Meet our speakers
The Hon. Jacinta Allan MP (she/her)
Jacinta was elected to Parliament in 1999 and is the longest serving female Minister in Australia’s history and Victoria’s longest serving Labor Minister. Throughout her career she has advocated strongly for Government investment that delivers for all Victorians, by creating jobs and delivering better health, education and transport services for communities.
Lucy Demant (she/her)
Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF)
Lucy has been working in the youth sector for over fifteen years. With much of the focus being youth alcohol and other drug support, her experience ranges from direct service delivery to program development, health promotion and leadership. Lucy has recently joined YACVic as their Policy and Advocacy manager and is passionate about ethical and evidence-based practice.
Francesca Caccamo (she/her)
Head of People and Programs, Consent Labs
Fran’s journey with Consent Labs began in December of 2019 as the organisation's very first intern. Working in a range of different areas her passions quickly developed within the field of facilitating and facilitator development. In this space she was able to utilise her public speaking and performing arts experience when facilitating and training others.
In her current position, Francesca is eager to develop a robust facilitator training and development program. Fran has been recognised as a Finalist in the 2023 Not-for-Profit Leadership Awards in the Outstanding Leadership in Talent Growth category.
Tameaka Lakey (she/her)
Health Promotion Officer, Ballarat Community Health
Tameaka has been working at BCH for almost ten years, and her qualifications include a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Hons), from La Trobe University; and post-graduate in Sexual Health, from University of Melbourne.
In her role she organises and promotes health and wellbeing programs in schools with a focus on codesigning with young people, to improve youth health and wellbeing at a local level. She is most passionate when having open, honest and safe conversations with young people about all thing’s sexual health and consent – no topics are off the table.
Aaron Batchelor (he/him)
Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF)
Aaron is an experienced community service professional, with background working across a variety of community and legal settings including policy work in adult and youth justice. At the ADF he is responsible for writing and developing content relating to alcohol and other drugs targeting a wide range of audiences, including community, AOD workers and health professionals and the development of toolkits to support ADF’s Local Drug Action Teams. Aaron’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Legal Studies with honours from La Trobe University.
Jun Bin Lee (he/him)
Communications Project Officer, Youth Disability Advocacy Service
Jun has experience in various areas, including as an environmental engineer, project manager, creative arts practitioner and content producer. He is passionate about social development and is actively involved in local community-based projects in the arts and cultural space.
Jun is a big fan of using creative storytelling to raise awareness about social issues, including the prevention of family violence, gambling addiction and speak up against racism. In his current role at YDAS, Jun has recently worked on projects such as the 'Disability Pride Starts Here' project.
Dr Stephen Carbone (he/him)
CEO and founder, Prevention United
Stephen is the Founder and CEO of Prevention United an Australian mental health promotion charity. Stephen has extensive clinical experience in mental health having worked as a GP in Melbourne and a medical officer in Victoria’s specialist mental healthcare services. He also has considerable experience in mental health policy having held senior roles in government and non-government organisations including Beyond Blue and Headspace.
While Stephen has spent most of his career working to support people experiencing mental health difficulties, nowadays he is working on ways to promote people’s mental wellbeing and prevent mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders from occurring in the first place, with a particular focus on young people.
Sam Champion (he/him)
Participation and Development Manager, YACVic
Sam oversees the engagement and participation of young people across the varied work of YACVic, the peak body for young people and those that work with young people in Victoria. He supports the youth sector through delivering training on youth participation and Ethical Practice with young people. Sam manages projects that place young people at the centre of decision-making processes including a team of Young Peer Facilitators who design and lead training and other workshops for and with other young people. Sam also coordinates the Youth Participation Practice Network (YPPN) a community of practice for workers across Victoria supporting young people in youth participation, engagement and leadership roles.
Alannah Sander (she/her)
Youth Engagement Worker, Youth Live4Life
Alannah is the Youth Engagement Worker at Youth Live4Life and passionately supports the growth and active involvement of the Crew4Life alumni network. Coming from a small South-West Victorian town, she witnessed the dire need for mental health support and the prevailing stigma in rural regions. This fueled her academic pursuit, leading her to attain a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a Major in Health Promotion from La Trobe University. Beyond her professional work, Alannah's personal endeavours include sports like cricket and sprinting. She's also an Irish dancer and musician, writing and producing her own songs.
