Keynote Speakers

Featured Speakers & Panel Discussion

Keynote Speakers 2017

Confirmed Keynotes

Ms Kerry Anderson, Director, KA Rural Enterprises

Kerry Anderson, author of Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business, is passionate about rural and regional Australia.  In June 2017 she was privileged to be one of two Australians and a few rural delegates invited to attend an international summit held in the USA to share best practice in entrepreneurship ecosystem building.

Coming from a small business background with a passion for promoting entrepreneurship and business, Kerry is particularly keen to change the emphasis on job seeking to job creation.  Through the Operation Next Gen program she works long term with rural towns Australia-wide encouraging them to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes.

Her website is dedicated to positive stories of rural businesses and communities.  In addition, she adds a rural perspective through a monthly column for Inside Small Business Magazine, regularly speaks on national and regional radio, and writes opinion pieces for print and social media.

As a thought leader Kerry is the voice of rural communities encouraging a collaborative approach to culture change and entrepreneurship.

Mr Jack Archer, CEO, Regional Australia Institute

Jack Archer has been with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) since its inception in 2012, and developed the RAI’s policy and research program including major products such as [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. Jack took up the role as Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2015.

In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reforms in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry.

Jack holds a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management (Hons 1) from the University of New England and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW, he now lives in the hills west of Canberra.

Ms Lorraine Gordon, Project Director, Farm Co-operatives & Collaboration

Lorraine Gordon is the director of the Federal Government’s Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program, known as Farming Together.

The national, two-year $13.8m program is developing and supporting co-operatives, collective bargaining groups and collaborations among Australia’s primary producers.

The co-initiator of the successful Ebor Beef Co-operative, she is the former NSW Rural Woman of the Year and CEO of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Mid North Coast.

Lorraine was appointed to Farming Together after her extensive career in agricultural leadership.

Previous positions have included Business Finance Manager and Regional Agribusiness Manager with Westpac Bank, Director of the Graduate Network of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, and Executive Director of Economic Security for Women.

She has presided on the Small Business Review Panel of the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Board of Studies at the University of New England, Charles Sturt University’s Consultative Committee and three regional tourism boards (New England North West, South Coast, Mid North Coast).

She is also a graduate of the prestigious Australian Rural Leadership Program and was an award winner in the 2002 Telstra Business Women’s Award.

Her qualifications include Advanced Diplomas in Corporate Governance, Tourism and Agriculture, and an MBA from the University of New England majoring in Project Management.

Lorraine is currently completing her PhD in Ecological Economics (grazing systems in Northern NSW) through the University of New England.

Professor John Hicks, Professor of Economics, School of Accounting and Finance, Charles Sturt University and Member, Institute for Land Water & Society

John Hicks is Professor of Economics at Charles Sturt University where, for 16 years, he was Dean of the Faculty of Business. He has published on a range of regional, national and international issues in labour economics, industrial relations and macroeconomics – including regional airline access to KSA, the economics of petrol supply to regional Australia, analysis of labour markets for specific groups (women, nurses in regional Australia, farmers and older workers) and labour market policy.

In addition he has published on China and its economic relationship with Australia. John has been the recipient of internal and external grants for research and an award for research excellence. As a member of the Institute for Land Water and Society and a recipient of several ILWS Research Fellowships, John is now engaged in a number of projects with a regional and sustainability orientation (including issues of flooding in Australia and Bangladesh, regional growth in Australia and China and regional labour market issues in Australia). He has previously been a Regional Development Board member in the Central West of NSW and a director of the Western Research Institute. Prior to joining CSU John taught at Monash University, the University of Melbourne and Massey University, New Zealand and was for several years Senior Economist at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne. John’s primary teaching areas are macroeconomics, microeconomics and labour economics. He is responsible for undergraduate and post graduate subjects and is a doctoral research supervisor.

Ms Suzette Jackson, Executive Director, Bioregional Australia

Suzette joined Bioregional Australia in early 2016 as the executive officer, leading the organization through a transition re-establishing the international One Planet Living framework in Australia, while working closely with Bioregional Development Group in the UK on the international platform.

Suzette brings a wealth of experience in sustainable environments across commercial, residential, governance and community sectors through a number of senior roles in corporate professional services and social enterprises, including the establishment of the Living Future Institute Australia in 2012 as a founding Director and Executive Officer and consulting organization Innate Ecology.

Suzette has provided advisory services across the food system, local governance, academia and built environment at multiple scales, including consulting, teaching and training roles for the Green Building Council of Australia, Bioregional (UK), Innate Ecology, Deakin University and HASSELL.

Ms Wendy Mason, General Manager, Western Research Institute

Wendy joined the WRI team as General Manager from her former position as Head of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation. Wendy has extensive management and business development experience, excellent networks, and a substantial track record in stakeholder relations across the government, financial and not-for-profit sectors; and experience as a major end-user of research to support best practice outcomes. Bringing with her formal qualifications in education and psychology from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management and Graduate Certificate in Business (Marketing), Wendy also holds an Australian Institute of Company Director’s Diploma of Business (Governance) and is currently enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Sustainable Regional Development. Wendy enthusiastically leads the WRI team to support the social, economic and environmental development and sustainability of rural and Indigenous communities in our regions.

Ms Melina Morrison, CEO, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals

Melina Morrison is the inaugural CEO of Australia’s first peak body for co-operatives and mutuals, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals. She is an advocate for all forms of mutually owned enterprise, regularly contributing commentary and appearing as a spokesperson for the sector. Melina has commissioned, edited and co-written the sector’s first national mapping reports.

