NYHC2021 Speakers

Meet our speakers and presenters for this year's conference, with a mix of international and Australian experts in the field, front line service providers, educators, employers, young people sharing lived experience, and more.
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Adongwot ‘AD’ Manyoul

Conference MC

Adongwot ‘AD’ Manyoul holds a Double Bachelors in Communications in Journalism and International Studies. She is a South Sudanese Youth Advocate, Community Development Professional, and Researcher.
She is dedicated to empowering people of CALD backgrounds to achieving and realising their ambitions as demonstrated by her extensive community development work with the South Sudanese community.
Adongwot also has a special interest in bolstering excellence through education. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2019 to explore ways in which African diasporas have successfully integrated in other Western Societies.  With a special focus of the education system, she aspires to influence other young people of colour to follow their dreams and reach their highest potential
Dr. Stephen Gaetz

President of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness

Dr. Stephen Gaetz has had a long-standing interest in understanding homelessness – its causes, how it is experienced, and potential solutions. His program of research has been defined by his desire to ‘make research matter’ through conducting rigorous scholarly research that contributes to our knowledge base on homelessness and is mobilized so that it has an impact on policy, practice and public opinion.

As an internationally recognized leader and innovator in the area of knowledge mobilization, Dr. Gaetz has pioneered efforts to bring together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and people with lived experience of homelessness to participate in a broad agenda of community engaged scholarship and knowledge creation designed to contribute to solutions to homelessness. As Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, one of his key projects is the Homeless Hub, an innovative web-based research library internationally recognized as a leading example of innovation in knowledge mobilization. In 2016 Dr. Gaetz was awarded a Research Impact (Connection) award by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and in 2017 he received the honor of Member of the Order of Canada.

Harpreet Dhillon

Youth Ambassador, MYAN NSW

Harpreet Dhillon loves building a safer, sustainable, secure, and inclusive world with the initiatives and spaces she is a part of. Harpreet is driven by her ancestors, her people, and by her younger self who didn’t have anyone to stand up for her but herself. Harpreet is involved in grassroots campaigning and gender, racial and climate justice advocacy in roles including as a Youth Ambassador for MYAN NSW. She is a survivor of family and domestic violence and continues to fight the shame and stigma surrounding the communities she’s apart of.

Justin Mohamed

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria

Justin Mohamed is a Gooreng Gooreng man from Bundaberg in  Queensland who currently is the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria.  

Justin has worked with Victorian Aboriginal communities for 20  years before moving to Canberra to take on national positions as Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community  Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Chief Executive  Officer of Reconciliation Australia. Prior to his move to  Canberra, Justin held positions based in the Shepparton region  as the Inaugural Director of the Academy of Sport, Health and  Education (ASHE), CEO and later Chairperson of Rumbalara  Aboriginal Cooperative Ltd. 

He chaired the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled  Health Organisation (VACCHO) and chaired the Hume – Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council (RAJAC). Justin has held positions on multiple community, state and national  working groups, committees and boards and continues to be a  Director of Supply Nation, Co-Chair Cricket Australia’s  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee and Board Member of Kaiela Institute.

Melanie Redman

Co-Founder & President of A Way Home Canada

Melanie Redman is the co-founder, President & CEO of A Way Home Canada, a national coalition reimagining solutions to youth homelessness through transformations in policy, planning and practice. A Way Home Canada has inspired communities and countries around the world to adopt the A Way Home brand as a way to participate in a growing international movement for change. Melanie also leads the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness in Canada, which is a pan-Canadian community of practice for youth homelessness service providers. Melanie is also the co-founder and Partnership and Implementation Director for the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, and international “Network of Centres of Excellence.”

Ellen Jacobsen

Social Impact Manager, HoMie

Ellen Jacobsen has led HoMie in designing, implementing and developing the organisation’s social impact, since its inception. Through her work, Ellen has personally led HoMie in supporting over 1000 young people affected by homelessness or hardship through their programs.

Through her efforts, HoMie’s Pathway Alliance program has grown from pilot-phase to an annual accredited retail and education program that has partnered with national brands such as Champion, Nike, Bonds, TOMS, and Cotton On, who have agreed to be led by HoMie to create and facilitate empathetic employment opportunities and support young people affected by homelessness or hardship to build the skills, confidence and experiences to be more work-ready and better prepared for their future

Prof. Brian Burdekin AO

Former Federal Human Rights Commissioner

Professor Brian Burdekin, AO has left a lasting legacy to two of Australia’s most disadvantaged groups – homeless children and people with mental illness.  During his term as Federal Human Rights Commissioner, he presented two landmark reports: a National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness in 1989 and Human Rights and Mental Illness in 1983.

Our Homeless Children, the 1989 report on youth homelessness, shocked the Australian public by revealing the number of young people who were homeless and the appalling lifestyle they lived.  The Burdekin Association has restructured to reflect many of the recommendations of the report and Brian Burdekin has offered his full support. Unfortunately, though, many young people are still homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Fiona Patten MP

Leader, Reason Party

Fiona Patten is a Member for Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council. Leader of the Reason Party, Fiona was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Since being elected in 2014, Fiona has garnered respect from all sides of the political divide and has worked tirelessly to deliver legislative reforms that many thought impossible.

Fiona is now working towards improving Victoria even further and is pushing to legalise and regulate cannabis for adult use, continuing to implement electoral reform, religious accountability and greater separation of church and state, legalise sex work, and spent convictions legislation.

