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Political Commentator

Karen Middleton is a journalist with 30 years’ experience, reporting on national and international politics for print and broadcast media. The Chief Political Correspondent for Schwartz Media’s weekly long-form newspaper,The Saturday Paper, Karen also appears on ABC TV’s political talk shows Insiders, The Drum and Q and A and on Network Ten's The Project.

She is a regular contributor on ABC local radio and Radio National, Radio New Zealand and Monocle24 radio in the UK and an occasional correspondent for BBC TV and radio and TRT World TV, Istanbul. Previously the Chief Political Correspondent for SBS Television, Karen joined the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery in 1987 and served as its president for four years from 2004.

A Churchill fellowship recipient, she is the author of two books: Albanese - Telling it Straight, a 2016 biography of Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese; and An Unwinnable War - Australia in Afghanistan, the political backstory to Australia’s longest military commitment, published in 2011. As a television correspondent, Karen made three visits to Afghanistan during the conflict, embedded with the Australian Defence Force. She lives in Canberra.


Paralympic Champion

Kurt Fearnley OAM is one of Australia's most well known and respected athletes.

Winner of some of the worlds most prestigious marathons, in London, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. The latter two, 5 times. He won the Paralympic men's wheelchair marathon in Athens in 2004 and retained his title in Beijing in 2008. In Athens he also won gold over the 5000m on the track.

In London in 2012 he picked up a bronze medal in the marathon and a silver on the track over 5000m. In Rio 2016 Kurt successfully made the podium for the fourth consecutive time in both the 5000m and Marathon, winning Bronze and Silver, while serving as the Captain of the Australian Paralympic Team. In total Kurt has Thirteen Paralympic medals spanning across 5 games. He's also a 6 times world champion from 800m to the marathon. His marathon personal best is 1hour 18minutes and 51seconds set in Boston in 2011.

Off the racing circuit Kurt has been a winning crew member of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, taking line honours in 2011 on board the yacht Loyal. However he is most well known for his amazing feat of crawling the 96km Kokoda track.

Kurt is actively involved in various charities as a board member, patron and ambassador. In 2016 Kurt was elected by his peers to be one of six Summer Paralympic Athletes to serve on the International Paralympic Committee's Athletes Commission.

He was the flag bearer at the closing ceremony and as usual made every Australian proud of not only his achievements but by the way he conducted himself.

On the 22nd of January 2013 he was given the annual Australian honour of giving the 2013 Australia Day Address.


Community Engagement Specialist

Kylie Cochrane is Presiding Member of IAP2 International, on the Board of IAP2 Australasia and is Aurecon’s Global Lead for Communication and Stakeholder Engagement.

With a career spanning over 25 years, Kylie brings vast experience in community and stakeholder engagement, strategic communication and issues management in the resources, energy, and community development sectors.

She is passionate about engagement and committed to promoting the professionalism of engagement practice. She enjoys working on challenging engagement projects and brings proven understanding and experience on key infrastructure projects with significant community concern.

Kylie is the international chair of the International Association of Public Participation Australasia (IAP2), and an Australasian IAP2 board member. Previously, Kylie was an Institute of Public Administration Australia board member and the engagement representative on the NSW Government Independent Water Advisory Panel. Kylie is the founder of Women in Transport – a series of networking events across Sydney and Melbourne for women working in the infrastructure industry and the men who support them.


Australian Futurist, Author, Technologist and Speaker

Steve wrote his first lines of computer code at age 10, and is one of Australia’s most respected futurists.

A media commentator, Steve is the technology reporter for ABC Radio National and the in house futurist for 3AW providing expert assessment on the rapidly evolving technology sector. His breadth of experience gives him an uncanny ability to make sense of how technology is shaping society and the economy. Steve is currently working with the Australian Government on designing future proof transport and education infrastructure. Steve has delivered to audiences in stadiums in excess of 10,000, as well as intimate board room settings for the Fortune 500.

Steve likes to work with companies who require an unbiased view of impending technological shifts, startups reinventing industries and Government bodies, focussing on hard economics of the future, exploring changes in business systems, capital flows and consumer behaviour.

