The conference

Youth Affairs Council Victoria’s Connecting the Dots conference will bring the rural youth sector together across two days and one night to explore the latest research, trends and best practice from the field in the areas of youth health, wellbeing and safety.

Designed by rural youth workers for youth sector professionals who are working or volunteering with young people in country Victoria, the conference offers an opportunity for the rural youth sector to strengthen networks, develop new connections, hear from a range of passionate presenters and attend thought-provoking workshops.

Save the date

The conference will be held across multiple venues in Ballarat’s CBD on 12 to 13 February 2019. Ticket prices are inclusive of the conference dinner at the Forge Pizzeria.

To accommodate attendees travel to and from the venue, and recognising that many youth sector professionals work part-time, the conference will commence at 1pm on Tuesday 12 February and conclude by 1pm on Wednesday 13 Feb. Scholarships are available that cover both conference registration and travel costs.

Program highlights

Keynote address

Dr. Ani Wierenga – University of Melbourne and the Centre for Adolescent Health

Guest speakers

Liana Buchanan - Victoria's Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People

Justin Mohamed – Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People

Dr Catherine Orr – Gateway Health Wodonga on behalf of the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health

Deb Tsorbaris - Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

Conference dinner and networking event

This event will be held at Forge Pizzeria’s Housey Housey venue.      

Tickets and registrations

Tickets for the Connecting the Dots conference are available now. Please book online here.


For a teaser of the conference program please see below. Otherwise you can download the full conference program here as a PDF.

Tuesday 12 February 2019 — Day 1

1pm – Registration

1.15pm – Welcome to Country

1.15pm — Conference opening

1.45pm – Guest speakers

Liana Buchanan, Commissioner for Children and Young People
Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People

2.15pm – Keynote address

Dr. Ani Wierenga, University of Melbourne and Centre for Adolescent Health

3pm – Afternoon tea/registration continued

3.30pm – Small group workshops

The workshops will focus on youth mental health, child safety and cultural safety

5pm – Break

6.30pm – Sector consultation and networking session

7.30pm – Dinner

9pm – Official close of Day 1

Wednesday 13 February 2019 — Day 2

9am — Opening address

The Hon, Minister for Youth Affairs, Gabrielle Williams, MLC

9.30am — Guest speaker

Deb Tsorbaris, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

10am — Guest speaker

Dr. Catherine Orr, Gateway Health Wodonga 

10.30am — Morning tea

11am — Small group workshops

These workshops will focus on tackling domestic violence, sexual health promotion and resourcing the youth sector to support our most vulnerable young people. The workshops will be presented by the Youth Disability Advocacy Service, HEY grant partners, Domestic Violence Resource Centre and  Melbourne University's Centre for Excellence in Rural Health.

12.45pm — Conference close

1pm — Official close of Day 2

Post conference event

1.30pm — 4.30pm 

CERSH sexual health skill development training, Ballarat