Michelle Lechleitner

Youth Housing Officer, Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Support Services (ASYASS)

Michelle Lechleitner is an aboriginal woman of western Arunda and Luritja descent from the central Australia region. Michelle has 5 children and 2 beautiful granddaughters with her husband Ken of 32 years. Giving guidance to young family members and young people in general when needed. Michelle’s Knowledge, empathy and compassion for others is credited to her mother Doreen, as she has given many people young and old a welcoming place to stay over the years.  

Michelle has worked with the Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Support Services since 2009. Currently Michelle is the Youth Housing Officer with the Youth Housing Program.  Much of Michelle’s work is guiding young people and giving them a voice while transitioning them into long term accommodation. The Program helps a young person develop and set goals within the 12-month program.  Michelle ‘s goal is to have more accommodation for young homeless people with a wraparound service.

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Dr. Justin Barker

Executive Director, Youth Coalition ACT

Dr. Justin Barker is the Executive Director of the Youth Coalition of the ACT. Justin is an anthropologist and youth studies academic with an extensive background in conducting research with marginalised population groups and community service providers in the areas of youth work, domestic & family violence, youth & family homelessness, child protection, alcohol and other drugs and service use by vulnerable population groups. Justin has extensive experience in program evaluation and working with community services to build their capacity for ongoing service improvement. Prior to his career as a researcher Justin was a youth worker in working with homeless young people. This experience led onto his PhD that examined the lives of homeless young people in Canberra, providing ethnographic insights into the conditions of youth homelessness. 

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Danni Forster

Co-Founder, Youth Homelessness Advisory Council WA

Danni Forster is a passionate 24-year-old. As a founding member of the Youth Homelessness Advisory Council or YHAC she has been able to be a part of the Action Plan to End Youth Homelessness, presenting in front of the Department of Communities and at the Social Impact Festival in 2019. In the second half of 2020, she was also a part of WA’s COVID-19 Youth Engagement project on the steering group that saw young voices brought to the forefront of WA’s recovery, we also spoke to ministers to present to them the Experiences of COVID-19, a document that we wrote after consulting with other young people.
OMage of woman, Vicki-Tree Stephens, in a polo shirt smiling at camera
Vicki-Tree Stephens

CEO, Youth Involvement Council WA

Vicki-Tree Stephens had experience in education and social services in NZ before moving to Mulan and Balgo (remote communities in the Kimberly) where she did some relief teaching and youth work back in the mid-2000’s.  Vicki-Tree is currently CEO at the Youth Involvement Council (YIC) which is a not-for-profit based in South Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia however prior to running YIC, she worked across their various programs at grassroots level for five years.

Now, over 30 staff work with over 400 youth aged 5-25 each year across several core programs including youth centres, night patrols, case management, youth events, a range of other collaborations and the Youth Accommodation Program (YAP) which caters for up to 8 homeless youth and traditionally supports about 50 individuals each year.  Her tertiary qualifications include education, philosophy, Maori, management, governance, and social impact.

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Jahin Tanvir

Youth Advocate

Jahin Tanvir is a 20-year-old policy adviser, speaker, author, and youth advocate. 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.

In 2021, Jahin received the 2021 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year in Individual Community Service as well as recognition in the 7NEWs Young Achiever awards for NSW/ACT.  He has had guest speaker roles in Parliament House, National Roundtable on COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth, ABC National Radio, and various panel discussions revolving around issues young people face. Jahin is also a young media spokesperson as part of the Centre for Australian Progress, providing expert media comment on young people’s experiences in Australian communities.

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Annemaree Callander

CEO, 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, housing and homelessness, and child protection. Annemaree is a strong advocate for young people and passionate about evidence informed policy and practice.


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Samantha Wilson


Samantha Wilson is a 21-year-old University student that studies Commerce and International Studies at Deakin University. Her aim is to make people’s lives easier than her own when it comes to youth homelessness.

Samantha has appeared in video interviews with Barwon Child Youth and Family in Geelong, and has published articles about her experience with homelessness and poverty. Samantha is passionate about sharing what is and is not working in youth homelessness service provision and policy, and how it can be improved for young people like herself. She was also a representative of Horizon House, a homeless youth service run by St John of God.

Samantha will be discussing her lived experience of homelessness, what early intervention looks like and how she got to where she is now. 


Dawyte Clancy

Founder, Freedom Fight Project NT

Dawyte Clancy is a well-respected, strong young leader in his community with many years of experience working within a variety of community service sectors, including: mental health, out of home care, intensive youth support and peer education.
Dawyte has been a strong advocate for vulnerable children and young people. He has been recognized and commended for his efforts locally and nationally. Dawyte has established the Freedom Fight Project NT, an independent child and youth advocacy body with the objective of ensuring the voices of vulnerable young people are heard and included in system level decision making. 
Dawyte is an aspiring social worker who aims to bring his lived experience into his practice to create an improved model of care for young people that it is more inclusive and holistic. One of Dawyte’s biggest passions is mental health and wellbeing outcomes for young people, which he advocates for every day.
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Paul McDonald

CEO, The Home Stretch

Paul McDonald is the CEO of Anglicare Victoria, the state’s largest agency in delivering out-of-home care (OoHC) and family support for vulnerable and at risk children, youth and families. He was previously the Deputy Secretary of the Children Youth and Family Division in the Department of Human Services overseeing Victoria’s Child Protection, Youth Justice and Family Welfare policy and programs. He won the Prime Minister’s Award for his department’s work in harm minimisation.
Paul was the founding CEO of the renowned Youth Substance Abuse Service, (YSAS), and established the nationally-significant St Kilda Crisis Centre. He is the founding national Chair of The Home Stretch, a campaign which seeks to extend the age of those in OoHC from 18 to 21 years.