Steve will deliver an energising keynote which explores a future where the way forward is about handing over the technology tools of design and production to those who populate our communities. A future where we work together as an eco-system. This Technology Revolution has taught us that co-creation, crowd design and crowd funding aren’t just ways to expedite innovation, but a wonderful way to do more with less. An engaged community is one that participates in building a world they want to live in.


CEO - Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

Natalie Egleton is passionate about facilitating effective responses to issues facing rural communities.

She joined FRRR in 2012 was appointed CEO in November 2015. She is responsible for shaping FRRR’s strategy, designing new programs and developing and nurturing new funding partnerships. In her previous roles at FRRR, she was responsible for managing natural disaster recovery and preparedness programs, as well as those addressing social innovation.

Before joining FRRR, Natalie consulted with Matrix on Board, working with numerous not-for-profit organisations in program evaluation, undertaking research analysis and developing business plans. She also worked with clients to develop financial policies and procedures, strategic plans, organisation reviews, service mapping, feasibility studies and governance models.

Natalie has also held in-house roles at Evolve (Typo Station) and at ANZ Banking Group, implementing projects that made a tangible difference to the lives of people living in rural, regional and remote Australia.

She lives in the small rural town of Maldon in central Victoria.


Drug Prevention in Iceland

Jón Sigfússon is the Director of Planet Youth, an evidence based drug prevention program, as well as the Director of the Icelandic Centre of Social research and Analysis, ISCRA. Jon leads work with local governments in developing capacity within local communities to reduce the impact of alcohol and other drugs focusing on youth. Planet Youth is now running in 23 countries around the world.

The research output produced by the Centre continues to be at the forefront of international research efforts, which is evidenced with publications in peer-reviewed journals covering a wide spectrum of health and social issues concerning adolescents. Furthermore, Jón Sigfússon has published and lectured extensively in “Evidence based policymaking in the field of drug prevention” and “Adolescence Substance Abuse prevention. He holds a Master of Public Health and Education from the University of Reykjavik, Iceland. 


CEO - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Dr. Erin Lalor was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in November 2017.

Erin has over 20 years of leadership experience in the health sector, working in clinical, academic and executive roles, and was most recently the CEO of the National Stroke Foundation and a Director of the World Stroke Organisation.

She sits on a number of advisory committees in relation to public health, clinical improvements and evidence-based approaches to healthcare delivery. Erin is currently Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and member of AIHW’s Primary Health Care Advisory Committee, a Board member of VincentCare, and a member of the Liquor Control Advisory Council, VicHealth Alcohol Taskforce and the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol. Erin has a strong track record in developing and strengthening organisations and brings a vast range of skills and experience to the ADF.

Erin has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech and Hearing Science) and completed her PhD in 1997.


Chief Executive, Institute of Managers and Leaders ANZ

As the first national Chief Executive of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (formerly the Australian Institute of Management), one of Australia's oldest, largest and most pre-eminent Membership-based organisations, David advocates for sound management and leadership practise in the workplace and beyond.

He began his career in a senior HR role at Hewlett-Packard, and followed this in executive roles in Marketing, PR and Consulting at PwC and Computer Associates. His first CEO appointment was at a medical research start-up at a major teaching hospital in Sydney.

David is a graduate of Cambridge University and Western Sydney University. He sits on the Board of the Intensive Care Foundation of Australian & New Zealand and lives in Brisbane with his wife and two daughters. He has a passion for long distance running, although the sub-3-hour marathon continues to elude him.


CEO, Infrastructure Australia

Romilly Madew commences as Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia in April 2019. Recently awarded an Order of Australia in acknowledgment of her contribution to Australia’s sustainable building movement, Romilly is recognised around the world as a leader and advocate for change in the property and construction sector.  She led the Green Building Council of Australia for 13 years, representing over 650 companies with a collective annual turnover of $40 billion, and presiding over the Green Star rating system which has seen more than 2,250 projects certified across the country. Romilly holds Board positions with Sydney Olympic Park Authority and Chief Executive Women, and has sat on numerous ministerial panels including the Cities Reference Group, National Urban Policy Forum and the China/Australia Services Sector Forum.  Her achievements have previously been recognised with national and international awards, including the 2015 International Leadership Award from the US Green Building Council and the 2017 World Green Building Council Chairman’s Award. An honorary fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, Romilly has been named one of the ‘100 Women of Influence’ by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac, and is a National and NSW winner of the Telstra Business Women’s Award.

