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australian rowers profiles and history

Flavia Gobbo OAM

Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC)

Flavia took up rowing whilst at Newman College, Melbourne University and was soon winning races at College, University, State and National levels. Her Victoria Cup win at the 1984 Interstate Championships was evidence of this rise.

Like her father (Sir James Gobbo) before her, Flavia was awarded a rowing blue after her success at the Intervarsity Championships - this was perhaps the first time a father and daughter had obtained blues in the same sport at Melbourne University.

The quick rise in the sport reflected her focus, determination and love of the sport - a team player who encourages other rowers to compete and enjoy the sport on and off the water. 

She returned to rowing post children to successfully compete in masters rowing first for University of Queensland, and then Melbourne University when she returned to Victoria. She continues to rally others around her in her successful masters rowing career. 

Her daughters Kate and Francesca and son Alex followed in her footsteps in rowing. Francesca won the Qld Schoolgirl Single scull and successfully competed in the Interstate regatta in the Qld Youth Eight and the Queen's Cup. She later earned a spot in the 2011 Australian Under 23 women's four. Kate represented Qld in the lightweight quad, and Alex raced in the Head of the River and afterwards in Qld youth squad and is now successfully competing in surf boat competitions.

1984 Victoria Cup winners with Flavia second from the right

Her key roles in the organisational aspects of rowing at a club, state and national level became a major part of her contribution to the sport. Flavia became a Board member of Rowing Australia and she served with distinction being Deputy Chair and Chair of the High Performance Committee. She was a regular attendee of key Australian and International regattas, often being our national representative.

Rowing Australia went through much transformational change under her leadership. These matters included the controversial but necessary centralisation of our high performance program into the new National Training Centres.

The building of the women's training centre at Penrith was another critical but complex project involving the Commonwealth government, the NSW government, Rowing NSW, NSWIS, the local Council, sponsors to name just a few of the key parties involved. Then there was the design and build.

The establishment of the Pathways program, which is funded and managed centrally by Rowing Australia, was also a controversial and complex restructure requiring the co-operation of all the State Sporting Institutes and performance clubs to create a true national program.

Then of course is the ongoing work of the appointment and management of competent key executives and successful coaches of Rowing Australia, so critical to the success of these transformational projects.

 Anyone who thinks management of high performance sport is easy, or getting easier, does not know the challenges of it. She is a devoted and skilled administrator.

Flavia has a genuine love for rowing both from the competitive side and the growth of the sport. Her personality allows her to nurture and excel in the sport she loves, and it shows now in her golf. When she takes on a challenge, she takes it on with both hands - tenacious, committed and focused.

2022 Victoria Cup winners Tasmania - Flavia presenting

Update Australia Day 2024 - Flavia was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia for services to business and to public administration. Her award extract shows the breadth of the work she has undertaken both within and outside rowing.


Chair, Workcover Queensland, since 2017.

Director, Employers Mutual Limited, 2016-2019.

Chair, Q-Comp, 2012-2014.

Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority

Chair, since 2017

Member, Finance Committee, current.

Worksafe Victoria

Non-Executive Director, since 2020.

Chair, Information and Technology Committee, current.

Member, Finance and Audit Committee, current.


Acting General Counsel, Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing, Telstra, 2000-2013.

Senior Associate, King and Wood Mallesons, 1993-2000.

Rowing Australia

Director, 2013-2022.

Deputy Chair, 2014-2022.

Chair, High Performance Commission, 2016-2022.


Deputy Chair, SecondBite, since 2011.

Awards and Recognition include:

Rowing National Championship, Victoria Cup, 1984.

Rowing record summary

1983 - National Championship Women's Pair, bow - Second

1983 - National Championship Women's Eight, bow - First

1983 - Interstate Championships Women's Lightweight Four, emergency

1984 - Victorian Championship Women's Lightweight Four, two seat - First

1984 - National Championship Women's Eight, six seat - Third

1984 - National Championship Women's Lightweight Pair, stroke - Third

1984 - National Championship Women's Lightweight Four, two seat - First

1984 - Interstate Championship Women's Lightweight Four, two seat - First

1985 - Victorian Championship Women's Coxed Four, bow - First

1985 - Nationals Championship Women's Eight, bow - First

1985 - National Championship Women's Lightweight Four, stroke - Fourth

1986 - Victorian Championship Women's Lightweight Four, two seat - First

Successful masters rower

2012-2022 - Board Member, Deputy Chair of Rowing Australia and Chair of the High Performance Committee

2014 - President Rowing Australia September and October 2014

Andrew Guerin and Leeanne Ambrose
October 2022 (updated 2024)

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