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Pam Barker

CEO YFoundations

Pam Barker has extensive experience across the not-for-profit sector. Pam’s experience at ACON New South Wales’s largest LGBTIQ Health Service as the National Program Manager of the Health & Wellbeing Program and as a 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.


Image of a young person, Queenie, standing at a lecturn in white tshirt with a black cardigan on looking to the crowd

Youth Advocate

Queenie is a queer transgender woman who loves to defy social gender norms. Queenie loves writing poetry and has been an advocate for young people since she became a ward of the state. Queenie has lived experience in homelessness, mental health, AOD and the care system.
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Deb Tsorbaris

CEO, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CECFW)

Deb Tsorbaris 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 was the spokesperson for the Australians for Ending Homelessness campaign and she is currently serving on the boards of Kids Under Cover and the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia.

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Elvis Martin

Principal Ambassador, YDA

Elvis Martin is one of the passionate young leaders of Victoria advocating for social justice. He is currently the Ambassador of Youth Development 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.


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Kate Colvin

Deputy CEO, Council to Homeless Persons

Kate Colvin is national spokesperson for the housing and homelessness campaign Everybody’s Home. Everybody’s Home launched in 2018 to campaign for a fairer housing system in Australia, and has grown to become an alliance of over 400 partner organisations and more than 30,000 community supporters.
Kate is also Deputy CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons, the peak body for the homelessness sector in Victoria. Kate has worked in senior leadership and advocacy roles in community organisations for the past 25 years, and has played a key role in the development and leadership of other housing campaigns, including Australians for Affordable Housing and the Vote Home campaign.
Loki Liddle


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. 

Maria Mabo

Data & Quality Officer, Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI)

Maria Mabo works for Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI) in Cairns, Far North Queensland. Maria is a Meriam woman from the Piadram tribe of Mer (Murray Island). Maria is passionate about working within the community service sector and ensuring that young people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, have a voice within their community.

Maria has worked with many young people experiencing homelessness during her 10 years at YETI.  Maria is often engaged in Reconciliation activities and recently participated in The Reconciliation Queensland – Cairns Reconciliation Working group to investigate establishing a local Reconciliation panel in Cairns. Maria also co-chaired YETI’s internal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group through the development of YETI’s second innovate RAP.

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Prof. Eóin Killackey

Director of Research, Orygen

Professor Eóin Killackey is Director of Research and Head, Functional Recovery in Youth Mental Health at Orygen and the Centre for Youth Mental Health at The University of Melbourne. He completed his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Deakin University in 2000. His research is primarily in functional recovery for young people with mental illness. He is also interested in global models of youth mental health care as well as evidence-based interventions in mental health and barriers to their implementation.  He is currently President of IEPA: Early Intervention in Mental Health.
Sophie Howard

Student and Youth Advocate

Sophie Howard is a 17-year-old student undertaking a certificate 4 in AOD at RMIT. She hopes to one day work in the sector of Alcohol and Other Drugs, as a counsellor or in residential rehabilitation services. She believes this field of work would be extremely rewarding and eye opening and lead her to help those in need as much as possible.

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Katie Hooper

CEO, Foyer Foundation

Katie Hooper joined the Foyer Foundation in February 2020 to drive an ambitious agenda for the Australian Foyer movement. Katie is responsible for working in collaboration with the Foyer Foundation Board and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to drive the strategic agenda of the Foyer Foundation, along with a range of other activities, both externally and internally focused, including policy, advocacy, education, professional development, sponsorship, communications, marketing, finance and administration.
In her last role as CEO at Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) Katie devised and lead Victoria’s first ever Carer Advisory Group in partnership with the DHHS, advocating for carers to always have a voice. Katie also lead the organisation in the development of partnerships to develop and deliver a Statewide training calendar for Victorian carers. Katie is Social work trained and has worked for over 25 year in Child and Family Services. 
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Melissa Barber

Youth Advocate

Melissa Barber (she/her) is a young person with autism who has experienced trauma in her life. As a young person at risk of homelessness, Melissa would love to see young people like herself access services no matter where they live and not be excluded based on catchment parameters. She believes crisis accommodation should always be available, however, long-term housing is where young people can most feel safe and secure and this should be available to anyone who needs it.

Image of person, Néha Madhok, in a beige jacket and glasses, with dark brown hair, smiling at the camera, standing in front of a red brick wall
Néha Madhok

National Director, Democracy In Colour

Néha Madhok has over a decade of experience in Australian political campaigning and is driven by the power of grassroots organising to win tangible outcomes for social justice.

Currently, Neha is a National Director at Democracy in Colour a racial justice organisation led by and for people of colour. Previously she was a Senior Campaigner at 350.org Australia. Neha has worked on the Yes campaign for Marriage Equality, and she was a Digital Campaigner in the Australian union movement.

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Di Glover
EO, YES Unlimited

Di Glover has held the post of CEO of Yes Unlimited since 2000 having come to this role from a background of direct practice (counselling, youth program development and case management) and a number of senior management roles within the Victorian homelessness service sector. 

Di has a strong administrative background having studied business and accounting in the early years of her career before moving into the community services sector and completing an Associate Diploma Arts (Social Welfare) in 1996.  She has since undertaken formal studies through La Trobe University (Complex Community Care) and further formal study in Community Management (Diploma of Management, RMIT).  In February of this year Di received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the NSW Specialist Homelessness Services Good Practice Awards.