Andrew beer

Dean of Research and Innovation, UniSA Business School

Andrew Beer is Dean of Research and Innovation at the UniSA Business School. He is the Chair of the London-based Regional Studies Association, a Fellow of the Regional Australia Institute and a member of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences. Professor Beer has a long history of research on ageing, housing and regional issues, including work in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan Australia.

Major publications include Housing affordability, tenure and mental health in Australia and the United Kingdom: a comparative panel analysis (Taylor & Francis Online 2015); Neoliberalism, economic restructuring and policy change: Precarious housing and precarious employment in Australia (Sage Publications 2015); Regions and Structural Adjustment in Australia (Sage Publications 2015); Regional variation in social isolation amongst older Australians (Taylor & Francis Online 2016) and Governance, Agency and Place Leadership: Lessons from a Cross-National Analysis (Taylor & Francis Online 2016).

Laura Hodgson

University of South Australia

Laura Hodgson is in her third year of a PhD at the University of South Australia investigating the impact of Airbnb on New South Wales housing markets. Laura is interested in the decision-making and complex relationships between government, the community and non-government actors during this period of disruption.

Laura’s interest in governance and public policy matters has developed from her work in Governance in Local Government, and a Graduate Diploma in Public Policy Administration (Flinders University 2016). Laura completed her Honours thesis, Environmental Security in the Philippines in 2014 (University of Adelaide). Laura’s employment experience includes an early career in the Australian Army, through which she completed her Bachelor of Arts (UNSW 2013) and as a Yoga teacher and business owner. Laura is the recipient of a scholarship from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and winner of the 2018 Business School Three Minute Thesis Competition, which took her to compete in the UniSA Grand Final.

Lenka Thompson

University of South Australia

Lenka Thompson is completing her PhD in Australian local government’s capacity to provide affordable housing, focusing on what local governments around Australia are doing to provide affordable housing and understanding why these local governments are active in this space while others are not. Her passion for housing and local government came during her five year term as councillor at Moreland City Council in Melbourne between 2012 and 2016. During her time, she was councillor responsible for Accessible and Affordable Housing and was co-Chair of Moreland Housing Matters Advisory Group which helped lead the review of Moreland’s fourth affordable housing strategy. In July 2014 she was awarded the Municipal Association of Victoria’s McArthur’s Fellowship of $12,000 to travel to England and research affordable housing models to be implemented in Victorian Local governments. Lenka’s research focused on Community Land Trusts (CLT) and the use of public land for the provision of affordable housing. The research took her to 12 different CLTs across England for field-based assessment including interviews with municipal authorities, councillors, financiers and developers. Lenka recently sat on Victoria’s YWCA Housing’s Development Committee which aimed to provide affordable, secure and safe housing for women at risk.

Alan Morris

University of South Australia

Alan Morris is a research professor in the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney. He has published extensively in highly rated peer reviewed journals in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa. His most recent book, Gentrification and Displacement: The Forced Relocation of Public Housing Tenants in Inner Sydney (2016, Springer), examines the displacement of public housing tenants in Millers Point, one of oldest public housing areas in Australia. The Australian Dream: Housing Experiences of Older Australians (2016, CSIRO Publishing) examines the impact of housing tenure on older Australians who are dependent on the age pension. In 2015 his book, A Practical Introduction to In-depth Interviewing, was published by SAGE.  

