Meet our Speakers
Sara El-Amine (US)
Sara El-Amine PhD (hc) is a progressive senior strategist who was one of the architects of the Obama grassroots movement, playing key roles outside the US White House to pass and implement healthcare reform, minimum wage, marriage equality, gun violence prevention, climate protections, and more during President Obama’s two terms in office. Post-Obama administration, she founded the Change.org Global Foundation and went on to build the advocacy arm of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s new social impact effort, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
She is currently Head of Community Engagement at Lyft, where she oversees driver, passenger, and local non-profit engagement for the company. She is proudly Lebanese-American and Muslim American, and was raised in the US, Spain, and Lebanon.
Tim Lo Surdo
Democracy In Colour
Tim Lo Surdo is the Founder and National Director of Democracy in Colour – Australia’s first racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. Before starting Democracy in Colour, he helped low-paid workers set up Hospo Voice – a new union in hospitality.
Previously, Tim was Head of Campaigns at Oaktree (Australia’s largest youth-run organisation with over 200,000 members), a political adviser to two Senators, the Campaigns Director at Jhatkaa (the Indian equivalent of GetUp!), the National Communications Director at UN Youth Australia, and co-founded Open Sky – one of India’s most well-known performance art communities. Tim is also on the Boards of Plan International Australia, Environment Victoria, Climate for Change, and The Wilderness Society (Vic).
Young Workers Centre
Felicity Sowerbutts is the Director of the Young Workers Centre, a one-stop-shop for young workers who want to learn more about their rights at work or who need assistance in resolving workplace issues.
We empower young workers to speak up when they are faced with injustices at work and support activists to run campaigns to build better, safer workplaces and communities for young workers. Previously Felicity was the Lead Campaign Organiser at Victorian Trades Hall Council, the peak body for unions in Victoria where she lead the team through countless election campaigns.
Hon. Anthony Albanese MP
Australian Labor Party
Anthony has represented the Inner West of Sydney as the Federal Member for Grayndler since 1996. He is currently the Leader of the Opposition. During the Rudd-Gillard Government he served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Leader of the House.
Anthony was named Infrastructure Minister of the Year in 2012 by London-based publication Infrastructure Investor and in 2010 was named Aviation Minister of the Year for producing Australia’s first ever Aviation White Paper.
Anthony believes strongly in the need for the government to invest in infrastructure and transport in our cities and regions to ensure our growing communities are productive, liveable and sustainable.
Yasmin Poole is an award-winning speaker, writer and youth advocate. Her work has included being the Chair of the Victorian Government’s Youth Congress, representing over a million young Australians. She also led the global business development of 180 Degrees Consulting, a youth-led social impact consultancy that spans across 30 countries. She has represented Australian youth in conferences such as APEC and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
She is currently Plan International’s Youth Ambassador, focusing on engaging young Australian women in politics. In 2019, Yasmin was the youngest member of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence and Top 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian Australians. She was also named ANU’s 2020 Undergraduate Volunteer of the Year.
National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC)
Hayley McQuire is a proud Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from regional Australia. Hayley works to centre the voices of Indigenous young people to transform Australia’s learning ecosystem through the creation of an Indigenous-led education system. She is the Co-Founder and National Coordinator of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition; Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led organisation solely committed to education.
Her writings on social justice and equitable education have been published in The Guardian, New Matilda and Croakey. She has worked in Indigenous affairs for 10 years, starting off in community radio at the age of 17, before going into vocational training, national media and Indigenous health policy roles. She is a former member of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group and has worked with national education coalition in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Michele O’Neil is the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She began her working life as a waitress, went on to work in the community sector with homeless young people and to then work in the clothing industry.
Before being elected as ACTU President in 2018, Michele represented workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry as an organiser and then Branch and National Secretary of the TCFUA (Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia). She represented her union Nationally and Internationally and led campaigns to win world leading rights for workers throughout clothing supply chains. A model of supply chain accountability for workers which increased pay and conditions for some of Australia’s most exploited workers.
Following the amalgamation of the TCFUA and the CFMEU Michele was CFMEU Vice President.
Prof. PAsi Sahlberg
Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish educator and author who has worked as a schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher, and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems, analysed education policies, and advised education reforms around the world.
He has written and spoken widely about these topics, his book “Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland” won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for an idea that has potential to change the world. He is also a recipient of the 2012 Education Award in Finland, the 2014 Robert Owen Award in Scotland, the 2016 Lego Prize, and Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Resident Fellowship in 2017.
Mental Health Advocate
Will Connolly is an 18-year-old out of Melbourne, Australia. Will came to public attention after he egged Fraser Anning, gaining a massive social media following. Prior to the ‘egging’, Will wanted to study to become a counselor and was lucky enough to represent Australia playing baseball in Maine USA in the world series.
Since the world has cracked open for Will, he has felt a huge responsibility to do good with his platform. Will often speaks on panels and hopes to travel around the country and the world motivating people, teaching how to find fulfillment. Using his platform, Will has raised $140,000 for the biggest famine in the world (Yemen), and a further $180,000 for the recent Australian bush fires. Will is currently working with psychology professors across the country to develop programs that will address and support people through the long term mental health impacts of the bush fires. He also donated $100,000 to the Christchurch Foundation to support victims of the Christchurch Mosque shooting in 2019.
