MC – Kim Skubris
Kim Skubris is a broadcast journalist with 26 years’ experience in News, with the Seven Network and affiliate stations, in Australia and overseas. For 20 years she has also been an MC, communications and media advisor, and keynote speaker. Kim now works as a freelance reporter while running her own communications consulting business. The mother of two has been honoured with appointments as an Ambassador for The Daniel Morcombe Foundation and as a National Ambassador for Act For Kids. Kim is passionate about helping people become powerful communicators through message mastery, storytelling, video, and dynamic public speaking. She prides herself on bringing heart and humour to events as an MC and facilitator, and she does her best to ditch the lectern to connect with audiences on a personal level.
Keynote speaker – Mariam Issa
Speaker, author, storyteller, community builder. Mariam Issa passionately believes all we need in overcoming adversity is a stretch of the imagination.
At age 30, Mariam moved to a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, from her Somali homeland with her husband, four children and a fifth on the way. Far away from the tight communities and families in Somalia, Mariam found herself in a foreign country that had a foreign language and a foreign culture. Similar to a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, she spent 10 years going through depression, the victim phase, an anger phase, and finally, arriving at the activist phase. Through her powerful stories that tell her trials and tribulations, she has inspired countless women who have had similar experiences to stop seeing themselves as victims, but to see the butterfly within in order to achieve their fullest potential.
Mariam is the distinguished author of the book, A Resilient Life, a story of resilience in the face of hardship and the spirit of determination, optimism, and understanding of all that makes us human. She is the co-founder of RAW (Resilient Aspiring Women), a not-for-profit organisation that supports women’s resilience through intercultural dialogue and exchange facilitated by storytelling, cooking and gardening.
Mariam continues to share her experience and commitment to improving refugees’ lives by sitting on the board of Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, serving as an ambassador for Refugee Council of Australia and a Director at Family Peace. She is an International Women’s Forum member and co-founder of Space2b, an art and design-based social enterprise established to support asylum seekers, refugees and newly arrived migrants.
She was awarded the Ambassador of Peace award from the Universal Peace Federation in recognition of her on-going work promoting social cohesion among Melbourne’s culturally diverse population. She is regularly invited to speak to large organisations and conferences and featured in national Australian TV, radio and press.
Caterina Giorgi is the Founder and Managing Director of For Purpose, an organisation working with not-for-profit and purpose-driven organisations to create change.
Caterina has worked in the for purpose sector in a range of policy, advocacy and sector development roles. She has presented at national and international conferences on public health policy research, advocacy, government relations and public policy. Caterina also delivers policy, advocacy, social change, strategic planning, governance and government relations training across Australia.
Caterina was a finalist of the 2015 ACT Young Woman of the Year Awards, is a fellow of the Centre for Australian Progress and a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School program Leadership, Organising and Change and Australian Institute of Company Directors.
David Moody is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of National Disability Services, and has worked at NDS since 2015 as Victorian State Manager, before being appointed Acting CEO in February 2019.
During his professional career, David has been a lawyer and partner with Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Melbourne.
David’s career in the Public Sector has included working as Director of National Health and Safety Reform, and as Director, Strategic Policy & Compliance Framework at WorkSafe Victoria. David then worked at the Department of Premier & Cabinet, Victoria for 3 years as Assistant Director, NDIS Secretariat, leading the team which coordinated the Victorian Government’s contribution to the development of the NDIS. David then worked for 2 years at the Department of Health and Human Services, as Director, Budget Strategy and Corporate Planning.
David is passionate about social justice, has a comprehensive understanding of the NDIS, and brings to his current role a significant knowledge of the sector and disability policy, as well as a deep commitment to the ideals of NDS and the sector.
Scott McDougall commenced as Commissioner of the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland on 8 October 2018 and became the inaugural Queensland Human Rights Commissioner on 1 July 2019. Prior to his appointment he was the Director and Principal Solicitor at Caxton Legal Centre Inc. in Brisbane.
Since admission to legal practice in 1993 he has worked with and advocated on behalf of diverse marginalised communities. He has conducted major litigation and led program and policy development in a number of areas including discrimination, native title, criminal law, guardianship and coronial inquiries.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology.
David Ritter is the Chief Executive Officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Sydney Democracy Network at Sydney University, a research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute and an honorary fellow of the Law Faculty at UWA. His most recent book is The Coal Truth: The Fight to Stop Adani, Defeat the Big Polluters and Reclaim our Democracy. He has two daughters and lives in Sydney.
As CEO of TasCOSS, Kym works to challenge and change the systems, behaviours and attitudes that lead to inequality and disadvantage. A recognised leader and changemaker, Kym works to advocate on behalf of Tasmanians to live a good life in this beautiful island state.
Kym’s experience and expertise bridge the gap between policy development and program implementation on the ground with an unwavering focus on social justice and belief in the possibilities of change.
Among a raft of achievements, Kym led the development of Emerging Voices, a state-wide participative democracy program that empowers individuals and communities to create change, and was instrumental in advocating to end Centrelink’s robo-debt recovery scheme.
