Dick Osborn

DipAg, BEc, and MSc (Environmental Studies)

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During his time in paid work (1953-2005), the candidate spent the first decade or so working with dairy and beef cattle on farms, stations and ranches in England, Australia, and the United States.

In 1965 he began some four decades as an information broker between researchers and stakeholders, working across many decision-making scales. In-house training on the diffusion of innovations initiated a decade in agricultural extension with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Positions at Griffith University’s School of Australian Environmental Studies and CSIRO’s Division of Land and Water Resources then followed through 1975-83. His task then was to support scientists as they experimented in multi-disciplinary projects on managing the natural resources of the Murray-Darling Basin. The task progressed from dealing with accelerated soil erosion and resource conflicts in the Condamine Basin, through institutional constraints and interstate differences on managing the Upper Darling Basin’s resources, to contests between scientists and between states in recognising and prioritising research needs for the Murray-Darling Basin.

He then moved into intergovernmental relations as Senior Policy Adviser and Deputy Director with the Australian Local Government Association, gaining first-hand experience on the impacts of federalism transitions put in place during the Fraser, Hawke and Keating ministries. That experience covered all areas of public policy, but with emphasis on environmental and fiscal policies. It included advocacy on behalf of local government to the National Conservation Strategy for Australia (1981-83); to the Interstate Commission and Constitutional Commission (1985-88); to the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1989-92); to the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (1991-92); and to the Decade of Landcare (1990-2000).

A final period of paid work followed during 1993-2005, primarily on the design and diffusion of environmental and sustainability accounting innovations in the public and private sectors. It involved consultancies either as an individual, or as Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the University of Canberra’s Australian Centre for Regional and Local Government Studies. Overseas clients included the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development, and a collaborative project commissioned jointly by the City of Bogota, the Colombian Government and the UN’s Environment Programme. Domestic clients included the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the Resource Assessment Commission, Greening Australia, the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage, the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy, and numerous local authorities.

Dick sadly passed away in late 2013, and is fondly remembered by all at CPAS.




Refereed project publications

  • Osborn, D. (2010). ‘Choosing a smart set of sustainable development indicators for governments at all levels.’ In Stephen Osborne & Amanda Ball (eds.) Social Accounting and Public Management: Accountability for the Public Good. Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management Series.
  • Osborn, D. (2007). ‘Giving shape and structure to the mess of sustainability accounting.’ In Roger Attwater & John Merson (eds.) Sustaining our social and natural capital: Proceedings of the 12th ANZSYS Conference. Mansfield, MA: ISCE Publishing.
  • Osborn, D. & Macfarlane, M. (2006). ‘Sustaining communities by learning from integrated assessments of place.‘ In R.J. Petheram & R.C. Johnson (eds.) Practice change for sustainable communities: Exploring footprints, pathways and possibilities: APEN 2006 International Conferencehttp://www.regional.org.au/au/apen/2006/refereed/3/2911_osbornrc.htm?print=1.

Non-refereed project publications

  • Osborn, D. (2008). ‘Comparing accounting designs for sustainability governance.’ Work-in-progress presented at the International Workshop on Social Audit, Social Accounting and Accountability. Charles University, Prague: 15-16 May 2008.
  • Osborn, D. (2005). ‘Packaging innovations to sustain River Murray Communities’. Proceedings of the NRM Symposium: Toowoomba. Regional Institute: Asia-Pacific Extension Network. http://www.regional.org.au/au/apen/2005/2/2767_osbornrc.htm?print=1

Conference presentations on project

  • Osborn, D. (2009b). ‘Designing communicational spaces for sustainability transition.’  Risk and uncertainty in environmental management. Symposium hosted by The Australian Sociological Association’s Environment and Society Working Group. Canberra: The Australian National University, 1st December 2009.
  • Osborn, D. (2009a). ‘Designing communicational spaces for sustainability transition’. Our Lands, Our Waters, Our Peoples. Asia-Pacific Science, Technology and Society Network Conference 2009. Brisbane: Griffith University 22-25 November 2009. 
  • Osborn, D. (2008). ‘ Measuring social capital for sustainability accounting’. International workshop on social audit, social accounting and accountability. International Research Society for Public Sector Management and the Third Sector Study Group of the European Society for Public Administration. Prague: Charles University, 15-16 May 2008.
  • Osborn. D. (2007b). ‘Changing possibilities in environmental communication design’. Place and purpose: Spatial models for natural resource management and planning. Bendigo: Department of Primary Industries, Victoria: 30-31 May 2007.
  • Osborn, D. (2007a). ‘Learning environmental policy through nested communities of place.’ Contemporary Geography for Australia. Institute for Australian Geographers Conference. Melbourne: 1-6 July 2007.
  • Osborn, D. (2006). ‘Giving shape and structure to the mess of sustainability accounting’. Sustaining our social and natural capital. ANZ Systems Society:12th Conference. Katoomba: 3-6 December 2006.

