Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard AC

Chair of beyondblue and former Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon. Julia Gillard AC was appointed Chair of beyondblue in December 2014. Ms Gillard, as chair of beyondblue, is driving the campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reduce the stigma around mental health. 

Ms Gillard was the 27th prime minister of Australia (2010–2013) and the 13th deputy prime minister of Australia (3 December 2007– 24 June 2010), becoming the first woman to ever serve in the respective roles. As prime minister Ms Gillard developed Australia’s guiding policy paper, 'Australia in the Asian Century', and delivered nation-changing policies including reforming Australian education at every level from early childhood to university education; improving the provision and sustainability of health care, aged care and dental care; and commencing the nation’s first ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities.

In foreign policy Ms Gillard strengthened Australia’s alliance with the United States, secured stronger architecture for the relationship with China, upgraded Australia’s ties with India, and deepened ties with Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. Ms Gillard represented Australia at the G20, including winning Australia’s right to host the 2014 meeting, the East Asia Summit, APEC, NATO-ISAF and chaired CHOGM. Under her tenure Australia was elected to serve on the United Nations Security Council.

Ms Gillard is Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Honorary Professor at the University of Adelaide and patron of Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, the Layne Beachley Foundation and the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth.

Gill Hicks

Gill Hicks AM, MBE, FRSA

Survivor of the 2005 London terrorist bombings and founder of M.A.D for Peace

Gill Hicks is globally known as an advocate for sustainable peace and a valuable resource in countering violent extremism. Her devotion to making a personal greater contribution and positive difference to building peace was cemented after she was injured and disabled in the London terrorist bombings on 7 July 2005. But Hicks is much more than a survivor.

Hicks advocates for the growth of a more confident collective / communities, societies and as a nation. As a finalist for Australian of the Year, her focus was on the importance of growing a confident and cohesive Australia. 

Hicks' achievements are inspiring. She had arrived in London as a 19-year-old and became recognised within London's creative and cultural landscape, across UK and internationally – exhibiting work in Milan and New York. She owned and ran a design consultancy in London and turned an architectural publishing company around, increasing its value from one pound to a million pounds. She was one of the first wave of women to be invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, no small achievement in a male-dominated industry.

Hicks' lived experience from survival to rehabilitation as a double amputee created a clear demarcation from all she had known before the bombings, when she had been at the helm of some of the UK’s most prestigious and respected institutions. Her life is now built on what she describes as a series of conscious choices, of mindfulness and being aware of the importance of the moment. Sharing what she has learnt about herself, about humanity and the extraordinary and what she believes is an inherent ability to not only face but to rise in the wake of adversity is not only inspiring, but it is valuable insight into what is possible in life.

Giam Swiegers

Giam Swiegers

Global Chief Executive Officer, Aurecon

Under Giam Swiegers’ leadership, Aurecon was named Large Firm of the Year 2017 by Consult Australia and ranked #5 in the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies for 2017.

Swiegers is passionate about equality in all forms. Since joining Aurecon, he has continued to champion this cause, which has resulted in Aurecon winning a number of industry awards for diversity and inclusion. These include the AHRI Awards for Mental Health in the Workplace (2015) and Inclusive Workplace (2016); ‘Young at Heart’ Youth Employer Pledge Awards, Maori and Pacifica Diversity Award (2015); Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Australia, citation for Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (2016).  

Swiegers began his career as an auditor with Deloitte in South Africa, and worked for Deloitte in the USA. He emigrated from South Africa to Australia in 1997. Prior to working at Aurecon, Swiegers was Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte in Australia from 2003 to 2015. During this period, the Australian firm grew to a practice of over 650 partners and 6,000 people with a net annual revenue of over $1.0 billion.  

During his 12 years as CEO of Deloitte Australia, in awards issued by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, he was named ‘Best CEO for the advancement of women in business’ in 2005 and Deloitte Australia was named as the 2008 ‘Best firm for the advancement of women’. In September 2006, Swiegers was recognised by the AHRI Awards, winning the ‘HR Champion – CEO’ award. In 2012, Deloitte was awarded the AHRI Inclusive Workplace of the Year Award.

Sally Evans

Sally Evans

The New Retirement Enthusiast

Sally Evans has over 30 years' international experience in executive and non-executive roles across the health, aged care and investment management, insurance and superannuation sectors. Evans' roles have included Head of Retirement at AMP, Investment Director, Aged Care at AMP Capital, inaugural member of the Aged Care Financing Authority, Asia-Pacific Head of Healthcare for the FTSE Compass Group and as a Non-Exec Director at Opal Aged Care.

Evans is currently Chair of LifeCircle, a member of the Treasury Industry Reference Group on retirement incomes, a member of the EveryAgeCounts Campaign Steering Group and a speaker on the Longevity Economy and digital disruption of the aged care sector. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Dietetics) from University of Otago, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.