Chris Sarra grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland and is the youngest of 10 children. He became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School in southeast Queensland in 1998. There, he significantly improved the educational and life outcomes of its students through a ‘strong and smart’ philosophy, which encourages students to have a positive sense of cultural identity and embrace positive community leadership.
He founded the Stronger Smarter Institute in 2005, which works with schools and community leaders across Australia to deliver the stronger smarter approach to Indigenous students.
In 2016, Dr Sarra was named the NAIDOC Person of the Year in recognition of his efforts to improve Aboriginal educational outcomes throughout Australia. He received the Anthony Mundine Award for Courage at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards in 2017 and in the same year was appointed as co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.
In August 2018 Dr Sarra commenced his new role as the Director-General, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Queensland Government. Dr Sarra holds a PhD in Psychology from Murdoch University with his thesis Strong and Smart – Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation: Education for First Peoples published by Routledge in 2012. He also has a Bachelor of Education, Master of Teaching and an Executive Masters in Public Administration. He was named Queenslander of the Year in 2004, and was Queensland’s Australian of the Year in 2010. He was also an Australian Rugby League commissioner from 2012 – 2018.
Simone Jackson is a proud Kamilaroi woman from South West Queensland and an accomplished Senior Queensland Government Executive with over 20 years’ experience as a public servant. She has worked in roles namely relating to justice and human services across two jurisdictions (Queensland & Northern Territory). Simone was the Northern Territory’s Chief Witness for the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and led the response to the Senate Enquiry (Nova Peris) into Out of Home Care.
Since returning to Queensland Simone has had roles in both Cairns and now Brisbane as the Executive Director for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) and a secondment implementing the Youth Justice reforms for Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. Simone is also a current community member of the Queensland Parole Board. Simone is committed to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples particularly reducing the numbers of young people in the Child Protection and Youth Justice system and reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the correctional system.
Simone’s career has pathway foundations in authenticity and courage. Her story is one of professional success with purpose and determination.
Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA is a Bidjara (Central Queensland) and Birri-Gubba Juru (North Queensland) woman from Queensland who has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over forty years. Jackie is a celebrated historian and author who has documented the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the decades.
In 2001, Jackie received the Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Throughout her career spanning over four decades, Jackie has played a leading role in reconciliation, literacy, women’s issues and social justice.
Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland and Flinders University (with Honours), and a Diploma of Education. She also has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Queensland, and another Honorary Doctorate from CQUniversity. Jackie has had a long and distinguished career in public service and professional achievement.
Eddie Synot is a Wamba Wamba academic lawyer and researcher at Griffith University. Eddie is currently completing his PhD with the Griffith Law School focusing on a critique of Indigenous recognition and the liberal rights discourse of Indigenous recognition. Eddie has also taught Law and Indigenous Studies at Griffith University, teaching Property Law, Reconstructing the Aboriginal Australian, Aboriginal Political Histories and Contemporary Aboriginal Issues. He has appeared on ABC’s The Drum and is a contributor to The Conversation.
Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University. He has a strong interest in integrated societal governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world, northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Allan has both extensive research and policy expertise in building strong societal governance systems, but particularly regarding regional, rural and social development and natural resource management. Allan has been the past Chair of RDA FNQ&TS, CEO of Terrain NRM and before that was responsible for natural resource policy and social impact assessment in Queensland. He is also now Strategic Advisor for the Collaborative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow with Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute.
Geoff Woolcock is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Resilient Regions, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University’s School of Human Services and Social Work. He is particularly interested in applying indicators of community strengths in socio-economically disadvantaged communities and the factors that contribute to building child- and youth-friendly communities. He has 30 years community-based research experience nationally and internationally, across the community service sectors, and has co-published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and community reports. Geoff is a board director of the Brisbane Housing Company, the Australian National Development Index (ANDI) and the Logan Child-Friendly Community Ltd board overseeing the high-profile collective impact initiative, Logan Together.
Lyndon Davis is a local Aboriginal Artist, Educator and Cultural performer. Lyndon was born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, and is a Traditional Custodian and representative of the Local Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi people. He feels blessed to have performed Welcome to Country for thousands of local community members , Government dignitaries including Past and Current Prime Ministers and special Community Guests such as Queen Elizabeth II and the Holiness The Dali Lama.
Lyndon has worked extensively within his local community for the past 20 years, presenting an exciting and informative Indigenous Cultural Education Program for local schools, Universities and staff Cultural Awareness Training. Lyndon founded the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Troupe, bringing together local Aboriginal artists and performers.
Mick Gooda is a proud descendant of the Gangulu people of Central Queensland and has been involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs throughout Australia for more than 35 years.
Mr Gooda is Co-chair First Children and Families Board and First Nations Advisor, Department of Housing and Public Works and has previously held the positions of Royal Commissioner for the Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission. As Social Justice Commissioner, he advocated for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and to promote respect and understanding of these rights among the broader Australian community.