Cat Nadel is the Campaigns Director at YOUNG Campaigns, where she supports youth activists to find their power, call out systemic inequality and win campaigns for economic justice. Cat first cut her teeth in campaigning at university, where she was part of the student-powered campaign that successfully got Monash University to divest $450 million from coal.
Before co-founding YOUNG, Cat spent four years as a climate campaigner and organiser at Environment Victoria. This role involved working with communities in the Latrobe Valley, Westernport Bay and suburban Melbourne to build power for strong climate policies and a just transition. Cat grew up on the banks of the Maribyrnong River on Wurundjeri country, and still lives and works in Naarm.
North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA)
Ricky Archer is a Djungan man from the Western Tablelands region of North Qld. Ricky has a strong network of on ground land and sea managers across northern Australia from which to draw from and has demonstrated an ability to connect on-ground work of Indigenous organisations with regional, state and commonwealth priorities.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) and is a Board Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing North Australia (CRCNA). Ricky has a background in natural & cultural resource management, geographical information systems, and improvement of Indigenous livelihoods
Dr Richard Denniss
The Australia Institute
Dr Richard Denniss is the Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. Dr Denniss is a prominent Australian economist, author and public policy commentator, and a former Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University.
Cienan Muir is a proud Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri man. He grew up in country Victoria (Echuca and Shepparton) but moved back to this family house in Northcote. Great-grandson of Sir Douglas Nicholls, Cienan has always had a passion for his community around him and ensuring that the Indigenous narrative is at the forefront of his work.
Cienan has hosted and contribute to panels around Indigenous narratives, perspectives and representation in the world of popular culture, sitting alongside game developers, cosplayers, comicbook writers, graphic designers and has played a central part in developing an Aboriginal voice atop the popular culture stage. Cienan has worked at community ran organisations, Victoria Government and the Koorie Youth Council.
In 2019 Cienan organised and delivered the first ever Indigenous Comic Con in Australia, which brought together prominent people from the gaming industry, cosplay world, music stage and pop culture business owners. The event maintained a focus on Indigenous voices from this part of the world, but the event was open to everyone.
While organising the 2019 Indigenous Comic Con, Cienan started work on building his own business ‘INDIGINERD’. This platform assisted him in delivering the event and ensured that the message he carried did not end at Indigenous Comic Con.
The Tomorrow Movement
Lee Strike is a queer, trans, person of colour. They are the founding National Co-Director at The Tomorrow Movement and Young Campaigns an economic justice movement of young people fighting for a society with good jobs, great public services and a safe climate for all. They also moonlight as a Digital Strategist for some of Australia’s biggest progressive campaigns.
School Strike for Climate | AYCC
Varsha Yajman is an 18-year-old university student who is an organiser for School Strike for Climate and the current NSW Schools Coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. She is very passionate about climate action and changing the stigma and around mental health issues.
Centre for Future Work | The Australia Institute
Alison Pennington is Senior Economist at the Centre for Future Work, associated with The Australia Institute. She conducts research on economic issues facing working people including the evolution of collective bargaining, the future of jobs, skills and training, sector and industry policies, and the role of government.
Alison has held previous roles in public finance, public sector unions, and music teaching. She considers economics a powerful tool for reinvigorating popular consciousness about how society is organised, and the discipline a natural home for building a vision of a more democratic and meaningful life for everyday people. @ak_pennington
Jahin Tanvir is a 19-year-old student, speaker, writer, policy adviser and youth advocate whose key aspirations reside in providing equitable healthcare, meaningful youth advocacy and health research. With a penchant of being multifaceted, Jahin possesses a strong background in youth leadership and advocacy in leading youth-led organisations such as Oaktree, World Vision, Red Cross and the United Nations to name a few.
He has represented Australia on the global stage with highlights including being invited to speak at the Parliament House, guest speaker at the Australasian Aid conference at the Australian National University and as a delegate at the Global Model United Nations in Rome. Jahin was awarded the ‘New and Emerging community leader’ scholarship and ‘Service to others’ award by the Parliament of Australia. He is a published writer with various articles published on mediums such as UNICEF, The Centre of Research Excellence in Adolescent Health, The Conversation and WhyNot.
Tess and Seb
Tess (left; she/her) and Seb (right; he/they) are proud Workshop Presenters for Minus18’s education team, championing the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth all across Australia. They are passionate about creating inclusive, supportive and engaging learning spaces for LGBTQIA+ allies and community members alike. Their workshops aim to build foundational understandings of gender, sexuality, identity and pride – while welcoming audiences from schools, workplaces, community organisations, youth groups, and more!
Headspace | National Youth Mental Health Foundation
Jason Trethowan commenced as CEO at headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, in January 2017. Jason spent the previous ten years in CEO positions primarily focussed on health and community services. Jason is involved in many national health system networks and is currently a company director with Barwon Health and Professionals with Alzheimer’s (PALZ).
Jason graduated from La Trobe University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Record Administration and went on to achieve a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics at Monash University and a Masters in Business Administration from Deakin University.
Hon. Amanda Rishworth MP
Australian Labor Party
Amanda Rishworth Amanda is a member of Federal Labor’s Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development and Shadow Minister for Youth. Amanda was educated at state schools in Adelaide and was a volunteer swimming instructor and surf life saver. During her university studies, Amanda worked as a sales assistant and developed a strong interest in workplace fairness. Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology Honours from Flinders University and a Masters Degree in Psychology from Adelaide University.
