NSW Councillor Profiles

  2019/20 ICPA - NSW Council



Back Row (Left to Right) -- Gabie Le Lievre, Ali Briggs, Tanya Mitchell, Skye Bragg, Shennah Joiner, Libby McPhee, Irene Lund  

Front Row (Left to Right) -- Claire Butler, Deb Castle, Annabel Strachan, David Butler.                          ABSENT -- Bruce Paynter & Tim Fletcher



Claire Butler

Claire photo (2)Branch: Balranald

Background: Claire has been a member of Balranald Branch for 13 years, having held the positions of Publicity Officer and President over that time.

Claire lives in Far South West NSW, halfway between Balranald and Ivanhoe with her husband Shane. Their three children completed primary school at Clare Public School, a very small remote school located 155 km North of Balranald. As there are no school bus runs, Claire has driven the school run of 200km round trip a day for 12 years. Now that all three children are at Boarding School, Claire felt it was quite timely to come back onto State Council.

Claire was a State Councillor from 2015-2017 and after a 12 month break, Claire has returned to State Council as the President.

Claire’s own educational experiences involved small schools and distance education in her birthplace New Zealand, moving to Moree and the daily bus run into town, followed by privately boarding with a family in Queensland for secondary school.

Claire has been heavily involved in her community on various committees and is passionate about all children receiving equitable access to education. With many rural towns also ‘isolated’ from bigger centres, Claire is keen to explore ways to encourage those families to join ICPA to keep the rural voice strong.




Bruce Paynter

Bruce PaynterBranch:  NSW/Vic Lone Members

Background: Bruce has an extensive background in education and has been a familiar presence at the State Conferences, which he has been attending over many years as a Lone Member.

Bruce began his educational journey as a boarder. He achieved his Diploma in Teaching, Technical with Honours in Practical Teaching and Psychology in 1981. Then became a TAFE NSW Trade Cabinet Making teacher before joining Knox Grammar School in 1987 as an Industrial Arts Teacher. In the ensuing years Bruce recorded a high level of involvement in all aspects of teaching and boarding school life. He gained significant experience in budgeting, financial reporting and property management in his capacity as Property Manager, before taking on the role as Rural Liaison Officer. Bruce and Marianne will be retiring in the near future, and look forward to being more involved with ICPA NSW.  Involvement in the Army Cadets, Australian Rugby and the NSW Rural Fire Service adds to the mix of experience Bruce brings to ICPA-NSW.

Bruce was elected onto State Council at the 2016 State Conference in Griffith where he took over the role of Secretary and then in 2018, at the Mudgee Conference, he was elected President. After the 2019 State conference in Buronga Bruce stood down as President and became Immediate Past President.

Bruce is married to Marianne who is also involved in the educational sector, and they live on a property at Gloucester where they run a small cattle stud.  Bruce and Marianne have two adult sons who are self employed tradesmen, who live near by with their families.






Libby McPhee


Branch: Collarenebri-Mungindi Branch

Portfolio: Communications Portfolio

Background: I am a mother of three girls aged 21 to 13.  Two of our girls Jennifer and Edwina are studying at University in Brisbane and the youngest Priscilla is at boarding school at Fairholme College in Toowoomba.  Our daughters attended main stream schooling in Mungindi until they went to boarding school.  We were also lucky to be able to access a school bus for transport.  When our girls were at school I was blessed to be able to be part of their school activities and a keen worker of the school P & C. 

My husband and I are in partnership with his parents running a broadacre winter cereal cropping property in the North west of the State almost on the Queensland border. I am primarily the book keeper for the business and chaser bin driver at harvest time.
I was born and bred on the land  in the Surat district in South Western Queensland.  I completed my secondary schooling at Fairholme College after attending the Surat State School for my primary years.  I enjoy the challenges this type of lifestyle brings.  After completing my secondary years I became the Executive Officer for the Maranoa Division of the United Graziers’ Association.  I absolutely loved this job and learnt so much, with great people.  It was my life for 16 years. 
I am passionate about what ICPA has achieved in 47 years and what potentially can be achieved as a united voice.  I am enjoying the learning curve the communications portfolio is bringing to me.
In my spare time I enjoy gardening, walking and playing tennis.   I am also an avid supporter of the community being the Secretary/Treasurer of the Weemelah Hall Committee and the Secretary of the Weemelah CWA. 





David Butler

 David Butler

Branch: Nyngan

Portfolio: Travel / Allowances

Background: David and his wife Michelle, are from a grazing property in the Nyngan district where David is currently President of the Nyngan Branch. Their families have been involved with ICPA for as long as they can remember. They have three adult children – Jacqui, Rachel and Mitchell. The children were educated at a small isolated school, Marra Creek and then, for Rachel and Mitchell, in Nyngan for the last couple of years so Michelle could pursue work opportunities. This meant travelling 160 kms each day for the children to get to and from school.

