Meet our Speakers
Mary Maselina Harm
Pacific Climate Warriors
Mary Maselina Harm is a proud South Pacific Islander woman of Samoan/Chinese-Fijian descent passionate about the power of storytelling in creating social change. Mary currently serves as the Pacific Climate Warriors Brisbane Coordinator, elevating the stories of indigienous communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Having grown up away from her ancestral homelands, Mary stays connected to culture through the magical place that is her backyard – home to many tropical fruits, flowers and crops, siva Samoa (traditional Samoan dance), and time spent out on the ocean fishing with family.
Through her work as a Pacific Liaison Officer in schools, Mary creates culturally safe and meaningful spaces with young people to create,serve and learn in a way that is meaningful to them and their communities. She is also a representative for QLD on the MYAN Australia Youth Ambassadors Network working to influence the national agenda for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
Hon. Anthony Albanese MP
Australian Labor Party
Anthony Albanese 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.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Liberal Party of Australia
Scott Morrison was sworn in as Australia’s 30th Prime Minister on 24 August 2018. He has previously served as Treasurer, Minister for Social Services, Minister for Border Protection and was first elected to Parliament as the Federal Member for Cook in 2007.
During his more than ten years in the parliament, the Prime Minister has established a reputation as a passionate advocate for his local community as well as a proven fixer for difficult policy problems in senior Cabinet portfolios.
As Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, he successfully stopped the boats. As Social Services Minister, he reduced abuse of the welfare system and put Australia’s social safety net on a more sustainable footing.
As Treasurer, his achievements include reducing the deficit, getting debt under control, maintaining Australia’s AAA credit rating, record jobs growth, cutting corporate and personal income taxes, ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax and reforming Australia’s banking and financial system.
The Prime Minister has represented the electorate of Cook in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire since 2007. He and his wife Jenny have two young daughters
Hon. Adam Bandt MP
The Australian Greens
Adam Bandt has been the Federal Member for Melbourne since being elected in 2010 when he made history as the first Green elected to the House of Representatives at a general election.
In February this year he was elected leader of the Australian Greens.
A former public interest and industrial lawyer, Adam represented some of Australia’s lowest paid workers, protecting them from privatisation and big business. One of Adam’s first acts in Parliament was to introduce a private members bill extending protection for firefighters who contract cancer through their work, which passed into law with unanimous support, becoming one of only 7 private members bills to become law in the past two decades.
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.
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.
Trans Action Warrang
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Lidia Thorpe MP
Senator-Elect Lidia Thorpe is a Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman, mother of three and grandmother living on Wurundjeri country.
She is the first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria, first federal Aboriginal representative for The Greens and was the first Aboriginal woman in Victorian Parliament in 2017 as the MP for Northcote.
Hon. Amanda Rishworth MP
Australian Labor Party
Amanda Rishworth 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.
Keenan Mundine is the Co-Founder and Ambassador for Deadly Connections but also leads our partnerships and marketing.
Keenan is a proud First Nations man with connections to the Biripi Nation of NSW through his mother who is from Taree and ties to the Wakka Wakka Nation in Queensland through his Father who is from Cherbourg. Keenan is the youngest of three boys, born and raised on Gadigal land – Keenan grew up in Redfern, notoriously known as “The Block”. Keenan had a rough start to his childhood after losing both parents at a young age, being placed in care, separated from his siblings.
Keenan faced his own difficulties in life and made some poor decisions in his adolescence which resulted in his lengthy involvement with the justice system. Keenan found his passion in giving back to his community and working with people who have similar experiences to him.
Keenan’s journey has taken him to the United Nations in Switzerland to address the Human Rights Council and share his story so that they may lean on Australia’s government to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Keenan’s journey inspired him and his wife to create a unique, community-led solution and response to the current mass incarceration and child protection crisis of First Nations people. With the combined practical experience of Keenan’s lived experience and his wife’s professional skills and academic qualifications, as First Nations people they are committed to changing the narrative for their mob and communities.
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.
Jordan Pollard is a 17-year-old Pintubi man from Kintore Walungurru. Jordan has been a proven leader amongst his peers, assisting Elders in engaging young people in cultural activities such as tool making, hunting, and storytelling. Jordan has also been actively involved with the Macdonnell Council youth program, where he has inspired engagement amongst other young people in the Community.
Recently, Jordan participated in a conference in Melbourne focussed on understanding and combatting the increasing impact of mental health and suicide in Indigenous young people. At this conference, Jordan was a keen and vocal advocate, evidencing his natural leadership skills.
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.
Macdonnell Regional Council
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
Mohamed Semra is a social entrepreneur and young leader working to shatter stigma and misconceptions surrounding African migrants and refugees. As someone who migrated to Australia at a young age, he has overcome challenges; learning English and overcoming a stutter; to being elected as School and Debating Captain and winning the Commissioner’s Race Discrimination Prize for his essay on racism.
Mohamed has spent the past 3 years in community work founding a social enterprise and is currently a candidate running for Maribyrnong City Council in the upcoming October elections. He hopes that sharing his story and the resilience he has gained from it, will inspire young people to become leaders and challenge the negative stereotypes they often face.
Adjunct Prof. Muriel Bamblett Hon DLittSW AO
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
Muriel Bamblett is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman who has been employed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency since 1999. From 1998 to 2008 Muriel chaired the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the peak Australian agency for Indigenous child and family services and was re-appointed as Chair in 2018.
Muriel is active on many boards and committees concerning children, families and the Indigenous community, including the Aboriginal Children’s Forum; the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Partnership Forum, the Aboriginal Justice Forum, the Treaty Assembly and the Aboriginal Community Elders Service.
Muriel’s contribution to her community and to Victoria has been recognised in many awards. In 2019 Muriel was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours for distinguished service to the Indigenous community in Victoria as an advocate for the self determination and cultural rights of children. Muriel has been inducted into the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll and the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
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.
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.
Pacific CLimate Warriors
Isaac Nasedra is a young man of Fijian descent born and raised in the South-Western suburbs of Sydney, and acknowledges that it is land that was stolen from the Dharug people. He is currently employed in the environmental industry and volunteers as an organiser with the Pacific Climate Warriors in Sydney
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.
Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network
Jacob Thomas is nonbinary, a Queen’s Young Leader, and previous Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN). Jacob represented CYGEN at international levels, including the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York, to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the 11th Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, AIDS2018 in Amsterdam, and Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver.
Jacob has a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology, Gender Studies) from Monash University and is undertaking their Masters in International Development at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). They are an associate of the Monash Intercultural Lab and guest lecturer at Monash University with academic interests in queer perspectives in intercultural learning, feminist methodologies and youth leadership.
They were an Ambassador for Australia’s inaugural giveOUT day, and provides SOGI expertise for the UN Girls’ Education Initiative. In their spare time Jacob is a performer, designer and drag artist.
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.
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.
Racerage is a Blak radical rapbrat spitting rhymes and slaying stages on Wurundjeri country.Their lyrical themes draw from their background in spoken word; focussing on the struggles, frustrations and lols of their lived experiences at a whole bunch of intersections, as a queer nonbinary crip of colour.
Racerage thrives on nurturing creative expression within and about their communities; through solo performances, visual art, throwing all ages open mic hiphop shows on their public housing estate with High Rising Hiphop; involvement in DIY community theatre production The Change, cohosting community radio show Satellite Skies on 3CR and killer collabs with other queer, trans, poc and First Nations crew!
Get ready to be called out, fired up and dragged onto the (virtual) dance floor!
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.
Brisbane Youth Service
Annemaree Callander is the CEO of Brisbane Youth Service and has over 30 years’ experience in human service delivery in both the government and community sector. She has held a variety of policy, direct service and leadership roles focused on young people, homelessness, child protection and early childhood education and care. Annemaree is a strong advocate for young people and passionate about evidence informed policy and practice.
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.
Mariam Mohammed was Born in Pakistan, now living in Darug country, is a community developer: she rallies people behind a goal and builds their capacity to achieve it.
In 2016, Mariam was elected Women’s Officer of the Sydney University Postgraduate Association (SUPRA) – the only woman of colour on the organisation’s Board. In 2017, She became the President of SUPRA – the youngest in the organisation’s 40-year history. Mariam led the team that delivered a 600% increase in the organisation’s community engagement.
In 2018, Mariam won the first-ever Australian Dell Policy Hack for a proposal tackling women entrepreneurs’ access to capital in Australia. By 2019, she had co-founded MoneyGirl to empower and inspire women to become financially independent.
Six short years after her arrival, the Australian Financial Review recognised Mariam in its 100 Women of Influence 2019 list. She was recognised by the Foundation for Young Australians as a Young Social Pioneer 2019, and a 2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year Finalist.
Dominic Hồng Ɖức Golding
National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
Dominic Hồng Ɖức Golding is a strong advocate of the disability and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community, with more than 17 years of experience in community work, cultural development and multicultural affairs.
Dominic is a person with lived experience of dual disability, being hearing impaired and living with cerebral palsy. He is from the CALD community, originally from Vietnam and migrating to Australia as a baby in the 1970s.
In the past 17 years, Dominic has had extensive work experience within the disability space, providing support and accommodation to refugees with disability.
Dominic has also worked with small NGOs, doing state election multicultural outreach and providing local council community support. He has worked in two separate DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) programs – adoption/wardship records and disability, subsequently developing a passion for social policy and service delivery to marginalised communities.
Dominic has two postgraduate degrees – one in social work and the other one by research on intercountry adoption and race. He has also completed a University of Melbourne fellowship (2018) report on refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities for refugee survivors and ex-detainees.
Hon Prof Adrian Piccoli FACEL
UNSW Gonski Institute
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.
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.
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)
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.
‘The Sanctuary’ Mallacoota Youth Group
Brodie Gaudion grew up in Mallacoota, a remote rural community that was hit hard by the 2019/2020 bushfires in East Gippsland. In response to this disaster, Brodie has supported a crew of amazing locals aged 12-25 to establish a youth-led, community-based association and drop-in service known locally as ‘The Sanctuary’ Mallacoota Youth Group Inc.
The Sanctuary emerged because young people in Mallacoota needed a place to gather, support each other and organise whilst being cut off from electricity, internet, daylight and the rest of the world during the summer of 2020. In the short time since, it has become a respected, inspiring and effective mechanism of grassroots leadership, mutual aid and representation as we overcome the bushfires and look towards an uncertain post-COVID-19 future.
Prof. Judith Bessant AM
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.
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.
Dr Sean Gallagher
Centre for the New Workforce | Swinburne University of Technology
Issy Orosz is a young person with lived experience of disability, mentally ill health and chronic illness, who works for the Youth Disability Advocacy Service in Victoria. They are currently studying year 12 in an alternative education format, and are passionate about accessibility, social justice and young people being given the agency and respect they deserve.
Muhadesa Haidari is a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan and a full-time student at the Western Sydney University. She also works as a Multicultural Support Worker at the CMRC. Muhadesa is one of the 10-member Youth Panel with members aged between 17 and 28, to ensure that young people have a voice, and are heard, in planning Greater Sydney’s future, represent (Central City District).
Muhadesa is a member of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN), Migrant and refugee women’s coalition (Harmony Alliance), Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) Network and member of Cumberland Council youth advisory group.
In 2020, Muhadesa received recognition for 7NEWS Young Achiever and National Real Estate Leadership Award. In 2018 she developed and organised a girls-only program for 15-25 years old newly arrived girls living or working in Cumberland and Blacktown LGAs to educate participants about social issues, women’s rights, gender equality, leadership and empower them to become future leaders.
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.
Desiree Cai is an Organising Director at YOUNG Campaigns, a movement of young people fighting for a healthy society with good jobs, stable housing and a safe climate for all. She is a queer, person of colour who is passionate about fighting for equality and justice. Desiree has campaigned on a range of issues from sexual assault on campus to economic justice, and lives on Wurundjeri land.
Dylan Storer is a journalist, communicator and youth advocate. He grew up in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia where he was involved in youth media creation and community youth policy discussions.
Dylan is currently the Digital Communications Lead for UN Youth Australia and has appeared on Q&A and the ABC, written for The Guardian and given evidence before a parliamentary inquiry into lowering the voting age in Australia.
