About Us

Friends of Kings Park supports the work of the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority by active participation in conservation, bushland management and horticulture; education, providing volunteer support and supporting special projects within Kings Park by raising funds, for example the Botanic Terraces and Botanic Pavilion.

Our History

The Foundation General Meeting of the Friends of Kings Park was held on 5 May 1993 with 12 founding members.  Under the Chairmanship of Tom Alford, Friends of Kings Park was established to provide support and assistance to Kings Park and Botanic Garden, to improve the facilities and to enable the community to be involved in making the Park a special place for People and Plants.

The first issue of ‘For People and Plants’ magazine was published in Autumn 1993. Friends has over 1,300 members of which about 250 are active volunteers.


Friends of Kings Park is an Incorporated Association and a charity registered with the ACNC. The Management Committee ensures that Friends is a sustainable, well run and highly respected organisation with an effective structure and high standards of corporate governance. Accountability to the membership and community is represented by an Annual Report and a Special Purpose Financial Report. A Strategic Plan identifies the Friends’ focus areas and the proposed actions and desired outcomes that Friends will aim for. Guidelines under which Friends operates include:

Management Committee

Chris Olney, President

Chris has been a Friend since 2013 when she started training as a Kings Park Volunteer Guide. She was a member of the Guides Committee for six years until 2019, taking on the roles of newsletter editor, vice president and president. Chris is still actively involved with guiding, leading walks and volunteering in the Visitor Information Centre.

For the past nine years Chris has been assisting Tony Scalzo edit For People & Plants magazine. She is also a Growing Friend.

Chris retired from the paid workforce in 2013 after a 45-year career as a journalist, working in newspapers, on radio and as a government communications/media officer.

Email Chris

Kit Wignall, Vice President

Kit joined Friends in 2020, after shifting back from Melbourne, where he had volunteered with Friends of Cranbourne Botanic Gardens. He joined the Management Committee in 2020 and started volunteering in the Garden Carers and subsequently got involved with the planning and establishment of the new Bushland Restoration project.

Kit is particularly interested in the science of the protection and restoration of the Kings Park bushland and bushland more generally. He is the joint chair of the BGPA/FoKP Joint Bushland sub-committee that was formed in 2021. This group is focused on supporting long term planning strategies and specific initiatives for conservation of the Kings Park bushland.

Kit was also a member of the sub-group of Management Committee and Friends staff that led to the development of the 2022-2026 FoKP Strategy.

Email Kit

Vern McKay, Treasurer

Vern has been a Friend since early 2018, on the Management Committee since May 2018 and elected as Treasurer in October of that year.  He retired in 2016 after a 50-year career in accounting and senior management roles in the health and local government sectors. He has a Bachelor of Business degree, post-graduate qualifications in management and a member of CPA Australia for 34 years and brings those skills and technical knowledge to the Treasurer’s role.

Email Vern

Pia Beukes, Committee Member

Pia works in the engineering and renewable energy sectors and is a keen gardener and nature enthusiast. She spent many years getting to know the South African plants, and then moved to Western Australia, discovering an even more fascinating world of plants, and the animals dependent on them. Pia is passionate about the conservation of Western Australian plants and their exceptional biodiversity and has volunteered with Friends of Kings Park since 2017. She has experience in engineering and project management, financial modelling and business cases, risk management, and leadership.

Alisen Brooks, Committee Member

Alisen has been a Growing Friend for the past 5 years. Since 2020, she increased her involvement with the Growing Friends, joining the sub-committee and helping to organise the plant sales during the challenges of the pandemic.

Alisen was born in Sydney and grew up in the leafy suburbs of Adelaide. After graduating with a BSc from Adelaide Uni, she worked as a Immunology Research Assistant and later as a Public Health Researcher. In the late 1990’s, Alisen moved abroad and spent the next 20 years in SE Asia and Europe, where she taught English and led various charity initiatives in SE Asia. In addition to raising 2 children, Alisen gained a personal trainer qualification and taught pilates in Bangkok.

After returning to Perth in 2016, Alisen joined the Friends of Lake Claremont and FOKP Community Groups. She has always been enamoured by the natural world and her happy places are all outdoors – in the bush, in a garden and in particular in a Botanic Garden where science and nature embrace. Alisen has found joy in learning to propagate some of WA’s native beauties and being in the company of like-minded Friends volunteers.

Beryl Crane, Committee Member

Beryl was born in Perth and has lived in Perth, the Wheatbelt and the Hills. Her interest in plants and the environment has been lifelong and she has been an active participant in landcare including tree planting to restore salt affected land and improve stream quality.

Beryl’s garden includes native and non-native plants as well as vegetables. As she lives not far from the recent bushfires she has a particular interest in planning gardens to mitigate fire risk. At Kings Park Beryl works in the Bush Garden, the Garden Advisory Service and in Plant Development.

Beryl is a Chartered Accountant and worked most recently as an auditor with some experience in not-for-profits and compliance. Prior jobs included working for Government in various Departments as a Financial Management Officer and Administration Officer. Beryl worked at the WA Herbarium in administration for 7 years and managed a number of NHT grants in that time.

Ria Ferris, Committee Member

Ria is a speech pathologist by background, and originally from Queensland. Ria moved to Perth in 2017 for a career change and fell in love with WA, particularly the native wild flowers. Ria now works for a number of national peak bodies, in executive officer and project management roles.

In her spare time, Ria enjoys exploring WA parks and walking trails, tending to her plant collection, or reading a good book.