Boarding school in Sydney was the place for secondary education. Jacqui has completed a Bachelor of Policing at the University of Western Sydney, Rachel has just finished a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at Sydney University and Mitchell has finished his first year of a Bachelor of Agribusiness at UNE Armidale. These experiences mean David is very familiar with what it takes to educate a child and the difficulties you can encounter along the way. As a State Councillor, David believes he will enjoy working with fellow councillors in their endeavours to try and close the gap between the costs of educating children in rural areas compared to their city counterparts.



Deb Castle


Branch: Rankins Springs

Background: Deb grew up on the family farm in Rankins Springs where she attended primary school then boarded in Hay at the hostel until Year 10 and finished Year 11 in Griffith.

Deb and her husband Jayson lived in Griffith and had their 4 children then moved out to Deb’s family farm ‘Knockalong’ in 2011. The older children boarded privately and attended high school in Griffith, the two younger children got into the Yanco Agriculture High School where the youngest is currently in Year 11.

Deb and Jayson manage the family farm, which is an organic mixed farming. Wheat, barley, oats, sheep and cattle.

Deb started with ICPA Rankins Springs in 2012 becoming president of the Branch in 2014.
Deb has held positions on the Rankins Springs P+C, Rankins Springs Hall Committee, Rankins Springs School Council, Yanco P+C and Rankins Springs ICPA Committees.

Deb is passionate about her children and supporting them be the best person they can be. Emma is 23 and has completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood, Education and Care, is currently doing her Certificate III in Business. Emma is profoundly deaf and has two Cochlear Implants and has had many struggles with schooling.

Robert is 21 and is currently in his fourth year Welding apprenticeship in Griffith. Ellie has just completed her HSC at Yanco Ag High and is currently working in the Hospitality industry. Meg is in Year 11 at Yanco Agricultural High School and is completing a School-based traineeship in Primary Industries.

Deb is a qualified hairdresser, has Certificate III in Children’s Services with many years experience in Early Childhood. She has a Certificate III in Business Services which helps her within her current fulltime position as a School Admin Manager in a small Rural school near where she lives.

Deb has a passion for supporting children with disabilities and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience, knowing firsthand the importance of fighting to access services and support for these children. With the help of her mother, Jenny Caughey who helped start the Rankins Springs branch of ICPA many years ago and served on State Council, Deb gained confidence dealing with government bodies and accessing, to help gain services and lp to help her daughter with her disability and Education.




Ali Briggs










Shennah Joiner


Branch: Monaro 

BackgroundI grew up in inner city Melbourne, before moving to country Victoria as a teenager. My husband, Keith and I meet during our secondary schooling. My adult years have seen many moves due to my husband serving in the Military for 30 years. This exposed our family to all manner of education styles, day school, boarding school, home schooling, distance education as well as international schooling.

We have five children, all are now adults. Lauchlan and Katherine, the youngest two are still attending university. We are blessed with two lovely granddaughters, Madeline and Aurelia.

I became a member of ICPA- Monaro Branch when we moved to our ‘forever’ home, located SE of Canberra and the two youngest children began Distance Education with Queanbeyan DE Centre, followed by time at Dubbo DEC. We have a small farm located on the snowline about an hour from Queanbeyan. Whilst we could almost see Telstra Tower if we moved one big hill, we are ‘geographically isolated’ due to the difficult access and road conditions.

My interests include Quilting and sewing. I am a Longarm Quilter and run a home-based business, quilting for others.

I am passionate about students receiving an equitable education, regardless of their location, socio-economic situation and ability and am honoured to be able to serve the ICPA community.






Gabie Le Lievre


Branch: Louth

Background: Gabie grew up between Wilcannia & Tilpa on her then family sheep & cattle station that was named after her Great Grandparents. After moving just 100 kms upstream Gabie & her husband Stuart along with their sons, "two sets of twins & one in the middle", have their own family sheep station on the banks of the Darling, "Yathonga Station".

Like Gabie her sons have all completed their primary school via Broken Hill School of The Air. The youngest being in year 6 this year, Wilbur and Charlie are 11. Nicholas, 15, is a boarder at St Ignatius Riverview In Sydney. Tom, 23, lives and works in Broken Hill after completing a Musical Theatre degree in Sydney. David, 23 and the eldest by 13 minutes, moved home last year after being away working in the Agriculture Industry since finishing boarding school.

Gabie has been the Secretary for the Louth Branch for last two years and has had a family involvement with ICPA for many years.

As a State Councillor Gabie is excited about making a real difference for rural & remote children and their families. "No one can be a bigger advocate for your child than yourself" so Gabie is looking forward to working with all the other Councillors to make that difference.






