Speakers will be announced soon.

Keynote Speakers

Mark Courtney

Prof. 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.

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 a Berry Street employee, he works collaboratively utilising his expertise to influence and facilitate positive change throughout the evolving sector.

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.

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.

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 National Survey 2018 representing the voices of 1275 children and young people. Currently, he is a Visiting Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology in the School of Public Health and Social Work. 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.

Other Key Contributors

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.

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.


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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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