More speakers will be announced soon.

Keynote Speakers

Mark Courtney

Mark Courtney

Mark E. Courtney is the Samuel Deutsch Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. His fields of special interest are child welfare policy and services, the connection between child welfare services and other institutions serving families living in poverty, the transition to adulthood for marginalized populations including children in state care, and the professionalization of social work.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and the Society for Social Work and Research.

Dr. Courtney received the 2010 Peter W. Forsythe Award for leadership in public child welfare from National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators and the 2015 Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research.

He obtained his MSW and PhD degrees from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley.

Emily Munro

Emily Munro

Emily R. Munro is Professor of Social Work Research and Director of the Institute of Applied Social Research, and the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, at the University of Bedfordshire. She has undertaken a programme of research on young people’s transitions from care to adulthood, including the first evaluation of Staying Put in England.

At an international level she is a founding member and current Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Network on Transitions from Care to Adulthood (INTRAC) and co-editor of Young People’s Transitions from Care to Adulthood: International Research and Practice.

Steve Walker

Steve Walker is the Director of Children and Families at Leeds City Council. Steve is responsible for all children and family services in Leeds including the initiative to make Leeds a Child Friendly City.

These services include: school admissions, support to schools and governors, school improvement, support to vulnerable learners, early help and children’s centres, Children’s Social Work Services including fostering, adoption and children’s homes, services to support children with learning difficulties and disabilities and a range of specialist services for children and young people including Family Group Conferencing, Youth Offending Services and Multi Systemic Therapy.​

Iain Matheson

Iain Matheson is Director of the New Zealand-based Research Centre for Better Outcomes from Fostering and Residential Care, a consultant, speaker, mentor, facilitator, and trainer, and Adjunct Lecturer in Evaluation Research at Massey University. With a background in child welfare management, planning and policy, Iain has a career-long interest in transitioning from care, and his recent doctorate was with care leavers.

Lynne Pezzullo

Lynne is Lead Partner of Health Economics and Social Policy at Deloitte Access Economics and adviser to the Deloitte CEO on Responsible Business. Lynne specialises in health, aged care, disability and social policy reform and advice, cost benefit and cost effectiveness analysis, research, financing, workforce, evaluations and dynamic modelling. Lynne is also a reviewer for the Medical Journal of Australia and the British Medical Journal.

Paul McDonald

Paul is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Victoria. His previous positions have included Deputy Secretary in the Department of Human Services responsible for the leadership and management of Victoria’s Child Protection Services and Youth Justice Program. He also led the Governments response to the heroin overdose crisis that captured Melbourne in the late 1990’s to early 2000. He won, on behalf of the Department of Human Services, the Prime Minister’s Award for his Department’s work in harm minimisation during that time.

He is Chair of the Home Stretch Campaign, a national campaign which seeks to stop young people in state care becoming homeless, unemployed or in prison when they have their care terminated at 18 years.

Raymond Lemay

Raymond is the executive director of Family and Children’s Services of Lanark Leeds and Grenville, a child welfare organization in eastern Ontario, Canada. He holds a M.Sc. in the Education of Emotionally Disturbed Children from Syracuse University (USA).

Raymond has served as Senior Advisor for Child Welfare System Accountability, with the Ontario government’s Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare. Raymond played a leadership role in the implementation of the Looking After Children (LAC) approach for children and youth in out of home care in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

He has authored many articles and books on resilience, normalization, Social Role Valorization (SRV) and human service management. With Hayat Ghazal he authored Looking After Children in Canada, A Practitioner’s Guide (2007) published by the University of Ottawa Press. In 2018, with Laetitia Delhon, he co-authored the book Valoriser par les rôles sociaux: une dynamique pour l’inclusion, published in France by les Presses de L’École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique.

Other Key Contributors

Philip Mendes

Associate Professor Philip Mendes teaches social policy and community development, and is the Director of the Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit (SISPRU) in the Department of Social Work at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

He has been researching young people leaving state care for 20 years, is the Australian representative on the Transitions to Adulthood for Young People Leaving Public Care International Research Group, has completed major studies pertaining to youth justice, employment and mentoring programs, disability, and Indigenous care leavers, and is currently leading a national study of Indigenous young people leaving care funded by the Sidney Myer Foundation. He is the author or co-author of 12 books.

Justin Mohamad

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People. Justin Mohamed is a Gooreng Gooreng man from Bundaberg in Queensland who currently is the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria. Justin has worked with Victorian Aboriginal communities for 20 years before moving to Canberra to take on national positions as Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia.

He chaired the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and chaired the Hume – Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council (RAJAC). Justin has held positions on multiple community, state and national working groups, committees and boards and continues to be a Director of Vision 2020, Co-Chair Cricket Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, Board Member of Kaiela Institute and Director of Supply Nation.

Sarah Ashton

Sarah Ashton has spent the last 16 years working in the foster care system in service design, delivery and management with a particular focus on teenagers transitioning from care to adulthood. With experience in both NGO and government settings she is currently working with Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children on the development of the new Transition to Adulthood services launching 1 July 2019. A Secretariat  member to the Expert Advisory Panel which reviewed the current care and protection system in 2015, Sarah was part of a comprehensive review that drew on the experience and expertise of professionals, communities, caregivers, young people and families.

The resulting recommendations led to  an ambitious and substantial reform programme that will significantly extend the range of services provided to vulnerable children and young people and take a pro-active and life outcomes-focused approach to meeting their needs.


Join the campaign

Every child deserves to be supported into adulthood – extending out of home care until the age of 21 will give thousands of young people the additional guidance they need to have a real shot at life.


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