Katie Sproule (she/her)
Facilitator, REACH Foundation
With natural presence and charisma, Katie is one of the most talented facilitators at the Reach Foundation. Holding a degree in Social Sciences, and currently completing her Doctorate in Philosophy, Katie is deeply committed to understanding the human experience. Combining this with the presentation skills she learnt working in media with the ABC, Katie is uniquely positioned as an exciting new facilitator with Reach.
Alex Ross (she/her)
Full Impact Squad, Tomorrow Today Foundation Benalla
Alex joined Tomorrow Today as the Youth Engagement Coordinator after 30 years in hospitality. The skills she developed in hospitality, particularly in mentoring and leadership, have helped her to develop Tomorrow Today’s youth programs and she has become somewhat of an inspiration to Benalla’s young people. In particular, the Full Impact Squad has thrived with her support and guidance. The Squad is a vehicle for Benalla’s young people aged 11-19 to have a voice in their local community on issues important to them. In the past 12 months the Squad has doubled in size and has implemented a number of events and activities that benefit Benalla’s young people. Alex lives (with her beloved German Shepherd, Dolly) and works on Taungurung, Yorta Yorta and Bpangerang lands.
Dr Kelsey Deane (she/her)
Measurement, Evaluation and Learning Advisor, BRAVE Foundation
Kelsey is the Brave Foundation’s Measurement, Evaluation and Learning Advisor. She maintains an honorary affiliation with the University of Auckland, where she was an academic and Co-Director of a university-based youth mentoring service prior to joining Brave. Kelsey’s teaching and research expertise is in the areas of youth development, youth mentoring and youth work practice, social program design and evaluation. She is passionate about supporting youth practitioners and organisations to use research evidence, in combination with practice wisdom, for professional and organisational development and innovation.
Meg Lee (she/her)
Wimmera youth worker
Meg was born and raised on Wadawurrung land (Ballarat). She is from a migrant background and identifies as mixed race. As a multicultural youth worker and PhD candidate with the Melbourne Social Equity Institute, she is particularly interested in participatory processes with young people. Meg currently coordinates and facilitates multicultural youth groups in the Wimmera region, with a focus on wellbeing. Meg’s paper, Working with young people from Karen backgrounds in the Wimmera: insights and discussion explores how youth workers can engage inclusively and meaningfully with young people from Karen backgrounds and what we have learned so far.
Phoebe Quinn (she/her)
Research Fellow, University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
Phoebe is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, where her work includes research and knowledge translation relating to disaster recovery and resilience, community wellbeing and social justice. Key focus areas include strengths-based work with children and young people around climate change (www.climatesuperpowers.org), resources for recovery workers (www.recoverycapitals.org), First Nations communities’ experiences and perspectives of disasters and recovery, and the exploration of democratic innovations in community responses to climate and disaster-related issues.
Laura Crozier (she/her)
Youth Live4Life & Affirmative Consent Project Officer, YACVic
Drawing from her own lived experience, Laura is a passionate advocate for empowering and educating other young people when it comes to the struggles of navigating mental health and consent education, especially in a rural and regional setting. With over 6 years of volunteering and work with suicide prevention charity, Youth Live4Life, Laura is now a proud member of their alumni group, Crew4Life. She now works for YACVic as the Affirmative Consent Project Officer - an opportunity that sees her live out her dream of delivering consent education to the young people who need it most. Outside of her job, Laura continues her advocacy work through her platform as co-host of the podcast Growing Up Clueless which focuses on inspiring young people to embrace their voices, challenge societal taboos and foster a safe space for open dialogue in a way that mainstream education didn't do for her.
Amanda Lamont (she/her)
Environmental Advocate in Disaster Planning, Nature Based Resilience
Amanda has over 25 years of experience in Australia and internationally spanning international humanitarian and community development, disaster management, climate action, executive leadership and corporate partnerships.
Most recently she was a Director at the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and Climate Action and Disaster Resilience Adviser at Zoos Victoria. She is also co-founder of the Australasian Women in Emergencies Network.
Amanda’ s various paid and volunteer roles see her deployed nationally to advise on strategies and support people before, during and after disasters. Her professional and personal experiences led her to establish Nature Based Resilience, igniting a movement in reconnection to nature to build collective human and ecological resilience.
