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Dr Richard Denniss PhotoDr Richard Denniss
Executive Director, The Australia Institute

The Australia Institute is a public policy think tank based in Canberra. An economist by training, Richard has worked for the past 20 years in a variety of policy and political roles. In recent years he has been at the forefront of the national policy debates surrounding climate change policy and the Australian mining boom. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University.

Prior to taking up his current position Richard was the Strategy Adviser to the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, was Chief of Staff to the then Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, and held teaching and research jobs at Australian universities.

He has been appointed to a number of government advisory bodies, including the current review of Australia's retirement income system. He is known for his ability to translate economic issues into everyday language. Richard has published extensively in academic journals, has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review and was the co-author of the best selling Affluenza (with Dr Clive Hamilton) and An Introduction to Australian Public Policy: Theory and Practice (with Dr Sarah Maddison).

Dr Cassandra Goldie imageDr Cassandra Goldie
CEO, Australian Council of Social Service

Dr Cassandra Goldie is CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, the peak body for the community sector in Australia, and the national voice for people experiencing poverty and inequality. Cassandra has an impressive track record as a successful reformer. She is a leading advocate on economic and social policy, a regular media and public commentator, and a highly respected human rights lawyer.

Cassandra is currently a member of the National Legal Assistance Advisory Board, the ACCC Consumer Consultative Committee; the Board of the National Roundtable of Nonprofit Organisations; and Boardlinks. She is also the Deputy Chair of the steering committee for the C20 (the Civil Society arm of the G20) and recently attended the St Petersburg G20 in this capacity. Her work has been recognised through the receipt of a number of awards including being named one of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence in 2012 and a BOSS True Leader in 2013. Cassandra has a Masters of Law from the University of London and a PhD from the University of New South Wales.

Jon Reid
Director of Reporting and
Red Tape Reduction,
Jon ReidACNC

Jon Reid joins the ACNC from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Over a five year period, he held various roles at ASIC, primarily in teams responsible for education, compliance, investigations and enforcement. His most recent role at ASIC was as a Senior Financial Investigator, responsible for offering forensic accounting support on investigations undertaken by deterrence teams.

Jon comes from private sector roles in accounting, taxation compliance and insolvency. He has been a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia for eight years. Jon has a keen interest in the charities and not-for-profit sector and the significant role it plays in Australian society.

Mike Sinkunas
SA Small Business CommissionerMike Sinkunas

Mike Sinkunas was appointed as the South Australia's first Small Business Commissioner on 29 March 2012. He has had substantial leadership and executive experience over 25 years.

His career includes:

  • a range of leadership positions in education at metropolitan and country high schools;
  • Small business experience including developing and co-proprietor of a small computing business in a regional area and owning a small farm in the South East;
  • In the SA Public Service he has held a number of senior positions in a variety of departments.

He holds a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University, is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and also holds post graduate qualifications in Management, Education and Information Technology.

He has developed significant change and project management experience from the various senior roles he has undertaken.

Wendy Campana
CEO, Local Government Association
of South Australia
Wendy Campana

Wendy Campana is the Chief Executive Officer of the Local Government Association of South Australia. The LGA is a leadership organisation providing support and advocacy for Councils in SA and a range of direct services such as industrial/employee relations and governance advice and comprehensive education and training program for Council Members and staff of Councils. 

She has an extensive background in public sector management, organisational development, education and training, industrial relations, intergovernmental relations and governance, political lobbying.  

The LGA initiated in 2005 an Independent Inquiry into the Financial Sustainability of Local Government in SA – the first of its kind ever initiated by a Local Government organisation in Australia. The 62 recommendations resulting from the independent inquiry Boards report forms a large focus of the work of the LGA. In 2011 the LGA has embarked on a Local Excellence Program which is designed to enhance the performance and role of Councils in community engagement; governance; service efficiency and effectiveness; and financial reform.

John Darley
Independent Member of the Legislative Council John Darley image

John Darley entered the South Australian Parliament in late 2007 following Nick Xenophon’s resignation from State Parliament. Prior to this John had a long history in the public service beginning in 1960 in the Engineering and Water Supply Department.

He has held the positions of Chief Executive Officer of the State Services Department, Chairman of the State Supply Board, CEO of the Lands Department and Valuer-General. Since entering Parliament John has played pivotal roles in legislation regarding Work Cover, Dust Diseases, Security of Payment and Victims of Crime. He also advocates strongly for fairness in taxation particularly council rates, water supply charges, land tax and stamp duty. John will be running as a candidate in the March state election as part of the Nick Xenophon Team.

Sally Cowling
Manager, Research and Program Development, UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families, NSW
Sally Cowling image

Sally Cowling is Manager, Research and Program Development with UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families in NSW. Sally was the joint leader for UnitingCare’s Newpin Social Benefit Bond (SBB) project which was the first SBB to be signed and raised in Australia. Newpin is an evidence-based, intensive, therapeutic program that works with families to break intergenerational cycles of abuse and neglect.

