Current Speakers

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s most beloved journalists and the host of Australia’s first political cooking show, ABC TV’s Kitchen Cabinet. Annabel is the ABC’s Chief Online Political Writer and writes a weekly column for Fairfax newspapers. She is also the author of five books, including The Wife Drought. Annabel is the host of a new ABC TV program, The House, and co-presents a popular podcast with her colleague Leigh Sales, Chat 10 Looks 3.

Annabel was born in rural South Australia in 1973, growing up on a sheep and grain farm. She completed a law degree at Adelaide University but abandoned that career in favour of journalism, taking a cadetship with the Adelaide Advertiser. She worked as a journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery for Fairfax titles The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, and later was the London correspondent for the Sunday Age and the Sun Herald.

Annabel won a Walkley Award for her 2009 Quarterly Essay on Malcolm Turnbull, and was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in 2011.

Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and has appeared on Insiders, The Drum, Gruen Nation, Q&A and ABC News, and 7.30.

Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

In December 2009 Kelly was elected to represent the people of Higgins following the retirement of former Federal Treasurer the Hon Peter Costello AC. 

Kelly was appointed as the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services in the Turnbull Government in July 2016. She is a member of Cabinet and also serves on Cabinet's Expenditure Review Committee (ERC).

She served as the Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer from September 2015 to July 2016, and was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer from December 2014 until being appointed to Cabinet in 2015.

During her time as Minister for Small Business, Minister O'Dwyer and the Turnbull Government introduced unfair contract protections for small business, established the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, and announced the amendment of section 46 of the competition law to level the playing field for small businesses. As a member of the Expenditure Review Committee, she also ensured small businesses benefited from the 2016-17 Budget's tax cuts and expanded small business tax concessions.

She was Chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics from 2013 to 2015.

Kelly has been Chairman of the Australia-United States Parliamentary Friendship Group and Convenor of the Australia-Americas Network, encompassing North, Central and South America.

Kelly is the founder and Chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Women in Science, Maths and Engineering. In addition, Kelly serves as an Ovarian Cancer Ambassador, Patron of the Stonnington City Brass and Patron of the East Malvern Junior Girls Football Team.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

Sarah Hanson-Young

With a background in activism and campaigning, Sarah Hanson-Young has brought a strong human rights focus to her years in Federal Parliament.

Since entering the Senate in 2008, Sarah has worked tirelessly to change the national conversation around people seeking asylum and has called for those in need to be treated with respect.

Sarah is also a strong supporter of marriage equality and has fought to protect South Australia’s precious water resources while ensuring that Australian families have access to high quality early education and care.

Sarah has backed diverse initiatives to encourage equality of opportunity for women and children across Australia. She worked to establish a Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People and continues to call for the release of all children from immigration detention in Australia and on Nauru.

She was named a World Economic Forum, Young Global Leader in 2016 and will continue to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people in Australia and around the world.

Her portfolios include: Finance & Trade, Youth, Early Childhood Education & Care, Arts, Education, Nuclear and Communications.

Clare O'Neil MP

Clare O'Neil MP

Clare O’Neil was elected to the Parliament as the Federal Member for Hotham in 2013, and was re-elected in 2016. In July 2016, Clare was appointed to the Shadow Ministry as the Shadow Minister for Justice.  Clare is also a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement.

Immediately before entering Parliament, Clare worked in business as an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company. There, she worked with CEOs of Australian companies, helping them solve their most difficult problems.

Clare has Arts and Law degrees with Honours from Monash University, and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar. 

Clare is a former Mayor of Greater Dandenong. At the age of 23, she was Australia’s youngest ever female Mayor.

Clare co-authored a book with Tim Watts MP, entitled ‘Two Futures - Australia at a Critical Moment’, in August 2015.

Hon Natalie Hutchins MP

Natalie Hutchins

From her days as a union official to a small business owner, a mum to a Minister, Natalie is committed to fighting for workers, and ensuring a better future for all Victorians.  In 2010 she was elected to represent the seat of Keilor and quickly became the Shadow Minister for Ports, Freight and Logistics and the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations. 

Natalie is currently the Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence in the Andrews Labor Government. Natalie has always been a fierce advocate for gender equality and for workers rights and this continues in her role as a Victorian Minister. 

Dr Sharman Stone

Dr Sharman Stone

Dr Sharman Stone is the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls. She has been a longstanding and active advocate on gender equality issues in Australia and internationally. A former Australian politician from March 1996 to 2016, representing the Division of Murray, Victoria. As a long serving member and recently Chair of the Australian Parliamentarians for Population Development Group (APPDG), Sharman was elected the Vice Chair of the Asia-Pacific Population Development Group with special responsibilities for promoting the rights of women and girls in the region. In this role and as the Chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade, Aid Sub Committee, Sharman has championed the cause of eliminating child marriages, FGM, human trafficking, poverty and disease in our region. She delivered Australia’s Statement on the Status of Women in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, where she also worked on the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals and has advocated for overcoming disadvantage in numerous international fora, always addressing the role and partnering of Australia in supporting our region’s special needs. 