Ria is committed to community building, and is excited to be on the Management Committee to implement the new strategic plan and be part of the vibrant Kings Park community.

Laura Skates, Committee Member

Laura is a botanist and science communicator, with a passion for connecting people with Australia’s unique native flora. Laura’s journey with Kings Park began in 2011 as a volunteer Bush Guardian in Naturescape. From there, Laura spent several years studying and working within the Kings Park Science team as an Honours student, PhD candidate, and Technical Officer. She completed her PhD in Botany at UWA in 2021, with research focused on the ecology and conservation of carnivorous plants, supported by Kings Park Science and the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Since then, Laura has completed several environmental research and communications projects with Kings Park Science, BGPA and FoKP. Laura now works with Perth NRM on the ReWild Perth program and ‘Turning Gardeners into Conservationists’ citizen science project, where she supports communities to plant wildlife-friendly gardens and create positive change for biodiversity. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time in nature, making art, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Kerry Staines, Committee Member

Since 2020, Kerry has the privilege of being part of the Management Committee, as well undertaking admin work in the Friends office and she is also a Growing friend. These roles allow Kerry to use the managerial and admin skills acquired over 35 years in the Commonwealth public service as a senior manager and an IT project manager. But more importantly, volunteering with Friends has given Kerry the opportunity to get to enjoy the park and the people who take care of it.

For the 10 years Kerry has been in Perth, she has been on the Committee of Gardeners’ Circle garden club in the Secretary and Treasurers roles. This has given Kerry experience with the formalities of Incorporated Associations and their operations. She was also been a Red Cross volunteer for 8 years providing admin support to their Emergency Services department, which involved activations during emergencies, particularly bushfires.

Kerry has been part of the FoKP Work, Health and Safety sub-committee and also worked as part of the group that drove the development of the Strategic Plan, which was of particular interest to Kerry as it focused on the future of the organisation.

Supported by 2 part-time employees

Natalie Simpson, Executive Coordinator

Events & Communications Coordinator

The Management Committee is supported by several sub-committees, whose purpose is to support the Management Committee in fulfilling its role of managing the business of the Friends.

Joint Bushland Sub-committee

Kit Wignall (Chair)
Alisen Brooks
Max Crowhurst
Beryl Crane
Ann Shakespeare
Ryan Glowacki
Catherine McChesney

Nursery Sub-committee

Alisen Brooks (Chair)
Lynda Woodhams
Tony Dickinson
San Luu
Carolyn Williams
Kerry Staines
Tony Scalzo

Fund Committee

Tony Scalzo (Chair)
Darren Harrop
Vern McKay
Anne Barden
Beryl Crane

Horticultural Advice & Support Sub-committee

Bernice Sparks (Chair)
Ratna Sulastin
Beryl Crane

Events Sub-committee

Shannon Murphy (Chair)
Sue Elliott
Alex Hew

For People & Plants

Tony Scalzo (Editor)
Chris Olney (Assistant Editor)


We earn funds through:

  • Donations

    Help support the Friends to make a bigger contribution to Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Tax deductible, one-off and regular payments are available.

  • Plant Sales

    Volunteers raise funds through quarterly plant sales by offering Western Australian native plants for sale.

  • Corporate Membership

    Perth and WA businesses make varied valuable contributions to help the Friends through the printing of book marks.

We provide funds to:

  • Kings Park and Botanic Garden for research projects
  • Support our active volunteers
  • Publication of our quarterly magazine, “For People and Plants”
  • Sponsor scholarships for post-graduate students, staff and volunteers.

Friends of Kings Park Fund

Money well spent!

The Friends of Kings Park was established in 1993 as a support organisation for Kings Park, mainly through volunteering and raising funds for various projects.

Always looking for ways to support Kings Park, a Friends of Kings Park Fund was created in 2008 to assist with attracting tax deductible donations for important educational, horticultural, scientific and conservation work in the protection and enhancement of the natural environment.  Then in 2011 the Fund received a generous donation of shares from the Minderoo Foundation.  Over the years, dividends from these shares together with donations from members, have enabled the Fund to support various projects within Kings Park.

Some of the projects currently funded through the Fund are:

$17,000 per annum

to support Kings Park Summer Science Scholarship programme into the foreseeable future. This programme enables scholarship recipients to undertake a 12 week research project over the summer break in their area of interest, which must also align to a Kings Park research priority.

Read about recent Scholarship projects here:

$125,000 over 3.5 years

to Determine the colour compounds in novel coloured Anigozanthos hybrid, led by Digby Growns, Senior Plant Breeder, Kings Park. This breeding programme is unique in that it is the only ornamental breeding programme in the world that has environmental outcomes as its main objectives. Until recently, research has been focused on producing disease tolerant kangaroo paws, now it is time to research colour pigments present in the flowers and the metabolic pathways that produce these pigments.

$35,000 to Kings Park Science

to fund orchid biology and conservation through supporting the salary of the current part-time orchid research scientist. This will enable KP to maintain and increase the significant living orchid research and conservation collection and increase its capacity to undertake ex-situ conservation of some of Western Australia’s most threatened plant species.

$26,000 to support a PhD scientist

on the Australian Postgraduate Research Intern programme to conduct a thorough search of the literature of studies addressing the impacts of introduced honeybees on native plants and pollinators.

$15,000 per annum over 5 years

to support a PhD scientist to understand seed storage performance and to develop new technologies that will assist in the early identification of problematic seed collections.