Sally’s work on UnitingCare’s SBB project and negotiations with the NSW Government focused on defining target groups, outcomes measurement, maintaining program fidelity and estimating direct and indirect savings when children are restored to their families or avoid entry to out-of-home care.

Sally holds a Bachelor of Economics (Honours Class 1) from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Commerce (Economics) from the University of Melbourne. She is currently a member of the Expert Advisory Committee to the NSW Commission for Children and Young People and has previously been employed in academic positions and as a senior political advisor. Sally has a unique skill set for researchers in the community sector as an economist specialising in social policy, program evaluation and cost-benefit analysis.

Paul Madden
Chief Executive, The Wyatt Trust
Paul Madden image

Paul has a strong interest and involvement in community development, both in Australia and abroad, and his current appointments include being Chief Executive of The Wyatt Trust; Chairman of World Relief Australia and Chairman of the Social Impact Investment Network SA.

In the past he has served in senior executive positions with Mission Australia, Baptist Community Services SA, Habitat for Humanity and Child & Family Welfare Association SA. He has also served as a Ministerial Advisor and on the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and during his early career was a Detective at the SA Police, Major Crime Squad. On behalf of government he has undertaken major projects in the areas of child protection and Indigenous substance misuse. 

In 2005 Paul and his wife Barbara founded Bright Futures Child Aid and Development Fund through which they are involved in education and community development projects in India, Kenya, Pakistan and Uganda. In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to the community. His academic qualifications include a Master's Degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Hon Kelly Vincent
Member of the Legislative Council for
Dignity for Disability
Kelly Vincent image

At 25, Kelly Vincent is Australia’s youngest female Parliamentarian, and is also the first member in the South Australian Parliament to use a wheelchair for mobility. 

Kelly Vincent is passionate about serving her core constituency – people with disabilities, their carers and families, in addition to carrying out a full parliamentary workload across all portfolios.  Kelly’s background is in professional playwriting and performance and she’s active in the South Australian Arts community.  Kelly is a strong supporter of radical change in the way the needs of people with disabilities are met, and believes that the adoption of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a true breakthrough for Australia.  Kelly Vincent and Dignity for Disability work energetically, effectively and mindfully, to make a real, lasting and positive difference for South Australians now and in the future.

Hon Robert Brokenshire
Member of the Legislative Council for
Family First
Robert Brokenshire image

Robert Brokenshire has had many years experience and is now serving in his nineteenth year in Parliament, having previously been a Government and Shadow Minister in the House of Assembly.  His portfolios as Minister included:  Police, Corrections, Emergency Services, Gambling and Volunteers.

Robert is committed to the values of the Family First Party and was appointed to the Upper House following the retirement of Hon Andrew Evans, and was re-elected at the 2010 State Election. As a Member for Family First, he has taken up an independent watchdog role to hold the government accountable to ensure that people are put first before politics and power.  

During recent years in Parliament, Robert has held roles on various committees including:  Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Families SA, Taxi Industry in SA, Certain Matters Relating to Horse Racing in SA, Budget and Finance, Natural Resources, Forestry SA, Correctional Services, Wind Farm Developments in SA, Community Safety and Emergency Services in SA, and Matters Relating to the Independent Education Inquiry.

Robert also regularly uses the Freedom of Information process as part of his commitment to accountable and transparent government. From the Mt Compass area, Robert is a dairy farmer with a passion for families and communities and is determined to make a difference in State politics.

Christopher Stone ImageChristopher Stone
Research Director, Centre for Policy Development

Christopher Stone is the Research Director of the Public Service Research Program at the Centre for Policy Development. He is a co-author of CPD's report 'Big Society: How the UK Government is Dismantling the State and What it Means for Australia'. Christopher’s focus in the program has been on outsourcing, and the non-government provision of public services; he is currently examining the issue of efficiency in the public sector.

Christopher has previously worked in university research centres focusing on environmental law and policy. He has worked with a range of state government departments, and a number of local governments, in previous projects. He has qualifications in law and psychology, and is currently undertaking a PhD on using social science concepts and research to improve the effectiveness of regulations and governance.

Cheryl Axelby
Cheryl Axelby

Cheryl is a proud Narungga woman with family ties across South Australia and is the current Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Incorporated.

In a career spanning 30 years, (10 working in SA Government), Cheryl has been working towards achieving Social Justice and equity for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples in SA.  During her with career with SA Government, Cheryl was a strong advocate for Cultural Inclusion within Government services delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Cheryl has 25 years’ experience working within the Law and Justice portfolio and has held the position of Chairperson of the Women’s Legal Service of South Australia, Alternate Deputy Chairperson of the then ATSIC Patpa Warra Yunti Regional Council, member of the Correctional Services Advisory Board to the Minister, Board member of Dame Roma Mitchell.  Current positions held; Board member of Seeds Of Affinity, Reconciliation SA, an active member of the Justice Re-investment SA working Group, member of the SA Coalition for Social Justice.