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Dr. Tammy Hand

Senior Research and Development Manager, Upstream Australia

Dr. Tammy Hand is the Senior Research and Development Manager at Upstream Australia. Upstream Australia, as a change agency and collective impact backbone organisation, works for place-based system reforms to achieve better social, educational, and vocational outcomes for young people, and supports the development and operations of the ‘Community of Schools and Services’ (COSS) collectives implementing the COSS Model and initiative communities who are working towards COSS implementation.

As a social researcher she is embedded in a program of research and development focused on social, educational, and vocational outcomes for young people, specifically at the nexus of in/equality, structural and non-structural barriers, social and system change and reform.

She is also an adjunct at the National Youth Commission Inquiry into Employment and Transitions. 


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Kai Schweizer

Youth Pride Network WA

Kai Schweizer (he/they) is a youth worker, sexologist, and LGBTIQA+ specialist located in Boorloo (Perth). He is the Founder of the Youth Homelessness Advisory Council; a project that employed 10 young people with lived experience of homelessness to create a 10-year plan for ending youth homelessness in Western Australia.

He is also the Co-Founder of the Youth Pride Network; WA’s only peer-based youth LGBTIQA+ advocacy body. Kai has a particular interest in LGBTIQA+ youth homelessness and the conversion practices occurring in crisis accommodation. He is currently undertaking his Master’s research in the field of gender diverse mental health. 

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Wendy Caspar
Executive Manager Employment, Training & Social Enterprise, Youth Projects

Wendy Caspar has over 18 years’ experience in the community sector, enabling and empowering vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to lead meaningful lives through employment and training pathways.

From grassroots youth worker, leader, senior leader through to Executive Manager, Wendy’s passion and dedication is centred around developing high performing operational teams and creating innovative models and programs to deliver impact and life-changing opportunities for young people. Wendy has won several national awards for her leadership in youth employment services.

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Dr. Amanda Stafford

Emergency Medicine Specialist, Royal Perth Hospital

Dr. Amanda Stafford is an Emergency Medicine specialist from Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) in Western Australia and the Clinical Lead for the RPH Homeless Team.  She also has clinical and research interests in alcohol and drug addiction.  Dr. Stafford is involved in homelessness policy and strategy initiatives at both local and state government levels and in multiple collaborations with Perth’s homelessness community.

She is committed to reducing health inequalities among this most marginalised and vulnerable cohort. Since 2017 she has been part of a growing research collaboration with the UWA Home2Health research team, building the evidence-base for effective interventions and policy measures to improve health for people experiencing homelessness. This includes using data on the healthcare costs to argue the benefits of integrating of social interventions into hospital care and to highlight that the cost of housing is cheaper than the costs of homelessness.

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Ryan Clark

Student and Youth Advocate

Ryan Clark is a science student and soccer coach living in Melbourne.  He became homeless as a teenager in 2018 following a family dispute and an injury that prevented him from working.

After a year of sleeping rough around the Northern suburbs and CBD, Ryan was linked in with youth services. He was assisted to get documentation, Centrelink and temporary accommodation whilst he recovered. Ryan is grateful for the people he met on the street and in refuges, and for all they have taught him. He is excited help others through their own journeys.

Dr. Silke Meyer
Assoc. Prof. Criminology,
Deputy Director of the Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, Monash University
Dr. Silke Meyer is an Associate Professor in Criminology and the Deputy Director of the Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre at Monash University. Her research focuses on different aspects of domestic and family violence, including its impact on children and young people, parenting in the context of domestic and family violence and experiences of homelessness associated with domestic and family violence. Silke is a Subject Matter Expert for the Raising Children Network and a former non-government member of the inaugural Qld Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board. Her research has informed policy and practice in areas of domestic and family violence-informed service responses in child protection, policing and court proceedings.


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Genervieve Sinclair

CEO, Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI)

Genevieve Sinclair is the Chief Executive Officer of YETI (Youth Empowered Towards Independence). Genevieve has been in this role for the past twelve years and worked in community and university research sectors for the past twenty-five years. Genevieve is the Vice President of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Network Agencies. Genevieve is a very active member of a range of local housing and homelessness networks and forums in Cairns.
YETI is a non-government organisation based in Cairns who support vulnerable young people and youth workers across Far North Queensland. Over 80 per cent of the young people who access YETI are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds. YETI provide a wide range of capacity building programs and work in partnership with community controlled agencies across the Cape York and Torres Regions and the Lower Gulf.
Courtney Fisher

Youth Representative, Southern Youth and Family Services

Courtney Fisher is a 24-year-old young person involved in Southern Youth and Family Services Foyer program. As a Youth Representative for Southern Youth and Family Services Board of Management, she gives a voice to marginalised young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Courtney has a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies, has studied a Certificate II in Auslan, and is currently completing her Bachelor of Community Services. Combining her experiences and studies, Courtney provides ongoing mentoring and everyday advocacy for young people in the Illawarra region.  


Associate Professor, Director of the Upstream Australia Project

David Mackenzie is an Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and Director of the Upstream Australia Project.

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 NYCA Commissioners in 2007/08. David is one of Australia’s leading researchers on homelessness and disadvantage.

Lorna Robinson

Lived Experience Contributor, The Constellation Project

Lorna Robinson is avid Australian Rules football fan and currently plays between the A & B grades for Adelaide Uni Women’s football Team. 

She was accepted into the Simon Black Academy at the start of 2019 and is currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) through Torrens University. 