Natalie Cavallaro (she/her)
Community Educator, Sexual Health Victoria
Natalie is driven by a passion for sexual health, gender equity, and LGBTQIA+ rights, and putting her communications skills to work directly with communities to make a difference. She has delivered relationships and sexuality education to children, teenagers, families, and professionals, created sex positive resources for various organisations and co-wrote and co-delivers Sexual Health Victoria’s “Consent Matters” program, which builds youth and community workers’ knowledge of new affirmative consent legislation in Victoria. Nat holds a Grad Cert in Sex, Health and Society from La Trobe University and is currently completing a Master of Sexology at Curtin University.
Kelsey Macdonald (he/him)
Young Peer Facilitator, YACVic
Kelsey is passionate about climate action, mental health, and the LGBTQIA+ community’s concerns. He is particularly interested in the role of young people in these areas.
As well as his work at YACVic, Kelsey also does work at health care charity, HMS Community. He regularly volunteers his time to the Loddon Mallee Youth Climate Network and AEPCC as well as various other groups. He is currently studying a Masters in Visual Art.
April Harrison (she/her)
Veterinary student, young person with lived disaster experience
April is 22 years old and currently study a Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing. She is passionate about supporting the education and recovery of those who have lived experience with trauma and uses her personal experience of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires as a way to help others. Being a young person who has had lived experience she believes it is important to provide insight on how to support people through their recovery after a bushfire.
Meg Last (she/her)
Youth Food Hub Officer, Grow Cook Share
Growing up on a farm, Meg had access to homegrown produce. Today, she continues to express her creativity and passion for creating sustainable and inspiring local food systems through developing nourishing food and sharing this with others.
Meg joined Bendigo Foodshare in late 2023 and currently works in the Grow Cook Share Food Hub. It's one of VicHealth’s seven regional Victorian Future Healthy Food Hubs that works with young people and communities to create more inclusive and accessible local food systems.
Sönke Tremper (he/him)
Founder, Giz A Break
Sönked has a background in population health, health service management and governance.
You could frame Giz A Break as the love child of boredom and midlife crisis, but that would be a touch cliche and - more to the point - inaccurate. It’s much more about finding the purposeful sweet spot: The intersection of existing skills, passions and assets with community need.
PS. We won’t lie - he ain’t no spring chicken anymore but tries his best to keep up with the younger ones.
Ash Hem (they/them)
Orygen Youth Mental Health
Ash is a peer worker and lived experience worker who works across various fields including mental health, youth, LGBTQIA+ and disability. They are particularly interested in making sure peer work is valued as its own important mode of support, and that the power of lived experience is appreciated as its own form of expertise. At Orygen, Ash works as a Peer Work Trainer delivering the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work. They also have experience as a facilitator and trainer in other lived experience spaces. Outside of work, Ash is a practicing visual artist, using art as a way to process the world around them. They also enjoy doing ballet for fun and sewing their own colourful clothes.
Riya Rajesh (she/her)
Young Peer Facilitator and YERP & Code Officer, YACVic
Riya loves being involved in spaces that amplify youth voices and agency. She has contributed her passion and lived experience to various organisations such as Orygen and the City of Casey. This work has led her to the Young Peer Facilitator role with YACVic.
Riya’s creative practice centres around poetry and spoken word, and she enjoys supporting young people with using creativity as a tool for healing and advocacy. After exploring a range of different fields,
Riya has settled into studying a Bachelor of Arts, and loves learning inside and outside of her study. In her spare time, Riya drinks plenty of tea and annoys her grumpy dog.
Sophie Rak (she/her)
Clinical Consultant and Educator, Orygen
Sophie is a mental health-accredited social worker who has worked therapeutically with young people in school, community and health settings for 22 years. Her experience includes extensive trauma therapy and crisis work with young people, families and groups, respectful relationships and trauma education in schools, and tertiary teaching in social work.
At Orygen, Sophie is a clinical consultant and educator, and is thrilled to be supporting lived experience and peer workers in the Cert IV Mental Health Peer Work.
Lucy Thomas OAM (they/she)
CEO and Co-Founder, Project RockIt
Lucy is the CEO and CoFounder of Project Rockit which has grown into a youth-driven movement positively impacting over half a million young people in Australia to build a world where kindness and respect thrive over bullying, hate and prejudice.
Lucy has received numerous honours and is a board and advisory group appointee for social media platforms and national e safety. Lucy has wrapped their personal learnings into a widely received TEDx talk, Kindness: The ultimate rebellion against bullying. With a blended academic background in Psychology and Creative Arts, Lucy is a mighty force of kindness creatively engaging young people to generate positive social change.