After graduating, Amanda practised as a psycholoigst working with General Practitioners in the delivery of mental health care to the community. Amanda lives in Hallett Cove with her husband Tim and their two young sons, Percy and Oscar.
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW)
Henrietta Amevor is a 21-year-old student studying International and Global Studies and International Relations at the University of Sydney. She also works at Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW and gets to organise and facilitate workshops, camps, and other interactive events that bring young people together in the best of ways, whilst simultaneously developing their leadership and advocacy skills. Henrietta has a passion for increasing the inclusion of young African, Indigenous, refugee and migrant voices in decision making spaces, as well as empowering us as young people to use our voices to advocate for ourselves. Aside from study and work, Henrietta is also an actor, writer and YouTube Content creator. Her YouTube channel is a space that she created for her to have further conversations about social justice. She discusses topics from encouraging others to be courageous about using their voices online, to showcasing success stories of African people, to inspiring self confidence in her audience.
Andrea L. Pino-Silva (US)
The Hunting Ground
Andrea L. Pino-Silva is a social movement strategist, scholar, and author on issues of sexual violence, latinidad, and queerness. She is committed to bringing together grassroots organizing and unapologetic storytelling to build intersectional and accessible social movements.
She is co-author of “We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out,” and co-founder of the US survivor advocacy organization End Rape on Campus, where she worked for over five years to support students in learning their rights under Title IX, and in changing their university sexual assault and harassment policies.
Her work and personal journey is prominently featured in the film The Hunting Ground, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and she appeared alongside Lady Gaga and 50 other survivors at the 2016 Academy Awards.
End Rape On Campaus (EROC)
Sharna Bremner is the Founder and Co-Director of End Rape on Campus (EROC) Australia Ltd, a volunteer-run organisation that works to end sexual violence at Australian universities and residential colleges through the provision of direct support for survivors and the communities, prevention through education, and by advocating for policy reform at the campus, state, and federal levels.
EROC Australia’s work has been recognised with several awards including the 2017 Edna Ryan Education Award and the 2018 HESTA Social Impact award. In 2017, EROC Australia was a finalist in the Community Organisation category at the Australian Human Rights Commission awards.
Sharna is a graduate of the University of Adelaide and has worked in international higher education since 2010.
Associate Prof. Dan Woodman
University of Melbourne
Associate Professor Dan Woodman is a sociologist of young adulthood and generations at the University of Melbourne. He is President of The Australian Sociological Association and the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Dan is co-Chief Investigator on the Life Patterns project, one of the largest and longest studies of young lives, tracking two generations of young Australians and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Youth Studies. He is turned to as an expert commentator on generations by journalists around the world. Dan has written on generational change and the future work for the Australian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian and has featured in articles in the Atlantic, New Scientist, The Times and El Pais among others. He is a regular contributor to ABC radio.
Kieu Gavin is a passionate young advocate for youth participation in the Australian aid program, policy and community development. She is the Head of International Engagement at Oaktree, where she co-develops youth-led programming with youth activists in the Asia-Pacific region. She also spearheads the organisation’s sector and political advocacy to advance youth empowerment and civic engagement. Kieu is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and International Studies, at the University of Melbourne.
Associate Prof. Hernan Cuervo
Youth Research Centre | University of Melbourne
Hernan Cuervo is an Associate Professor in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) and Deputy Director of the Youth Research Centre, at the University of Melbourne. His research interests are youth transitions, the nexus between education and employment, rural education and theory of justice. He has published extensively youth employment, young people’s transitions to adulthood and rural youth. His latest books are “Youth, Inequality and Social Change in the Global South” (Springer, 2019) and “Youth and the New Adulthood” (co-editor, Springer, 2020).
Gina Chinnery is the Associate Director, Employment and Education Partnerships at Orygen. Sh has worked in the field of youth mental health and more broadly across the employment services sector for over 20 years. She has been a key contributor to the development and evaluation of innovative vocational interventions for young people at Orygen and headspace including Individual Placement and Support (IPS) and youth vocational peer work and developed the online career support platform, YOTES. Gina oversees a range of education projects focussed on international students, apprentices and school transition. In 2015, Gina was awarded the Career Development Association of Australia Career Practitioner of the Year and the Long Term Unemployment Conference’s Employment Officer of the Year and became an International Specialised Skills Institute Fellow in 2018.
Macinley Butson is one of Australia’s foremost young inventors who devotes herself to improving the world through STEM and, being an inspirational voice to youth and industry urging them to work towards solutions for global challenges by asking big questions. She was recently named in the Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2020 and was the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year.
Internationally recognised for her scientific and engineering endeavours, Macinley has developed many devices which have aided humanity across a number of sectors including, cancer treatment, water sanitation and, renewable energy. Believing there is no better investment than in people, she equally fosters this curiosity in other students and industry motivating them as a role model and constantly encouraging exploration.
Made By Yuma
Yuma Soerianto, 13, is one of the youngest app developers in the world and an award-winning game developer. Yuma started coding when he was six years old, and has been an Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) scholarship winner four years in a row. At the age of ten, he became the youngest WWDC scholar, where he met and was praised by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Recognising the importance of technology for his generation, Yuma decided to share his knowledge on YouTube. He has since inspired tens of thousands of people worldwide to learn coding through his channel, Anyone Can Code.
