Speakers will be announced soon.

Keynote Speakers

Mark Courtney

Prof. Mark Courtney

Mark E. Courtney is the Co-Director of the Transition-Age Youth Research and Evaluation Hub at the University of California at Berkeley and Samuel Deutsch Professor emeritus in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice 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.

Jo Dixon

Jo Dixon is a Social Work Lecturer and Researcher in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York.  Over the past 20 years she has specialised in research with care-experienced young people. This includes research on leaving care outcomes, policy and practice in England, Scotland & Ireland.

She has led several government funded and independent evaluations of innovative care and leaving care practice, most recently involving evaluations of post-care accommodation options such as the National House Project, Centrepoint’s Housing First for Care Leavers, and the government’s Staying Close Pilot for young people leaving residential care.  Jo’s studies use participatory research methods, making sure that young people have an active role in evaluations, including the opportunity to develop skills in peer research.  She supports social work students with their practice placements and research dissertations.

In addition to Jo’s academic work, she works with local authorities and the voluntary sector and co-created the Baker-Dixon Leaving Care Service Assessment tool for local authorities. She has co-authored a range of publications on care and leaving care.

Kerri Cleaver

Kerri Cleaver is a Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha Indigenous women from Te Wai Pounamu, the South Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

She is an academic in the Social Work department at the University of Canterbury and as a social worker brings decades of experience in Indigenous Māori social work practice in the child protection space, including service development.

Her research focuses on Māori women care leaving experiences, Māori led social service development and preventing baby removals. She centres all her work in responsibilities back to her people, decolonising systems and the restoration and resurgence of Māori rights and responsibilities to hold the power to define and protect mokopuna (future ancestors).

Dylan Langley

Dylan offers deep, critical insight into OoHC discourses and limitations through his own lived experience. Through advocacy and consultation Dylan challenges the current structures that send OoHC young people into homelessness. He has diverse experience speaking in a multitude of environments, educational, government and more. The impacts of Dylan’s efforts have been acknowledged and in turn he has received numerous awards including being a state finalist for young Australian of the year 2021. Currently as an employee of Berry Street and the Department of Families, Fairness and housing as a Project Officer, he work’s collaboratively utilising his expertise to influence and facilitate positive change throughout the evolving sector.

Julian Morrow

Co-founder of The Chaser & Giant Dwarf, Creator of The Checkout

Julian Morrow has made a career of public nuisance in various forms, co-founding satirical media empire The Chaser and joke company Giant Dwarf, as well as making TV shows including The Election ChaserCNNNNThe Chaser’s War on EverythingThe Hamster Wheel and The Checkout. His work has been nominated, unsuccessfully, for many awards, and prosecuted successfully in many courts.

In recent years, he was taken to claiming credit for the work of others as Executive Producer of Lawrence Leung’s series Choose Your Own Adventure and Unbelievable, Eliza and Hannah Reilly’s Growing Up Gracefully and Sarah Scheller & Alison Bell’s The Letdown (which won the AACTA Award for Best TV Comedy in 2018 and 2019).

In 2015, Julian founded Giant Dwarf theatre at 199 Cleveland Street Redfern, a venue which has been described as “absolutely hilarious” by his accountant.

Julian hopes one day to leave comedy and the media to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer again.

Dr Robert Porter

Robert Porter is a socio-legal researcher with an interest in children and young people who have care experience. As Research Lead at the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS), he has conducted a number of studies looking at different aspects of the care system in Scotland.

In 2022 he completed a study alongside colleagues looking at the implementation of Continuing Care in Scotland, and is currently leading a project aimed at gathering the views and experiences of those who have experienced Continuing Care.

Robert has a general interest in decision making for young people with care experience, as well as the use of administrative data to further our understanding of experiences and impacts of policies and practices.

Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett

Muriel Bamblett is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman who has been employed as the CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency since 1999.

Muriel is active on many boards and committees concerning children, families and the Indigenous community, including Chairperson of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the peak Australian agency for Indigenous child and family services; the Aboriginal Children’s Forum; the First Peoples Treaty Assembly and the Aboriginal Justice Forum.