Skye Bragg

Skye Bragg

Branch: Bourke

Portfolio: Distance Education

Background: Skye and her husband, Murray live on Beemery Station, between Bourke and Brewarrina in far western NSW. They have been in the Bourke district for 22 years and have raised their three daughters on the station.  All three girls completed their preschool years through Dubbo School of Distance Education, before attending primary school in Bourke where they travelled 150kms a day on the school bus.

Their three daughters all attended boarding school in Toowoomba.  Twin girls Ali and Sophie left school in 2015 and in 2016 both worked in boarding schools in Oxford in the UK. Ali is now at UNE in Armidale studying Animal Science and Sophie is at Sunshine Coast University studying Paramedic Science. Their youngest, Georgia has recently finished school at Fairholme College, Toowoomba.

Skye believes that living and working in far west NSW has provided many opportunities and affirms that it has been a great place to raise their family.  In addition to the station, Skye runs a small jewellery business from the shearer’s quarters and enjoys the ‘simple things’ in life.

Skye has been involved with ICPA for many years, first starting with the Louth Branch whilst living in the area and since 2011 has been the Bourke Branch Secretary.  After having the role of Publicity Officer last year Skye is now looking after the Distance Education Portfolio on State Coincil. Skye is passionate about improving educational opportunities for all bush kids.



Tanya Mitchell

Tanya Mitchell

Branch: Bourke

Portfolio: Allowances

Background: Tanya and her husband Scott manage a property 40km north-east of Bourke on the Darling River. They have four children, 3 of which are currently at boarding school and one still at home who attends one of the local schools.  Both Tanya and her husband were educated via distance education until going off to boarding school for their secondary education.  After school Tanya travelled overseas, attended UNE Orange and lived in Sydney before eventually returning to Bourke. Tanya works as the Administrator for 2WEB Outback Radio and jointly owns ‘Carole’s of Bourke’, a shop in the main street of Bourke with three other local ladies.

Scott’s father was one of the founding members of ICPA and both the Stephenson and Mitchell families have been involved in various ways ever since. Tanya is currently the Bourke Branch President and looks forward to giving back to ICPA as without it she would not have had the education she received, nor would her children have the opportunities they experience now.

Despite the difficulties of distance and costs of educating children in the bush, Tanya believes it is still a great place to raise a family.





Annabel Strachan

Annabel Strachan 1

Branch: Louth

Portfolio: Rural Schools/Early Childhood

Background: Annabel and her husband Jim live on a property 120kms south west of Bourke and 70kms west of Louth and have lived there for 34 years. They have three children Ben 33, Alec 31 and Lachlan 23.  Ben and Alec started schooling at Bourke Distance Education Centre then moved to Louth Public School travelling 150kms each day by private vehicle as there were no buses.

The three boys attended boarding school in Sydney.  Ben is a qualified carpenter and spends six months in Australia and six months in Scotland, where he plays cricket for Falkland.  Alec is a qualified mechanic but decided to change careers and is currently studying Business and Commerce at University in Western Sydney.  Lachlan is studying Primary School teaching in Sydney at Notre Dame University.

Annabel is very involved in the Louth Public School and has been the School Administration Manager there for 16 years.  She has been a member of the Louth branch of ICPA since its inception and has helped co-convene two ICPA State Conferences, one in 1998 at Cobar and more recently in 2017 at Bourke. 

Annabel has seen many isolated families benefit from the hard work of ICPA and looks forward to contributing towards helping ensure education equity for all isolated students.





Tim Fletcher


Portfolio: Tertiary




Irene Lund


Irene Lund


Portfolio: Boarding Schools/Ag High Schools/Hostels

Branch: NSW Lones

Background: Irene has been involved in education most of her  life. Both parents were primary school teachers and her early life was spent in one teacher schools in rural NSW before she later moved to Sydney.  Irene trained as a Maths teacher and after marrying Andrew, they moved to Canberra and now have three children and four grandchildren.

When their youngest child was 6, Irene returned to teaching and spent 20 years teaching Maths in mostly Year 11/12 colleges as well as some time in the central office.  Andrew and Irene retired in 2007 and 2008 and became volunteers with Outback Links, the volunteer arm of Frontier Services.  Together they have completed a number of placements, mostly in Queensland but also in WA, doing such things as property sitting, schoolroom help, general domestic duties and general property duties.

It was on one of their early placements that Irene discovered a pile of ‘Pedals’ magazines and was introduced to ICPA.  On subsequent placements with different families Irene heard about involvement in ICPA and in 2012 was challenged to join.  In 2016 Irene became NSW/Vic Lone Members’ Officer and in 2018 also took on the role of NSW Member ship officer. Irene is committed to equity in education for rural and remote children.