As a renowned international speaker, Yuma loves to share his passion for technology and run coding workshops at world conferences. At the World Youth Forum in Egypt, Yuma was awarded by the president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for his work in technology field.
Rita Arrigo is an Industry Digital Strategist at Microsoft, with a passion for emerging technology to re-imagine the possible with AI, Mixed Reality, IOT and Blockchain. She leads co-Innovation program and Strategic Partnership focussed digital business transformation in Public Sector. She envisions with Design Thinking & Inclusive Design, hacks, prototypes and engages teams. The focus is to envision Digital Transformational Business and Innovation Scenarios like new digital business models and digital services and solutions engaging with business level engagement within Public Sector.
She believes in making our lives more human and reinventing our working lives to a lifelong learning inclusive culture powered by data to drive new levels of human experiences. Her role as an AI Ambassador drives many AI for Good Initiatives, including Smart Inclusive Cities, Diversity, Sustainability and Humanitarian aspects.
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW)
Yatha Jain is a young Indian woman who grew up on Gadigal Land. Her passion for equity drives her to improve the world, particularly for women of colour. Through her role as a Youth Ambassador with the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW, she has led the inclusion and development of young people with indigenous, Black, refugee and migrant backgrounds. Last year she completed her degree in Biomedical Engineering/ Project Management and her Honours Thesis explored the Provision of a Neurosurgical Implant for a Global Context. This year she is working at Westpac as a Transformation Graduate and has also been advising the Reconnect Project, an organisation who give phones to people in need, in order to connect with essential services. This year she will also be working with the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre to facilitate youth forums as part of a global initiative to tackle violent extremism.
Jan Owen AM
Learning Creates Australia
Jan Owen AM is a social entrepreneur, innovator, influencer and author. She is currently the Co-Convener of Learning Creates Australia and former CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians. Jan was named one of Australia’s True Leaders in 2018 and the Inaugural Australian Financial Review and Westpac Woman of Influence in 2012 for her relentless commitment to unleashing the talent of young people, driving social innovation and entrepreneurship and leading change in education.
Vanamali (Mali) Hermans
Organiser & Writer
Vanamali (Mali) Hermans is a disabled organiser and writer and has had work published in Overland, The Guardian and New Matilda, and has appeared on podcasts such as Living the Dream, Chronically Chilled and Movement Memos with Kelly Hayes, among others.
Mali is a Wiradjuri woman with lived experience of disability, caring and poverty, currently living on Ngunnawal and Ngambri land. She is a postgraduate student studying a Masters of Social Work and current board director of Women with Disabilities ACT.
Shirley Jackson is the Senior Economist at Per Capita. Shirley spent most of his working life in warehouses, retail shops, restaurants and being unemployed. He has been fortunate enough to have spent the last 10 years working as a union official, most recently as a national official with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, of which he is a proud member.
His areas of interest and expertise are young workers, employment, labour market policy, industrial relations, and industry policy.
Foundation for Young Australians
Kelly Fawcett is the Research & Policy Manager at the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA). She is involved in constructing FYA’s research reports, interrogating data, and understanding how the world works for young people. Kelly has a passion for all things data, particularly its ability to tell stories, educate and empower us to solve the big issues. Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce, specialising in economics, and has worked with other for-purpose organisations such as Pollinate Energy and consulted in the Aged Care sector to create social impact in Australia and abroad. She is currently studying a Masters of Business Administration specialising in social impact.
Poet | Digi Youth Arts
Loki Liddle is a young Indigenous poet and musician based on the Gold Coast. His activities include hosting Alternator and Poly Poetry, playing in his band Selve and working as a producer for Digi Youth Arts. He has performed at Melbourne Fringe, Horizon Festival, NAIDOC week, La Boite Theatre, Woodford Folk Festival and was the winner of the 2020 Nimbin Poetry world cup.
His poetry ranges at a gallop from sincerity to satire, from paper prose to playful political parody. He has a bent for the mischievous and a tongue like a pretzel, forever unwinding itself in the weird knots and turns of words. .
Wear It Purple
Georgia “Gidget” Smith is a proud, openly queer individual who strives in creating inclusive and safe spaces for all individuals. As a Youth Action Council Member for Wear It Purple, they have been able to develop these spaces to make a positive impact on LGBTQIA+ youth, and assist individuals on their journey of self-acceptance through these safe spaces.
Additionally to Wear It Purple, Gidget has founded Brisbane Queer Youth – a social media platform connecting queer youth to form strong social networks – that currently offers both in person and online support to a wide range of LGBTQIA+ youth. They have also become a trained, verified listener for 7Cups of Tea to assist in supporting people experiencing emotional distress which has motivated them to begin a Bachelor of Psychology in 2021.
Their drive for change stems from the belief that Everyone has the right to be proud of who they are.
Emma Dawson is the Executive Director of Per Capita. Formerly, she was a senior advisor on Digital Inclusion at Telstra, Executive Director of the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society at the University of Melbourne, and a senior policy advisor in the Rudd and Gillard governments.