Prior to returning to ALRM as CEO, Cheryl developed cultural training programs within Families SA, was Manager of the Metropolitan Aboriginal Youth & Family Services from 2005-2010, and a Manager of Families SA office in the northern metro region. 

Cheryl is very supportive of Reconciliation initiatives and actively plays a role in raising awareness of the issues impacting on Aboriginal people, particularly the impact of colonisation and poverty and conducts training programs with agencies/individuals to assist them to better actively engage and support Aboriginal people.

Cheryl’s vision is for every Australian to be ‘pro-active’ not ‘re-active’ to the issues impacting on the quality of life for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

David Thompson
CEO, Jobs Australia
David Thompson

David Thompson is CEO of Jobs Australia Limited, the national peak organisation for more than 270 non-profit providers of employment and related services for unemployed people.  David has a keen interest in social justice and equity issues.

David is also Director of the National Roundtable of Nonprofit Organisations Limited, Chair, Jobs Australia Foundation, Chair, COMMACT International and Director of its Australian Chapter, Chair of Community 21 Limited, and Chair of Community Sector Enterprises Pty Ltd.  David is also a member of the Board of the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy and a member of the federal government’s National Place based Advisory Group and numerous other advisory bodies on employment services.

Pam Simmons
Guardian for Children and Young People in
South Australia
Pam Simmons

Pam Simmons was appointed to the newly created position of Guardian for Children and Young People in South Australia in August 2004. The Guardian is a statutory position to advocate for and promote the best interests of children and young people under the guardianship, or in the custody of, the Minister.  The Guardian provides advice to the Minister, monitors the quality of care provided to children, investigates serious matters and advocates for required change.

Immediately prior to this position, Pam was Executive Director of the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), a position that she held for more than five years. 

Pam’s work history has been with non-government organisations in Thailand, England and Australia, working in the areas of youth homelessness, housing, women’s services, environment and development, and primary health care. She is Deputy Chair of the Welfare Rights Centre (SA).

Pam’s qualifications are in social work and her Master’s degree is in public policy and administration. 

Dr Greg Ogle
Senior Policy and Research Analyst,
Dr Greg Ogle

Greg Ogle is the Senior Policy and Research Analyst for SACOSS. He has a PhD in political economy from Adelaide University and over 20 years of experience in social justice and environmental advocacy organisations. Greg produces SACOSS’ quarterly Cost of Living Updates and has given numerous seminars and presentations on cost of living pressures on vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians, including briefings to the SA Department of Treasury and Finance and the Social Inclusion Unit of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.  

In 2013 he completed a major scoping study of consumer credit legal services in South Australia which lead to the allocation of significant funding for services to households struggling with unaffordable debt. Greg also co-authors SACOSS’ Anti-Poverty Week statements and is training our COSS colleagues in other states in the use of cost of living statistics.

Ben Phillips
Principal Research Fellow, NATSEM
Ben Phillips image

Ben has 17 years of experience as a professional economist and social analyst with experience in both the private and public sectors. Ben leads NATSEM’s Incomes, Wealth and Housing team which provides economic modelling and analysis on a consulting and academic research basis in the fields of social policy, housing, taxation, wealth and demographic change.

Ben manages NATSEM’s model of the Australian tax and transfer system, STINMOD which is used by the Federal Treasury and other Commonwealth departments to model the Australian tax and transfer system for the Federal Budget and policy modelling purposes.

Ian McAuley
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Sector Finance,
University of Canberra
Ian McAuley

Ian McAuley is Adjunct Lecturer in Public Sector Finance, University of Canberra, Fellow of the Centre For Policy Development.

Ian McAuley’s main work is in raising our understanding of economic issues.  He has worked extensively with consumer and welfare NGOs in Australia, helping them to be engaged in the nation’s economic debate, rather on the sidelines of that debate, and to contribute to the community’s understanding that good social policy is also good economic policy.  Besides his academic work in public economics, he has worked for Commonwealth, state and local government agencies, and for international agencies such as the OCED on these issues.  His academic qualifications are in engineering and business management from the University of Adelaide and in public administration from Harvard University. 

He is a regular contributor to New Matilda, Dissent, and The Conversation.  His publications and conference papers are on his web page.

Victoria Purman
Account Director, EMC
Victoria Purman image

Victoria Purman is an Account Director with Essential Media Communications, a national strategic communications, public affairs, media, research and social marketing company.  

She has more than more than twenty-nine years experience working in and around the Adelaide media and politics. 

Before joining EMC in 2010, Victoria was Media Manager for the SA Department of Health, dealing with fast-paced and reactive crisis management.