Melina’s former roles in the co-operative sector include five years as editor of the flagship publication for the global peak body, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). Melina wrote the message platform for the ICA’s global strategy, Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. Her advocacy work for the sector resulted in Australia minting a coin commemorating the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012.

Melina was also successful in lobbying for a Senate inquiry into the co-operative and mutual business sector, which handed down its report on the 17 March 2016. In August, Melina was named on an eight person advisory group to ensure the implementation of a $14.9 million Federal government programme to provide farmers with knowledge and materials on co-operatives.

Cr Col Murray, Deputy Chair, Regional Capitals Australia & Mayor, Tamworth Regional Council

Cr Murray is in his fourth term on Tamworth Regional Council and his seventh term as Mayor. He served as Deputy Mayor for two years prior to becoming Mayor. He is the Deputy Chair of Regional Capitals Australia – an alliance of local government associations advocating for continued growth and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation. He was elected to this role in 2015.

For over a decade Cr Murray chaired the Namoi Councils, an organisation which comprises six local government areas – Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains, Narrabri, Walcha, Uralla and Tamworth – and the Namoi Catchment Management Authority. Under his leadership this group championed opportunities for community infrastructure, mining, exploration and energy, economic development and the security of the region’s water supply.

At a local level, Cr Murray is passionate about sports development and is close to fulfilling his vision for the Northern Inland Centre for Sporting Excellence. Recognising that Local Government service provision has moved beyond the traditional narrower focus on “roads, rates and rubbish” towards broader objectives to promote social, economic and environmental wellbeing of its communities, Cr Murray has championed the development of a robust economic development strategy for the Tamworth Region.

Cr Murray owned and operated two businesses for about 35 years in Tamworth before retiring and running for Council. He describes himself as a ‘commercial realist’ and believes that if the Council is without a strong commercial platform, little is achievable for the community. His aim is to `underpin decision-making processes with a strong commercial foundation to enable the Council to deliver the outcomes expected by the community’.

Mr Will Rayner, Chief Financial Officer, Rural Bank

Will has spent his life immersed in Australian rural and regional affairs. He grew up as a fifth generation farmer on his family’s wheat and sheep farm in the mid-north of South Australia. After leaving school Will embarked on a career as a rural journalist with the Rural Press (now Fairfax) agricultural division, before a short period as an agricultural corporate affairs and public relations consultant. In 2007 Will joined one of Australia’s largest regional businesses, the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank group. Will joined Bendigo’s specialist agricultural offering, Rural Bank, in September 2013, and was appointed Chief Financial Officer in October 2015. Will is a non-executive director of Community Insurance Solutions Pty Ltd, and non-executive director of the SA Dairy Industry Fund. In 2016 Will received a Churchill Fellowship to investigate alternative farm finance structures for Australian family farmers. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and holds an MBA from the University of Adelaide.

Invited Keynotes

  • Minister John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Minister for Skills, Minister for Small Business, NSW Government

Leaders of Regional Australia: disrupting and rethinking our approach to the regions

Mr Matt Linnegar, Chief Executive, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (Chair)

Matt Linnegar is Chief Executive of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation who carries years of experience in rural, agricultural and representative roles. Matt joined the Foundation in mid-2014 after a successful three-year period as CEO of the National Farmers’ Federation. He brings almost 20 years in agricultural representation – including roles in irrigation, rice, and meat and livestock industries. He has held an array of roles in leadership and management, including as General Manager, Corporate and Customer Operations at Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited and Executive Director, Ricegrower’s Association of Australia. Matt is a graduate of Course 7 of the Foundation’s iconic Australian Rural Leadership Program and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is dedicated to developing leaders who are working for the greater good of rural, regional and remote Australia.

Ms Robbie Sefton, Founder & Managing Director, Seftons

Robbie Sefton has been a successful business operator and farmer in regional Australia for more than 20 years. Her business, Seftons, provides strategic communication and stakeholder engagement services to government and commercial clients. Robbie has been involved at high levels in major projects and events that have helped to shape the face of Australian agriculture and agribusiness, including the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the National Biodiversity Strategy, Water for the Future and the Murray Darling Basin Plan. With her spouse she is the joint owner of Nangandie Pastoral Company, a 2900 hectare grazing and cropping enterprise near Tamworth. Robbie is one of The Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence, an inductee in the Australian Business Women’s Hall of Fame, a graduate of Course 6 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, and RIRDC NSW Rural Woman of the Year (2002).

Dr Scott Davis, Former Director, Greater Northern Australia Regional Training Network (GNARTN)

Dr Scott Davis has held a range of Senior Executive leadership and practice roles within the health, higher education, research translation, education, and communities services sector internationally and within Australia over the past 20 years. Dr Davis was until recently was the inaugural Executive Director of the Greater Northern Australia Regional Training Network (GNARTN). Dr Davis is a director on a number of boards, tasked with driving a regional development agenda, enabling collaboration between all level of government and industry, advising on regional, rural and remote workforce development and sustainable to meet the needs of industry, and building community social and economic infrastructure for sustainable communities. Dr Davis is very involved within the local community, and plays an active role in support youth development develop, and supporting regional economic social development. Dr Davis is a graduate of Course 22 the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Mr Jack Archer, CEO, Regional Australia Institute

Jack Archer has been with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) since its inception in 2012, and developed the RAI’s policy and research program including major products such as [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. Jack took up the role as Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2015.

In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reforms in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry.

Jack holds a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management (Hons 1) from the University of New England and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW, he now lives in the hills west of Canberra.

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