Hon Prof Adrian Piccoli FACEL
UNSW Gonski Institute
Professor Adrian Piccoli is Director of UNSW’s Gonski Institute for Education. The Gonski Institute was established in 2018 with a mission to address growing inequality in Australian education as well as improving access for students to high-quality education wherever they may live or go to school.
Professor Piccoli is highly respected by the Australian education sector for his leadership in education policy particularly in relation to needs based school funding reform and his focus on the learning needs of disadvantaged children particularly those living in rural and remote Australia
In 2017 he was made a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders. In 2019 Adrian published his first book, 12 Ways Your Child Can Get the Best Out of School.
Rose Gaumann has been running the long-surviving, eccentric little dive bar, Kent Street, for 5 years and is a proud industry veteran of 16 years.
By 30 years old she has over a decade of experience running cafes, bars, restaurants and has worked in bartending and waitressing at nightclubs and events. In this time Rose has managed and supported hundreds of young workers.
Rose was amongst the first local voices calling for change in the industry surrounding sexual harassment and the right to feel safe at work. In 2017 she founded a community initiative targeted at connecting Melbourne’s Northside-based venues and coordinating safety tactics, alerts and training, which led to working with Hospo Voice Union to launch anti-sexual harassment campaigns and awareness projects.
Prof. Gigi Foster
University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Gigi Foster is a Professor with the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales, having joined UNSW in 2009 after six years at the University of South Australia. Formally educated at Yale University (BA in Ethics, Politics, and Economics) and the University of Maryland (PhD in Economics), she works in diverse fields including education, social influence, corruption, lab experiments, time use, behavioural economics, and Australian policy.
Her research contributions regularly inform public debates and appear in both specialised and cross-disciplinary outlets (e.g., Quantitative Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Population Economics, Journal of Economic Psychology, Human Relations). Her teaching, featuring strategic innovation and integration with research, was awarded a 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Named 2019 Young Economist of the Year by the Economic Society of Australia, Professor Foster has filled numerous roles of service to the profession and engages heavily on economic matters with the Australian community.
Dr Elise Klein
Crawford School | Australian National University (ANU)
Pam Barker joins the Yfoundations team with extensive experience across the NFP sector. Pam worked at ACON NSW’s largest LGBTIQ Health Service as the National Program Manager of the Health & Wellbeing Program and the Senior Manager at the Black Dog Institute.
Before this Pam managed Open Doors Youth Service, QLD’s largest LGBTIQ youth service supporting young people between the aged 12–24 years. Open Doors Youth Service is a Reconnect funded organisation providing homelessness prevention and psychosocial support to young people. Pam advocated for change in policy reform at both state and federal government levels partnering with stakeholders to affect change across QLD for LGBTIQ Youth.
Pam is studying her degree in Psychology and will register as a Clinical Health Psychologist specialising in youth and sits on the board of WayAhead Mental Health Association.
Youth Homelessness & Mental Health Advocate
Elvis Martin is one of the passionate young leaders of Victoria advocating for social justice. He is currently Advisor to the Mental Health Commissioner of Victoria and Homelessness Advisor at Melbourne City Council. He is also the chair at National Red Cross Youth and Ambassador of National Youth Commission Australia and RUOK? Day. His main focus is to support young people who are experiencing hardships in life. His areas of advocacy work include mental health, homelessness, domestic violence, suicide prevention and the LGBTIQ+ community. He uses his platform to promote inclusion, diversity and equality for all.
Dr Sean Gallagher
Centre for the New Workforce | Swinburne University of Technology
Joel Dignam is the founder of Better Renting. He is a leading community organisers with broad experience in non-profits, unions, and electoral politics in Australia and the UK. Previously he worked as Network Organiser for Climate Action Network Australia, and he has also worked with United Voice and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Joel has studied “Leadership, Organizing and Action” with Professor Marshall Ganz through Harvard’s Kennedy School of Executive Education, and he holds an Advanced Diploma of Management from the Groupwork Institute of Australia. He is a 2019 Churchill Fellow and the 2020 Gill Owen Scholar.
Debra Cerasa is an experienced executive who has worked in both the public and not for profit sectors. Employed across a diverse range of businesses, including member-based organisations, she embraces working with people to lobby and advocate to achieve results. Debra has a reputation as a transformational leader who is invested in working with others to encourage them to be the best version of themselves. Recognised for her passion, energy and commitment to support individuals, which stems from a sold grounding as a health professional. Her career has continually developed through clinical, education, management and leadership roles.
Deb provides leadership to Jobs Australia and works closely with the entire team who are committed to providing ongoing support, evidence-based advice and excellent service to our members.
Young Workers Centre
Sarah Bostock is a vocational peer worker, living and working on unceded Wurundjeri country. They live with chronic illness, including OCD and anxiety, and through their work share their experiences with other young people to find common ground and connection. They work on a Jobs Victoria Employment Network team at headspace Glenroy, supporting young people with experiences of mental ill-health find employment. They also work as a youth research assistant on projects focused on the development and evaluation of peer work programs within Orygen.
Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC)
Ahelee Rahman is a Year 10 student at Melbourne Girls Grammar School. As a fourteen year old, she is passionate about advocating and representing perspectives of young people around social issues like discrimination, racism, gender equality, education, student voice, and climate change. To share her opinions and work towards social change she is a part of organisations like Happow Australia, Spill The Beans, Amnesty International, and the VicSRC; alongside writing for her blog which can be found here: www.aheleerahman.com
Victorian Local Learning and Employment Networks (VicLLENs)
Trent McCarthy is chair of Victoria’s 31 Local Learning and Employment Networks (VicLLENs), CEO of Central Ranges LLEN and co-founder of the Whitelion Bail Out, an award-winning theatrical experience that has raised over $8M since 2006 to support young people at risk and in the justice system. Trent also serves as a councillor at the City of Darebin, where he proposed the first climate emergency declaration of any government in the world, kicking off a movement of over 1,400 cities. A regular in the Melbourne Comedy Festival for over a decade, Trent is a third-generation game show winner (yes, that’s a thing!), the proud father of two student strikers and coach of his daughter’s under 11’s soccer team. Trent is committed to supporting youth voices, radical collaboration and relentless optimism.
Dr Berhan Ahmed
African Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services
Dr Berhan M. Ahmed (Shiday) is the Victorian Australian of the year 2009, current CEO, of African Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services, ex-co-chairperson of the Australia Africa University Network; ex-Chairperson of the African Think Tank and Adjunct Professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and is well-known to many African residing in Australia, through his commitment to numerous community issues via mainstream media.
First African Australian Senate Candidate for federal election 2004 for Victoria, Dr Ahmed is an ex-Board member for AMES 2007 – 2016 and Ambassador of White Ribbon. Dr Ahmed is motivated by five core principles – social justice, sustainability development, Aboriginal reconciliation, building stronger and dynamic communities and applying democracy in action.
Elizabeth Knight is a 21-year-old with a big dream to transform our education system and how we prepare young people for their futures! She is the founder of Purposeful, a social enterprise helping young people to create meaningful career pathways for themselves.
During her time at university she was a Director at Bloom, a youth-led incubator that acts as the catalyst for early stage founders to begin their entrepreneurial journey in WA. She is passionate about having powerful conversations that shake up the way people think and has had many epic opportunities to do just that through her roles as a Fogarty scholar, TEDx presenter and BCG Scholarship recipient.
Prof. Julianne Moss
Research for Educational Impact | Deakin University
Julianne Moss is Alfred Deakin Professor and Director, Research for Educational Impact, the strategic research centre in Education at Deakin University. Her academic career is shaped by leadership of curriculum and educational change linked to an established program of innovative qualitative research.
Over a forty-year career in education she has upheld an enduring commitment to equity and social justice. Her experience in education has been equally shared between the university sector and the school system.
Carmel Guerra OAM
Centre for Multicultural Youth
Carmel Guerra OAM is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Multicultural Youth, the first and largest organisation in Australia to work exclusively with migrant and refugee young people and Chairperson of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia, the national peak body. Carmel sits on numerous advisory committees and is currently a member of the Youth Parole Board of Victoria, the Victorian Children’s Council and the SBS community advisory council.
National Employment Services Association
Sally Sinclair is the CEO of the National Employment Services Association, the peak body for the Australian employment services sector. Sally has over three decades of domestic and international expertise in the design, development and delivery of employment and related services, including for young people.
Sally’s experience includes numerous government appointments and industry expert groups, including the Welfare Reform Reference Group, the Employment Services Expert Advisory Panel, the Minister’s National Disability and Carers Advisory Council, the National Disability Insurance Scheme Market Oversight Advisory Group, the New Employment Services Trial Reference Group, the Disability Employment Services (DES) Reference Group and the VET Stakeholder Committee.
Tasha Reynolds is a 22-year-old Disability Support worker. Tasha is part of CREATE’s National Influencing Committee and is a NSW Young Consultant. Tasha has recently graduated her university studies in a Bachelor of Health Science (Parmedicine). She is one of eleven children, and had experienced living in Out of Home Care for eight years. Tasha is now – alongside her sister, a certified foster carer to her 17-year-old sister and actively engages with CREATE to advocate for children in out-of-home-care. Tasha is the 2016 recipient of the Sisters of Charity Tertiary Education Scholarship awarded to young people with a care experience looking to pursue further education.
Disability Employment Australia
Rick Kane has worked in disability employment since 1996. He became Disability Employment Australia’s CEO at the start of 2015. He began his career at the Salvation Army, went on to be the Executive Officer at Workforce and then worked at WISE Employment for ten years as the Policy Advisor. Rick’s work focus is government relations and policy development as it relates to best practices and continuous improvement increasing employment outcomes for people with disability in Australia. This includes engaging international perspectives. He represents the sector’s best practice in his work with government, disability advocates, employers and academics.
Kalina Page is a year 12 student at Upwey High School. She lives on a hobby farm so she is constantly busy with homework, work or work on the property. Kalina is interested in studying law or teaching at university. Her hobbies include pottery and sewing and she loves reading.
Professor Greg Marston
Basic Income Guarantee Australia
Greg Marston is a Professor of Social Policy, School of Social Science at The University of Queensland and Co-ordinator of Basic Income Guarantee Australia. Prior to entering academia Greg worked in the non-profit sector at the local, state and national level. His research interests include poverty and unemployment, technology and work, evidence and policy and social service delivery models. His most recent books are a co-edited collection on Basic Income in Australia and New Zealand (2016); Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics (2013); and The Australian Welfare State: Who Benefits Now (2013).