Jobs for Australia
Vidhita Jain has extensive experience in HR consulting in the private and public sector and has designed, implemented and managed recruitment programs for more than a decade now.
Vidhita has recruited at every level of an organisation from graduates through to senior management across a wide range of disciplines including engineering, information technology, sales, marketing, customer service, health & safety and administration. Her approach to resume, cover letter and selection criteria writing is based on years of practical experience of what really works (and what does not), as is the advice and guidance she gives as a career coach. She provides coaching and guidance on how to leverage the best outcome for your job applications.
Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
Deb Tsorbaris is CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. The Centre is Victoria’s peak body for child and family services. Deb has worked in health and community services for 32 years, holding executive positions in organisations working across youth services; disability, drug and alcohol support services; and employment programs. Deb was CEO of the Victorian Council to Homeless Persons from 2003 to 2009.
Prior to joining the Centre, Deb was Director of Human Services Design at the Department of Human Services – responsible for leading the design and development of integrated human services to improve outcomes for clients.
Deb provides policy leadership to state and federal governments and is a strong contributor to the child and family services sector. She is currently serving on the boards of Kids Under Cover and the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia. Deb has previously served on the board of the Victorian Council of Social Services.
Mehak Bokhari is an 18-year-old university student at the University of Technology Sydney studying Law and Communications. As well as being a first-year student, she is leading the Community team at a not for profit called Generation Entrepreneur.
Her team focuses on spreading entrepreneurial education to high school students from different communities across NSW. Her passion for social justice, entrepreneurship and youth leadership is ingrained within Generation Entrepreneur as she aims to make entrepreneurial education more accessible for all students to spread social entrepreneurship.
Mehak has also been involved in the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network where she aims to provide opportunities and bring young people together through facilitating workshops to develop students’ advocacy skills.
Steve Murphy is the incoming National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. Steve has worked for the AMWU since being elected as a workplace delegate as a young tradesperson in the NSW Hunter Valley. Over the past year, Steve has been working with environmental organisations to build consensus on a transition away from fossil fuels that puts workers at the centre.
Australian Education Union (AEU)
Maxine Sharkey is the Australian Education Union Federal TAFE Secretary and NSW Teachers Federation Deputy Secretary Post Schools. Before being elected as a Union official, Maxine was a Teacher of Community Services at TAFE NSW, where she taught and mentored a generation of Youth Workers and Welfare Workers.
Prior to teaching, Maxine worked with young people and families and as a Community Worker in the disability sector.
Tadc Williamson-Lee is a 17-year-old queer, Autistic/ADHD person with chronic pain, a passionate advocate, who uses he/him and they/them pronouns interchangeably.
His main work is codesigning with organisations on a freelance basis improving accessibility and disability/queer inclusion, and facilitates codesigned disability inclusion workshops through the Youth Disability Advocacy Service.
They also moonlight in various organisations in their hometown of Ballarat, such as the Youth Advisory Board of the Highlands LLEN, and are currently creating a queer youth mentorship program for the Central Highlands with the LLEN and a Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) Grant. They are currently doing VCE Year 12.
Afri-Aus Care Inc.
Selba Gondoza-Luka is the Founder & CEO of Afri-Aus Care Inc. based in Dandenong, Pakenham, Narre Warren and Springvale South. Originally from Malawi, Selba has been in Australia for almost 22 years with a professional background as a Mental Health Clinician.
Afri-Aus Care provides culturally specific mental health and wellbeing services, primarily to young people from an African background and their families. Many of the organisations’ young participants are considered “youth at risk”, many of whom are referred by the Magistrates Court, Prisons, Victoria Police or/and the Community. Selba and the team at AAC have been working hard to stop the revolving door of prison.
Selba is an Executive member of the Victorian Government facilitated African Australian Community Task Force, a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Regional Advisory Committee for SE Melbourne and is a Founding Member of the Victorian Association of Malawian and Friends. Selba is also a culturally specific public speaker and has received a range of Awards from various bodies, including the Victorian Government, because of her great contributions and commitment to the African community. Selba is a Member of Rotary Passport Club of Malborne and recipient of the Phonse Tobin Rotary Volunteer Award 2019.
Lord Mayor of Melbourne
Sally Capp was elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne in May 2018 and was the first woman tobe directly elected as Lord Mayor. Sally was also the first woman to hold the post of Agent-General for Victoria in the UK, Europe and Israel. She has also served as the CEO for the Committee for Melbourne and COO of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Sally began her career as a Solicitor, after completing Law (Hons) and Commerce degrees at the University of Melbourne.
Sally has held senior roles at both KPMG and ANZ, and she took the small business she co-founded to the ASX. Most recently she was Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.
A passionate Magpies supporter, in 2004 Sally made history as the first female board member of Collingwood FC. She is involved in a number of charities, currently sitting on the board of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, the Mary Jane Lewis Scholarship Foundation and the Melbourne University Faculty of Business and Economics.
Meera Barani is a Year 10 high school student at Pymble Ladies College. Her passions include advocacy, neuroscience, dismantling gender pay gaps and youth being at the forefront of creating change for future generations.
Meera is also involved in the 2020/1 NSW Youth Advisory Council where she aims to advocate on issues amongst youth i the NSW region and present the youth perspective by running consultations with external organisations.
Australian Education Union (AEU)
Correna Haythorpe has spent 17 years teaching in public primary schools with most of her teaching has been in low socio economic areas of northern Adelaide and Port Pirie, in regional South Australia. She has also taught in the UK and Japan.
Correna served as AEU SA Branch President from 2008 to 2013. She took on the additional role of Deputy Federal President of the AEU in 2013, and has represented the AEU nationally and internationally with Education International.
As the AEU’s Federal President since 2015, she leads the union in the fight to secure a strong, fully funded public education system via the Fair Funding Now!, Stop TAFE Cuts! and Preschool Funding Now! Campaigns. She has extensive experience and understanding of social justice issues, with a particular interest in students and their families from disadvantaged areas. Correna has a strong philosophical and personal commitment to public education.
King Lil Young
Love Out Loud
Nicole Gibson is known as a multi-award winning social entrepreneur, but she prefers to be seen as an unstoppable messenger of love and human potential; impacting over 250 000 people world-wide with her unconventional models of community development and transformation.