Jessica Porter

University of South Australia

Jessica Porter is a PhD scholar at the University of South Australia – UniSA Business School.  Jessica’s research considers the policy measures that have been developed to boost the supply of affordable housing; and investigates how governance arrangements at the state and local government levels shape affordable housing outcomes in Australian regional cities. Jessica is part of the ARC Linkage Project, Local Government and Housing in Australia for the 21st Century and receives a top-up scholarship from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Professionally, Jessica is an urban and regional planner with over fifteen years’ experience in the local government sector. Throughout her career, Jessica has gained a strong working-knowledge of urban and regional planning and its relationship with local government. Jessica’s roles have primarily been in statutory and strategic planning; however, she has also been involved in a wide range of council projects, including community development and council governance. Jessica obtained a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honours) at the University of South Australia and has also completed post-graduate studies in Social Planning. In addition to this, Jessica has undertaken and completed further study in Government Management and Business Administration. In 2007, Jessica was awarded the South Australian Young Planner of the Year by the Planning Institute of Australia (SA Division).


Founding Board Member, Housing All Australians

Robert has been active in the property industry for over 30 years most recently as General Manager of Frasers Property Australia (formally Australand). Over his time with Frasers, Robert steered it into the social and affordable housing space with the redevelopment of three significant Victorian government projects. Robert believes that “housing for all – rich and poor” is not only a fundamental human need, but is also in the long-term economic interest of the Australia. He is also providing strategic advice to WoodSolutions on how timber can assist with housing affordability and sustainability.


Gary Spivak

Housing Development Officer, City of Port Phillip

Gary has had 33 years’ experience in developing and supporting social and affordable housing for the City of Port Phillip as its Housing Development Officer. This has involved development of community housing under the Port Phillip Housing Program 1985 - 2006, Australia’s largest local government housing program, including air space development and partnerships with private developers; development of strategic partnerships, such as establishment of the Port Phillip Housing Trust; undertaking research projects to support affordable housing and identify new affordable housing models; and preparation of affordable housing policy and facilitation of affordable housing projects.



Melinda HoldeN

Director First Languages Australia

Melinda Holden, a Warrgamay and Goreng Goreng woman, has a Diploma in Linguistics and Planning and Diploma in Material Production. She played a key role in the establishment of the North Queensland Region Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre. Melinda has developed several resource materials in her mother's language. She is also a member of the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee.





Geoff anderson

Director First Languages Australia

Geoff came to understand the power of language when he found personal healing by coming to learn his own Wiradjuri language. He is now a powerful advocate within the schools and the whole Parkes community, helping to teach people of all ages. Geoff is a member of the Parkes Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and the Wiradjuri Council of Elders. 




Karina Lester

Director First Languages Australia

Karina Lester is an Anangu woman from Central Australia and a speaker of Yankunytjatjara language. She is a manager for the Mobile Languages Unit in South Australia, working closely with regional and remote communities on a diverse range of projects and is also an Anangu Interpreter and Translator. Karina has had extensive experience with the media including work with the ABC and as a producer with Nganampa Wangka (Radio Adelaide)





General Manager of Gwydir Shire Council

Max is the General Manager of Gwydir Shire Council having been previously the General Manager of Bingara Shire Council immediately prior to the 2004 amalgamation of Bingara, Yallaroi and part of Barraba Shires to form Gwydir.

Max has had extensive experience across a range of local government areas over the last 45 plus years in local government.

His practical management experience is complemented with a Bachelor of Business Degree and Masters’ Degrees in Sustainable Management and Philosophy.






Chief Executive Officer, National Waste and Recycling Industry Council

Rose thrives on delivering practical sustainability solutions in collaboration with industry, government and the community. She has worked extensively in electronics product stewardship, successfully implementing MobileMuster – Australia’s leading mobile phone recycling program over a ten-year period. Rose also headed-up MRI PSO Pty Ltd, an approved co-regulatory arrangement under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. In August 2018 she commenced as CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. Rose also holds the title of Adjunct Professor with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney..





Mayor, The Rural City of Murray Bridge

Brenton was born in Murray Bridge and completed education to matriculation before entering the workforce. The first years were spent in a Stock & Station Agency completing formal book keeping and moving into management this role took him to several locations around South Australia. Brenton was recruited by Noske Industries to manage their farming division which led to project manager of a 5000 sow piggery complex and a feed mill at Charlton in Victoria. Brenton returned to South Australia and became Pfizer Agricare Manager for South Australia, Northern Territory.