Evans is the Telstra Business Women’s Award 2002 Australian Private & Corporate sector winner and Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence 2013 Corporate sector finalist.

Evans’ executive career included working and living in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Hong Kong and subsequent responsibility across the Asia Pacific region, with a focus on China and Japan. When in Sydney, she can be found most days swimming at her local beach at sunrise.

Sonja Braidner

Sonja Braidner CPHR

Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Fire and Rescue NSW

Sonja Braidner is the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW). She began her career as a stage electrician and rigger at the Sydney Opera House before working as a theatrical and theme park lighting designer in the UK and Europe. After being lured into a career change brought about by an interest in industrial negotiation she moved into HR.

Braidner brings experience in organisational development, executive coaching, and inclusion and diversity, having consulted across numerous corporate and business sectors for the past 20 years. Prior to FRNSW, Braidner worked as the Deputy Director Equity & Diversity Strategy for the University of Sydney. She established the inaugural, global inclusion and diversity strategy for Singtel /Optus and worked in various inclusive leadership capacities within the higher education sector.

Her passion for human rights led to her founding a political party in response to societal issues pertaining to social inclusion and equity, and became the 1998 NSW senate candidate for the party.

Vanessa Doake

Vanessa Doake

Co-founder and COO, Code Like a Girl

Vanessa Doake is a co-founder and COO of Code Like a Girl, a highly successful and award-winning organisation that provides girls with the support, tools and knowledge to enter and flourish in the world of coding. Since launching in 2015, Code Like a Girl has provided accessible coding education to thousands of girls around Australia, advancing their vision to close the gap on gender equality in the tech industry.

Louise Azzopardi

Louise Azzopardi

Heavy Vehicle Mechanic, The Tractor Shop

Louise Azzopardi has always had an inquisitive nature and loves to discover how things work. It is how she has got to where she is today, as a national gold medalist at the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition, and a member of the squad team where she is vying for the chance to represent Australia in Heavy Vehicle Mechanics in Abu Dhabi in October 2017.

It was a chance meeting with a Heavy Vehicle Apprentice at an Apprenticeship Expo that set Azzopardi on the path to her ‘dream career’. She went on to study at TAFE NSW South Western Sydney through her employer, the Tractor Shop: “I lived my apprenticeship for four years and finishing it has been my greatest achievement".

Now Azzopardi wants to pay that experience forward, as a role model for women who wish to enter trades, or to just gain some self-sufficiency in undertaking a range of mechanical or automotive tasks. She is holding workshops for Girl Guides on how to change a tyre and running basic car servicing workshops for girls and women who have never held a spanner or inflated a tyre. “I am keen to be an ambassador for women who want to enter trades, and be a role model to grow those numbers exponentially. I want to exemplify that gender doesn’t have to make a difference (to or limit your work opportunities) or hold you back from doing something you love".

Marian Baird

Professor Marian Baird AO (PhD)

Chair, Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies, University of Sydney Business School

Marian Baird AO became Professor of Gender and Employment Relations in 2009, distinguishing her as the first female professor in industrial relations at the University of Sydney. In 2018 Baird is a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Sydney and a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney. She is head of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies and co-director of the Women, Work and Leadership Research Group in the University of Sydney Business School. 

Baird is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (ASSA), a co-editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations and past president of the Industrial Relations Society of New South Wales. She is editor of the policy series of Sydney University Press and she has been visiting scholar at MIT, Michigan State University, University of Nottingham, Leeds University Business School and Queen Mary University of London Business School.

In 2016 Baird was awarded an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) for outstanding services to improving the quality of women’s working lives and for contributions to tertiary education. In 2014 she received the Edna Ryan Award for making positive change for women in the workforce; in 2013 she received the AFR/Westpac Women of Influence Award in Public Policy; and in 2015 and 2003 she won the University of Sydney’s Business Schools most engaged researcher awards.

Baird is one of Australia's leading researchers in the fields of women, work and care. She is CI on a number of significant research grants, including the Centre of Excellence on Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) and The Australian Women’s Work Futures project. Baird is a very engaged researcher, working with many government departments, organisations, unions and not-for-profits to improve the position for women in the workforce and society.

Sally Knox

Sally Knox CAHRI

General Manager, People & Culture Engineering & Services, Lendlease

Sally Knox is passionate about inclusive organisational culture and leadership, change agility, performance and personal growth. As an HR professional, she has managed a number of large dispersed teams in multiple continents throughout her 25-year career across the engineering, IT, finance and property industries; joining Lendlease in 2016. Knox is also a fulltime working parent who is striving to achieve the mythical work-life balance with career progression.