Dr Stone has participated in regional dialogues for Pacific women political leaders and policy makers in the Pacific (Tonga, 2014), the Australian-funded Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Fora, and the Women Ministers and Parliamentarians Conference on Progressing Sexual and reproductive health and rights into Beijing + 20.

Dr Stone has been Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration and Minister for Workforce Participation.  She has also served as Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs and Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.

Fiona Patten MP

Fiona Patten

Fiona Patten was the founder and leader of the Australian Sex Party – now the Reason Party.  She is a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for the Northern Metropolitan region. She came to politics after 20 years of lobbying for the rights of organisations involved in the sexual rights movement – including small businesses, sex workers, HIV/AIDS organisations, adult media and online anti-censorship groups. Before that she was an established independent fashion designer with her own label called Body Politics. 

Her political career began as an AIDS educator with ACT sex worker advocacy group, WISE. She also held positions on the Board of the AIDS Action Council, as an AFAO (Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) Committee Member and a member of the ACT Attorney General’s Sex Industry Committee.

Senator The Hon Penny Wong

Senator Penny Wong

Penny is the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Penny was born in Malaysia and moved to Adelaide with her family as an eight year old where she now lives with her partner and their two daughters.

Before entering politics Penny worked for a union, as a ministerial adviser in the NSW Labor Government, and as a lawyer.

Penny was elected to the Senate in 2001 and took her seat in 2002.

Following the election of the Labor Government in 2007 Penny was appointed the Minister for Climate Change and Water and later served as Minister for Finance and Deregulation.

In 2013 Penny was appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate.  After the change of Government she was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.  Penny is the first woman to hold both these roles.

Professor Simon Jackman

Professor Simon Jackman

Professor Simon Jackman became CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in April 2016. Born and raised in Australia, he went to the United States for his PhD (Political Science, Rochester) in 1988. From 1996 to 2016, Jackman taught Political Science and Statistics at Stanford University.

Jackman’s research focuses on public opinion, political participation, and electoral systems, in both the United States and Australia. Since 2009, Jackman has been one of the Principal Investigators of the American National Election Studies, the world’s longest running and most authoritative study of political attitudes and behaviour.

Professor Carolyn Evans

Professor Carolyn Evans

Professor Carolyn Evans is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Provost at the University of Melbourne. She has responsibility for graduate schools and post-graduate coursework students, as well as assisting the Vice-Chancellor with Advancement and alumni relationships.

Prior to her current position, Professor Evans was Dean of Melbourne Law School from 2011-2017 and an academic in the Law School since 2000. She worked for a period as a lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron after graduating from Melbourne. Professor Evans has degrees in Arts and Law from Melbourne University and a doctorate from Oxford University where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar and where she held a stipendiary lectureship for two years.

In 2010, Carolyn was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to allow her to travel as a Visiting Fellow at American and Emory Universities to examine questions of comparative religious freedom. She has also taught in the human rights summer school at European University Institute.

Dr Andrea Carson

Dr Andrea Carson

Dr Andrea Carson, lecturer in Media and Politics, The University of Melbourne. Andrea Carson is also an honorary fellow at the University's Centre for Advancing Journalism. Her research interests include the relationship between news media and democracy, the role of investigative journalism, digital media and political communication. Andrea writes and commentates about Australian politics and is an academic advisor to Vote Compass (ABC) and Election Watch (The University of Melbourne). Her research examines voter behaviour, and electoral studies more broadly. Andrea has previously worked in both the media and political spheres. She was a news journalist at The Age and has worked as a reporter, producer and broadcaster in radio (ABC 774, 3RRR) television (7.30 Report) and online (The Age, ABC). She was the national media officer to Bill Shorten at the Australian Workers' Union. Before commencing her PhD, Andrea produced ABC 774's morning radio program with Jon Faine. She regularly contributes opinion pieces (and podcasts) to The Age, The Conversation, The Drum, New Matilda, Crikey, The Citizen and has a regular guest commentator role on ABC 774 and ABC TV 24 news breakfast. A recent highlight was broadcasting the 2016 Australian federal election results live with Jon Faine.

Cathy McGowan MP

Cathy McGowan MP

Cathy was born in Albury Hospital and raised on a dairy farm in the Indigo Valley near Wodonga. She was educated in Beechworth and Melbourne and gained qualifications in economics and agriculture. She began her working life in rural Victoria as a teacher in Nhill and Wangaratta, and then as electoral assistant for Ewen Cameron, the Federal Member for Indi, in the 1980s, before joining the Victorian Department of Agriculture.

When she was 27, Cathy purchased a farm in the Indigo Valley and established a rural consulting business with a focus on working with communities, and farming families on issues such as Home and Community Care, child care, and care for people with cancer. This gave Cathy an understanding of the various challenges facing small business and community groups, and how they could be overcome. Cathy has also worked as an academic at the University of Western Sydney, researcher, and company director. Her work with women in agriculture took her all around the world, with contracts in Papua New Guinea and Ireland and she was regularly asked to speak at international conferences.

Cathy’s community service has been acknowledged with an Order of Australia, a national Centenary medal, and the award of a Churchill Fellowship. Cathy stood as an independent candidate in the 2013 election for the Federal seat of Indi to provide voters with a real choice for representation on issues that matter to them. She was re-elected in 2016.