Brenton spent many years in Agribusiness after commencing in a local Company known as Farmtec which led to Business Development Manager for IAMA in SA and then extended to Business Manager for SA, VIC and Southern NSW.

Brenton joined the Murraylands Regional Development Board in 2002 to enable working in his homeland and was appointed CEO in 2004. Brenton oversaw the amalgamation of Murraylands and Riverland RDA in 2010 as the CEO and then resigned this role in July 2015.

Brenton ran and was appointed Mayor of The Rural City of Murray Bridge in 2014.
Brenton is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he was appointed as Business Ambassador for South Australia and Paul Harris Fellow. Brenton has been and still currently an active member of many boards and committees.

chris althaus

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association

Mr Althaus was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) in 2005.

AMTA is the peak industry organisation representing Australia’s mobile telecommunications sector and operates programs covering all aspects of the mobile ecosystem such as - telecommunications policy, mobile network infrastructure, radiofrequency spectrum, health & safety, product stewardship / e-waste and recycling, national security, content regulation and consumer awareness & education.

Prior to joining AMTA Mr Althaus held Chief Executive roles leading national industry associations representing the Australian road transport and logistics industry and the Australian forests and forest products sector.

Mr Althaus has a Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University; Graduate Diploma in Economics from the University of Canberra; and Business Administration Diploma from Georgetown University, Washington, DC.


With over 15 years’ experience in the Technology, Legal and Local Government sectors in Australia and the UK. Daniela is a qualified solicitor with extensive experience in diverse, large-scale business transformations in both private and public sectors.

Daniela is passionate about creating innovative combinations of technology, policy and governance to improve community outcomes and build future government services. Addressing the notion of 21st century government, Daniela’s drive is to enable better outcomes for people through digital technologies and public and private sector collaborations.

In her current role Daniela is accountable for developing connections and aligning priorities between agents of change in the City of Melbourne and the local government sector to improve digital customer service.  Through building strategic industry partnerships and commercial relationships across all levels of government, Daniela is working to ensure City of Melbourne plays a leading role in Australia’s emerging interconnected digital government landscape.




CIO for the City of Melbourne

As the CIO for the City of Melbourne, Colin is responsible for the delivery of technology and information services and is a member of the organisation’s leadership team. Colin has many years’ experience in local government and has highly developed domain knowledge with particular expertise in people leadership and organisational dynamics.
Colin has a deep interest in cities, data and using technology to address urban challenges and to deliver value.  He established CityLab as a disruptive force to challenge thinking and drive innovative ideas to improve city amenity and was instrumental in establishing one of the first local government open data platforms in Australia.
Colin is currently leading the build of a digital services platform to enhance customer services to be simple, fast and available. He speaks widely about his take on 21st century government and how new technologies such as SaaS, AI and digital platforms combined with progressive leadership, capability uplift and collaboration can drive positive outcomes.



Program Director, A New Approach

Kate Fielding is the inaugural Program Director for A New Approach, an independent think tank championing effective investment and return in Australian arts and culture. A New Approach was established in 2018, seeded by a $1.65M commitment by The Myer Foundation, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and the Keir Foundation.  The Australian Academy of the Humanities is the lead delivery partner for this initiative which is based in Canberra.

For the last decade Kate has lived and worked in regional and remote Australia. Prior to her move to Canberra, Kate was the Chair of the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission  and of Regional Arts Australia . She has been a member of the Board of the Australia Council for the Arts  and of Country Arts WA . She was named a 40Under40 WA Business Leader  in 2017.



Tony farrell

Deputy CEO, Lake Macquarie City Council

Tony Farrell is Deputy CEO at Lake Macquarie City Council (NSW) and a Director of Hunter Resource Recovery. Tony’s background is in town planning, but these days he leads a strategic arm of Council focusing on major initiatives and projects that enhance the City’s economy and improve services and infrastructure for the community.

His achievements include leading the development and implementation of Council’s widely acclaimed waste strategy, which has delivered an almost three-fold increase in kerbside domestic waste diversion, and 92% civil construction waste diversion.