Currently Nicole is the CEO of a global movement, Love Out Loud, which is engaging 4% of the global population by the end of 2020, to successfully facilitate the world’s largest love-based movement.
Nicole has made a vast impact in the health and education landscape in Australia, and served as the youngest Commonwealth Commissioner for Health in history, advising directly to the Australian Federal Health Minister and Prime Minister.
Nicole has pursued a successful career in speaking across tens of countries and recently has taken years of experience in corporate/political consultation, experiential facilitation and complex community work and launched her debut book ‘Love Out Loud; making this process accessible and easily applied to any community or individual.
Yoosuf Mohamed is a young musician in Sydney’s South-West. He is an advocate for young people, their activism, and their mental health. Being fresh out of high school into a world shrouded by a pandemic, he is a prime example of young people and their struggles in finding employment, stability, and satisfaction in their blossoming adult lives.
In spite of this, he has taken to online platforms to spread his advocacy and share his music. Yoosuf believes that employment and success are not tied to one another, and showcases that very notion in his attempts to grow an audience for his music on Youtube and music streaming platforms. He believes that young people seeking employment are not a ‘pitiful’ demographic, but one that tries hard and, as such, are worthy of empowerment, guidance and acknowledgment.
Gus Wylie is the Program Delivery Coordinator at batyr, a ‘for purpose’ preventative mental health organisation, created and driven by young people, for young people.
Gus joined batyr as a casual facilitator in 2016 and delivered over 130 programs to 12,000+ young people across Australia.
Since early 2019, Gus has focused on writing new programs and developing training pathways to ensure that all young people feel supported. He has contributed to the development of the Orygen National University Mental Health Framework and the development and rollout of batyr’s Being Herd Pathways Program; a program that aims to support young people not in employment, education or training.
Careers Education Association Victoria (CEAV)
Leah Pappas is a professional careers practitioner with CEAV Career Counselling Australia. She provides careers consultancy services in all areas of career development, contributes to professional learning programs, and provides careers counselling to the community, especially those most vulnerable.
Leah has a background in Accounting as an Office Manager and staff training with extensive experience working in manufacturing industries and has worked as a TAFE teacher in Finance and Accounting with extensive experience in VET and Higher Education. She has managed several projects with the Department of Education and Training, including the World of Work on Wheels and the Ready Set Go Program delivering career education across metropolitan Melbourne, and regional and remote areas of Victoria. More recently working on the Community Revitalisation Projects with the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Hume, and the City of Moonee Valley, providing career development workshops and one to one career counselling utilising the Employment Readiness Scale ™ (ERS).
Angelica Ojinnaka is a 22-year-old Nigerian-Australian youth advocate and emerging researcher. Her passions include mental health promotion, youth participation in policy decision-making, dismantling racism, and gender justice. As a Youth Ambassador with the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW, Angelica participates in advocacy and policy concerning young people from diverse backgrounds, in a culturally humble fashion.
Angelica is a psychology graduate, and a current Master of Research candidate at Western Sydney University. Her thesis examines how diverse children and young people with complex and interrelated developmental, health and social needs perceive the Australian service system, and the extent to which they are engaged in service decision-making/reform. Angelica is currently working with African Women Australia Inc. on projects aimed at providing opportunities to African women and ensuring their (and their descendants) voices and lived experiences are centred and heard. In her spare time, she also co-hosts a podcast called Similar Differences, where she speaks about the nuances of diversity, identity, mental health and culture in Australia.
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.
Jobs for Australia
Jo McCatty is a Founder, Recruitment Director, Career Coach and internal talent leader.
She is a scientist by background, with 2 decades of experience across agency, executive search and internal recruitment roles.
Jo has worked across sectors including Pharmaceutical , FMCG, Biotech, Clinical Research, and Consulting. She has a passion for helping people find their career purpose.
Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC)
Grace Vegesana is the Western Sydney Organiser for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Organising Support Officer for Democracy in Colour, and is a proud 20-year-old woman-of-colour fighting for climate & racial justice on stolen Dharug, Gundungurra and Tharawal land across Western Sydney.
She has previously worked with Future Super, Australia’s first fossil fuel free superfund and instigated the Not Business as Usual Alliance where 3000+ Australian businesses striked for the September 20 Climate Strike, because we should not have to pick between our paycheck and the planet. Grace is currently studying a double degree of Environmental and Climate Science and Law at Macquarie University, and is passionate about mentoring and building the power of young people in culturally, linguistically, and religiously diverse and climate-affected communities in Australia to build generation-wide solutions to the climate crisis at a systemic level
Rubii Red is a proud Lama Lama woman, from the Cape York peninsula who has lived and grown up in foster care through VACCA in Melbourne. She’s a portrait artist (you can find her instagram: @lifeofrubii) whose work reflects her life and her culture. She’s been featured in Vogue Australia, has had her work in numerous group exhibitions, and is vocal about issues concerning the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
She’s an activist for human rights, and talks openly about her struggles with her mental health with her followers on Instagram. Ruby was also accepted to go to the National Indigenous Youth Parliament where she learned about government, about policy making, met politicians and even spoke in Old Parliament the importance of culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people that are in care. In the future she hopes to make an impact on people and make change in her country and community.
Sonia Arakkal is a founder of Think Forward – a lobby group for young Australians advocating for intergenerational fairness in the tax and transfer system. Think Forward recognises that successive federal governments have failed to act in the long term economic interests of young people and aims to keep the interests of the young at the forefront of conversations about tax and economic policy. They do this by connecting economists with young people and progressing the conversation on intergenerational fairness with policy makers in Australia.
Think Forward’s most recent work is available here in the Sydney Morning Herald and here on ABC Radio National. Sonia Arakkal is a public policy professional who has worked in government relations, management consulting and as a federal political staffer. She has previously been selected as a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation of Young Australians and is currently a board member of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and Carers WA. Be sure to catch Think Forward’s workshop: “Don’t let them do to you what they did to us- one millennial’s plea to generation Z!” at the Youth Futures Summit on Friday at 1 pm.