Muriel’s contribution to her community and to Victoria has been recognised and she received the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2019 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community in Victoria as an advocate for the self determination and cultural rights of children.

Dr Jacynta Krakouer

Dr Jacynta Krakouer is a Mineng Noongar woman originally from southern Western Australia who lives and works on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm, and occasionally works on Kaurna Country in Tarndanya.

She is an Aboriginal Enterprise Fellow in the UniSA Justice and Society unit, affiliated with the Australian Centre for Child Protection. Jacynta’s PhD in social work at the University of Melbourne focused on cultural connection for First Nations children and young people in out-of-home care in Victoria. Jacynta’s expertise centres around child protection and out-of-home care practices, policies and systems, particularly for First Nations children, young people, families and communities. She is passionate about Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous-led research in these contexts.

Jacynta is social worker by background and worked in the child and family welfare service sector across early intervention and family support, foster care and residential care. She is also a current respite carer for a First Nations young person living in residential care in Victoria.

Maj. David Eldridge

Maj. David Eldridge AM has been a key figure in The Salvation Army both in Australia and the United Kingdom. He has worked for over 30 years, in a variety of senior social policy and programme development roles, including 15 years at the Crossroads Youth Network and 12 years as Director of the Brunswick Community Programme. David has also been a Senior Adviser to the Commonwealth Government on key social policy issues particularly in relation to young people and headed the Prime Ministerial Youth Homelessness Taskforce in 1996-7 and the Youth Pathways Acton Taskforce in 2000-2001. More recently he is the Chairperson of the National Youth Commission which has been undertaking a community inquiry into youth employment and transitions.

Prof. Philip Mendes

Prof. 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 transitioning from out-of-home care for over 20 years, represented Australia in the Transitions to Adulthood for Young People Leaving Public Care International Research Group (INTRAC), and completed major studies pertaining to youth justice, employment and mentoring programs, disability, housing, and Indigenous care leavers. He is the author or co-author of 12 books including Australia’s Welfare Wars three editions (UNSW Press, 2003, 2008 & 2017), Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: International research, policy and practice co-edited with Pamela Snow (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and Empowerment and control in the Australian welfare state: A critical analysis of Australian social policy since 1972 (Routledge, 2019).

Dr Joseph McDowall

Dr Joseph McDowall has a PhD from the University of Queensland in Social Psychology. He joined the Board of the CREATE Foundation in 2008 and is now Executive Director (Research).

He has written several reports for CREATE concerning transitioning from care in Australia (2008, 2009, 2011, and 2016). In 2013, Dr McDowall produced the first comprehensive survey of life in the Australian care system from the perspective of children and young people. Subsequently, he has reported on the placement of siblings in OOHC, and the connection to culture experienced by Indigenous young people.

Recently, he completed the report on CREATE’s 2018 National Survey representing the voices of 1275 children and young people. He followed that in 2020 with an analysis of the outcomes described by 325 young people with a care experience when striving to achieve independence. Recently, he produced a review of transitioning from care research (2022) as part of a consultation on extending care to 21 in QLD.

Currently, he is an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and a Visiting Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology. He also is a member of the Australian Psychological Society, the Royal Society of Queensland, and is a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Paul McDonald

Paul is the founding Chair of the national ‘Home Stretch’ campaign which seeks to extend the age of those in Out of Home Care from 18 to 21 years in every jurisdiction in Australia.

Paul is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Victoria, the state’s largest provider of foster care, family welfare and youth support services, and founding Chair of Home Stretch.

Prior to this he was Deputy Secretary of the Children, Youth and Family Division in the Department of Human Services for the Victorian Government, being responsible for Victoria’s Child Protection Program, Youth Justice Program and Family and Domestic Violence Programs. Paul has chaired a range of nationally significant committees on behalf of the Australian Government including into Petrol Sniffing and is the former chair of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.

In 2020, Paul won the National Pro Bono ‘Influencer Award’ for his pivotal role in driving the Home Stretch campaign. In 2017, Paul was awarded the prestigious Robin Clark leadership award, the States most celebrated Children’s Protection award that recognises a leader who inspires others about achieving the best outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, young people and their families.