Previously Lorna has worked as a program coordinator for Hoops for life with the aim to develop and deliver holistic basketball programs to young women in the community whilst liaising with other community programs and services. Currently she works as a sports coach for Kelly sports with students across a number of high schools. She is also employed as a lived experience contributor on Constellation Project a collaboration between Australian Red Cross, Centre for Social impact, PriceWaterhouseCoopers & Mission Australia focusing on ending homelessness in a generation. 

Although growing up in a supportive, loving home she found herself in trouble with the law and spent her teenage years in and out of Youth detention. She is passionate about sharing her experiences and what can we do better to support youth who have experienced detention to prevent them from entering homelessness. 


Jo Swift

CEO, Kids Under Cover

Jo Swift is the CEO of Kids Under Cover, and has been leading the organisation since 2007. Kids Under Cover is a not for profit organisation dedicated to the prevention of youth homelessness. Jo’s energy and genuine passion for making a lasting difference in the lives of homeless and at risk young people derives from those supported by the Kids Under Cover programs. Jo is also a proud board member of the Council to Homeless Persons.

Louise (Lou) Limoges

Head of Practice for the Children, Youth and Family Directorate, Uniting NSW

Louise (Lou) Limoges has a diverse range of community services expertise; working in education, disability, homelessness, out-of-home-care and child protection for over 20 years in both Government and non- Government organisations. Lou has led multidisciplinary teams across a range of program types and is passionate about service design and quality practice.

For the past eight years Lou has held positions at Uniting in NSW/ACT focussed on leading change initiatives and driving quality and consistent practice. Lou is currently the Head of Practice for the Children, Youth and Family Directorate at Uniting. Lou holds a Masters of Education and Post Graduate Degree in Psychology.

Lou has played a critical role in the development of Foyer Central for Uniting, advising on program design and translating research to practice for a new purpose built Foyer in NSW, targeting care leavers and funded through social impact investment.

Gabby Williams

Musician and Youth Advocate

Gabby Williams says everyone sees her as a trouble maker, yet everyone always comes to her for advice. She is a 19-year-old female with lived experience of homelessness.

She loves writing music and other than being a fierce advocate against homelessness stereotypes, she is incredibly passionate about rapping. She fervently believes no one should have to go through hardship alone. 

Dr. Brad Russell

Director, School Agency & Digital Leadership (NSW Department of Education)

Dr. Brad Russell is currently the NSW Department of Education Director, School Agency and Digital Leadership. Brad has extensive experience in designing, implementing and leading professional learning for educational leaders and teachers. His areas of expertise and research include reading, effective pedagogy and standards based practice. He is regarded as a leader in collective responsibility and the delivery of collective impact designed projects that build inclusive communities.


The cohesion and alignment of systems, policies, procedures and practices based on research are the drivers for Brad’s work. He is regarded as an innovator, leader and collaborator by his colleagues and peers. Brad’s interests are collective responsibility for social cohesion and building social capital, gardening and Greyhound Adoption Program. He has been awarded the NSW ACEL Fellowships and he is a previous recipient of the NSW Premier’s Award for Education.

Kirra Voller

Youth Advocate and Singer/Songwriter

Kirra Voller is a proud Wirangu and Kokatha woman, a singer/songwriter, youth advocate and mother of 4. Becoming a mother at 15 years old she has faced many challenges along the way including homelessness.
Kirra speaks to her audiences through her music and workshops and hopes to shine light on the issues that often get left in the dark.
Jem Wood

Operations Manager, Youth Support & Development, Anglicare NT

Jem Wood is Operations Manager, Youth Support & Development with Anglicare NT a role she has held since February 2015.
With over twenty years’ experience in the youth sector, Jem has led multidisciplinary teams across a range of youth program and is experienced in service design and quality practice. Jem has extensive experience working in the areas of youth homelessness, out of home care, alternative education, youth justice and youth health in Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Jem has experience in working with community organisations in the areas of case management, research and evaluation, project management, training/facilitation, group work, youth participation, and is passionate about developing partnerships and implementing innovative programs which create long term impact and assist young people. 
Kristin O’Connell

Antipoverty Activist, The Antipoverty Centre & Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU)

Kristin O’Connell is an antipoverty activist living on the Disability Support Pension. She is an unemployed worker at The Antipoverty Centre and the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, which provides peer support, rights information and representation for people in the social security system, and campaigns publicly for the rights of everyone who relies on income support to live.
Peter Wearne

Project Manager, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)

Peter Wearne has worked in the Youth and Alcohol and other Drug Sectors for the past 43 years. Beginning in the Inner South of Melbourne in 1973 as a volunteer in a youth program, then as a youth worker employed to work in St Kilda and bayside area from 1977.

In 1997, Peter joined the establishment team that began the Youth Substance Abuse Service (YSAS) and worked in the leadership team until leaving YSAS in late 2018.

Peter is currently employed by VACCHO as the project manager for WOTHA DABORRA helping to establish a dual diagnosis service for the Aboriginal community across Victoria.

Peter has over a 20-year involvement with the Yarra Drug and Health Forum and has served as Chairperson of the Executive since 2003. His commitment and passion for the work of the Forum stems from a life long belief in the Human Rights of those that use drugs and all that are affected by drug use.  

Jasmine Yee

Peer Support Worker, Homeless Health Team, St Vincent’s Hospital

Jasmine Yee is a 23 year old, who has always been passionate about youth homelessness. Since the age of 16, Jasmine has worked in the youth homeless sector and was employed by Project Youth as peer educator to provide education around issues that impact young people.

