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The Youth Affairs Council Victoria is excited to host two YACVic Rural Conferences in regional Victoria in June 2017. The conferences will bring together over 250 sector professionals and industry experts from across regional Victoria for two days of professional development and networking opportunities.

Check out the full program:  YACVic Rural Conferences digital program



Tickets are now on sale. Sign up as a YACVic member and save 30% on this and other YACVic events.

*** Book your tickets for the Echuca Conference here.

*** Book your tickets for the Halls Gap Conference here.

Who should attend?

The conferences are for people who work with and for young people in regional and rural Victoria, and have been designed to explore the four major areas identified in last year’s youth forum series: mental health, employment, education, homelessness/housing.

Where and when?

This year the conference venues were selected in western and northern Victoria, to be within cooee of our two YACVic Rural pilot sites. Both conferences start at 10.30am on day one and wrap up by 2.30pm on day two, to allow people time to travel to and from the conference locations.

Echuca Conference – 21 and 22 June

Focus: youth health and wellbeing

Guest presenters:

  • SANE Australia – the national mental health charity
  • The Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH)
  • Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS)
  • Koorie Youth Council
  • Y Gender

pdf YACVic Rural Conferences schedule Echuca (1.18 MB)

Halls Gap Conference – 28 and 29 June

Focus: youth employment and education

Guest presenters:

  • The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA)
  • The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)
  • The Victorian Student Representation Council (VicSRC)
  • Game Changers Australia
  • YMCA Victoria

pdf YACVic Rural Conferences schedule Halls Gap (1.18 MB) pdf
(1 MB)

YACVic acknowledges that not everyone can easily access these locations. We hope to receive further funding so we can host similar conferences in other parts of Victoria in the coming years.

For more information about the YACVic Rural Conferences, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Echuca Conference

Dr Michelle Blanchard – General Manager – Policy, Research and Programs, SANE Australia


Dr Michelle Blanchard is the General Manager – Policy, Research and Programs at SANE Australia, a national charity helping Australians with complex mental illness.

Prior to joining SANE, Michelle was National Manager, Programs and Practice at the Butterfly Foundation. From 2011 to 2016, Michelle was Head of Projects and Partnerships at the Young and Well CRC – an international research centre which explored the role of technologies in improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Michelle was part of the Young and Well CRC team since its inception, project managing the bid to establish the CRC in 2010 as part of the ReachOut Australia team. 

During this time Michelle was also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne. Prior to that she worked in State and Local Government on projects relating to young people’s civic and social participation.

Michelle is currently a Board Member of youth mental health organisation batyr and a member of the Healthy and Cohesive Communities Grants Advisory Panel for the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.  She is an alumni of the Australian American Young Leadership Dialogue and in 2015/2016 was Program Manager of this private diplomatic initiative. 

Michelle will be presenting the keynote address and will be a Q&A panelist on day one of the conference.

Dr Alana Hulme Chambers – Research Fellow Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, The University of Melbourne


Dr Alana Hulme Chambers is a research fellow with the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, which is located in the Department of Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (Wangaratta Campus) at the University of Melbourne. Alana has conducted research and evaluation for state government, local government, not-for-profit organisations and universities. Her research interests include rural sexual health service delivery, intersectoral partnerships and rural health, and health program evaluation.  

Alana will be delivering her presentation on day one of the conference, will be a Q&A panelist, and will also be delivering a workshop on day two.

Halls Gap Conference

Matt Pfahlert – Co-founder and CEO of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)


Matt has received widespread recognition as an advocate for rural communities, a social entrepreneur, educator/presenter and community leader across Australia. In 2013, Matt was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study rurally based social enterprise businesses and entrepreneurship education models of best practice in the US, Canada and the UK.

Matt is currently Co-founder and CEO of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) a not for profit organisation committed to accelerating youth entrepreneurship nationally including promoting the role social enterprise can play in rejuvenating rural communities. Matt’s early career as a social innovator working with marginalised adolescents in wilderness and outdoor settings, saw him awarded the 'Young Australian of the Year' in 1996. Rotary International also recognised Matt as a Paul Harris Fellow in 2003.

Matt will be presenting the keynote address and will be a Q&A panelist on day one of the conference.

Emily Synnott – Project Director, Foundation for Young Australians

Emily is a dedicated ‘mainstreamer’ with a passion for amplifying social innovation into real system change. At FYA, Emily is a Project Director, heading up key strategic projects that transform the way government, industry and community sectors view and engage with young people to rethink systems that shape the world.

Over her six years at FYA, Emily has brought to life projects that offer young people opportunities to succeed in life that aren’t traditionally offered through Education.  This has included building a movement of school leavers to go volunteering in Asia, a framework for reshaping careers education into immersive work based learning and most recently working with communities to set up youth enterprise hubs around regional Australia

Before joining FYA in 2010, Emily spent 11 years in the UK working in Policy and Strategy in Government and consultancy. Key projects included extensive evaluation of ‘New Deal’ government employment initiatives, the redesign of civil legal aid delivery across the UK and working with the judiciary to transition Social, Health and Welfare appeals policy into the new Tribunals Service.

Emily will be delivering her presentation on the first morning of the conference and will also be a Q&A panelist.


What does the conference ticket include?

Tickets include admittance to both days of the conference, all meals during conference times (including the conference dinner) and access to a digital conference pack. Please note that both accommodation and travel to and from the conference venue are not included in the ticket and must be organised by attendees.

Is the conference for young people?

No. The conference is for people who work with young people in regional Victoria. While YACVic Rural does engage young people in similar events such as the 2016 youth forum series, this conference is to support and engage with those people who are eighteen and over who work with young people.

How do I become a YACVic Member and save 30% on my ticket?

The Youth Affairs Council Victoria is a member-based organisation.

Click here to find out what being a YACVic member means and to join up today.

What is the cancellation policy?

YACVic will refund monies paid for events under the following policy: Notice of cancellation received within 14 days of the event: 100% of fee refunded. Notice of cancellation received within 7 days of the event 50% of fee refunded. Notice of cancellation received less than 7 before the event: no refund.

YACVic has a number of partner agencies. For more information click on the logos below.

  • ViCSRC-logo-small-for-web
  • KYC-logo small-for-web
  • Youth Workers' Association logo
  • YRIPP logo
  • HEYGrants logo 1