Before that, she was a Senior Adviser and speechwriter in the South Australian Government, working for Premier Mike Rann and (then) Minister Jay Weatherill covering numerous portfolios.

An ABC trained television and radio reporter and producer, Victoria has also worked as a speechwriter, freelance writer, editor and media consultant. 

She is a member of the Carclew Youth Arts Board, the SA Writers Centre Board, and the Adelaide High School Governing Council. 

Mark Parnell
Greens Member of the Legislative Council
Mark Parnell image

In 2006, Mark Parnell was the first member of the Australian Greens to be elected to the South Australian Parliament. Prior to his political career, Mark spent 16 years working in the non-profit community conservation sector. This included 10 years as a lawyer with the Environmental Defenders Office - a free community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.  Before that, he worked for the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation. In the very distant mists of time he was a solicitor in private practice in country Victoria.

In Parliament, Mark has been a consistent advocate for human rights, economic reform and a sustainable environment. He sits on the Environment Resources & Development Committee and is also the Parliamentary leader of the SA Greens.

Mark has undergraduate degrees in Law and Commerce and a Masters degree in Regional and Urban Planning. He has taught Environmental Law at all three SA Universities as well as in Indonesia.

Mark is married to Greens Senator Penny Wright and they have 3 children. Both Mark and Penny are founding members of the Green party in South Australia.

Brett Rowse
Under Treasurer, South Australian Department
Brett Rowse image
of Treasury and Finance

Mr Rowse has 30 years experience in Treasury and Finance Departments at both the national and State level covering a diverse range of public sector policy issues.

In January 2003 he was appointed Deputy Under Treasurer in the South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance. He provides broad policy guidance on a range of issues, with a particular focus on economic and financial management.  

He chairs the SAFA Board and is also a member of the Funds SA Board. On 1 December 2010 Brett was appointed Under Treasurer, South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance.

Sandy Forbes
Principal, Nous Group Sandy Forbes image

Sandy is a Principal in the Strategy and Public Policy practice at Nous. Sandy has an extensive track record in social policy development and strategic planning in not for profit organisations. She has worked on multiple projects with the Victorian Office for the Community Sector, including the development of the Common Funding Agreement. She has significant experience working with the disability sector, mental health services, education, aged care services, aboriginal justice and vulnerable and disadvantaged youth.

Prior to working in the education sector, Sandy was Director of Policy and Strategic Projects in the Department of Human Services where she led the development of the partnership with the community sector, the Forward Plan for Women’s Health, the Aboriginal Services Plan and the establishment of the Diversity Unit to drive improved services to women and multicultural communities.

Nigel McBride
Chief Executive, Business SA
Nigel McBride

Chief Executive of 'Business SA' (South Australian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry) South Australia's peak business and employer group.

He is a board member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (Australia’s peak employer and industry body which represents over 300,000 businesses employing 4 million Australians). Nigel is also a board member of WorkCover, Cancer Council SA, the National Business Action Fund and CEDA SA. He is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Nigel was the immediate past Chief Executive and Managing Partner of one of South Australia’s leading professional services firm for 12 years. Nigel is also the immediate past Chairman of 'Advantage Adelaide' (formerly SA Great) and was a board member for a total of 8 years.

He has operated at top levels of business and government, and often provides input to other CEOs on the key strategic issues. He is a sought after speaker on business strategy, leadership and risk management.

Before private practice and leadership roles in Minter Ellison in Perth and then Adelaide/Darwin, Nigel was the Director, Legal Administration of the Health Department Western Australia, managing a large team with a wide range of responsibilities - from running the State's largest legislative development program to dealing with legal, policy, compliance, industrial relations and risk issues across one of the State's biggest and most complex industries.

Earlier in his career Nigel worked in the finance and industrial relations sectors.

Joe Szakacs
Secretary, SA UnionsJoe Szakacs

Joe Szakacs was elected Secretary of SA Unions in October 2013. He comes to the position with many years experience in the South Australia union movement. Prior to his election he was an Industrial Officer with the United Firefighters Union for 7 years.

A lawyer by training, Joe is a graduate of Flinders University and is a Board member of the SA Fire and Emergency Services Commission and a member of its Audit and Risk Management Committee. Joe has extensive experience in representing the interests of working people in a legal, political and campaigning framework. Joe is a member of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Committee and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Executive. Joe is also a member of the Board of Directors of StatewideSuper.

He previously worked for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, as an advocate at the SA Unions Workers Compensation Services, and in a legal practice. He has been the Vice President of SA Unions for the past three years and was for many years involved with the Young Workers Legal Services, first as a volunteer and then as an Industrial Officer and member of the Management Committee.

Joe is passionate about issues facing young people and the world of work and one of his aims is to talk to more young South Australians about the importance of the trade union movement.