Chair, Broadband for the Bush Association

Apolline is an experienced researcher and policy adviser who has been working for over twenty years in senior positions in the not-for profit, research and public service sectors. Apolline was a founding member of the Broadband for the Bush Alliance, a group of organisations committed to the digital inclusion of remote and rural Australia. From 2014 to 2018, Apolline was the Chair of the Broadband for the Bush Alliance Forum Committee which organised forums with stakeholders to inform policy and deliver better broadband and skills for those living and working in rural and remote Australia.







Ben is an economist with 20 years of experience in economic development spanning roles in government, corporate advisory and the not for profit sector.

Ben Artup currently leads Bundaberg Regional Council’s strategic projects and economic development team. Ben will present on Council’s new Intelligent Communities Strategy which aims to position Bundaberg as the model for a regional intelligent community across Australia.

Ben will talk about two of the strategies signature projects, including; smart water metre trials, and how the Council is reducing urban glow to support sea turtle survival using open data, technology and citizen science.



Acting Assistant Commissioner Business Registry, Australian Taxation Office

Naomi Westwood is acting Assistant Commissioner Business Registry with the Australian Taxation Office. She is responsible for the administration and improvement of the Australian Business Register (ABR). This work  includes the registration of businesses for Australian business numbers (ABNs’) and the maintenance of the accuracy and currency of information held on the ABR.

At front of mind for Naomi is unlocking the social and economic value of the ABR data and creating an ecosystem where the ABR is a valuable source of trusted business information and whose services are used by business, governments and communities.

Outside of work Naomi is married and the mother of two adult children who enjoys travelling in luxury and also outback camping. Watching blockbuster movies and epic TV show with her family is also high on the list of priorities. Her biggest passion outside her family is following the Adelaide Crows in the AFL.


Tim Sneesby is the Manager of Strategic Planning at Waverley Council. He has held positions in both the public and private sectors, previously at SGS Economics and Planning and local government in London. Tim is responsible to collecting contributions towards affordable housing and is leading the development of Waverley’s latest Local Housing Strategy. Tim is an active member of the Planning Institute of Australia and in the past was the recipient of the Australian Young Planner of the Year award (2014).





Editor, The Region Group

Genevieve Jacobs has been a journalist for 30 years, working in print and radio. She spent 12 years as a broadcaster with ABC Canberra, and is now the Group Editor for Region Media and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Genevieve sits on the boards of the Cultural Facilities Corporation, the National Folk Festival and Canberra International Music Festival, and is a director of the Conflict Resolution Service. She chairs the ACT Arts minister's creative advisory council and co-chairs the ACT Reconciliation Council. Genevieve has an enduring interest in building and strengthening community engagement.



Government Partnership Manager, Packaging Covenant Organisation

Peter Brisbane has worked in product stewardship and waste policy and programs for the past seven years. Before joining APCO in June 2018, he was Director of Product Stewardship and Waste for the Commonwealth Government Department of the Environment and Energy.









Chief Executive Officer at Stirlings to Coast Farmers Inc

Christine is the Chief Executive Officer at Stirlings to Coast Farmers Inc.  She has extensive experience in agriculture, regional development and Natural Resource Management gained from working with farmer organisations, government agencies and as an agribusiness consultant. Christine holds a BSc, PGDp. Agribusiness, and a PhD in Agricultural Policy and Economics. Christine is working closely with SCF members and partners to implement a strategic business plan that will expand SCF’s capability and continue to move the organisation forward to achieve its goal of being a self-sustaining, farmer-driven group.



Planet Ark’s Head of Sustainable Resource Programs

After nearly a decade working in the banking and finance industry, Ryan was drawn to a career in environmental conservation that saw him work in Sydney, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji in diverse roles such as operations, threatened species and sustainable agriculture. With a background in psychology and environmental management, Ryan’s role at Planet Ark since 2012 has been focused on developing engaging and positive environmental behaviour change programs to help individuals, schools and businesses recycle and reduce waste through a suite of campaigns including Business Recycling, Recycling Near You, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, Australasian Recycling Label and National Recycling Week.