Democracy In Colour
Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg (she/her) is a queer, multi-racial, Jewish and Chinese woman of colour. Grown up in Naarm (Melbourne) she has a background in youth empowerment, facilitation, and social change. She is the Director of Training at Democracy in Colour, a racial and economic justice organisation, and the Co-Founder and Director of Hue. She designs and facilitates training programs on racial justice and allyship, and provides consulting to organisations on social justice and inclusion. She is an educator, activist and performer, and is currently undertaking her Honours thesis exploring how Australian, multiracial people of colour from multiple minority heritages engage with their ethnic identities.
Nick Pearce is the CEO & Co-Founder of HoMie, a streetwear clothing social enterprise that launched in 2015. HoMie uses 100% of its profits to achieve HoMie’s mission of supporting young people affected by homelessness or hardship. Since 2015, Nick has helped take the brand from a pop-up idea between three friends, to a bricks and mortar retail store that also acts as a base for HoMie’s Pathway Alliance Program – an initiative that sees young people experiencing hardship participate in training, where they gain on-the-job experience and accredited learning. In 2017, Nick was awarded the Victorian Young Achievers Award for Leadership, in 2018, the National Retail Association’s Young Retailer of the Year and in 2019, GQ Magazine’s Social Force Award.
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.
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.
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.
Katherine is CEO of Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), the peak body and leading advocate for young people and the youth sector in Victoria. Her previous roles include Director of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth of Nations, working on youth empowerment policy and programming across 53 countries; CEO of youth development organisation the Reach Foundation; and periods consulting to other organisations such as Teach for Australia and the Foundation for Young Australians. Earlier, she spent over a decade in the private sector, working both in Australia and internationally in a variety of analysis, strategy and corporate social responsibility roles.
Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN)
Jesse Williams is a qualified secondary teacher, with experience in teaching students from marginalised and low socio-economic backgrounds. He currently works as an Education Officer in the WA Department of Education Disability Support and Services branch. He is the Chair of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network Inc (YDAN), a leading advocacy organisation and the peak representative body for young people with disabilities in Western Australia, which delivers workshops, audits and positive outcomes in disability rights through lobbying and community engagement. He is also currently a Youth Commissioner for the National Youth Commission.
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.
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.
The Union for Workers in Retail, Fast Food and Warehousing (SDA Union)
Katie Biddlestone has been a National Industrial Officer for the SDA – the union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing for the last 7 years and its National Women’s Officer for 5 years. Katie also participates on behalf of the SDA in the World and Asia Pacific Region Women’s Committees of UNI Global Union.
The SDA is one of Australia’s largest unions with over 210,000 members across the country. The majority of SDA members are women and young people, with more than 60% female membership and 40% of members under the age of 26.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Finn Duff is a 19-year-old mental health advocate currently studying a bachelor of secondary education & humanities. They recently completed a certificate in looking after mental health in the workplace.
Finn is incredibly passionate about helping other young people represent themselves to the best of their ability in all aspects of life!
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)
Rebekah Sarkoezy is a Policy Officer at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). As a fierce consumer advocate, Rebekah is passionate about consumer rights, effective regulation, and public policy that works for people. She works with governments, industry and other non-profits to advocate for phone and internet services that are trusted, inclusive and available for all.
As a young person herself, Rebekah Sarkoezy is keenly aware that research and policy narratives about young people are often disparaging and belittling. She seeks to shift this dynamic by emphasising the challenges young people face, and the policy solutions needed to address them. Rebekah runs workshops on consumer protections in the telecommunications sector and is involved with a number of non-profit digital inclusion working committees.
Social Policy Advocate
Andrew Tangas is a social policy advocate and researcher from Melbourne. He has spent the last decade studying, researching and working to create systemic change in the way society prepares and supports young people. Andrew has focused his research and work on the impact that increasing automation and casualisation of the workforce will have on young people’s education-to-employment transitions, including undertaking a thesis on media perceptions of universal basic income in Australia.
He has worked in various government relations, partnerships and advocacy roles across the youth sectors in Australia and the United States, and is currently the Government Relations and Advocacy Officer at Orygen, Australia’s largest youth mental health research organisation.
Binge Thinking Podcast
Uswa Qureshi is a 20-year-old student studying Art History and Linguistics at The University of Melbourne. Originally from Sydney, she lives in Melbourne and volunteers with Minus18, an organisation dedicated to the empowerment and mental health of young LGBTQIA+ people.
She identifies as a lesbian and has a Pakistani Muslim cultural background. She is passionate about queer art and media and hopes to curate and research works by queer artists in the future, as well as continue to make art about her community.
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.
Vicki Smith is an Australian Clinical Psychologist with experience working with young people and adults across a variety of sectors, including public mental health, public hospitals, private psychiatric units, youth justice, and private enterprise.
Her policy and practice work is currently focusing on providing telehealth solutions in the mental health space, suicide prevention, management of complex cases and the impacts of trauma on mental health and wellbeing. She has previously held roles on public mental health crisis teams, and providing treatment for complex trauma in both a full DBT program and home outreach capacity, and is passionate about mental health reform and increasing access to appropriate interventions and support for all people. In her previous private work, she worked as a practitioner through the Melbourne City Mission program FRMP, providing young people experiencing homeless, or at risk of homelessness, with psychological support.
She is passionate not only about change on an individual level, but the role that social justice, policy and engagement with the social and political system plays in promoting and protecting mental health and changing mental health outcomes.
Zac took part in the BackTrack program and appears in the documentary. He is now working as a youth worker and mentor to other youth programs.
Marcus Watson began his work life in the engineering trades before moving into the social sector working in Juvenile Justice, DOCS and Crisis Residential Care and Group Training. He became keenly aware of how entrenched disadvantage makes young people vulnerable to incarceration, substance abuse and homelessness, within a criminal justice system that fails to intervene. This led him to social entrepreneurship within the youth training and employment sector, where he has built multiple initiatives operating in the gap between youth work services and the labour market.
Through piloting and leading hands-on and person-centred training and employment programs, Marcus has extensive experience working with disadvantaged young people. In 2018 Marcus established the BackTrack social enterprise BT Works. The BT Works model rests on understanding a young person’s challenges, skills and aspirations at a deep and holistic level so flexible, long-term initiatives can be designed to meet this demand.
