Terms of Reference for the Advocate for Soil Health

​Mission: to provide strong leadership and advocacy on the importance of healthy soil, water and vegetation and the benefits thereof for all Australians.

The focus of this role is on raising public awareness of the importance of improving soil and landscape condition and soil information, and the critical role soil plays in underpinning agricultural productivity, delivering high quality ecosystem services and meeting global challenges such as climate change. Though appointed to this role by the Australian Government, the Advocate for Soil Health will not speak on behalf of the government.

Specified tasks Implied tasks Resources required
Advocate that the healthy condition of our soils must be a national priority.

Convince a national audience of the importance of soil health, based on the integrated management of soil, water and vegetation through:

  • One on one meetings with leaders and influencers
  • Speaking engagements
  • Engaging with schools to educate children
  • Papers
  • Media engagement and releases
  • A webpage (to be managed by the secretariat)

Secretariat support (including access to the department’s media team).


Report to the Australian Government on national priorities for soil and landscape science and management.

Deliver an initial report to the Prime Minister, an interim report to the Minister for Agriculture, and a final report to the Prime Minister.

Seek advice from technical experts and practitioners on current soil research needs, including identifying the current deficiencies.

Access to Chief Scientist(s) for advice on coordination of research effort, including international efforts.

Access to leaders of research bodies, including universities and research and development corporations.
Support from the secretariat in compiling and drafting reports.

Work towards ensuring that existing and new soils research meets the needs of Australia’s farmers and other soil managers.

Determine what information, encouragement and help farmers need to build soil health as a priority activity within their business.

Engage with the National Implementation Committee for the National Soil Research, Development and Extension Strategy through regular meetings and correspondence.
Opportunities to consult with land managers about their needs, and to encourage them to adopt soil health as a priority for their business.
Advocate for adequate knowledge and supporting systems to help farmers to actively build healthy soils.

Advocate for resourcing to be linked to Land Management organisations’ contribution in delivering positive soil health actions ‘on ground’.

Ensure that training/education in soil health reflects best practice.

Use case studies to communicate proven leading practices to farmers.

Review of current soil health and related fields education, with an emphasis on practical level organisations.

Review of existing data on wider adoption trends.

Contribute to the Australian Government white papers on agricultural competitiveness and developing northern Australia.

Liaise with key stakeholders including technical and policy experts to develop relevant input for the development of the white papers.

Regular communications with the white paper taskforces within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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