Managing Director, Taylor Group Newspaper

Ben Taylor is a fourth generation newspaper proprietor with a group of 5 regional weekly newspapers. Four of those are located in the Riverland region of S.A. and one on the north eastern outskirts of Adelaide.

He is currently serving his term as President of COUNTRY PRESS AUSTRALIA representing over 150 newspapers across QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS and SA.

He’s a ‘one eyed’ Crows supporter and lover of water skiing and all things the mighty Murray has to offer but he’s also passionate about the role regional newspapers play in supporting and promoting their communities. 



Chief Executive Officer, Swan Rural City Council

John McLinden currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the Swan Hill Rural City Council. This is a rural municipality with a population of 20,000 people. He has worked in Local Government in Australia for 34 years. All but three years of this service has been in rural municipalities.

John holds a degree in Civil Engineering, a Graduate Diploma in Municipal Engineering and Management and an MBA.

He was born in 1960 into a farming family and has always enjoyed a connection to agriculture. In his spare time he manages the family farm, a mixed farming enterprise of 1200 acres, where he produces cereals and legumes.

His career has taken him through southern Australia in senior engineering and management roles and he has been a Chief Executive Officer in rural municipalities for the last 13 years. His work has largely revolved around assisting small rural communities to flourish, often in the face of adversity. He particularly enjoys helping to unlock the potential of small communities.

He describes his great loves as family, friends, farming and fishing. He is married to Therese and together they have raised five children.



Mayor, Alice Spring Town Council

His professional career began in 1972 working in the retail photographic industry in Alice Springs. He has also worked within the tourism industry as licensee of the Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse, and operated Dunmarra Roadhouse.

Mayor Ryan is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Justice of the Peace.

Mayor Ryan is President of the Local Government Association NT and Board Member of the Local Government Association of Australia, an NT Grants Commissioner, Co-Deputy Chair of the Outback Highway Development Council, and Board Member of the Finke Desert Race.

Elected as Mayor of Alice Springs in March 2008, Mayor Ryan is passionate about promoting and working for the Alice Springs Community. He works tirelessly towards making Alice Springs the best possible place to live, work and visit.

Mayor Ryan is strongly committed to the economic sustainability and development of Alice Springs.



Mayor, Noosa Shire Council

His professional career began in 1972 working in the retail photographic industry in Alice Springs. He has also worked within the tourism industry as licensee of the Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse, and operated Dunmarra Roadhouse.

Mayor Ryan is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Justice of the Peace.Mayor Ryan is President of the Local Government Association NT and Board Member of the Local Government Association of Australia, an NT Grants Commissioner, Co-Deputy Chair of the Outback Highway Development Council, and Board Member of the Finke Desert Race.

Elected as Mayor of Alice Springs in March 2008, Mayor Ryan is passionate about promoting and working for the Alice Springs Community. He works tirelessly towards making Alice Springs the best possible place to live, work and visit.

Mayor Ryan is strongly committed to the economic sustainability and development of Alice Springs.



Economic and Community Development Manager, Moree Plains Shire Council

Mr Mark Connolly has been with Moree Plains Shire Council for 15 years and is currently the Economic and Community Development Manager.  In this role, Mark oversees many community and economic projects and works with his team in development and sustainability of projects such as the Local Drug Action Team.







Councillor, Blue Mountains City Council

Cr McGregor was born in 1944 and raised in Narrabeen on Sydney’s Northern beaches.
Left school (Balgowlah Boys High) at 15 to begin working life as a labourer and after a series of mainly labouring jobs he worked for twenty years in the printing industry.

On moving to Katoomba in the early eighties Don worked in residential construction until he retired in 2008. Don was elected to Blue Mountains City Council in 2012 in Ward 1 and re-elected in 2016.

Don has been the chair of the Blue Mountains City of the Arts Trust advisory committee 5 years and has been active on other council committees, including the organising committee of Midnight Basketball Katoomba. Don is also on the board of Belong Blue Mountains and am a Vice President of Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

One of Don passions is supporting Youth within the Blue Mountains.