Michelle Melbourne

Michelle Melbourne

Co-founder and executive director, Intelledox

Michelle commenced her career as a software trainer in 1990 working on major corporate change and transformation projects in Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canberra. With over 27 years of international business experience, she has a passion for people, technology and change.

As Co-Founder and Executive Director at Intelledox Pty Ltd - a Canberra-based global software vendor that enables the digitalization of complex business processes - Michelle has worked on innovative technology transformation projects in countries all around the world including the US, UK, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, South Africa and Canada. Michelle is an Executive Director and also a member of the board at Intelledox. This dual role means she shares responsibility for company strategy, channel development, business development, human resource management, professional services, and marketing. Michelle is experienced at dealing with both government and corporate sectors where Intelledox has delivered software solutions to hundreds of blue chip organisations around the world.

Michelle is a past winner in the Telstra and ACT Government’s Businesswoman of the Year Awards, and her business Intelledox is a multiple winner in the Telstra Business Awards, in the AIIA iAwards, in the Australian Exporter of the Year Awards, in both the Deloitte Fast 100 and the BRW’s Fast 100 list, and in the Anthill Cool Company Awards.


Mathew Paine

Mathew Paine CPHR

Director of Human Resources, International Convention Centre Sydney

Mathew Paine CPHR is currently the Director of Human Resources at the newly opened $1.5 billion International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney).

As ICC Sydney's Chief Human Resource Officer, Paine has helped to create a world-class HR department at ICC Sydney, attracting and developing the best talent and building a culture of engagement, diversity, agility and innovation. Under Paine's leadership, ICC Sydney has instituted best practice and industry leading diversity and inclusion practices, including an Australian first, with the addition of gender transition leave in the ICC Sydney Enterprise Agreement.

Paine earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Human Resource Management from East London University and a Master’s Degree in Labour Law & Relations from Sydney University. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, accredited as a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, U.K) and a Certified Professional of the Australian HR Institute (AHRI).

Rae Cooper

Professor Rae Cooper (PhD)

Associate Dean (Programs), University of Sydney Business School

Professor Rae Cooper (PhD) is Associate Dean (Programs) at the University of Sydney Business School. In this role she oversees curriculum design, delivery and governance of the school’s undergraduate, postgraduate and executive programs and degrees.  

Cooper is Co-Director of the Women, Work and Leadership Research Group and Associate Editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations.

Cooper is a leading researcher on the world of work and has a particular interest in gender and work, women’s careers and flexible employment. She has received grants from the Australian Research Council, from state and federal governments and has worked in collaboration with leading organisations including the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Council of Trade Unions through her research. Presently she is working on three key projects that examine:

  1. The future of women’s work
  2. Women’s work in non-traditional occupations
  3. Pathways to non-executive directorships.

Cooper is a respected media commentator on gender equality at work. She has used her expertise to inform work on numerous boards and committees and she regularly engages with business and government about her research towards gender equality.

Sarah Abbott

Sarah Abbott

Head of Diversity, Leadership and Inclusion, University of Sydney

Sarah Abbott is the Head of Diversity, Leadership and Inclusion at the University of Sydney. She has held this role at since August 2017. Abbott leads the diversity team, covering the portfolio of gender, race, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, disability and sexual orientation.

Prior to this Abbott was the Senior Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the Commonwealth Bank. In this role Abbott covered the portfolio of gender, accessibility, flexibility, age and inclusion. This included leading CBA’s renewed approach to flexibility with the roll out of the “I Can Flex” campaign across the Bank; redefining CBA’s approach to flexible work arrangements. This resulted in a change in approach from management and a shift in employee empowerment.

Abbott also led a change to the parental leave policy at the bank which allows for flexibility in the way care is taken and great options for the secondary carer. In 2016 Abbott was awarded the CEO Annual Service Award for HR which is the highest form of recognition achievable at CBA within a business unit.

Throughout Abbott's career she has led strategy in both the Australian and overseas markets with a focus on diversity. Prior to commencing work at the Commonwealth Bank Abbott worked across multiple roles at Microsoft in diversity and HR at both their headquarters in the USA and in Australia.

Abbott holds a Masters in Commerce, Masters in Adult Education and a Bachelor of Business.

Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson

Experience Design Partner, Deloitte Australia

Robbie Robertson is the Experience Design Partner in Deloitte’s Consulting practice based in Sydney. He has a passion for fusing human-centred design and business to facilitate transformation programs with clients. 

Robertson and his team bring customers and employees into the heart of the design process to help to rapidly prototype ideas and ensure that the successful ideas turn into robust financially successful concepts.

Robertson is also the national leader for Deloitte’s LGBTI Network “GLOBE” in Australia and on the advisory board for ACON. He strongly believes that all people should be able to bring their whole self to work every day, advocating for a more inclusive workplace for all people.

