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Life Membership: Terry Hehir OAM, 1994 Victorian Scholar

By Jane Bennett, 2008 Scholar, Nuffield Board Member

Terry Hehir was awarded his Nuffield Scholarship in 1994 to study high input dairy farming systems including nutrients and nutrition.

At the time of his scholarship Terry was a conventional large scale dairy farmer at Kyabram in Northern Victoria.

As with many scholars it was not the travel of his scholarship and what he learnt during his travels that changed his life, but the Nuffield network. After a visit to their farm from 1997 UK Nuffield Scholar Jo Scammell, Terry and his family made a life changing commitment and converted their family farm to organics in 2000 and became biological farmers.

Terry’s commitment to the dairy industry and to organic milk production saw him set up the first organic dairy cooperative in Australia with milk supply contracts to a number of dairy companies. This later expanded out to branded organic dairy production under the True Organics brand. Terry was instrumental in defining a new type of milk supply contract that provided surety for both the farmer and processor. The rapid expansion of the organic dairy farming industry in Australia in recent years has been strongly influenced by the cooperative structure established by Terry in the early 2000’s.


Terry joined the Board of Nuffield in 2009 and took over as Chairman in 2010. Terry presents as a quiet unassuming man but he possesses a strong intellect, sharp wit and upholds values that he believes in. The orations Terry presented each year to aspiring scholars at the National Selections dinner at the Melbourne Club were inspirational, making every person in the room want desperately to become a scholar and those of us who were scholars to want to do another. He reminded us of the opportunities, the obligations and the benefits that come with joining the Nuffield alumni.

During his time as Chairman, Terry expanded the scope of independent directors on the Nuffield Board recognising the value to both the Board and the alumni from bringing heavy hitters of the agricultural industry to the Board. Terry was able to recruit two leading industry influencers to the Board in Donald McGauchie - who continues to serve on the Board - and Mike Taylor. Terry influenced other changes at the Board removing the role of Deputy Chair which opened the way for further change in subsequent years to a new committee structure.


Terry’s single biggest impact during his time as Chairman came through his ability to influence the Nuffield International board. Terry was able to use his intellect and persuasive argument to carry a motion for the Nuffield International Board to expand Nuffield International Scholarships for non Nuffield countries. This changed the role of Nuffield International and gave purpose to the International Board. Australia has been a beneficiary of this change with each of the Nuffield International scholars participating in our Global Focus Program, expanding numbers for the program and creating a truly international experience for the scholars.


Whilst Terry has been the front man for all this activity, everything that Terry does is teamwork and the person who gives Terry the confidence to undertake these many challenges is his wife Pauline.

In awarding Terry Life Membership of Nuffield Australia, we acknowledge that this award goes as much to Pauline as it does to Terry. We thank Pauline for all her contributions to Nuffield and for hosting the many international Scholars who have visited the Hehir family in their travels and benefited from their knowledge and hospitality.

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