Russel Howcroft

Russel Howcroft

Russel has over 25 years experience in marketing and media. He has held leadership roles across industry and agencies, and brings his vast experience to his role as PwC's Chief Creative officer.

He's worked with many of Australia's iconic brands and is the champion of big and brave ideas that transform business and brands. He's well known for his outspoken opinion in the media and ABC1’s Gruen and has published a book on the subject When It's Right To Be Wrong.

Amanda Gome, Head, Notable Media

Amanda Gome

Amanda Gome has been a CEO, senior executive, entrepreneur, publisher and business journalist, and at the forefront of Australian media and communications for more than 25 years; in particular leading change through the constant stream of disruptive digital and social technologies that have transformed the industry. She is currently the CEO of Notable Media, a social communications and marketing business that assists executives and corporates use social media, digital platforms and content to build influence, communities, conversations and business results. ANZ remains a client. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Business at RMIT University, a position she has held for 15 years.

Nicholas Reece

Nicholas Reece

Nicholas Reece is Director of Strategy, Policy and Projects, in the Chancellery at the University of Melbourne. He is a Principal Fellow with the Melbourne School of Government.

Nick has considerable of experience in both politics and policy making at the highest levels of government including for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Victorian Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby. Key roles during this period include Deputy Chief of Staff, Head of Policy, and Director of Strategy. He was also Secretary and Campaign Director of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria. 

Nick currently serves as a Councillor for the City of Melbourne where he is the Chair of the Planning portfolio.

Nick hosts a TV show, Politics HQ, on Sky News and is a specialist commentator for the network. He is also a regular columnist with the Herald Sun.

Nick is an original Mo Bro and director of the global men’s health movement Movember which has raised over $900 million for prostate cancer and men’s suicide prevention. For over a decade Nick served as a director of the street newspaper The Big Issue, Australia’s most successful social enterprise.

The Honourable John Brumby

The Honourable John Brumby

John Brumby is a former Premier of Victoria (2007 - 2010) and has immense experience in public life serving for more than 10 years as Treasurer and then Premier of Victoria, 6 years as Leader of the Victorian Opposition and 7 years as Federal MHR for Bendigo during the period of the Hawke Government. Since retiring from politics, John has accepted a number of appointments in both the business and not-for-profit sectors, including: Chairman of the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) Superannuation Fund; Chairman of Citywide Service Solutions Pty Ltd; Independent Director of Huawei Technologies (Australia) Pty Limited; Professorial Fellow at both the University of Melbourne and Monash University; Chair of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; Director of the Fred Hollows Foundation; and National President of the Australia China Business Council. John is widely published on a range of issues including Federation, tax reform and China. He was Chair of the COAG Reform Council from January 2013 to June 2014 and over recent years has led a number of national policy reviews, including the 2012 GST Distribution Review and the 2013 report into the establishment of an Anti-Dumping Authority. John had recently chaired a Review into Regional Economic Development and Services for Victoria.

John Daley, Chief Executive, Grattan Institute

John Daley

John Daley is the inaugural Chief Executive of Grattan Institute, which provides independent, rigorous and practical solutions to Australia's most pressing public policy issues. John's work at Grattan Institute has focused on economic and budgetary reform. He is particularly interested in government prioritisation. His other interests include analysing the situations in which government intervention is justified, and the limits to government. He has 25 years' experience spanning policy, academic, government and corporate roles. He has worked for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, McKinsey and Co, and ANZ where he was Managing Director of the online stockbroker, E*TRADE Australia. John completed an LLB (Hons) and a BSc at The University of Melbourne in 1989, and a doctorate in public law at the University of Oxford in 1999.

Stephen Donnelly, Assistant Secretary Victorian ALP

Stephen Donnelly

Stephen was responsible for Victorian Labor's grassroots organising field program - the Community Action Network. He oversaw the local Community Action Networks that recruit, train and empower volunteers and activists to bring real change to their local communities through direct action and were intrinsic to the Victorian state election success in 2014. He has worked with the Democrats' campaigns in the USA in 2008 and 2012.

Senator Jacqui Lambie, Federal Senator for Tasmania

Senator Jacqui Lambie, Federal Senator for Tasmania

Jacqui Lambie is a Senator for Tasmania and founder of the Jacqui Lambie Network. She was first elected in September 2013 and re-elected in July 2016. Prior to her career as a political representative for Tasmania, Jacqui served in the Australian Defence Force for more than a decade.

Jacqui is a fierce advocate for veterans, pensioners, students and small businesses, both in her home state and around the country. Her family tree extends back to famous Tasmanian Aboriginal elder and warrior, Mannarlargenna. Jacqui is the mother of two sons and lives in Northern Tasmania.