Mr Gooda actively promotes the concept of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being intimately involved in decisions that affect them. He has focused on the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Jayden is an organiser for the Anti-Poverty Network Queensland. APN Qld is an alliance of poor people who are struggling together to assert their right to a decent standard of living, and to attack the systemic causes of poverty. We understand that poverty is not an accident but is a requirement of Capitalism.
APN Qld’s main area of work involves advocacy for those who are experiencing difficulties, lack of adequate support, or mistreatment by Centrelink or their job provider; holding regular stalls where people can get support and advice on their situation; and attending people’s appointments with them to ensure that their rights as unemployed workers are respected. Recent campaigns include a raise to the Newstart allowance and the anti-Cashless Welfare card campaign.
The Anti-Poverty Network Queensland has taken a great deal of inspiration from the Trade Union movement in the way we provide advocacy and support for people struggling with poverty. For us an attack on one poor person is an attack on all. We are an organisation made up of poor people, which is dedicated to the eradication of poverty.
Rob Carolane is a consultant facilitator, based in regional Victoria, working with State and local government departments and agencies, community-based organisations, and business.
Rob was involved in discussions about ‘doing politics differently’ in Indi from approximately 2007, preceding the development of Voices for Indi. He was one of the outer circle of supporters of Voices for Indi after it formed in 2012 and joined the committee in 2018. Rob was one of the designers and facilitators of the Candidate Selection Forum in January this year and produced many “orange cockies” amongst other activities during the Helen Haines 2019 campaign.
David is the CEO of Infoxchange, a not-for-profit social enterprise with the vision of ‘technology for social justice’. He is passionate about creating a more digitally-inclusive society and the role technology can play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector.
In addition to his role at Infoxchange, David is Chair of the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance (ADIA) and a Board member of Specialisterne Australia, working to create careers for people on the autism spectrum. He holds a Bachelor of Information Technology from the University of Queensland, a Certificate in Theology from Trinity College at the University of Melbourne and is a Graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Sean Gordon is the Managing Director and owner of Gidgee Group a 100% Indigenous-owned business. Sean is applying his considerable leadership skills to drive Indigenous development and to establish independence through creating real opportunities and benefits for individuals and communities.
A Wangkumarra/Barkindji man, Sean is a strong advocate of self-determination for Indigenous communities, and for social, cultural and economic empowerment. Sean recently completed employment with Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council where he served as the Chief Executive Officer for the past nine years, a leading NSW Land Council focused on improving the health and wellbeing of the NSW Central Coast community.
Sean is deeply connected to community and has served on numerous boards and advisory groups. He was inaugural Chair of the Empowered Communities: Empowered People Leadership Group for the past 6 years, and Inaugural Chair of the Commonwealth Bank Indigenous Advisory Group advocating sustainable reform through strategic partnerships between Indigenous leaders, governments and industry groups.
Sean is passionate about preserving and developing Indigenous culture as Chair of the NAISDA (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance Academy). He is also the Chair of Uphold and Recognise which is an Indigenous-led Think-Tank organisation which promotes discussions of how Australia can recognise Indigenous Australians without disturbing the way that the Constitution operates.
Sean delivers transformational impact within the communities he works with, and drives policy change at a national level.
Clare O’Connor is an experienced Director-General, with many years in the senior executive service, having led the Policy and Performance Divisions of five Queensland Government agencies during periods of major reforms.
Clare became Director-General, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors in December 2017, moving from a Director-General role of another department. Clare’s key roles include delivering the NDIS to Queensland, and leading an ambitious Communities and Seniors agenda.
Clare has championed a new vision of Thriving Communities where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities enjoy high levels of social and economic wellbeing, with a key element of this approach being place-based activities in Queensland.
Kay Thorburn is currently Life Without Barriers’ Supporter of Carers. She has previously held the positions of Acting Programme Manager and Case Manager OOHC Programme; Senior Case Manager Immigration – Families; designer and lead facilitator of the Life Without Barriers Becoming Together Programme – Equine Eco-Arts Programme for Carers.
Maria Whatley has been a Life Without Barriers (LWB) Foster Carer since 2013. Maria currently cares for four children between the ages of 23 months and 11 years, one with a severe disability and an Aboriginal child on a Long Term Guardianship Order (LTGO).
Maria is a carer in the LWB intensive foster care programme. Over the last 12 months she has been an enthusiastic and valued carer participant in the LWB Becoming Together Programme, an Equine Eco-Arts Therapeutic Programme to support carers to build their emotional competence and emotional resiliency in order to ensure placement safety, stability and longevity.
Dr Marcus Bussey is Deputy Head, School of Social Sciences at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. As a cultural theorist, historian and futurist he works on cultural processes that energise social transformation. He uses futures thinking and embodied workshops to challenge the dominant beliefs and assumptions that constrain human responses to rapid cultural, social, environmental and technological change. He is currently focused on the role of anticipatory aesthetics as a process-oriented approach to understanding and accessing human transformative potential. Read more about Marcus