Speakers at Government Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2019

Rebecca Adam
Branch Manager, Enterprise Change
National Disability Insurance Agency

Throughout her professional life, she has been engaged with shaping environments to benefit society as a whole and this has included appointments to boards and committees including a recent appointment as President of the International Committee of Deaf Sports, the global peak body for deaf sports responsible for the delivery of the quadrennial Deaflympic Games.

Jeromine Alpe
Founder & CEO
Corporate Diversity Pathways


Ric Ardo
Demand Management Improvement Manager and Diversity and Inclusion Council Member
Energy Queensland

Ric's is a member of the Energy Queensland’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion and is the lead of the LGBTI+ employee network, 'EQL Pride'. Ric led the working party which  conceptualised, established and launched the EQL Pride network across Queensland in 2018, which has since grown to more than 500 members. Ric is an accredited Pride in Diversity trainer who has facilitated LGBTI+ awareness sessions for over 100 people.

Ric brings his unique perspective to diversity and inclusion with degrees in Human Resources and Business, Project Management qualifications, and extensive experience in  big data analysis,.

Ric is also passionate about the inclusion of people with disabilities, Indigenous reconciliation, and paving the way for greater representation of women's in non-traditional roles.

Joanne Banyer
Change Lead and Manager Change Management
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Allana Bianchi
Manager, Workforce Strategy
Public Service Commission (Queensland)

Allana leads the inclusion and diversity portfolio for Queensland Government, within the Queensland Public Service Commission. The agenda focusses on gender pay equity, LGBTIQ+, disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and the mature workforce.

Allana worked a number of years in the human services sector, including in the area of disability.  After gaining formal qualifications in Human Services, Allana joined the public service and worked in front line child protection, before establishing and coordinating a staff support unit for child protection staff.   Moving from child protection to generalist human resources, Allana led the first Queensland Government agency to achieve White Ribbon Workplace accreditation in 2016, part of a whole-of-Government domestic and family violence workplace reform.

Working a significant amount of time in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships allowed Allana to expand on her cultural capability and awareness around working with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people and a deeper understanding of the complexities that face them when they are employed in the public sector. 

In addition to a Bachelor of Human Services, Allana has post graduate education qualifications.

Sonja Braidner CPHR
Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
Fire and Rescue NSW

Sonja Braidner is the Diversity and Inclusion manager at Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW). She brings a wealth of experience in Organisational Development and Diversity & Inclusion, having consulted to numerous business sectors across Australia, for the past 20 years. Prior to FRNSW Sonja worked at the University of Sydney, UNSW and Singtel /Optus in workplace cultural leadership capacities. A creative and pragmatic Inclusionist, Sonja’s expertise lies in the tailored design and delivery of strategy and implementation plans to drive positive cultural change; enabling organisations and their people to share in the many successes afforded by inclusive and synergistic workplaces.  Sonja has a deep respect and passion for Reconciliation and as such is a Social Leadership Australia (Leading Together) Alumnus and former co-Chair of the National Sorry Day Committee; which highlighted the issues impacting members of the Stolen Generations to the Federal Government and wider community. Currently she sits on various industry consultative and reference panels including the Australian Human Resources Institute’s National Inclusion and Diversity Reference Panel and has recently established the Emergency Management and Defence Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners Association, Australasia (EMDDIPA). Sonja will also be undertaking a Churchill Fellowship in 2019 researching effective cultural inclusion.

Lisa Conway
Director (a/g)
Department of Human Services

Lisa Conway is a Yorta Yorta woman with ancestral ties to Kurringai lands, north of Sydney. Lisa is a tireless champion for diversity and equality through her passion for culturally responsive service delivery and the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. Her leadership and vision has been key to the development of the Indigenous Cultural Responsiveness Program for social workers in the Australian Government Department of Human Services. The Cultural Responsiveness program supports social workers to build on their cultural responsiveness, skills and confidence working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers. Lisa consistently shares her knowledge, perspectives and experiences to foster an inclusive workplace culture and promote cultural change.

Kate Gilmore
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations


The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG
Former Justice of the
High Court of Australia

When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge.

He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission.  Soon after, he became inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84).  Later, he was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, then President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-96) and, concurrently, President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-6).  His appointment to the High Court of Australia followed in 1996 and he served thirteen years.  In later years, he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.

In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby has served on three university governing bodies being elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93).  He also served on many national and international bodies.  Amongst the latter have been service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); as President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); as a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); as a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007- 9) and as a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights(2004-).

Following his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby was elected President of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia from 2009-2010.  He served as a Board Member of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (2009-14).  He has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by twelve universities. And he participates regularly in many local and international conferences and meetings.  He has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates at home and abroad.  He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia (2009 - ).

He served 2011-12 as a member of the Eminent Persons Group on the future of the Commonwealth of Nations. He was a Commissioner of the UNDP Global Commission of HIV and the Law 2011-2012.  He was appointed to the Advisory Council of Transparency International, based in Berlin in 2012.  In 2013- 2014, he was appointed Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in North Korea.  He a Commissioner of the UNAIDS Lancet Commission on AIDS to the Right to Health (2013-2014); the Global Fund’s Equitable Access Panel (2015-16); the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Essential Medicines (2015-16); and UNAIDS/OHCHR’s panel on overreach of criminal law (2017); and Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (2018 - ).Anchor

He was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize in 2010 and has been Patron of the Kirby Institute on Blood Borne Diseases in UNSW Sydney, Australia since 2011.  In May 2017, he was invested by Japan with the insignia of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star in Tokyo, with an audience with the Emperor of Japan. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (Est. 1866).  He was also named for the 2018 United Nations Honour by the United Nations Association of Australia.