Hon Judi Moylan GAICD

Hon Judi Moylan

In 1993 Judi Moylan GAICD, was elected to the federal Seat of Pearce. She served as Minister for Family Services and Minister for the Status of Women and held senior positions over her 20 years in Parliament. Upon retirement from Parliament in 2013 she was appointed Independent President and Chair of the Board of Diabetes Australia and appointed a member of the Board of Oxfam in 2014. From 2013-2015 Mrs Moylan was co-chair of the National Diabetes Strategy Advisory Group for the Federal government. Elected Global Coordinator of the International Diabetes Federation's Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network (IDF-PDGN) Mrs Moylan served in that position until the conclusion of the successful Global Forum in Vancouver BC in November 2015. She was a member of the Diabetes Forum of the World Innovation Summit for Health and a participant in the Panel discussion on Diabetes in Qatar in 2015.

Awards include: An Order of Australia AO, the Sir Kempson Maddox award, Diabetes Australia Outstanding Services award, the Alan Missen Medal for "serving democracy with integrity" 2013, and lifetime achievement awards from Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Novo Nordisk.

Dr Jess Murphy, independent strategist, advisor, keynote speaker and mentor

Dr Jess Murphy

Dr Jess Murphy is focused on finding innovative ways to disrupt the status quo and transform leadership in the corporate world and society more broadly. Jess views opportunities rather than problems and when presented with complex situations brings expertise, energy and innovative thinking to the work she does. Jess is well-known and recognised for accelerating strategies through the lens of gender, culture and inclusive leadership. This includes working with a major political party to accelerate progress in both attracting women to the party, increasing the numbers of women for preselection and ultimately ensuring equitable representation of women in parliament. These programs build upon Jess' experience and reputation in creating a globally recognised in-house program to prepare women for board directorships, a nationally recognised womens' focused money and life skills program as well as her contribution to the now global Male Champions of Change movement including the Convener role of the Australian Institute of Architects group.

The Honourable Nicola Roxon, Chairman, APESB; Director, BUPA ANZ; Chair, Cancer Council Australia; Chair, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre; Adjunct Professor, Victoria University

The Honourable Nicola Roxon

Nicola Roxon was a Labor Member of Parliament for 14 years. She became Australia's first female Attorney-General in 2011, a culmination of a stellar political career and impressive legal background. As a reforming Health Minister, she managed an annual budget of $64 billion and negotiated major reforms to Australia's public hospital, primary care and preventative health systems. As Attorney-General, Ms Roxon oversaw the courts, Australia's intelligence agency, the Human Rights Commission and diverse laws from cyber crime to family law. In both roles she led Australia's battle against tobacco - introducing the world first plain packaging regime and successful defending legal challenge from the tobacco industry in the High Court. Ms Roxon's success as a leader, creative policy maker and outstanding achiever has earned her numerous awards, both nationally and internationally, including from the World Health Organization. Ms Roxon was most recently nominated and inducted to Victoria's Honour Roll of Women in 2014. Ms Roxon retired from politics in 2013. She now holds the following positions, Chairman, APESB (Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board), Director, BUPA ANZ, Chair and Adjunct Professor, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University, and Chair, Cancer Council Australia.

Dennis Glover

Dennis Glover

Dennis Glover is a professional speechwriter and author. He has worked as a policy adviser and speechwriter on the staff of Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, and has written speeches for many other ministers and opposition leaders at the federal and state levels. His current clients include senior political, business, community, public sector and academic leaders.

He contributes essays and comment to Fairfax newspapers, the ABC and other media. He has in the past written opinion for the Australian Financial Review and The Australian. His essay 'Doveton' appeared in The Best Australian Essays 2014. Dennis also comments on political and cultural matters on radio and television.

Dennis is the author of The Art of Great Speeches (CUP 2010) and Orwell’s Australia (Scribe 2003).  He is a frequent guest lecturer on speech-writing at various Australian universities and schools and lectures on speech-writing for the Institute of Public Administration Australia, the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. Dennis was a founding fellow of the think tank Per Capita.

Professor Gillian Triggs

Professor Gillian Triggs

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs is the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, with a five year appointment. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12 and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-7. She is a former Barrister and a former Governor of the College of Law.

Professor Triggs has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and has advised the Australian and other governments and international organisations on international legal and trade disputes. Her focus at the Commission is on the implementation in Australian law of the human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and to work with nations in the Asia Pacific region on practical approaches to human rights.

Professor Triggs' is the author of many books and papers on international law, including International Law, Contemporary Principles and Practices (2nd Ed, 2011).

Anna Greenberg

Anna Greenberg

Anna Greenberg has over 15 years of experience polling in the political, non-profit and academic sectors. She joined Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) in 2001, after teaching public opinion and survey research methodology at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was the lead pollster in many successful campaigns including for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Tom Wolf, Governor Mark Dayton, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Congressman Ron Barber and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. In 2014, Greenberg won the “Pollster of the Year” award from the AAPC for her work with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor of New York City.Greenberg works with a wide range of NGOs on issues ranging from women’s health to LGBT rights to attitudes about religion to reducing gun violence to reforming drug laws. She heads GQR Digital and is a leader in the growing field of data analytics and micro-targeting, measuring the impact of social media on public opinion and using social media to move voters, consumers, and activists. A sought after commentator, Greenberg has appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation, NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition and BBC’s World News America. She regularly provides commentary on politics to publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico. Greenberg serves on the National Board of the American National Election Study (2014-2017) and is a research fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. She holds a BA in Government from Cornell University and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Mary Wooldridge MLC

Mary Wooldridge MLC

Mary Wooldridge is Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Council representing Melbourne's East and previously represented Doncaster in the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 2006-2014. Prior to being elected to Parliament, Mary was CEO of The Foundation for Young Australians, a Senior Adviser to the Federal Minister for Industry, worked in New York with McKinsey & Company and with Consolidated Press Holdings in Sydney. Mary has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from The University of Melbourne. Mary is married and has one child.

