About the earthfunerals Enterprise

earthfunerals’ supporters, partners and executive team

Since its conception, earthfunerals has attracted the attention and generous support of a range of philanthropists and strategic partners.

Strategic Partners

Armidale Tree Group: A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Armidale Tree Group, a thirty-year-old social enterprise working as a non-profit tree nursery and conservation group providing landscape-scale re-vegetation services.

EcoGeoSpatial – Pro bono assistance from Armidale based, GIS consultancy EcoGeoSpatial, and senior analyst Mr Arjan Wilkie, has enabled the provision of LIDAR survey mapping of the proposed New England Natural Burial Ground site. LIDAR mapping contributes both to the preparation of the Development Application, and subsequent landscape architecture design.

Eco Logical Australia: Development Consultants, Eco Logical Australia have committed to providing partial pro-bono services for the preparation of a Statements of Environmental Effect and Development Applications for the New England Natural Burial Ground.

HWL Ebsworth: The project has attracted the pro-bono support of respected law firm, HWL Ebsworth. Ebsworth are developing the local and national legal agreements and structures, and assisting with specific legal requirements for the upcoming development application (DA) for the New England Natural Burial Ground.

New England Avionics: Drone imagery of the proposed New England Natural Burial Ground site, and target sites for revegetation along the Saumarez Creek wildlife corridor, have been provided with the partial pro bono assistance of New England Avionics.

The Executive Team

Adam Blakester

Adam is Executive Director of Starfish Initiatives and brings relevant experience and qualifications in finance, law, strategy and communications. Adam is also Director of Lock the Gate Alliance and the Minerals Policy Institute; Chair of The Armidale Waldorf School Governance & Leadership Committee; Social Leadership Australia alumnus and active member of the Great Transition Initiative.

Adam’s past roles include Director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition; Director of Families Australia; National Executive Officer of NAPCAN; National Coordinator of the Climate Action Network (Australia); Finance Director of Greenpeace Australia Pacific; Financial Controller with Rural Press; and small business and taxation advisor with KPMG.

Adam’s full biography is available on LinkedIn.


Kevin Hartley

Kevin was actively involved in all facets of the funeral and cremation/cemetery industries for more than 20 years. Working with the late Hon. Bob Such (Independent MP for Fischer), he, and a community group (Natural Earth Burial Society) he organised, lobbied for legislative changes (enacted in 2014) to allow for the establishment of natural burial grounds in South Australia.

Kevin has won awards for innovative ‘bio-coffin’ designs, has worked as a consultant to the funeral industry, and is acknowledged as an authority on the natural burial process. He was also instrumental in the establishment of a private, natural burial ground at the Aldinga Arts Ecovillage in 2016 – the first natural burial ground established under the new South Australian legislation.

Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in psychological sciences from the University of New England, and has studied at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

The Executive Team benefits from the support of Starfish associates, partners and members, and several specialist industry advisors.

Kevin’s full biography is available on LinkedIn.

earthfunerals’ legal structure

earthfunerals has been founded as a charitable enterprise operating under the auspice of Starfish Initiatives, a registered charity.

In this relationship, Starfish acts as a ‘start-up incubator’ for earthfunerals, allowing it to establish and develop without the need to invest tens of thousands of dollars (and months or years of time) creating its own organisational systems and regulatory approvals up-front. Using Starfish’s fully established legal environment, earthfunerals can more quickly promote its purpose, carry out feasibility work, raise funds, and commence its operations.

A formal agreement enables Starfish to act as earthfunerals’ ‘legal guardian’ until it develops to a stage where it becomes more practical and efficient for it to establish its own legal structures. This agreement includes the requirement that earthfunerals will be structured as a charity, like Starfish.

Starfish is also the Trustee of the Starfish Foundation, a charitable trust endorsed with tax deductible donation status (for donors). During the start-up phase, Starfish ‘stands in’ for earthfunerals as the recipient of any donations, and as the legal signatory to any agreements. At the same time, earthfunerals benefits from the guidance and oversight of Starfish’s professional Board of Directors.

Philanthropists and social partners can support earthfunerals with confidence knowing that all projects are subject to professional governance practices, and major financial and policy decisions occur only with the approval of Starfish’s Board.

The day to day operations of earthfunerals are managed by the executive team who are accountable to Starfish’s Board, and provide regular reporting on the progress and status of the enterprise.