Peter Broadhead

Peter Broadhead

Manager, Disability Employment Services (DES) Branch, Department of Social Services

Peter Broadhead is the manager of the Disability Employment Services (DES) Branch in the Department of Social Services.

From April 2016, the branch also took on responsibility for building on the work of the former Disability Employment Taskforce, to provide advice to government on options for DES beyond the expiry of the current arrangements in March 2018, and any related initiatives to address increased employment opportunities for people with disability in the open labour market.

Peter first came to DES in late August 2015, commencing as the manager of the DES Policy and Performance Branch.  His responsibilities for DES were extended in February 2016, with the addition of eligibility and assessment, employer engagement and participant services.

He has worked in departments of health and social policy in 2 states and the Commonwealth for about 30 years, at senior executive levels for the last 25.

Catherine Fox

Catherine Fox

Master of Ceremonies

Catherine Fox is one of Australia's leading commentators on women and the workforce. She wrote the 'Corporate Woman' column for the Australian Financial Review for many years and has written three previous books, including Seven Myths about Women and Work (NewSouth), which was shortlisted for the 2013 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. Fox helped establish the annual Westpac/Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards and is on several advisory boards, including the Australian Defence Force Gender Equality Advisory Board.

Philip Lindsay

Philip Lindsay

Chief Superintendent Operational Communications, Fire and Rescue NSW

Phil Lindsay joined Fire & Rescue NSW in October 1985 and worked at City of Sydney and a variety of suburban fire stations before gaining significant operational experience in the areas of Hazmat and Rescue. Lindsay spent 14 years as a rescue operator and attended the Thredbo landslide for which he was awarded a Unit Commendation.

In 2001 Lindsay was promoted to Station Officer and over the next four years managed two busy stations in Sydney's southwest. In 2005 Lindsay was successful in completing the Inspectors Promotional Program and was promoted to the rank of inspector in November that year. He worked as a duty commander in a variety of locations in metropolitan and regional areas before being attached permanently to Sydney's south west as a duty commander. In 2008 Lindsay was seconded into the State Training College for 12 months as a facilitator, developing and delivering training programs for station officers and inspectors.

Lindsay continued to work as a duty commander and in 2010 returned to the State Training College as the Deputy Manager of the Professional Development Unit, training officers on their professional development courses. In 2011 he was promoted to the rank of superintendent and worked as the Manager of Training Coordination and Resources for 12 months before transferring to the position of Manager Technical Training at the College.

From December 2012 to February 2016 Lindsay worked as the Zone Commander Metropolitan South West. From February 2016 to December 2016 he was the Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner Field Operations and in January 2017 he was promoted to Chief Superintendent and is currently in charge of Operational Communications.

Bill Spek

Bill Spek

Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Fire and Rescue NSW

Bill Spek is a very proud Biripi Man, who grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. Spek has been a member of Fire & Rescue NSW for over 32 years. Throughout his career he has taken pride in delivering the core values that are FRNSW. These values are respect, integrity, service and courage.

Spek felt that within his community young people would look up to him. He recognised that if there were more Aboriginal firefighters, not only would FRNSW be a more diverse and complete organisation but there would be more role models for young Aboriginal people to look up and aspire to.

In 2014 he and a fellow colleague developed the current Indigenous Fire And Rescue Employment Strategy (IFARES) program. This very successful program is currently in its fourth year. Not only has the program provided role models for the Aboriginal community, it has allowed Aboriginal firefighters to educate FRNSW staff in Aboriginal culture and values.

Recently Spek has taken up the role of Aboriginal Liaison Officer within FRNSW. During this role, he has engaged with many remote Aboriginal communities throughout the State. IFARES has touched the hearts of every Aboriginal community visited. This has allowed FRNSW to reach out and engage with a community that is at a significantly higher risk of suffering serious injuries or fatalities in fires within their homes – 'our  home fire safety checks are helping to protect our Mobs'.

Renae Lowry

Renae Lowry

Executive General Manager, MatchWorks

Renae Lowry was appointed as the new Executive General Manager at MatchWorks in May 2016.

Renae joined MatchWorks following a long and successful career working in employment services, both at the frontline of operations and as a senior manager.  Renae delivered Disability Employment Services (DES) and Job Services Australia in New South Wales and Victoria, before working in the UK for the past six years delivering their employment services program.

Renae remains excited about the opportunity to lead MatchWorks into this July’s DES expansion.

Gina De George

Gina De George

Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Deloitte Australia

Gina De George is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Deloitte Australia. She is passionately driven to finding new and creative ways that enable work and the workplace to simply be better – more human, respectful and inclusive. She has a strong business background with broad industry experience which underpins her very practical approach to implementing diversity and inclusion change. Most recently she co-led the Swedish Dads initiative at Barangaroo, driving a different conversation and action on parental leave for Australian families and workplaces.

Additional speakers to be announced soon.

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