Conference Program

First Release

The information below provides a summary of program content, and the detailed final program will be released in September 2019.

The conference program will include a mix of guest speakers, facilitated panel discussions, presentations and workshops in line with the Conference aims and themes. The final half-day is dedicated to workshops, and spaces are limited for these.

Master of Ceremonies (Wednesday morning, 6 November) 

Karla Grant, SBS Presenter, Producer & Journalist

Karla Grant has worked for SBS for over a decade. She was a presenter, producer, reporter and director of the Walkley award-winning ICAM program, SBS TV's ground-breaking Indigenous current affairs show that preceded Living Black. Karla reported on a wide range of issues for ICAM - politics, sports, the arts - and also produced a number of mini-documentaries. This year marks Karla’s twelfth series as Presenter and Executive Producer of Living Black, SBS TV's prime-time national Indigenous current affairs program. Karla was appointed Executive Producer of SBS's Indigenous Media Unit in 2002. From there, she developed the concept for Living Black which first aired in February 2003. For the past five years, Karla has also produced SBS TV's coverage of The Deadly Awards, the national awards for Indigenous excellence in music, sport, entertainment and community service.

Key Note Speaker

Professor Marc Stears, Sydney University – Sydney Policy Lab

Marc Stears is Director of the Sydney Policy Lab. Before arriving in Sydney in 2018, Marc had been Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford and Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, one of the UK’s largest think tanks, where his work often focused on deepening partnerships with community groups who are often overlooked in the policy process. Marc has advised a number of commercial and non-commercial organisations on strategic communication, democratic inclusion and community engagement. In his academic work, Marc is an expert in democratic theory and the history of ideologies and social movements. He is the author of Demanding Democracy; Progressives, Pluralists and the Problems of the State; and an editor of many volumes including The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies.

Guest Speakers

  • Monica Morgan, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation

Monica is a Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner and the Chief Executive Officer for Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. She is also a founder of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN). Monica has a long history in advocacy for Indigenous land and water rights and gender equality. Monica established the Indigenous Partnerships Project under The Living Murray Initiative while working at the Murray Darling Basin Commission. She has authored and co-authored a number of publications on Native Title and Water Rights, including Indigenous Rights to Water in the Murray Darling Basin. Monica is a current member of the UNESCO Panel Cultural Diversity in Water.

  • Professor Sarah Maddison, University of Melbourne

Sarah is a Professor of Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She is the co-founder and co-director of the research unit The Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration. Sarah has published widely in the fields of reconciliation and intercultural relations, settler colonialism, Indigenous politics, gender politics, social movements, and democracy. Her published works include Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation; The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation; The Women’s Movement in Protest, Institutions and the Internet; and Black Politics: Inside the complexity of Aboriginal political culture, the joint winner of the Henry Mayer Book Prize in 2009.

  • Naomi Nash, New River Leadership

Naomi is the CEO and lead facilitator with New River Leadership, a learning organisation committed to individuals who are working to make communities and workplaces better and focused on leadership capacity building. She has worked with social welfare agencies, schools, executives and individuals, and to explore leadership and cultural change. Naomi has a passion for entrepreneurship and mentoring start-ups, particularly with young people and has been granted an Honorary Associate position at the University of Sydney Business school for her work in this space. In 2017, Naomi co-authored Rethinking Leadership: Building capacity for positive change.


Workshop A (1/2 Day) - CLOSED session for First Nations women (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander, or other Indigenous women), facilitated by Monica Morgan and Cathy Craigie. This session will focus on approaches and challenges to empowering first nations women and women-lead empowerment. LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE

Workshop B (1/2 Day) - Design Thinking Workshop, facilitated by Ben Pecotich, Dynmaic4. This interactive workshop will provide experience in how to use this technique to help solve complex problems and accelerate innovation. Participants will be given practical tools and guidance on the design thinking process and how it can be used in their work or shared with others looking to create innovative and positive change in the community. LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE

“Facilitated Dialogue with Global Change Agents”, Amanda Tattersall facilitates a dialogue between a panel of visiting global change agents and Conference participants, drawing out commonalities, lessons learned, and what structures and programs assisted the change agents’ journeys to active and effective citizens.


“Habit formation and active citizenship: acts of citizenship as breaking old habits , Dr Melanie White, University of New South Wales – Consideration of how active citizenship can be developed by understanding the role of habit formation in developing citizenship practices, and what might be the conditions and possibilities for cultivating the (new) habits necessary for active citizenship.

“Addressing barriers to becoming an active citizen”, Naomi Nash, New River Leadership – Reframing leadership as capacity of all people, rather than a privileged position reserved for a few, Naomi explores practical ways to enable contributions from all kinds of people, including consideration for barriers, enabling environments, and support for discovery of personal strengths.

 “The need for a complexity informed active citizenship education program”, Dr Sharon Zivkovic, University of South Australia & Community Capacity Builders – A study into the effectiveness of an active citizenship training program revealed key risks and threats to effectiveness, and lead the way to a redevelopment of the program informed by complexity and adult education theory.

“Leadership Onkaparinga community leadership program”, Joanna Giannes, City of Onkaparinga – A program in the City of Onkaparinga uses the key elements of education for sustainability to equip active citizens with the knowledge and skills for stronger community advocacy, collaborative community projects and bridging their activities to local, regional and state plans.

“Community Citizens training program”, Tanya Owen, City of Parramatta – An active citizenship training program seeking to build the skills, knowledge and confidence of people to create positive change in their communities, which is also adapted to address the different needs of both marginalised groups and people seeking to further develop their capacity for active citizenship.