Bronnie Mackintosh (she/her)
Station Officer, Fire and Rescue NSW
Bronnie is a Station Officer with Fire and Rescue NSW and has been a firefighter for 16 years. Her career has encompassed many roles, spanning general firefighting, rescue, operational communications, community safety, and education and training. Bronnie is a Winston Churchill Fellowship recipient. She travelled the world to research how international fire agencies are changing their workforces to be more reflective of the diverse communities they protect.
She found that girls fire camps in the US were proving an excellent way to introduce, and recruit, young women to the firefighting and emergency services. When Bronnie returned home to Australia, she founded Girls on Fire. With a team of volunteers from across the emergency services, she runs girls fire camps and the girls fire academy in NSW.
Before becoming a firefighter, Bronnie was a passionate rugby union player, competing around the globe and in 15 test matches for the Australian Women’s team, the Wallaroos. Bronnie has a Bachelor in Sport Science from the University of Technology and is currently studying for her MBA at Newcastle University.
Tasha Ritchie (she/her)
CEO, Youth Accountability Project
Tasha is the CEO of the Youth Accountability Project, a systems change initiative redefining and driving accountability to young people in the systems and institutions they interact with. Her primary driver is to bring lived and professional experiences together to reimagine a future where all young people flourish.
Tasha is currently the Acting Chairperson of Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), having served on the YACVic Board since her election as a Young Board Member in 2017.
She is a Non-Executive Director of Body Safety Australia, and serves as a member of the Equality Rights Alliance Young Women’s Advisory Group.
Tasha previously worked with Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), Titjimbat, FYA, YLab, and VACCA.
Cam Quashie (he/him)
Facilitator, REACH Foundation
With 5+ years experience, Cam is a passionate facilitator with experience like very few his age. Over this time he has developed a perfectly balanced blend of intellect and humour while working in communities and schools across VIC and NSW, as well as some of the biggest companies in the country. Curious, charming, and cheeky, Cam is one of the most dedicated facilitators at Reach, and is looking forward to bringing his experience and perspective to this YACVic conference.
Carmela Diaz Arteche
Program Manager, Ocean Mind
In her role at Ocean Mind, Carmela spearheads innovative surf therapy programs for young people facing mental health challenges. With over two years of experience, Carmela coordinates and oversees the delivery of Ocean Mind's 6-week therapeutic surf programs and surf club in the Greater Geelong region, and is also a Research Assistant at Deakin University, contributing to the first randomised controlled trial of surf therapy for children and young people in Australia.
Her passion lies in creating safe environments for personal growth and resilience, and her presentation promises to shed light on the transformative impact of surf therapy on youth mental health.
Cassandra Rowe (she/her)
5CT Program Coordinator, Indigital
Cassandra is a Cabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking Nation of Sydney. She is the Community Success Lead at Indigital, Australia’s first Indigenous Edu-tech company and manages Indigital Schools Program, an Indigenous-designed digital skills training program for Primary and Secondary school teachers and students designed through an Indigenous cultural lens. The course is anchored on First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing, and focuses on fourth industrial revolution technologies including augmented and mixed realities, artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and geospatial technologies to bridge the digital skills gap and provide pathways for First Nations peoples into these STEM industries. Cass has qualifications in Indigenous Leadership, Aboriginal Studies, and adult education and is passionate about accessibility, diversity, and inclusion for First Nations Australians in critical technologies.
Dr Charlotte McPherson (she/her)
Youth Research Collective, University of Melbourne
Charlotte is a youth researcher based at the Youth Research Collective at the University of Melbourne. Over the next three years, Charlotte is conducting a postdoctoral project exploring young people’s experiences of opportunity and community in Gippsland, Victoria and the Borders, Scotland. Charlotte’s research prioritises understanding young people’s lives from their own perspective and she has a strong interest in the impacts of social class and social change, and young people’s relationships to place.
Chloe Rheinberger (she/her)
UN Youth Victoria’s Program Director
Chloe is UN Youth Victoria’s Program Director. In this role she has overseen a range of events around the state for young people including the State and National conferences, Summit Series, Global Affairs Program and Regional Road Trip. She has travelled throughout Australia to deliver programs through a range of not-for-profit organisations centred around an array of global issues including climate change, human rights and youth mental health.
