA and believes that connecting to nature is fundamental to healthy wellbeing. As a mum to 4 children she knows the importance of providing opportunities where they can be outdoors, learn to take risks and teach themselves to self-regulate.


Lindsey Gough


Chief Executive Officer at Women’s and Children’s Health Network


Our Ambassador


Our Ambassador plays a role in promoting our message and promoting the hard work that our team and broader community are achieving.


Sophie Thomson

Sophie is a passionate gardener and shares her knowledge and expertise whenever possible.  Sophie has written several books, and regularly writes for magazines and the Sunday mail on all things gardening.  She presents often at events and enjoys providing horticultural consultations on many SA gardens.  Sophie is mum to 5 children and in her spare time tends to her own 3 acres of organic garden, Hamlyn cottage in the Adelaide hills and the menagerie of animals that share her home and family.


“Creating a backyard where children can enjoy free play, connect with nature and learn to grow some of their own food is sowing a seed for their future health, wellbeing and happiness as well as the future health of the planet.”

-Sophie Thomson