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Roy Alan Free (1928–2014)

Mrs Heather Crompton, President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA), has announced that Roy Alan Free has been awarded the N.W Jolly Medal, the Institute’s highest honour for outstanding service to the profession of forestry in Australia.

Roy is presently a Life Member and Fellow of the Institute and has maintained an active interest in its affairs over the years. He was Chairman of the IFA NSW Division and National President from 1979 to 1981.

Roy Alan Free B Sc For., Dip. For., FIFA graduated in 1950 as Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Sydney and the Diploma of Forestry with distinction from the Australian Forestry School. Following secondment after graduation to the AFS as demonstrator and researcher for the 1950 academic year, Roy returned to service with the NSW Forestry Commission where he served until retirement in February 1989.

His career in this State commenced at Batlow, where he progressed to District Forester and thence to Regional Forester of the Tumut Region. During his 19 years there Roy played a major role in the development of the Tumut Plantations at a time when operational practices and administration initiatives were undergoing rapid development. The high standard of professionalism evident in plantation practices today is largely attributable to the sound foundations laid down and implemented under Roy’s direction.

From Tumut Roy progressed to the Commission’s Head Office, where he occupied the positions of Operations Officer, Chief Forest Inspector, Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of Forest Operations Division, before being appointed Assistant Commissioner in 1980, a position he held until his retirement.

During his service life Roy served on a number of other Departmental advisory and consultative bodies, was the Government’s nominee on the Board of Sawmillers Exports Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Boral Ltd), and was also a member of the NSW Bush Fire Council and its Coordinating Committee. Upon retirement he was appointed by the Minister to the Chair of the NSW Timber Advisory Council.

Throughout his career Roy has been a leader among his peers with many successes in his endeavours over the years, some being:

  • the development of the Tumut- Batlow-Tumbarumba softwood plantations, with the attendant creation of major industries based on this resource
  • the implementation of the Hume- Snowy Bushfire Prevention Scheme, which actively enlisted the cooperation of all stakeholders in the coordination of bushfire prevention and control within the region and which was to become the model for similar organisations throughout the eastern part of the State
  • the successful formulation and implementation of occupational health and safety activities within the Commission, with a dramatic improvement in lost time injury statistics throughout the workforce over a period of 10 years or so and
  • the directing of recruitment and the development of professional and technical staff within the Service.

Probably his greatest contribution to forestry in this State was in the pivotal role he played, when Assistant Commissioner, in balancing the political agenda of the Government of the day with the imperatives of upholding responsible forest practices and maintaining the integrity of an effective and responsive forest service.

Roy served for 16 years on the Committee of the Forestry Field Officers Association, a vocational branch within the NSW Public Service Association committed to improving the industrial welfare of its members.

Roy has a most perceptive mind and throughout his career has demonstrated a great capacity to assimilate knowledge from diverse sources and the implications of its practical applications. Roy Free will be presented with the Jolly Medal at the IFA AGM Dinner in Canberra on 21 November 2002.

Original Publication

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'Free, Roy Alan (1928–2014)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012