Karen Hearnden


Karen is a policy maker and land negotiator.

Professionally, she ensures that the NSW Crown estate is managed in the best interests of the people of NSW.

Since falling into a Bachelor of Environmental Science some 13 years ago, Karen has worked for the NSW Government in a variety of roles including National Parks and Wildlife Ranger, Environment Protection Authority Regulator, Water Sharing Coordinator, and for the previous and current Ministers for Lands and Water.

Unprofessionally, she is a bit of a creative muse, uninhibited and spontaneous, although also known to be anally retentive. She is inspired by entrepreneurial types as she values the added lessons they teach that may take you by surprise.

  • When did you start with DoI – Lands and why did you choose to work there?

I started in August 2015, but have worked with various environment/land related agencies within NSW Government for 13 years.

When I worked in the Office of the Minister for Lands and Water as Department Liaison Officer for the Water portfolio, I was exposed to the initiatives and issues of the Lands portfolio. I thought that the direction DoI Lands was heading in was genuinely exciting with lots of new opportunities and I wanted to be part of it. Also, the fact that DoI Lands has a very inspiring, go-getter female leader topped it off for me!

  • What are your key accountabilities, responsibilities and projects that you are working on?

I am the communications lead for the Land Negotiation Program, which involves internal and external collaboration and preparing support collateral material. I am also responsible for implementing the Program generally and am currently the lead team member assigned to two comprehensive land negotiations in the Northern Beaches and Federation Local Government Areas.

  • What do you love most about your job?

I love that I am part of a new, evolving program that will eventually deliver on transferring locally significant Crown land to local communities to benefit from in perpetuity. Particularly to Local Aboriginal Land Councils for cultural and economic benefits by way of a new legislative mechanism, Aboriginal Land Agreements.

I also love that the DoI Lands head office is based in the best regional city in NSW, as I love living and working in Newcastle!

  • What three words best describes you?

Creative, traveller, spontaneous.

  • If you could have one superpower what would it be?

The superpower of flight. The freedom to take off and fly through the skies would be liberating. The ability to soar high above situations, work or other, to get the bigger picture perspective and, if required, decide on the best course of action, would be life changing.

  • What is the one thing you can’t live without?

I can’t live without music – there is a genre, artist or band for every mood/occasion!

  • If you could do another job for a day, what would it be?

I would be Festival Manager for a USA music festival like South by SouthWest or Burning Man, that are conglomerates of film, media, art, music and guest speakers. This combines my love for music, being outdoors and creating an engaging and awesome atmosphere.

  • How do you define success?

I define success by how happy I am. This means that my sense of the things that makes me happy is in balance, stable and secure.


View Karen Hearnden on LinkedIn.