Currently, Jasmine works at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney as a peer support worker in the homeless health team. She uses her experience of living in out-of-home care at a young age to help peers to navigate services and get linked in. As a service, the homeless health team go out to numerous homeless shelters and refugees to provide healthcare.

Jasmine graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Criminology and she is current completing a Master of Social Work at The University of Sydney. She is also passionate about research and using her lived experienced to contribute as a peer in various co-design studies and research projects that contribute to better health outcomes for homeless populations.

Dr. Lisa Harris (MSW)

Program Manager, Graduate Certificate in Domestic and Family Violence, RMIT University

Dr Lisa Harris (MSW) is Program Manager of the Graduate Certificate in Domestic and Family Violence, RMIT University. Lisa teaches in applied social work in a family violence context and ethics in public policy. She has published research in various health and human service contexts exploring practice innovation and social policy implementation including targeted family violence initiatives, workforce development and homelessness.
Image of Dr Catherine Robinson looking directly at the camera with trees in the background
DR. Catherine Robinson

Social Action and Research Centre (SARC), Anglicare Tasmania

Dr. Catherine Robinson is a sociologist and social researcher in the Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare Tasmania. She has a long-held commitment to qualitative research and advocacy in the areas of homelessness, complex trauma and social care. Her current work focuses on understanding the experiences and support system needs of Tasmanian children and young people who experience high vulnerability, including unaccompanied homelessness (for further information see here).

Her key publications on homelessness include Beside One’s Self: Homelessness Felt and Lived (Syracuse University Press) and Homelessness in Australia (with Chris Chamberlain and Guy Johnson, NewSouth Publishing). Catherine is also known for her work with Blackfella Films as Series Consultant and Co-Host of the SBS documentary Filthy Rich and Homeless.  Most recently she has been appointed to the Board of Directors, Homelessness Australia and Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, UTAS.

Kelly Fawcett

Research & Policy Lead, Foundation for Young Australians

Kelly Fawcett (she/her) is FYA’s Research & Policy Lead. This means her day-to-day involves working with young people and youth-led organisations to build the evidence base for their campaigns, and create meaningful policy solutions for change. Most of the time this means a lot of reading, talking to young people and experts in the field.

Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce, specialising in economics, this study first sparked her love of research and data. Kelly believes that storytelling with data can be used as a powerful tool to empower and educate people to find solutions to big issues.

Kelly 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. 

Dr. Elizabeth Watt
Research and Policy Manager, Yfoundations
Dr. Elizabeth Watt is Research and Policy Manager at Yfoundations: the NSW peak body representing children and young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and the services that provide direct support to them. She leads a small team to who conduct research and advocacy, and work with governments and the sector to improve outcomes for homeless youth.  
In her previous role as Senior Research Officer at the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, Elizabeth gained expertise in helping policy makers and practitioners use evidence to achieve positive outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families. Before this, she researched the impact of political and technological changes on Indigenous Australian society at Deakin University. Her PhD, completed at the Australian National University in 2016, drew on extensive fieldwork in a remote Cape York community to explore the local reception of welfare reforms.
Cameron Boyle

Senior Policy Analyst, Orygen

Cameron Boyle is a Senior Policy Analyst at Orygen. In his current role, Cameron develops a range of evidence-based policy documents across a range of issues related to youth mental health, including Orygen’s report on youth homelessness and mental health titled ‘A Welcome Home’.

He has extensive experience in policy development and analysis and has held senior policy positions within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in the Victorian Government, and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Education within the Western Australian Government.

In addition to his professional experience, Cameron has also recently completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Hons) at the University of Melbourne and completed his honours thesis on the mental processing architectures used in stimulus categorisation.

Damiya Hayden

Co-Founder, The Antipoverty Centre

Damiya Hayden is an antipoverty and housing justice activist and cofounder of the Antipoverty Centre. She and her colleagues perform action research and policy analysis and advocacy from the standpoint of people directly affected by punitive social policy and the targeted erosion of the Australian welfare state.

Damiya’s perspective on social and economic policy is informed by her experiences as a community organiser, youth homelessness worker, policy advisor and political staffer, and of long-term unemployment and being subject to mutual obligations. Her research, policy and campaign work focusses on the politics of homelessness funding and service delivery in Australia, welfare conditionality, and winning universal public and community-controlled housing.

Kelly-ann Tansley
Director of Client Services & Deputy CEO, DV Connect

Kelly-ann Tansley is passionate leader and fierce advocate for woman’s and children’s safety. Kelly-ann has worked alongside victim/survivors of domestic and family violence for over 12 years in QLD.

Kelly -ann was recently appointed to the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce. The Taskforce will focus on examining women’s experiences in the criminal justice system and coercive control; Kelly-ann advocated alongside other sector leads for broad consultation with a focus on victim-survivor voices, including children, and minority populations, as well as awareness-raising around this dangerous form of abuse and training for police, justice systems and professionals working in this space.

Kelly-ann has worked across two regional services in Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) providing specialist response to gendered violence from frontline practice to leadership, advocacy and systemic reform and is now at the Queensland state-wide service, DVConnect as Deputy CEO, Director of Client services.

Professor Stuart Kinner
Head of the Justice Health Unit, University of Melbourne

Professor Stuart Kinner is Head of the Justice Health Unit at The University of Melbourne, and Head of the Justice Health Group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. He holds Honorary appointments at Monash University, The University of Queensland, and Griffith University, and in 2019 was a Visiting Professor at The University of British Columbia in Canada.