Finnley Stirling (they/them)
Participation & Development Administrative Officer and Code of Ethics Project Officer, YACVic
Finn is a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ young people, youth mental health and Ethical Practice within the Youth Sector. Finn has been volunteering in the youth sector in various ways for the last 6 years including; advocating for young people's mental health and running and creating LGBTQIA+ panels, workshops and social groups. Finn loves connecting with people, sharing their lived experience and supporting both young people and workers in the youth sector! Finn also loves all things glitter, is a published author, and dreams of one day performing in drag!
Geskeva Komba (she/her)
VicHealth Social Wellbeing & Connection
Geskeva is a trans-disciplinary creative humanitarian of Comorian and Tanzanian heritage. Across her work at VicHealth, and as part of the Social Connection and Mental Wellbeing team, Geskeva leads an array of projects that combine her interest in public health as well as her passion for critical thinking, the arts and community. Raised in the Western suburbs of Melbourne, she has experience combined in community development, theatre, spoken word, music and film. She holds a bachelor's degree in Public Health and Health Promotion from Deakin University, a Master's of Producing degree from the Victorian College of the Arts' at the University of Melbourne, and she is an alumni of the University of South Africa's Decolonial Summer School program.
Lisa Nguyen (she/her)
Legal Education Coordinator, Youthlaw
At Youthlaw Lisa works on the Informed & Empowered education project, providing community legal education to young people as well as to workers who work with young people on a range of legal issues, including sex, relationships and the law. Lisa joined the Youthlaw team in August 2017 as the outreach lawyer.
She was previously working as a generalist and NSW outreach lawyer at the Murray Mallee Community Legal Service, Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre, Victoria Legal Aid and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
Goldie Pergl (she/her)
Country Fire Authority (CFA)
Goldie currently works for the Country Fire Authority (CFA) as one of the Volunteer Programs Coordinators in the Youth and Young Adults Team. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in the not-for-profit sector, drawing from both the tertiary education and emergency management sectors. She has a genuine enjoyment of seeing what good volunteering practice can do and brings that passion to her work with young people. As part of her work with CFA Goldie supports the Young Adults Advisory Committee ensuring the youth voice is heard at senior leadership levels, as well as coordinating the Youth Pathways Project which is mapping out the volunteer journey for 11-24-year-olds in CFA. Goldie is also a member of the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) and loves cheese!
Jo Lindsay (she/her)
Youth Coordinator, Junction Support Services
At Junction Support Services, Jo is the Coordinator for the Wodonga Youth space - Windbreak 3690. She has 10 years’ experience across the community services sector including supporting young people experiencing homelessness, education disengagement, and adult mental health recovery.
She's passionate about empowering young people to engage in decision making, particularly those which will support their mental health and wellbeing, and the wider community. Jo is currently studying a Post-Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Practices.
Lyn Eales (she/her)
Musician and Activist, Brophy Family & Youth Services
Lyn E is a musician, activist and choir leader working with Brophy Family & Youth Services in Warrnambool and the Great South Coast region. She's also an experienced project coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in the individual and family services industry.
Lyn has a strong sense of social justice and has worked extensively with multicultural communities, youth programs and events and LGBTIQA+ advocacy and supports.
Julianne Tice (she/her)
Climate Change Policy Advisor, Victorian Council of Social Service
As the Climate Change Policy Advisor at the Victorian Council of Social Service, Julianne advocates for the transition to net zero emissions to be managed in a way that improves the livelihoods of those experiencing disadvantage.
She has a background in climate and energy and has published research on equity in access to rooftop solar in inner Melbourne.
Liss Gabb (she/her)
Social Connection and Mental Wellbeing Officer, Future Healthy Group
Liss has worked as a specialist community development practitioner, arts manager, and creative producer in the fields of community development, mental wellbeing, participatory arts and social justice. For the past 25 years she's developed a socially engaged practice that is focused on anti-oppressive models of partnership with communities that experience structural discrimination.
Her current work is focused on designing initiatives under VicHealth’s Future Healthy strategy, to support young people to recover and rebuild after the pandemic.
Dr Melyssa Fuqua (she/her)
Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne
Melyssa is a Melbourne Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne. Her research explores how sporting clubs influence aspiration and participation of rural youth in tertiary education and work, and the clubs’ role in their wider community. Originally from Massachusetts, Melyssa was a P-12 teacher in rural Victoria for a decade before returning to higher education and research. Her research interests are rural youth transitions and pathways, community, and social justice.