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.
Omar Abdu is a 19-year-old of Eritrean background, living in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Studies at Victoria University.
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.
Young Workers Centre
My Foundations Youth Housing
Rebecca Mullins has over 25 years of experience in community services across the community housing, homelessness and advocacy sectors, most of which has been focused on ensuring access and opportunity for young people.
She is the founding CEO of My Foundations Youth Housing, a registered community housing provider focused exclusively on the housing needs of young people. In just 5 years, MFYH has grown to manage over 260 properties, with a further 150 contracted to be delivered by the end of 2021. Rebecca is determined to deliver on MFYH’s vision that “young people everywhere should have a safe, supportive and affordable home” with a strong focus on ensuring a range of housing options and tenures are available for young people to support their transition to independence.
Opemipo Olubodun is 22-year-old young woman who is Nigerian-Australian. She is currently finishing off her undergraduate studies, majoring in Civil Systems.
She has been an Assosciate at YLab Global for over a year, and since, has been participating in, and now facilitating and delivering co-design projects that put young people at the centre of the problems which concern them.
Opemipo is a strong believer that true collaboration and partnership is what fosters meaningful outcomes, and she is passionate about self-determination and autonomy, moving forward with empathy and honouring oneself through honesty.
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVIC)
Luke Rycken is the Policy Manager at Youth Affairs Council Victoria, the peak body and leading advocate for young people and the youth sector in Victoria. Luke is passionate about creating a better future for all young people through research, co-design and youth leadership.
Luke has led advocacy projects that have increased access to disability services for thousands of people and contributed to the legal community as an Editor of the Monash University Law Review. Luke previously worked as an allied health professional in orthotics and prosthetics and has provided voluntary advocacy support for people with disability for the past five years.
Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA)
Children and Young People with Disability Australia
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mahdi Raza Mohammadi
Mahdi Raza Mohammadi is a young Afhgan man who at the age of 8 months old had to move to Pakistan. He spent 18 years in Pakistan as a refugee before coming to Australia in late 2018 through UNHCR. He is currently studying an extended diploma in Arts in Western Sydney University and eventually wants to enter into the Law degree. He provides a unique perspective of going through various educational institutions in Australia such as the Intensive English Centre, TAFE & university.
Documentary Australia Foundation
Lisa Hancock has 25 years behind her in marketing and communications and has most recently has worked as an Impact Producer for Documentary Australia Foundation, notably for the award-winning Backtrack Boys documentary.
Documentary Australia Foundation is a unique not-for-profit that supports documentaries by ensuring important stories are told and placed at the heart of social impact campaigns. The Backtrack Boys film has raised awareness and inspired action in communities on important youth issues and is soon to launch an educational guide for schools and TAFEs.
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.
Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations
Devendra Singh is the National Representative & International Officer for the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, leading over 450,000 students from 192+ countries studying across various universities in Australia. He has provided critical, on-the-ground insights into student issues while identifying potential solutions and strategies for achieving change. This is his second consecutive term for the National Executive Council. He has closely worked with the universities, student associations, international education associations, state committees, Foreign Embassies, Consulates, State Ministers, and Federal Ministers of Australia.
He is the Regional Advisor for the Victorian Multicultural Commission and has been appointed as the Ambassador for Study Melbourne, an initiative by the Victorian Government. He represents Melbourne and wider Victoria at events and shares his experience, knowledge, and insights with the international student community. He is also the promoter of the state on the global level to the new as well as the prospective international community.
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’.
Grace Mugabe CPA is an experienced Management Accountant and founder of Financially Empowered, a for-purpose enterprise that empowers women by equipping them with financial literacy skills. Financially Empowered is driven by two of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals – Gender Equality and Quality Education. Financially Empowered provides small business CFO services, financial education training and systems implementation services training to women led enterprises. Her financial literacy workshops continue to attract government, schools, boards, private industry and community clients.
In the 2019, Grace was a finalist in the Women in Finance Awards for the ‘Women’s Community Program of the Year’ recognizing her Money Matters for Migrants initiative. She has previously been awarded a grant & scholarship from the Layne Beachley Foundation and the ygap First Gens Program to help expand the financial literacy programs and resources for migrant women in Australia. In addition, she was finalist in the 2017 United Nations Association of Australia (WA) ‘Excellence in Gender Equity Promotion’ Award.
A committed advocate for community involvement, Grace has served on numerous boards, including 100 Women, Ishar Multicultural Women’s Centre and Business Station. She is also an ambassador for Behind the Brands, a platform for female entrepreneurs in Australia.
Swathi Shanmukhasundaram is the Victorian State Ambassador as part of the Youth Advocacy Network to MYAN Australia, working to influence the national agenda for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. She is the Director of an initiative called ‘The Vermilion Project’, working at the intersections of mental health, menstrual health and D&I initiatives to promote the economic and social participation of people affected by menstrual health conditions and invisible illnesses. Since founding The Vermilion Project in 2019, she has gone on to spearhead national campaigns, appear in media and consult on policy development initiatives to ensure people suffering from conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, invisible illnesses and more may be better supported at work and in culturally diverse social settings.
Swathi was recognised as a 2019 Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Young Australians for her work leading The Vermilion Project, is a 2019 Create Change Fellow at Democracy in Colour and Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum.
An Indian-born migrant and proud Tamil woman living in Naarm (Melbourne), she actively applies her own lived experiences with mental health, menstrual health and migration to craft projects where community and identity are at the heart of everything.
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.
University of Sydney
Nyibeny Naam is a social researcher with a passion for social justice and community development. Her most recent projects include an analysis of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda, published in partnership with The University of Sydney and London School of Economics, and co-establishing a Diaspora-led NFP called Corona Support for Africa. Her research interests include international humanitarian law and the intersections of race, gender, and colonial power structures. She holds a BA in Social Science majoring in Politics and International Relations from Macquarie University, Australia, and a Master’s in International Law from The University of Sydney, Australia.
La Trobe Student
Ramzy Osman is 19-year-old from Eritrea but born and raised in Australia. He is a volunteer at Africause which is located in Footscray and is where he works closely with the community.