He is Patron of the National Youth Workers Association.

Diana E. Matteson

Diana E. Matteson, Director of International Programs & Development for Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.

Diana has 30 years of experience in human services in direct practice, teaching, and development. She holds an M.A. in Art Therapy and a B.A. in Psychology, The George Washington University. In her 20 years with YAP, Diana has represented YAP at international conferences and led educational workshops in nine different countries on clinical practice and effective interventions with marginalized youth and families. Diana coordinates training, technical assistance, and consultation with YAP partners on four continents. Committed to the values of co-production and peer learning, Diana uses a strength-based approach to address individual and community needs in the pursuit of equity, justice, and system change.

Kate Colvin

Kate Colvin is the CEO of Homelessness Australia, the national peak body for homelessness. Kate’s professional life has been dedicated to advocacy for social justice. This includes more than 20 years in leadership roles in homelessness and housing, and the youth and welfare sectors.

Kate joined Homelessness Australia in 2022, following her roles as the spokesperson for the national housing and homelessness campaign, Everybody’s Home and Deputy CEO at the Victorian peak body for homelessness, Council to Homeless Persons.

Kate is passionate about achieving the changes needed to end homelessness.

Caroline Fletcher

Caroline works as a youth advocate and in the out-of-home care sector. They have numerous years of experience in their field, having worked with organisations such as Queensland Family and Child Commission, Queensland Mental Health Commission, Bravehearts, Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs, Home Stretch Campaign, National Office of Child Safety and CREATE Foundation.

Caroline was awarded the 2022 Australian Human Rights Young Person Award.

With a drive to continuously learn and evolve in their field, Caroline is always seeking new opportunities to grow and further better the rights of young people.

Leon Jordan

Leon Jordan is the Team Leader of Village 21 and Drug and Alcohol Programs in the north metro region at Anglicare Victoria. With over 12 years’ experience working with young people across the out-of-home care, alcohol and other drugs and homelessness sectors, Leon has developed a comprehensive understanding of the nature and characteristics of effective case work with young people and the challenges they face on their journey towards independence and adulthood.

With a keen focus on empowering young minds, Leon is passionate about the centrality of relationships to effective practice and creating the space to safely challenge individuals to promote self-reflection, build insight and facilitate personal growth. Leon has completed tertiary studies in Behavioural Studies and holds certifications in the areas of Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol, Youth Work and Workplace Training and Assessment.

Jasmin Malham

Jasmin Malham is an aspiring Paramedic. Jasmin is currently studying a Bachelor of Paramedic Practise with Honours at Latrobe University Bendigo and aspires to work as a paramedic to be able to assist people within the community when they feel vulnerable.

Jasmin believes that her experience in multiple out-of-home care placements has given her a lot of knowledge and understanding for the range of lifestyles within a community that will enable her to be a stronger as well as more empathetic and understanding paramedic.

She is passionate about sharing her experience in out-of-home care to help improve the experience for current and future youth in the system. She also enjoys playing soccer, looking after her younger sister and motivating her to achieve her goals.

Jasmin won ‘Young citizen of the year’ (Rochester and district) 2019 and ‘Young citizen of the year’ (Campaspe Shire Council) 2020.

“I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their goals.”

John Leha

John is a proud Birri Gubba, Wakka Wakka and Tongan man born and raised on Gadigal land. He has been the CEO of AbSec since 2021.

John was previously the Director of Operations at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and a founding member and Chairperson of Blaq Aboriginal Corporation.

As an active member of the Sydney Aboriginal community, John has worked extensively in Indigenous health, education and employment programs across state and federal government.

Malakie Mcloughlin

Malakie Mcloughlin lives in a shared apartment in Bendigo, funded by Home Stretch.

Malakie works part-time and is a volunteer at the local CFA. Malakie hopes to become a full-time employed firefighter in future.

Malakie enjoys being active and loves the outdoors.

This photo shows Malakie on a recent fishing trip where he made the catch of the day with this 61cm Murray Cod.