The Hon Anna Burke

The Hon Anna Burke

Anna Burke was the elected representative for the Victorian electoral division of Chisholm in the Australian Parliament from 1998 until 2016; she served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the 43rd Parliament from 2012 to 2013. Prior to becoming Speaker, Anna served as Deputy Speaker in the both the 42nd and 43rd Parliaments as well as on a number of Parliamentary Committees including Climate Change, Environment and the Arts, Petitions, and Privileges. Anna saw her role as the local representative as paramount and was well known throughout her local community and was successfully re-elected six times. Many Australians from across the country know Anna not only for her role in the Speaker’s Chair, but for her highly successful campaign to protect people from unwanted telemarketing calls. In 2005, she moved a Private Member’s Bill in Federal Parliament to create a national ‘Do Not Call’ list, which led to the former Government adopting her policy. Anna was born in 1966 in Melbourne. She and her four siblings were raised in Ashwood, part of the electorate Anna represented. Anna has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Monash University and a Master of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Melbourne. Prior to entering Federal Parliament, Anna worked as a national industrial officer for the Finance Sector Union, where she represented the workers in the banking, finance and insurance industries.

Senator Bridget McKenzie

Senator Bridget McKenzie

Growing up in Victoria with the traditional rural influences of small business, sport and agriculture, Bridget believes that strong regional economies and secure regional communities are critical to the future prosperity of Australia. Recognising small business is the backbone of many regional communities, Bridget wants to ensure they have every opportunity to prosper. Her experiences as a secondary school teacher and university lecturer have fuelled Bridget’s passion for education and our youth. She is committed to improving opportunities for young Australians, no matter where they live. Parliamentary Service: Elected to the Senate for Victoria 2010 (term began 1.7.2011). Qualifications and Occupation before entering Federal Parliament: BAppSc (Human Movement), BTeach (Secondary)(Deakin). Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Gippsland Campus, Monash University 2009-10. Secondary mathematics and physical education teacher 2005-09

Peta Credlin

Peta Credlin

A strategist and policy professional with over sixteen years’ experience at the highest levels of Australian politics, Peta Credlin was Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, between 2013 and 2015. First joining his office when he was elected Leader of the Opposition in 2009, Credlin served six years as his chief of staff and ran the leader’s campaign in the 2010 and 2013 federal elections. A political and campaign veteran, Peta is one of the longest serving chiefs of staff to a national leader in Australia and the longest serving female chief of staff to a prime minister. Previous ministerial roles in the Howard Government included the portfolios of defence, communications, immigration and foreign affairs, as well as the role of senior adviser to the Senate leader. Now a SKY NEWS anchor and political contributor, Peta Credlin also writes a weekly column in The Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Herald-Sun and Queensland’s Sunday Mail. She was a proud contributor to Sky’s 2016 federal election coverage which won a Walkley Award and a TV Week Logie, both first time accolades for the Sky News network. Born and raised in country Victoria before finishing her secondary education in Geelong, Peta has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne with a concentration in constitutional law, politics and history. She was a Rotary Exchange Student to the United States in 1987 and a university level rower. Peta is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in Victoria and has a further post-graduate qualification in law from the Australian National University. In 2015, she received the Australian Women’s Leadership Award for the ACT and in December 2016, was named a joint winner of Harper’s Bazaar magazine's ‘Woman of the Year”. Peta is also a Director of Crown Resorts Foundation.

Margaret Fitzherbert MLC

Margaret Fitzherbert MLC

Margaret Fitzherbert was elected to represent the Southern Metropolitan Region, an upper house seat in the State Parliament of Victoria, at the state election held in November 2014. In February 2015, Margaret was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Women's Health, and Rural and Regional Health. This year, she was appointed chair of the Legislative Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee, which is currently undertaking the inquiry into youth justice in Victoria. Margaret has worked as an industrial advocate, with particular expertise in defending unfair dismissal claims. From 1998 - 2002 she was a ministerial adviser to the Minister for Women Hon Judi Moylan MP, and the Hon David Kemp MP, Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Returning to the private sector in 2002, Margaret worked in senior communications roles for various employers, including ANZ and the National Australia Bank. She has published widely on women and politics and her first book was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s History Award. Margaret has also been active in not-for-profit boards, including as Chair of the Board of the Royal Women’s Hospital, until her election to parliament.

The Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO

The Honourable Quentin Bryce

Quentin Bryce has enjoyed a rich and distinguished career as an academic, lawyer, community and human rights advocate, senior public officer, university college principal, and vice-regal representative in Queensland and for Australia. Across life Ms Bryce has been involved in a wide range of government and non- government organisations. On 5 September 2008 Ms Bryce was sworn in as Australia’s twenty-fifth Governor-General. As the first woman to take up the office, she was a pioneer in contemporary Australian society, and yet one who brought more than 40 years of experience in reform, community building and leadership to the role. In August 2014 she was appointed by the former Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman to chair a Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. Ms Bryce presented the report of the Taskforce, Not Now, Not Ever, to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in February 2015. Following the government announcing that it would accept the Not Now, Not Ever recommendations, Ms Bryce will head up a new council, as Chair, to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.

Past Speakers

Elizabeth Blandthorn MP, Pascoe Vale, Victoria, Australian Labor Party

Elizabeth Blandthorn MP

Elizabeth Blandthorn is the Labor Member for Pascoe Vale since 2014. She is Chair of the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee in the Parliament of Victoria. The role of the committee is to compare proposed legislation against the Victorian Charter of Human Rights. Prior to election she was a Senior Officer for the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. For many years she was an official of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Ass. - the largest trade union in Australia. She was twice elected Vice President of the Victorian Labor Party. She studied a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne.

Kate Chapple, Senior Researcher and Course Coordinator, University of Queensland and former Speechwriter, Dame Quentin Bryce

Kate Chapple

Kate Chapple is former speechwriter for Dame Quentin Bryce, former Governor of Queensland. She is also a lawyer and writer whose professional experience over 30 years has exercised the lesser known yet enormously rewarding possibilities of a traditional qualification. While her first decade of work was spent as a solicitor in a range of practice areas from corporate banking to community legal, Kate's interests turned to developing lawyers' skills. After some years of designing and delivering early-practice skills training to graduate lawyers, Kate was appointed by a leading national law firm to establish and manage Australia's first in-house program for the delivery of pre-admission training to graduates across the firm's eastern offices. An opportunity arose to write for former lawyer, Ms Quentin Bryce, in her role as Governor of Queensland. What was anticipated as a short term assignment spanned nearly ten years through to the end of Ms Bryce's Governor-Generalship.

Hon Mary Delahunty GAICD, Executive Director, Luminosity Australia and former Journalist and Politician

Hon Mary Delahunty

Mary Delahunty is a former interviewer and presenter with ABC television and commercial networks. Mary is best known for leading ABC TV News and current affairs programs, the 7.30 Report and Four Corners. She received Australia’s most prestigious award in journalism, a Gold Walkley, for her international reporting Mary served for seven years as a Victorian state Government Minister in senior portfolios. She carried significant executive responsibility and a high media profile as Minister for Education, is Victoria's longest serving Arts Minister and first female Planning Minister. A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors she is an experienced Board Director and runs her own communications and strategy business.

Christina Dickinson, Director of Policy, Office of Premier of Victoria

Christina Dickinson

Christina Dickinson is the Director of Policy for the Premier of Victoria. Prior to this role Christina held a number of senior policy adviser roles in the Bracks/Brumby Government and State Opposition, and has extensive experience in health and social policy. Christina has held numerous roles in the Australian Labor Party, including Co-Convenor and Secretary of the Victorian Labor Women's Network, and is also a member of EMILY's List. Raised in Ballarat, Christina moved to Melbourne for school and university, where she studied a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science at Monash University. Christina is passionate about promoting gender equality in politics and society. Christina balances a busy job with raising two young children.

Hon Margaret Fitzherbert MLC, Southern Metropolitan, Victoria, Liberal Party

Hon Margaret Fitzherbert

Margaret Fitzherbert was elected to represent the Southern Metropolitan Region, an upper house seat in the State Parliament of Victoria, at the state election held in November 2014. In February 2015, Margaret was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Women's Health, and Rural and Regional Health. Margaret has worked as an industrial advocate, with particular expertise in defending unfair dismissal claims. From 1998 - 2002 she was a ministerial adviser to the Minister for Women Hon Judi Moylan MP, and the Hon David Kemp MP, Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Returning to the private sector in 2002, Margaret worked in senior communications roles for various employers, including ANZ and the National Australia Bank.

Jackie Fristacky, Councillor, City of Yarra

Jackie Fristacky

Jackie Fristacky is a Councillor of the City of Yarra, in inner Melbourne Australia, holding office over four terms: 2002-2016; and Mayor: 2005-2006; 2012/13; 2013/14. A prominent spokesperson on sustainable transport for cities, Jackie is past Chair and current Treasurer of the Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) comprising 24 Melbourne metropolitan councils and associate members from government, industry and not for profit sectors. She is also a past Board member of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), and a member of the Association's Transport and Infrastructure Advisory Committee. With a Master of Laws degree and Master of Public Policy and Management degrees, Jackie started out her career teaching politics at The University of Melbourne and law at LaTrobe University.