He is experienced in longitudinal studies, multi-sectoral data linkage, randomised controlled trials, program evaluation, policy analysis, systematic review, and meta-analysis. He has produced >250 publications (including 176 peer-reviewed papers) and attracted >$26 million in research and consulting funds, mostly from nationally competitive schemes.

His work has influenced policy reform in the youth justice, corrections, mental health, alcohol and other drug, and disability sectors. Stuart Chairs Australia’s National Youth Justice Health Advisory Group, and the WHO Health in Prisons Programme Technical Expert Group. He serves on a number of state, national, and international committees including the WHO Steering Group on Prisons Health, the Worldwide Prison Health Research & Engagement Network (WEPHREN) Steering Committee, the Australian Child Rights Taskforce, and the Victorian Department of Justice Human Research Ethics Committee.

Image of person, Lauryn Borthwick, with blonde hair and wearing a light blue top, smiling at the camera
Lauryn Borthwick

Senior Early Intervention Response Worker, The Geelong Project

Lauryn Borthwick is Senior Early Intervention Response Worker for The Geelong Project (TGP) at Barwon Child, Youth & Family. TGP focuses on early intervention for secondary school students who are at risk of disengaging from education, becoming homeless or entering the justice system.

TGP was initially funded as a two-year pilot program, supporting three schools within the Barwon Region. TGP interim report found a 40% reduction in the number of school age young people entering specialist homelessness services. TGP has since gained the support of DET and expanded to an additional four schools. TGP believes in the COSS model, where all young people and their families have wraparound support to best achieve outcomes.

Lauryn has made a significant contribution to TGP over the past five years, supporting young people, their families and schools to reduce the risk of homelessness, family conflict and school disengagement. Lauryn is passionate about early intervention and supporting young people to achieve their goals for a successful future. 

Jason Trethowan
CEO Headspace, the 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.

Leah Watkins

Senior Project Worker, Ruah Community Services

Leah Watkins has worked in the homeless sector for over 30 years in both Australia and the UK. She started in frontline work including emergency accommodation, day centres and outreach. After moving back to Australia, she worked as a consultant for 10 years doing service design, evaluations, action research and strategic planning in homelessness and broader the community sector before getting a real job and returning to manage homeless and mental health services.

For the past 4 years she has worked on 50 Lives 50 Homes project in Perth (now the Zero Project) which is an interagency collective impact project to sustainably house and support the most vulnerable rough sleepers. In 2019-20, Leah took part in the European Housing First Train the Trainer course with three other Australian participants. As a group, they helped draft the Housing First Principles for Australia (endorsed by the Homelessness Australia board in March 2020) and have designed and delivered a national Housing First train the trainer course. 

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Di Mahoney
Service Delivery Director, Brisbane Youth Service 

Di Mahoney is the Service Delivery Director at Brisbane Youth Service (BYS). Di and her team at BYS have been instrumental in developing partnerships and programs that seek to better understand and address the co-occurring prevalence of violence and homelessness amongst young people.  This includes research partnerships, piloting new programs with young men using violence and creating new service delivery partnerships with specialist domestic violence services that address the gaps experienced by young people seeking support.

Di was previously the Director of Byron Youth Service where she led community action to reduce alcohol-related harm impacting young people.  Di has 25 years of experience in the environmental, youth, local government and community sectors.

Ian Clarke APM

CEO, Albany Youth Support Association

Ian Clarke has been involved in policing for over 39 years, including extensive country service in the Kimberley, Goldfields, Wheatbelt and South West Districts of Western Australia. His metropolitan service has included Crime, Specialist Response, State Traffic Command and Professional Standards.

His country service provided the opportunity to work closely with remote and indigenous communities, working with community leaders to provide the best opportunities for young people in disadvantaged situations. 

Ian introduced the concept of Management by Event to better manage the large numbers of school leavers descending on the South West Communities in 2006, leading to significant increase in safety for young people and the community. Ian now leads a dedicated team of Youth Workers supporting young people throughout the lower Great Southern of Western Australia, including a 24/7 refuge for young homeless, outreach workers and a Youth Drop in centre.

Jo Howard
Consultant and Trainer, Multi Agency Risk Assessment & Management (MARAM)

Jo Howard is a consultant and trainer in Melbourne, Victoria.  She has worked with family violence and families for over 30 years in service delivery, clinical supervision, training, research and policy. A key focus has been on adolescent family violence.  She first published on the emerging issue of adolescent family violence in 1994.  

In 2009 she gained a Winston Churchill Fellowship to research best practice responses to adolescent family violence across the United States and Canada.   Subsequent research highlighted the relationship between adolescent family violence and the possible trajectory into youth homelessness.  

Her 25 year contribution to adolescent and adult family violence includes developing and leading research projects, practice and practice development and guidance, contributing to several books and key journals, working to build cross agency partnerships and training practitioners.  Jo has contributed to implementation of a number of RCFV recommendations, particularly relating to adolescent family violence.  She is currently delivering family violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment & Management (MARAM) training across Victoria.

Anne-Marie (Annie) Ryan
Community Building Lead, Upstream Australia

Anne-Marie (Annie) Ryan has focussed her career on roles and in Board Directorships that address disadvantage, support inclusion and build place-based community collectives while working within the Government, Catholic and not-for-profit sectors.

Annie was recently appointed as the Community Building Lead with Upstream Australia and will continue her work with this change agency and backbone support platform focussed on place-based system reforms to achieve better social, educational, and vocational outcomes for young people. Immediately prior to this appointment Annie was the inaugural CEO of the Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network and evolved the impact of this highly effective not-for-profit organisation over 2001-20.

