Issue 3
Monday, 14 March 2016
Charles Darwin University
Incoming Chancellor Mr Neil Balnaves AO
Incoming Chancellor Mr Neil Balnaves AO

CDU Council appoints new Chancellor

By Robyn McDougall

A man who has been at the centre of the Australian media industry for 45 years is to take on the role of Chancellor of Charles Darwin University (CDU).

The Council of Charles Darwin University has confirmed the appointment of Mr Neil Balnaves AO as Chancellor, replacing Ms Sally Thomas AC, who has just completed her second term in the role. 

Ms Thomas said she was pleased that Mr Balnaves would bring not only his extensive experience in corporate affairs and the media industry to the university, but also his deep commitment to Indigenous issues, the arts and medicine through the philanthropic work of his family foundation.

In 2006 he established The Balnaves Foundation, a philanthropic fund that disperses more than $2.5 million a year to support eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine, and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities. 

Ms Thomas said Mr Balnaves had been Executive Chairman of the Southern Star Group, which he founded.

He is Chairman of Ardent Leisure Group, one of Australia's most successful owners and operators of premium leisure assets, including Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and Goodlife Health Clubs.

He is a Trustee Member of Bond University, a Director of the Sydney Orthopaedic Research Institute, a member of the Advisory Council and Dean’s Circle of the University of New South Wales (Faculty of Medicine).  

Mr Balnaves is a Board member of the Art Gallery of South Australia, a Director of Technicolor Australia Limited, serves on numerous advisory and community organisations and is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

In 2010 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to business and philanthropy. Mr Balnaves also has received Honorary Doctorates from Bond University in 2009 and from the University of New South Wales in 2010.

Ms Thomas said the new Chancellor would formally commence his three-year term in April.