He is currently studying bachelor of Criminology at La Trobe University but he is hoping to transfer into law next year. He aspires to help people in ways that they can not help themselves, like being their voice. Especially those like himself who come from different backgrounds and often need support fitting in and understanding the laws of Australia.
Daria is a year 10 student who loves reading, writing and travelling. Aspiring to a career in science and technology, she is passionate about STEM and arts in schools. Daria is a part of the editorial team at VicSRC and a VicSRC ambassador. She would like to share her voice about education and help students like herself grow into inspiring leaders of tomorrow
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.
Heidi La Paglia
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
Heidi La Paglia is a young woman with disability who lives in Hobart, Tasmania. Heidi has worked at Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) since the beginning of 2019, in which time she has worked on and championed a number of initiatives, including developing WWDA’s Our Site website with over 100 women and girls with disability, coordinating WWDA’s Youth Network for young women and girls with disability and representing the needs of women with disability in government processes such as the Disability Royal Commission.
Heidi has previously completed three degrees at the University of Tasmania (UTas), during which time she held student representative roles within the Tasmania University Union and the National Union of Students. In these roles, Heidi campaigned for many issues, but had a particular focus on improving the accessibility of higher education for young people and addressing high rates of sexual abuse and violence against young women.
In her spare time Heidi enjoys trawling listening to audio books and running social media pages for her three cats.
National Youth Commission Australia
Nina Roxburgh is Australian-Bulgarian writer, editor and producer. She is the Director of Content and Communications at the NYCA, and is the Editor & Producer of Binge Thinking Podcast showcasing expert perspectives and experiences of young people in Australia and globally. Previously, she was Editor-in-Chief of Quarterly Access Journal at the Australian Institute of International Affairs – publishing the work and research of young international relations scholars. She also worked at the Public Affairs Coordinator for the Foundation for Young Australians.
Nina has written and published a wide range of articles on issues impacting young people, and in 2018 she was co-author of the chapter “Young Australians and the Disrupted Economy” in The Wages Crisis in Australia.
Nina has a background in International Relations specialising in the political economy of sex trafficking. She is currently completing her Masters in Bioethics and Moral Philosophy.
Howard Kelly has a distinguished career in education and training. Principal for 12 years in two inner suburban schools. He has been the Curriculum Director in state and national projects for four years, Chair of two statutory authorities for 8 years, overseeing the introduction of the VCE and the P-10 curriculum reform. Howard was the Director of the Kirby Ministerial review into post compulsory education, leading to the development of the LLEN and the introduction of VCAL.
Anastasia Harrald is a 17-year-old go-getter student currently residing in South Australia. She is very engaged with volunteering and helping with her local community and school through St
John, PROSPER, Interact, and GSA. She has a strong passion for making changes that are desperately needed in our society on a national and global scale, hoping to achieve these goals through study and engaging in different communities with different people.
She aims to pursue a future in social studies, linguistics, and drama. She hopes to not only learn, but also identify the importance of education as well as uplifting and listening to marginalised communities, encouraging diverse voices.
With strong motivation and passion for change, she wants to recognise through PROSPER what the youth of today are facing, and what can be enacted on a political and social level to not only assist young people nowadays, but for years to come.
Tyson Gordon is a 16-year-old student from South Australia with a passionate career plan for a future in the food and hospitality industry. He is starting this year with a great attitude in what to do when finishing school. His organisation skills have given him a great start to the school year as he is getting all of his assignments done. Tyson loves spending time with his family.
After finishing Youth Opportunities’ Personal Leadership Program, Tyson gained confidence and improved his relationships, as well as giving him a motivation in pursuing his future goals. He is open to new challenges, and pushes himself to achieve the best he can through tough times.
Alexander Prior is a 16-year-old student from South Australia with passionate aspirations for a future in advocacy, politics and community-based work. He is kick-starting this career with a strong involvement in school-based clubs and programs dedicated to bettering the community and promoting awareness and understanding for minority groups.
With a strong inspiration from the LGBTQIA+ and Neurodivergent communities, he also hopes to improve the wellbeing of those within these communities, not only on a national scale, but across the world.
By creating and planning events made to empower the diversity within our society, Alexander is an inspiration for many younger students and shows extreme potential for his future in any direction.
University of Melbourne Student
Srishti Chatterjee (they/them) is a non-binary person of colour, and an international students, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Sociology, and Media and Communications. They’re a passionate advocate for community-led and trauma-informed racial and gender justice, and equitable accessibility in education and work spaces. At present, they are the Disabilities Officer at the University of Melbourne Students Union (UMSU) and a Peer-Support Facilitator at Transgender Victoria. Srishti also writes in-depth columns about intersectional experiences of marginalisation and focuses on storytelling as a form of social and political justice.
Tasha Ritchie is the Youth Programs Manager with Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA). Tasha works to support and create opportunities for young people to be leaders of social change.
Tasha trained as a lawyer and was previously the Managing Director of Titjimbat Gija a youth-led community development not-for-profit that facilitates community programs in remote communities in the Northern Territory. She has worked with the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), YLab and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency – VACCA, and is currently the Deputy Chair of the Board of the Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic).
Future Minds Network
He founded Future Minds Network (FMN) to tackle youth unemployment through entrepreneurship. They learn from mentors from YCombinator (birthplace of Airbnb), Harvard, Oxford by building startups with an impact, whilst learning key enterprise skills for the Future of Work.
Nathaniel has worked with over 11,000 young people and mentored startups across Australia, UK, Canada, Africa and US. This includes UC Berkeley, two UN-affiliated hackathons, Global Hack, INCUBATE Accelerator and more. He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at international startup accelerator, SparkTeen and The Human Entrepreneur in the UK. He is also a Board Member on 8 non-for-profit boards ranging from education to healthcare.
Zoomers for Change
Cosmin Luca is the Founder of Zoomers for Change, a youth-led organisation built on the principle that youth deserve a greater seat at the table. He is also 18 years old, a Youth Ambassador for MYAN NSW, and the City of Ryde’s 2020 Young Citizen of the Year.
As an immigrant and a young Australian, he is passionate about generating youth-led initiatives that bring multicultural communities together to tackle the social issues they face, building meaningful opportunities for young people to shape their communities and the world they live in.