Naomi Knight
Naomi Knight Australia

Kate Gilmore was appointed United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights on 1st December 2015. She brings to the position diverse and longstanding experience in strategic leadership and human rights advocacy with the United Nations, government and non government organizations. Prior to joining OHCHR, Ms. Gilmore was Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Previously she was National Director of Amnesty International Australia and then Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Ms. Gilmore started her career as a social worker and government policy officer in Australia. She helped establish Australia’s first Centre Against Sexual Assault at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital and her work over a number of years focused on prevention of violence against women. In Australia, she was granted honorary appointments to provincial and national public policy and law reform processes, including membership of the country’s first National Committee on Violence Against Women.

Ms. Gilmore holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New England and postgraduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Melbourne and Community Development from RMIT.

Karen Lay-Brew
Australian Business Software Industry Association

Karen is a Board Member and Corporate Advisor, and presently holds the position President on the Australian Business Software Industry Association (ABSIA) Board.  She works closely with both Australian Government and the private sector.  Karen previously worked at Microsoft HQ in the USA as VP for delivering global software launches coordinating Marketing, Sales, Partners and Customer Service, and established Women in IT.  She also served as the VP of Six Sigma and CIO for BHP Billiton Base Metals division where she implemented a world-wide Six Sigma Operational Excellence programme.  As the CIO for Honeywell Asia-Pacific, she has worked across different cultures and geographies to successfully integrate the disparate IT organisations serving 14 different countries.  Karen has also consulted to various Government departments and SMEs.  With over 35 years’ professional experience, Karen specialises in changing the culture of organisations and communities, and is an avid diversity champion on women’s challenges.

Yvonne Lewandowski
Diversity, Inclusion and Development Lead
Queensland Urban Utilities

Yvonne Lewandowski currently leads the development and implementation of the organisational culture transformation, leadership and talent and diversity and inclusion strategies for Queensland Urban Utilities.  With over 20 years extensive experience in human resources, including talent attraction and sourcing, employment relations & workforce planning, remuneration and benefits,  change management and organisational design, Yvonne has most recently taken on the role of leading the Diversity & Inclusion Agenda for Urban Utilities. 

Yvonne’s experience in partnering and providing strategic advice to the Executive Leadership Team has resulted in the delivery of successful transformational change programs and initiatives relating to culture change and employee engagement, achieving significant shifts towards desired state outcomes.  These results are measured through the use of Employee Effectiveness Surveys and Organisational Culture Inventories and publically reported on an annual basis.

As an experienced coach and mentor, Yvonne’s passions are supporting ambitious and talented professionals at all levels to be the best that they can, and partnering with executives to build constructive cultures that encourage high performance, foster innovation and embrace diversity in all its forms.

Kin Ly
Human Centred Designer & Maker

Jo Marshall

Jo Marshall founded Culturise following a 20 year career leading teams across a number of industries and sectors.  Degree Qualified in HR, she has led teams in sales, operations and as business unit head with multiple strategic and p&l responsibilities.  Jo has been Executive Diversity Mentor in a large publicly listed organisation (20,000 staff), has led large teams delivering services to government and has her own lived experience.   She has been a subject expert at public sector executive induction and also an advisor to the SA State Government on job creation in marginalised populations.

Throughout her career she has taken her passion for diversity and inclusion to every level within the organisation and proven that a diverse and inclusion business unit has a range of measurable benefits – hard measures.  Jo looks globally to curate the best content to share with leaders across business.  Businesses – both public and private – need to be engineered for constant change.  This takes resilience and it requires diverse and innovative thinking – nowhere more than in the employment environment of public sector organisations.  Through Culturise Jo has developed a unique, powerful and practical toolkit to help leaders at every level set a sustainable path.  #DifferenceIstheNewNormal #CulturalResilience

Elizabeth McPherson
Chief Culture Officer


Susan Pettifer
Director Workforce and Information Services
City of Sydney

Hema Raman
Acting Senior Manager, Knowledge Management Services
Australian Securities and Investments Commission


Aimee Reeves
Senior Project Lead | BizLab
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Janice Rieger
Associate Professor
Queensland University of Technology

Dr Janice Rieger is an award-winning researcher, educator, curator and designer with expertise in inclusive design and disability research. She has been advocating for people with disabilities for over twenty years and has been awarded a Mayor’s Access Recognition Award and a state level disability award for her leadership in promoting access and inclusion. She has also been appointed to national juries by the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, held council appointed board positions, and has worked with various levels of government in Canada, Australia and the USA. Prior to her academic appointment at QUT in Australia, Dr Rieger spent ten years at Mount Royal University in Canada, where she taught one of the only Universal Design courses in Canada and was also co-founder of a national certificate program in accessible design, CSAHD. She has also spent time overseas as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Hasselt (Belgium) and as an international member of the European Society for Disability Research, where she co-facilitated the international doctoral school, Disability Mundus. Dr Rieger is currently a chief investigator with the QUT Design Lab and an ethics advisor for the university ethics council. She continues to practice as a designer and is an active member of the Centre for Universal Design Australia and Design for All, Europe.

Silven Simmons
Senior Director of People, Safety & Performance
Queensland Health

Silven is a senior human resources professional with demonstrated experience managing large corporate functions through periods of significant change and transformation in large and complex environments. Silven has worked in senior roles with federal and state governments leading diversity and inclusion, culture and engagement, transformation and change, negotiations of awards and enterprise agreements, policy development, payroll, project management, performance management, workplace investigations and organisational development. Silvne has strong stakeholder management skills with an ability to work across all levels of an organisation and able to drive the people agenda at an executive level. 

Silven is currently the Senior Director, People, Safety and Performance with Queensland Health and drives Queensland Health’s strategic direction for diversity and inclusion, people performance and workplace health and safety.

Speaking opportunities are still available for Government Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2019

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Government Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2019