Tanya Jones, former Managing Director, Lawrence Creative Strategy

Tanya Jones

Tanya Jones is a communications and advertising professional with over 20 years of experience, with almost half of that as Managing Director for Lawrence Creative Strategy working alongside the late Neil Lawrence on successful corporate and political campaigns, most notably for the Labor Party, Recognise, Qantas and BHP Billiton. With experience in running advertising campaigns for three federal elections (including Kevin07, 1998 and 1996) and two successful state elections that were won against the odds (Anna Bligh's in 2009 and Jay Weatherill's in 2014), Tanya offers great insight into successful communications strategy, messaging and what makes for an effective political advertising campaign. Having been part of the campaign that elected the country's first elected female premier, and a member of the STW Communication Group's Women in Leadership and Gender Diversity councils, Tanya is passionate about advancing gender equity and seeing more women enter into politics.

Dr Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director, The Ethics Centre

Dr Simon Longstaff AO

Simon Longstaff is Executive Director of The Ethics Centre. Simon's distinguished career includes being named as one of AFR Boss True Leaders for the 21st century. Simon has a PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge University where he lectured and consulted to the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts. He worked in the Northern Territory in the Safety Department of BHP subsidiary, GEMCO before becoming the inaugural Executive Director of The Ethics Centre in 1991. He was also inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics, and serves on a number of boards and committees across a broad spectrum of activities. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Senator Janet Rice, Victoria, Australian Greens

Senator Janet Rice

Janet Rice is Senator for Victoria. She grew up in Melbourne's western suburbs, and lives in Footscray with her partner Penny. A climate scientist by training, Janet has worked as a community organiser, environment campaigner and sustainable transport advocate. As a councillor and later mayor of the City of Maribyrnong, Janet positioned Maribyrnong as an innovator in environmental policy with the adoption of a carbon-neutral strategy. Janet entered the Senate in 2014. As the Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health, gender identity and intersex issues, transport and infrastructure, forests and tourism, Janet advocates for policies and decision making to be publicly accountable and based on evidence of economic efficiency, social wellbeing and ecological health.

Stephanie Ryan MP, Euroa, Victoria, The Nationals

Stephanie Ryan MP

Stephanie Ryan is Deputy Leader of the Nationals and MP for Euroa. She was born in Murchison where her parents ran a dairy farm on the banks of the Goulburn River. After finishing high school at St Joseph's College in Echuca, Steph completed a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at RMIT whilst living at University College. Steph first worked as a journalist with The Riverine Herald in Echuca and in 2008 was awarded the Myer Foundation Scholarship. In 2013, the Electoral Boundary Commission made a decision to redistribute the electoral boundaries in Victoria and as a result, the seat of Euroa was created, and Steph made the decision to stand as The National Party candidate for Euroa. Steph was successful on 29 November 2014. Shortly after, she was elected Deputy Leader of The Nationals and given the shadow portfolios of Training, Skills and Apprenticeships and Youth Affairs.

Leigh Sales, Author, Journalist and Current Presenter ABC 7.30 Report

Leigh Sales

Leigh Sales is an award-winning author and journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and currently anchors 7.30. Until 2011, Leigh Sales anchored the prestigious Lateline program, interviewing major figures including Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger. From 2001 to 2005, she was the ABC's Washington Correspondent, covering stories including the aftermath of September 11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2004 Presidential election and Hurricane Katrina.

Ellen Sandell MP, Melbourne, Victoria, Victorian Greens

Ellen Sandell MP

Ellen Sandell is State Member for Melbourne and the first Greens MP elected to the lower house of Victorian Parliament. She holds a dual Bachelors of Arts/Science Degree from the University of Melbourne, majoring in genetics, linguistics and Spanish. Ellen began her career as a researcher with the CSIRO. She then worked on climate change policy for former Labor premier John Brumby's Department of Premier and Cabinet, and later became the chief executive of a national climate change non-profit organisation, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Ellen is the Victorian Greens spokesperson for housing, climate change and energy. As a parliamentarian, Ellen priorities have been to continue to push for action on climate change, better public transport, a caring society and a liveable Melbourne.

John Scales, Managing Director, JWS Research

John Scales

The founder of JWS Research, John Scales is a senior researcher with more than 25 years of experience. He has extensive commercial and public affairs research expertise and is quoted regularly and extensively in the media as a leading source on public opinion. John has worked for most of Australia's top 50ASX listed companies and many of the industry associations that represent them, as well as conducting local state and federal government research and research for numerous business and political campaigns throughout all states and territories. John is a career researcher, specialising in research on contemporary social and political issues and maintaining a focus on delivering clear and actionable results. John’s research dissects what people are thinking and why, providing the insights needed to drive campaigns and achieve outcomes.

Carol Schwartz AM, Chair, Trawalla Foundation

Carol Schwartz

Carol Schwartz is Chair of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia and one of Australia’s leading business identities. She has extensive experience in business, property, the arts, community organisations and has been a director on a large number of public companies and government boards. Carol is Chair of the Trawalla Foundation, the funding partner of this Program. She is also Chair of Our Community and Founding Chair of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia, and the Property Male Champions of Change group. Carol's company directorships include Stockland, Bank of Melbourne, and Qualitas Property Partners. She is a board member of the St James Ethics Foundation and National Australia Day Council, an Executive in Residence at Melbourne Business School, a council member of the Australian Innovation Research Centre, University of Tasmania, board member Centre for Advanced Journalism, The University of Melbourne, member of the Enterprise Melbourne Advisory Board, member the Milken Global Advisory Council, member Harvard Kennedy Women's Leadership Board and the Co-Chair in Australia for Women Corporate Directors.