YMCA | CMY | Co-Health
Barry Berih is predominantly as a youth worker in the City of Melbourne and Flemington, working with Co-Health, volunteering for CMY, and currently working for the YMCA as a customer service officer. He is also a peer advocate for the Kensington Legal Centre. Barry creates programs for young people, including high school and university students to deliver workshops and leadership programmes, training, internships, and volunteering to help young people gain self-confidence and employment.
The programs he is designing would cater to young people from 16 to 25, from CALD backgrounds who are looking for work or networking in the community. He envisages these programs running three times a month to classes of roughly 15-20 students, culminating in volunteer positions with local mentors. The program is designed to run for one month of six, three hour sessions. Included in the training will be contact with six other facilitators from a wide range of working backgrounds; Banking, Pharmacy, Teaching, Carpentry, and Human Resources.
Young Workers Centre
Bella Himmelreich is a young person working towards building a future that works for ordinary people, not just big business as part of the youth-led team at Tomorrow movement. She is also an organiser at the Young Workers Centre in the ACT and a student at the ANU.
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.
Major David Eldridge AM
National Youth Commission Australia
Maj. David Eldridge AM has been a key figure in The Salvation Army both in Australia and the United Kingdom. He has worked for over 30 years, in a variety of senior social policy and program development roles, including 15 years at the Crossroads Youth Network and 12 years as Director of the Brunswick Community Programme.
David has also been a Senior Advisor to the Commonwealth Government on key social policy issues particularly in relation to young people and headed the Prime Ministerial Youth Homelessness Taskforce in 1996-7 and the Youth Pathways Action Taskforce in 2000-2001. He has contributed to the delivery of several ground-breaking policy reports. Also, David has been influential in the development of employment policy and was a Board Member of the Employment Services Regulatory Authority (ESRA), which oversaw the development of a case management approach in employment services. He has been a board member of the Enterprise and Career Education Foundation and the Foundation for Young Australians.
National Youth Commission Australia
Kampuchean Young Leaders Actions
Mo O’Meara 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.
Kampuchean Young Leaders Actions
Councillor Beverley Pinder
City of Melbourne
Beverley Pinder was re-elected as a Councillor of the City of Melbourne in January 2018, having served in her first time between 2012 and 2016. This term Beverley has taken on the role of Chair People City and she has worked hard to deliver the very best outcomes for Melbourne city and the community.
In her role she also chairs the advisory committees for Homelessness, Disability, Family and Children and Chief Executive Officer Employment Matters. Beverley has decades of experience working with charities, non-for-profits and in public relations. Beverley’s strong focus is always on connecting people with the city and all it has to offer in building an inclusive, safe, vibrant and prosperous community.
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.
Hon Ros Spence MP
Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Community Sport & Youth
Ros Spence is the State Member of Parliament for Yuroke, covering Craigieburn, Greenvale, Attwood, Mickleham, Kalkallo, Oaklands Junction, Yuroke, and parts of Westmeadows, Somerton, and Roxburgh Park. Ros attended Eltham High School in Melbourne’s north east and graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. She later received a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Leo Cussen Institute and was admitted as a Lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2006.Ros was admitted as a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2012 and was awarded a Company Directors Course Diploma.
Prior to being elected in November 2014, Ros worked as an Operations Manager, an Electorate Officer and in a range of administrative and office management roles. She has also served as a Councillor, Deputy Mayor, and Mayor on Hume City Council between 2008 and 2012 and as a volunteer solicitor with the Broadmeadows Community Legal Service.
In addition to serving as the Member for Yuroke, Ros was appointed as the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Community Sport and Youth in March 2020. She has previously served as the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Transport, the Parliamentary Secretary for Road Infrastructure and as Government Whip.
Laytham Bradley completed year 10 in high school, and he is currently in his 3rd year bricklaying apprenticeship. Laytham was always interested in building and construction since he was 10 years old. He has always enjoyed the outdoors and the hands-on activities and in his spare time Laytham likes playing sports and being active. He’s looking forward to the youth summit coming up and is really excited to meet you all and share his experiences.
T Breezy is an Australia Aboriginal rapper from Inverell, NSW 2360, now residing in Macquarie Fields, Western Sydney. His unique sound is full of both aggression and hope, reminiscent of US trap artists Lil TJay, Tee Grizzley and Young MA. Even though he is in the early stages of his career as an artist, Breezy has experienced a lot. Having overcome run-ins with the law and being through the system, he now puts his energy into his music, aiming to inspire others who have experiences similar to his. This workshop will see T Breezy firstly share his story, expressing what he has learnt along the way and how music is a positive outlet and empowering medium. He’ll then share introductory song writing techniques, helping participants express themselves and their stories through music
Shane Austin is the State Manager Victoria, Homelessness, The Salvation Army. Shane has over 20 years domestic and international experience in the not for profit sector including work in social welfare, community housing and homelessness.
He has held, and continues to hold, senior executive management and Board governance roles, with experience in social justice, cross cultural engagement, not for profit law/governance and philanthropy. Shane is a current Board member of Council to Homeless Persons in Victoria.
Koorie Youth Council (KYC)
Indi Clarke was born in Narrm (Melbourne) and raised in Mildura, Indi Clarke is a proud Mutti Mutti & Lardil man with ties to Wemba Wemba, Boon Wurrung and Trawlwoolway.
Indi is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the power of strength-based approaches and Aboriginal knowledge systems. Indi believes that the path to positive change starts with empowered families and communities as well as a holistic approach to healing and wellbeing.
Indi is the Executive Officer of the Koorie Youth Council and takes great pride in contributing to work that gives back to his communities.
Koorie Youth Council (KYC)
Banok Rind is a proud Yamatji Badimaya woman from Western Australia. She is a Registered Nurse, the Deputy Executive Officer at the Koorie Youth Council, 2018 Poche Leadership Fellow and currently completing her Masters of Public Health at Melbourne University.
Banok has a background in Aboriginal health and wellbeing, policy and advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. She has a strong passion for Aboriginal health and well-being as well as how cultural safety is embedded and practiced in the health sector.
She has worked extensively in cultural safety within the university and health sector as well as teaching Indigenous Health at RMIT University, ACU and Melbourne University.
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.