Kristina Radcliffe

Kristina is a Naaguja Yamatji Martu woman born and raised in Jambinu (Geraldton), WA

Over the past 12 years Kristina has worked in case management roles, predominantly with Aboriginal young people and their families, in several areas of community service including housing, justice, education and training, youth mental health and family support services.

Kristina is currently working with Yorganop Association Incorporated, Homestretch WA, Community of Practice, where she brings an Aboriginal cultural lens to service delivery for young Aboriginal people and their families/carers engaged with the service. The role also includes supporting the Community of Practice team with the roll out of Homestretch across WA to various ACCOs across our beautiful state. Kristina is passionate about cross-cultural learning, genuine collaboration, sharing of resource, deep listening, intersectionality within the Aboriginal community and bringing Aboriginal worldviews into Western system. I am currently completing my Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) at Charles Darwin University.

Shorna Moore

Shorna is a social justice lawyer and advocate and is dedicated to driving positive social change for children and young people. She is currently the Head of Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at Melbourne City Mission (MCM).

Shorna brings almost 15 years’ experience in executive policy and advocacy roles across the community legal, youth and homelessness sectors and has led successful campaigns on issues including youth homelessness and housing, access to justice, human rights and family violence.

Shorna is well known for her ability to identify, design and deliver innovative services and system reforms. Shorna is the former Policy and Advocacy Director of the peak body for community legal centres, sits on a number of NFP boards and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2022.

Dan Jefferson

Dan joined KPMG in 2019 following a 20+ year career driving public sector reform across Australia and Europe. He brings extensive experience in developing policy and strategy within the human services and health sectors, including the development of evidence based programs for vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities.

Dan has a unique understanding of social policy and the social sector, having worked as a leader and executive across health, mental health, education, justice and social services. Joining the partnership in January 2021, he now leads KPMG’s work nationally on social housing and homelessness and is KPMG’s leader for human services in Victoria. Dan’s recent work has supported record investment into new social housing and into preventing homelessness.

Kim Janssen

Kim has completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Communication Science, a Masters in Cultural Studies and an Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management.  She has worked in the Youth and Community Sector for 24 years, with the majority of her career spent working with young people to assist them to transition from foster care to independence.

She has worked both in Australia and overseas, and has spent the last 4 years managing Uniting’s Extended Care Pilot and Aftercare Program.

Rhiannon McDonald

Rhiannon McDonald is COMPASS Team Leader in the Greater Bendigo, Loddon Campaspe and Central Goldfields regions. Rhiannon has worked with young people exiting Out of Home Care since 2016. Working in regional and remote areas of Victoria produces varying challenges, as well as opportunities, for creative approaches while supporting young people to transition into adulthood.

Rhiannon relishes and enjoys the privilege of exploring young people ideas, talents, skills, goals and aspirations and finding ways to develop, resource and realise them.

Rhiannon has completed a Bachelor of Human Services, Masters of Social Work and Certificates and Diploma in Community Services and Case Management. Rhiannon is driven and passionate about bringing young people’s voice and experience to the table and at the fore or centre of practice. Drawing on multiple frameworks and approaches to ensure young people are empowered and equipped to build a life and future determined by themselves.

Gareth Morkel

Gareth has nearly 15 years-experience across the youth services sector, supporting young people across an array of settings through the Departments of Justice, Education and Child Protection.

Gareth is passionate about elevating the voice of Aboriginal young people on Whadjuk-country, advocating for their right to self-determination, and walking beside them on their journey to become adults, leaders and mentors for the next generation of Aboriginal young people.

Hayley Prasad

Hayley was raised in the out of home care system in Victoria for over 13 years.

She has been passionately involved in improving the care system through advocacy over the last 6 years as a CREATE Young Consultant. She is a member of the DFFH-funded Youth Expert Advisory Group on transitions from care (YEAG) and since 2019 has been a member of the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group (MYAG) that meets bi-monthly to provide lived-experience advice to the Minister for Child Protection. She is also undertaking studies to become a child protection worker. She likes to spend her spare time with her animals, and the people who over time became her family: “the one I was lucky enough to choose”.


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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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