Nina Laitala is the Executive Officer of the Victorian Student Representative Council, the peak body for school aged students in Victoria. Nina has a background in community arts with a particular focus on song writing as a way of connecting and empowering communities. A passionate advocate for ensuring silenced, marginalised and vulnerable communities have platforms for accessible and authentic storytelling and that all people are empowered to make decisions over their own lives, Nina is also a parent to three primary school aged children and a musician whenever she gets any spare time.
Prof. David Adams
Pro-Vice Chancellor | University of Tasmania
Prof. David Adams has a long history of advocacy for young people including as Social Inclusion Commissioner for Tasmania and in Victoria through the establishment of the Department for Victorian Communities under the Bracks Government. Most recently he has been Pro Vice Chancellor – Community Partnerships and Regional Development at the University of Tasmania. David has a particular research and policy interest in access and equity challenges for people in regional and remote communities.
Students Against Racism
Students Against Racism gives a voice to migrant and refugee young people living in Hobart. The group is led by passionate young people who want to develop their communication and employability skills while sharing their stories to fight racism. The group has 50 active members and has trained over 400 young people as presenters. They have delivered workshops and presentations across Tasmania to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds while developing their confidence, language and passion for making a difference. The group started in 2008 and has presented to over 15,000 people. They won the Australian Human Rights ‘Racism- it stops with me’ award in 2015.
Matthew Hyde is the Executive Principal at Parkville College. The College opened in 2012 and took aim at creating a substantial program to meet the diverse needs of children unfortunate enough to find themselves in custody. After quickly establishing itself as an effective support for children, the school grew quickly. Now in its 9th year, spanning 52 weeks, 5 sites and annually supporting in excess of 1,500 children, the school is widely regarded as an integral component of Youth Justice in Victoria. Setting a new level of expectation around academic development and achievement.
As an inaugural staff member of the school, Matthew has been influential in leading the growth of Parkville College. Ensuring that whilst the school expanded, academic rigour and therapeutic care remain prevalent for every child and that the school set an example for all educational environments in effective student growth and care.
Jobs For Australia
Sandra Lim has over 13 years of experience across recruitment agencies, and leading internal recruitment and talent acquisition teams predominantly within the utilities sector.In terms of recruitment, she has looked after a wide spectrum of internal roles including Technology, Engineering, Operations, Corporate and Commercial as well as leading the recruitment drives for Apprentices, Graduate Programs (Electrical Engineers), Trainees, and Contact Centre roles.
Mo is a consultant to the National Youth Commission Australia, designing and facilitating focus group engagement of young people and stakeholders.
Mo founded MOHOW in 1998 to inspire and advise countries on the engagement of their young people as positive and creative citizens. Recent appointments include international advisor to the Kuwait National Youth Project and the UAE Youth Empowerment Project.
In Australia, Mo continues to support all levels of government, business and communities to establish a clear vison of where they want to go with young people. Mo is also a small business co-owner in the visual arts space and wants to see good business practices celebrated and more young people in good business.
Australia Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)
Matt Pfahlert is a pioneering social entrepreneur, with a long-standing commitment to rural Australia. As co-founder and CEO of ACRE Matt is driving the renewal of Australia’s rural communities so that future generations may thrive. Matt started his first social enterprise in 1993 at the age of 23, working with ‘at risk’ young people in wilderness settings, this led to his Young Australian of the Year Award in 1996.
In 2013 Matt undertook a Churchill Fellowship to study social enterprise for rural rejuvenation in the UK and North America. In 2018 Matt initiated the Social Enterprise Network for Victoria and co-produced the inaugural SEWF Rural Symposium in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to coincide with the 10th world forum. Matt is a passionate advocate for community-led approaches to building an agile, resilient and enterprising rural Australia.
National Youth Commission Australia
Sophie Johnston is the former President of the National Union of Students and has spent a number of years advocating for students and young people in the higher education sector. In her work with student organisations, Sophie has campaigned around education access, workplace security and wage theft, as well as inadequate social services impacting young peoples participation. In 2017, she worked with the AHRC and AHR Centre in the release of the report into sexual violence prevalence on Australian University campuses.
Dr Jennifer Jackson
The Mitchell Institute
Dr Jennifer Jackson is the Education Policy Lead and Head of the Mitchell Institute. Her key interest is in evidence-based policy that delivers education system improvement. She has expertise on all levels of the education system. Dr Jackson has previously worked in early childhood policy and regulation, and completed her PhD on early childhood workforce development.
She has led strategic system policy teams at the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and conducted research on education system performance at Victoria University, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian Council for Educational Research. Dr Jackson’s expert advisory roles to government include sitting on the Victorian Expert Advisory Panel on Rural and Regional Schools, and ACECQA Children’s Education and Care Workforce Forum.
Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA)
Peter Strong is currently the CEO of Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia and has been in this role since June 2010. In this role, Peter advocates for the small business community and representation of issues from members to politicians and government agencies.
Peter participates in various advisory groups to the Australian government including: Chair of the Digital Business Council, former Chairman of Treasury’s Business Advisory Forum on Standard Business Reporting (SBR); a Board member of the Black Economy Board; the Digital Experts Committee (PM&C), the peak VET Stakeholders Committee (DESE); various mental health committees, and a member of the Australian Tax Commissioner’s small business stewardship group as well as similar committees for the ACCC, ASIC and the Fair Work Commission.