Bill Shannon, Founder, The Shannon Company

Bill Shannon

Bill Shannon founded Shannon's Way, an advertising agency with a skew towards social marketing in 1991. Over the past twenty years, Bill and his team have learnt that effecting permanent, life-changing behaviour requires digging deep into what makes people do what they do - learning the motivators and barriers to behaviour change. This commitment to the study of behaviour led to The Shannon Company becoming a founding partner of BehaviourWorks Australia: a collaborative research centre that brings together interdisciplinary researchers at Monash University and leading practitioners in government and business who share an interest in behaviour change. Bill is a Board Member of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and part-owner of the Melbourne Victory Football Club. He also served two years as a Director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and currently serves as an advisor to their Board Marketing Committee.

Professor Margaret Sheil, Provost, The University of Melbourne

Professor Margaret Sheil

Margaret Sheil has been the Provost at The University of Melbourne since April 2012. She is standing deputy to the Vice Chancellor and is responsible for policy and planning leadership of all teaching, learning and student-related matters, including student recruitment, curriculum and teaching quality and innovation. Her portfolio of responsibilities also includes international strategy, academic staffing and curriculum commercialisation. Professor Sheil is a member of the Advisory Council of the CSIRO Science Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), Chair of Clunies Ross Awards Committee of ATSE and is the Education Specialist on the Board of the Australian National Selection Commission for UNESCO. She has previously been a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Innovation and Engineering Council, the National Research Infrastructure Council and the Cooperative Research Centres Committee. She has a PhD and BSc(Hons) in Chemistry from the University of New South Wales.

Professor Helen Sullivan, Director, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne

Professor Helen Sullivan

Helen Sullivan is Director of the Melbourne School of Government and a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia. She joined the University in 2011 after leading research programs into public service reform at the Cities Research Centre, Bristol and University of Birmingham, UK. Her award winning research focuses on collaborative governance and management, citizen participation in decision-making and public policy analysis. She's undertaken numerous evaluations for government bodies and frequently acted as an advisor to government locally and nationally in the UK. She sits on the Board of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria).

Laura Tingle, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review

Laura Tingle

Laura Tingle is The Australian Financial Review's political editor. She has spent most of her 35 year career covering federal politics, writing on both economics and politics for The Australian, The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. She is the author of Chasing the Future - a book about the recession of the early 1990s - and two Quarterly Essays: Great Expectations: Government, entitlement and an Angry Nation (2012) and Political Amnesia: How we forgot how to govern (2015). She has won two Walkley Awards and the Paul Lyneham Award for Press Gallery Journalism.

John Utting, Managing Director UMR Research and ALP National Pollster

John Utting

John Utting is one of Australia's most experienced researchers and campaign strategists. He is the founder and director of UMR Research one of Australia's foremost market research companies.He brings high level strategic counsel and insight based on a depth of political, commercial and social experience to leaders, government, business, social and NGO organisations to advance and maintain corporate and personal reputations. John is the ALP's national pollster. He has worked closely with Prime Ministers, CEOs, top level Executives, decision makers, and high net worth individuals. He has been the pollster and personal counsel for four Australian and three New Zealand Prime Ministers, numerous State Premiers, Mayors, and government officers.

Carlene Wilson, Director, Policy and Government Relations, The University of Melbourne

Carlene Wilson

Carlene Wilson is the Director Policy and Government Relations at University of Melbourne. Carlene has extensive experience managing corporate affairs across the corporate, government, and non-government sectors. Most recently Carlene was Manager Public Policy at BHP Billiton and prior to that she spent 10 years at ANZ Banking Group as the Senior Manager Government and Regulatory Affairs. She has also worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia's Embassy in Washington DC. Carlene holds a MBA from The University of NSW, a MPA from the Kennedy School of Government Harvard University, a MEd from The University of Sydney and a BMusEd from the NSW Conservatorium of Music.

Felicity Wilson former President of Liberal Women's Council, New South Wales Liberal Party

Felicity Wilson

Felicity Wilson is the Immediate Past President of Liberal Women's Council (NSW), the peak body for women in the NSW Liberal Party, a role she held for three years alongside the position of Vice President of the NSW Liberal Party. During this time, she gained commitment from the Premier of NSW to an initiative to increase women's representation in Parliament, and a commitment from the Prime Minister to support the introduction of targets. She is a senior executive at an industry body and holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Media from Macquarie University, and is completing a Master of Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Management.

Hon Mary Wooldridge, Eastern Metropolitan, Victoria, Liberal Party

Hon Mary Wooldridge

Mary Wooldridge is Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Council representing Melbourne's East and previously represented Doncaster in the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 2006-2014. Prior to being elected to Parliament, Mary was CEO of The Foundation for Young Australians, a Senior Adviser to the Federal Minister for Industry, worked in New York with McKinsey & Company and with Consolidated Press Holdings in Sydney. Mary has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from The University of Melbourne. Mary is married and has one child.

Next : Media