 “Aboriginal Women’s Civic Leadership Program”, Joanna Giannes, City of Onkaparinga – A program co-created with representatives of the local Aboriginal community to build women’s civic leadership and change-maker capacity in Aboriginal communities.

“Exercising self-determination and sovereignty: local Indigenous perspectives”, Janine Gertz, The Cairns Institute at James Cook University - Grounded in community development and nation-building work with the Gugu Badhun Aboriginal Nation, Janine explores the expression and exercising of self-determination and sovereignty at the local level, and frameworks that help or hinder these expressions of empowerment.

 “The Colonial Fantasy, Why white Australia can’t solve black problems”, Prof. Sarah Maddison, The University of Melbourne –  Sarah presents the case from her latest book for a radical restructuring of the relationship between our First Nations peoples and the Australian settler state - built on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having the ability to control and manage their own lives.

Survivors and Mates Support Network (SAMSN), Dean Brown – Co-founded by men with lived experience of child sexual assault seeking to assist others in pathways to recovery, SAMSN is working to empower male survivors of child sexual assault to support others to thrive and become change agents themselves, and offers insights into supporting people on this journey.

“Family by Family”, Vita Morano, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation – A program that is supporting families out of crises is also providing opportunities for families who have been through hardship to support other families to make lasting change in their lives. 

“ACON’s Welcome Here Project”, Michael Atkinson, Aids Council of NSW (ACON) – A project that is engaging businesses to promote inclusion and safe spaces in response to homophobic street-based violence, and provides businesses with an achievable pathway and resources on their inclusion journey.

“Co-designing with young people for meaningful participation and building agency”, Bianca Orsini, Ylab/Foundation for Young Australians & Ellen Ross, City of Parramatta Council – An approach that puts young people at the centre of the design process, which values their lived experience, builds skills, knowledge and confidence, and fosters network building, community participation and empowerment.

“Supporting young people in community-lead action at the local level”, Ellen Ross, Phil Scott & Hatice Vural, City of Parramatta – The City of Parramatta’s approach to youth week 2018 involved a year-long program that supported young people through project design and implementation, providing opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and confidence to lead local projects for enhancing the wellbeing of their peers.

“Emerging civic leaders: supporting young people to strengthen our democracy”, Skye Riggs, Y Vote & Aliza Denenberg, City of Sydney – A program and flexible tool combing online and face-to-face learning to foster young people’s capacity to participate in democratic processes and enable participants to engage and inspire their peers.

“Outburst! Young people leading action in their community”, Krissy Stapleton & Freya Conomos, Youth Action – Utilising the Youth Participation Framework, a youth volunteer group focusing on issues affecting young people in Western Sydney were upskilled and supported to develop and deliver Friend2Friend, workshops for other young people around mental health and what friends can do to support each other.

“How do you organise change in cities?”, Dr Amanda Tattersall, University of Sydney & Sydney Policy Lab – A 3-year global study exploring how citizens are making changes to their cities combined with the experience of founding and working with the Sydney Alliance, brings to light how change in cities can be brokered, and how understanding the geography of power makes a big difference in effecting change.

“Learnings from the Paper Plain pilot project”, Julia Suh, Paper Plain – Inviting property developers to invest in community development differently, Paper Plain offers a human-centric digital platform that on-boards residents and help them build a strong community through community-driven activities while enabling developers to create better places.

 “The Neighbourhood Project, a new wave of DIY citymaking”, Vali Morphett, Co-Design Studio,– An action research program into community-led placemaking offers insights into approaches and tools that can activate locals in taking action, working together and continuing to invest for the collective benefit of their neighbourhoods.

 “Creating active and empowered citizens: the Town Team Approach”, Dean Cracknell, Town Team Movement & Mantej Singh, Sydney Olympic Park Authority – An approach that works to improve a place and community by breaking down barriers and supporting collaboration between residents, businesses and local governments, and helping community members to identify and lead action.

“Change from below: Supporting grassroots innovation”, Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood - Insights into activating and supporting communities to contribute to greater community well-being through innovation, social enterprise, and crowdfunding, drawn from helping over 1,000 community projects to launch.

 “Social entrepreneur development to enable people to create systems change”, Dr Sharon Zivkovic, University of South Australia & Community Capacity Builders – A study into the effectiveness of an active citizenship training program reveals that the outcomes of such programs can be enhanced by social entrepreneur development programs as a means for people to work with system complexity and achieve positive change.

“Innovation in Local Government - Empowering and activating aspiring social entrepreneurs”, Lucy Brotherton, City of Parramatta Council & Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood - Pitch for Good Parramatta, a partnership program of the City of Parramatta and StartSomeGood, activates and empowers aspiring social entrepreneurs to engage others in their ideas through training and public engagement events, and facilitates community-based funding support for project delivery.

 “Challenges in Supporting Not-For-Profit Social Enterprises”, Karla Gunby, Christchurch City Council (New Zealand) – Christchurch City Council is aiming for a strong and connected NFP social enterprise sector and employs a number of levers to grow local social enterprises and opportunities to collaborate with the business sector for improved social outcomes.

 “Social procurement to grow social enterprise”, Mark Daniels, Social Traders – A service that uses the vehicle of social procurement to sustain and grow social enterprises by connecting governments and business with certified social enterprises through a supported and purposeful multi-strategy approach.

“Tender Funerals: A Community undertaking”, Jennifer Briscoe-Hugh, Tender Funerals & Emily Adams, Social Ventures Australia – A service and strategy that provides insights into communities enabled as market disruptors by offering communities the opportunity and support to establish a not-for-profit funeral service in response to the restrictive and expensive funeral care market.