Other refereed publications

  • Osborn, D. (2007). ‘Integrating NRM: the 1975-83 Condamine Basin experiments’. In Lex Brown, Lyne Ferguson, Mary Maher, Dick Osborn, Ann Peterson, David Pitts, & Michelle Walker (eds.) An Environmental Planning Retrospective: The contribution of Geoff McDonald’s leadership, scholarship and imagination to environmental planning milestones.Planning Institute of Australia. http://www.planning.org.au/.
  • Osborn, D. (2005). ‘Process and content: Visualizing the policy challenges of environmental management accounting’. In Pall M. Rikhardsson, M. Bennett, J.J. Bouma, & S. Schaltegger (eds.) Implementing environmental management accounting: Status and challenges. Volume 18: Eco-efficiency in industry and science series. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Osborn, D. (2002). ‘Looking for knowledge management in environmental accounting’.    In Martin Bennett, J.J. Bouma & T. Wolters (eds.) Environmental management accounting: Informational and institutional developments. Volume 9: Eco-efficiency in industry and science series. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
  • Osborn, D. (1993). ‘The prospect for institutional arrangements to promote integrated coastal zone management’. A consultancy report commissioned by the Resource Assessment Commission for the Coastal Zone Inquiry. Canberra: Resource Assessment Commission.

Other relevant non-refereed publications and presentations

  • Osborn, D. (2005). ‘From local to sustainable governance: Connecting decision-makers by accounting practice’. Towns Conference. Bendigo: La Trobe University.
  • Osborn, D., D. Savage, M.F. Reyes & T. Muradyan (2002). Images of effectiveness, equity and efficiency in the diffusion of environmental management accounting. Canberra: Green Measures. http://www.accaglobal.com/pdfs/environment/newsletter/images.pdf (695 KB)
  • Osborn, D. (2001). ‘Enabling innovation for sustainable communities with 3Way accounting’. Effective sustainability education: What works? Why? Where next? NSW Department of Environment Conference. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/cee/osborn.pdf (126 KB).
  • Osborn, D. (1997). ‘A rationale and approach for applying environmental accounting frameworks in local government’. Working paper series: #1. Belconnen, ACT: University of Canberra: Australian Centre for Regional and Local Government Studies.
  • Osborn, D. & L. Cutts (1995). Enhancing local government’s effectiveness in natural resources management. Four volumes. Consultancy report commissioned by Department of Primary Industries & Energy under the Commonwealth’s National Landcare Program. Belconnen, ACT: University of Canberra, Australian Centre for Regional and Local Government Studies.
  • Deane, D., & D. Osborn (1991). The roles of local government in land conservation. Final report of a project funded under the National Soil Conservation Program of the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Canberra: Australian Local Government Association.
  • Osborn, D. & G. Robin (1989). ‘Local government support networks’ in The Australian Local Government Handbook. Australian Local Government Association. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
  • Osborn, D. & H.C. Martin (1982). ‘Administrative and social structures in the Murray-Darling Basin’. Working Papers: Murray-Darling Basin Project Development Study: Stage 1. Canberra: CSIRO, Institute of Biological Resources, Division of Land and Water Resources.
  • Osborn, D. (1982). ‘A preliminary assessment of the Basin’s research resources’. Working Papers: Murray-Darling Basin Project Development Study: Stage 1. Canberra: CSIRO, Institute of Biological Resources, Division of Land and Water Resources.
  • Osborn, D. (1982). ‘Some benefits and costs from land and water use in the Murray-Darling Basin’. Working Papers: Murray-Darling Basin Project Development Study: Stage 1. Canberra: CSIRO, Institute of Biological Resources, Division of Land and Water Resources.
  • Osborn, D. (1978). ‘Australia’s comparative land advantage: The UDB as a key region’. in D. Osborn (ed.) Planning Futures in the Upper Darling Basin: The problem setting. Brisbane: Griffith University, Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research.