Annie recently completed her 4-year term with the Barwon Regional Partnership where she was the lead for a major regional priority project known as the Barwon Blueprint. Annie is also currently a member of the BSW ACFE Council and for a bit of variety is a Board Director with the Geelong Animal Welfare Society.

Bryan Átherton
Service Manager, Therapeutic Youth & Family Services, Uniting Communities
Bryan Átherton has a background in Psychology, and started his career in community services as a mental health support worker, and has since worked across a wide range of service settings in South Australia. For the last 8 years, Bryan has managed over 20 government funded programs across a range of therapeutic services including mental health, NDIS, youth homelessness, carer support, sexual abuse, and domestic & family violence. 
Currently, Bryan works with Uniting Communities as the manager of Youth and Family Therapeutic Services, which includes the Ruby’s Reunification program. Bryan’s work with the Ruby’s program offers an early intervention response to young people at risk of homelessness, through the provision of short-term accommodation, family counselling, and case management, to support families maintain a safe and supportive family where the young person can flourish. 
Lisa Fowkes
Director, Employment, Social Ventures Australia
Lisa Fowkes is the Director, Employment, at Social Ventures Australia. She has extensive experience as a practitioner, researcher and policy advocate around employment programs. SVA’s employment work focusses on supporting organisations to deliver continuous improvement in their employment programs as well as working on strategies to increase economic mobility for young people from low SES backgrounds.  


Emma Cull
Senior Manager, Youth, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Emma Cull is Senior Manager, Youth at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Emma has been involved in  leading the development and delivery of a number of youth programs and initiatives across BSL,  including playing a key role in the development of the Education First Youth Foyer model and key initiatives in leaving care, education and employment.  Emma has worked in the community sector for over a decade and is passionate about working at the nexus of policy, practice and research to inform long term and systemic solutions to disadvantage.  

Pete Jacobson
Service Evolution Manager, Yourtown
Pete Jacobson has extensive experience in the Human Services field, having held a number of senior management and executive roles in community services organisations focussed mainly on youth, homelessness, housing, and family services – though he forever remains a youth worker at heart.
Pete is best known for his contribution as co-developer of The Geelong Project  – Community of Schools & Services Model; a collective impact model focused on the reduction of early school leaving and entry into the youth homelessness system; a model now replicated in multiple sites across Australia, United States, Canada and Wales.
Pete is based in Queensland and is the Service Evolution Manager for yourtown, where he supports ongoing development and clinical governance of their services, including Kids Helpline, Employment and Child and Family Services across 42 sites nationally.
Dr. Jess Heerde
Senior Research Fellow, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne

Dr. Jess Heerde is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Paediatrics at The University of Melbourne. She leads a program of research that highlights both drivers of homelessness and the health consequences of homelessness in the young.

She has established a program of work focused on the prevention of homelessness before its consequences for health, and the social and individual assets that underpin health across the later life-course, arise. She is Area Director of the Homelessness research stream in the International Youth Development Study. She has authored over 70 publications, including highly cited reviews, invited and original research in international journals, book chapters, and commissioned reports.

Leonie Patterson
Executive Manager, Cultural Safety and Partnerships, Anglicare NT

Leonie Patterson is the Executive Manager Cultural Safety and Partnerships at Anglicare NT. A proud Aboriginal woman and Stolen Generations descendent, Leonie’s family originates from the Fitzroy Crossing region in the East Kimberley. 

Leonie’s work is driven by her passion to leave a meaningful legacy for her children and generations to come, to addresses the injustices that her family experienced, as a result of the forced removal of her great grandmother. She has a strong belief in the power of creating and nurturing meaningful relationships to affect systems change, where Aboriginal people’s self-determination is fully realised. She works tirelessly to challenge and influence systems change in the NT and nationally.

Leonie’s held senior roles in the federal government and a following nearly 20 years in the public service, joined Anglicare NT in 2018 as the Executive Manager, Cultural Safety and Partnerships. In this role Leonie leads the provision of high-level strategic advice to the Board, Executive and across the agency on partnerships with Aboriginal organisations and communities, cultural safety and implementation of the agency’s workforce development strategy. 

Maj. David Eldridge AM
The Salvation Army 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 programme 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 Adviser 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 Acton Taskforce in 2000-2001.

He has contributed to the delivery of several groundbreaking 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.

Chairmaine Crowe
Senior Advisor (Social Security), Australian Council of Social Service

Charmaine Crowe joined ACOSS in June 2016 and leads ACOSS’s social security policy work, including managing the Raise the Rate For Good Campaign. Charmaine gained her expertise in social security policy working for Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), where she was a Senior Policy Advisor and Policy Coordinator. She has also worked as a legislative advisor in the NSW Parliament.

Charmaine has a Master’s in International Health and Welfare Policy from Oslo University College and her policy expertise also covers the areas of ageing, health and housing.

Justene Gordon
CEO, The Burdekin Association

Justene Gordon became a member of the Burdekin Board during 2008 and was appointed President in 2013. In 2016 she resigned from the Board to take up the role as CEO. She has worked tirelessly to ensure Burdekin’s continued existence and growth.   Justene was honoured with the 2016 Warringah Council Citizen of the Year award and was the recipient of the Pittwater Community Service Award 2018. The award recognises Justene’s commitment to young people in the community, including her efforts to help establish the Avalon Youth Hub which required the bringing together of support agencies and community networks to tackle youth mental health.