National Youth Commission Australia
Finbar Piper is a Juris Doctor candidate at Melbourne Law School. He was formerly the Director of Political Engagement at Oaktree, a youth-run aid and development organisation, where he was involved in campaign management and political lobbying on a national scale. Through his work in politics, along with his work in media, with Reuters and Polity, Finbar has become passionate about youth empowerment, political accountability, and access to information. He has a Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Politics & International Studies, and a certificate in English language teaching.
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA)
Steve Kinmond is the CEO of the NSW peak body, the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA), which has as its core objective promoting strong practices and systems in relation to the supports provided to vulnerable children, young people, their families and communities. Prior to his appointment as the CEO of ACWA, Steve was the NSW Community & Disability Services Commissioner and Deputy Ombudsman (Human Services) for 15 years. Before that, he was the Assistant Ombudsman (Police) for eight years. He has also had extensive involvement in reviewing service delivery and justice issues affecting Aboriginal communities. Steve has close to 30 years of investigative experience, and has also worked as a solicitor and run his own consultancy practice.
Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA)
Children and Young People with Disability Australia
Paul McDonald is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Victoria, the State’s largest provider of foster care, family welfare and youth support services. Previous to this he was the Executive Director of the Children, Youth and Family Division in the Department of Human Services for the Victorian Government, being responsible for Victoria’s Child Protection Program, Youth Justice Program and Family and Domestic Violence Programs. Paul is the founding Chair of the national ‘Home Stretch’ campaign which seeks to extend the age of those in Out of Home Care from 18 to 21 years in every jurisdiction in Australia.
Kirra Niner has been honing her drawing and painting skills since young adolescence. Originally simply working with pencils and markers, Kirra has slowly evolved into acrylic, gouache, and water colour painting. The artist deep love for graphic novels and storytelling, brings about a unique and expressionist style, with technical undertones of modern impressionist painting traits.
Kirra’s use of obvious brush strokes, alongside obnoxiously loud colours, is the artists means of creating movement and an individual perspective for viewers. These intentions create a mesmerising mood of pensive thought. Kirra is a contemporary cartoon disrupter, and is pushing the boundaries of traditional art, paving a way for her own unique way of creation.
TAFE Directors Australia
Craig Robertson commenced as CEO of TAFE Directors Australia in April 2017. The organisation promotes nationally and internationally the critical role that TAFEs play in tertiary education in Australia. In this role he is also the Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics which is a global network of associations and institutions committed to high quality professional and technical education and training.
Prior to joining TDA Craig worked in the Victorian Government in 2015 and 2016 with responsibilities for the operation of vocational education and working with Victorian universities.
Craig also worked for over 30 years in the Commonwealth Government with responsibilities in national policy and program delivery relating to employment services, funding for schools and most aspects of vocational education and training. Craig was also an inaugural member of the Australian Qualifications Framework Council formed in 2011.
Bank of Ideas
Peter Kenyon is a social capitalist and community enthusiast. Over the last two decades he has worked with over 1500 communities throughout Australia and overseas seeking to facilitate fresh and creative ways that stimulate community and economic renewal. Peter has had a background as a youth worker, teacher, youth education officer, tertiary lecturer and public servant.ry.
Prof. David Mackenzie
Youth Development Australia
David Mackenzie is an Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Swinburne University. David has a strong record of research and development on youth issues and youth policy and is internationally recognised for his work on homelessness and youth. He is the author and co-author of a number of significant reports on Youth Homelessness.
David was the original founder of Youth Development Australia and he is the current Chair of the YDA Board. Over the past 10 years, David has served on a number of government advisory committees and taskforces – the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness, the National SAAP Data and Research Advisory Committee, the National SAAP Information Services Committee, the JPET Needs Committee and the Victorian Integrated Data Project Committee. David was one of the NYC Commissioners in 2007/08. David is one of Australia’s leading researchers on homelessness and disadvantage.
Ibrahim Taha is a student at the University of Sydney, studying Arts and Law where he serves as an executive on the Sydney University Law Society. He is an active participant in the local community including involvement in various organisations to raise awareness of inclusivity and mutual co-existence across racial, religious and cultural backgrounds.
His community service enabled him to receive the NSW Premier’s Harmony Youth Medal and the John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award on behalf of the Order of Australia.
Saul Eslake has worked as an economist in the Australian financial markets for more than 25 years, including as Chief Economist at McIntosh Securities (a stockbroking firm) in the late 1980s, Chief Economist (International) at National Mutual Funds Management in the early 1990s, as Chief Economist at the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) from 1995 to 2009, and as Chief Economist (Australia & New Zealand) for Bank of America Merrill Lynch from 2011 until June 2015. In between these last two positions he was Director of the Productivity Growth program at the then newly-established Grattan Institute, a ‘think tank’.
Single Session Pass
$20 per person
$10 young person*
*50% for young people 30 years old and under.
Half week ticket
$170 per person
$85 young person*
*50% for young people 30 years old and under.
Full week ticket
$300 Per Person
$150 young person*
*50% for young people 30 years old and under.
the youth futures summit is presented by
The Youth Futures Summit acknowledges that the work undertaken to organise this event is on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and wish to pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.