Keynote Speakers

Confirmed Keynotes

Laurie Buys, PhD, Professor, School of Design, Theme Leader, Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Laurie Buys is Theme Leader of Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Institute for Future Environment’s (IFE) Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities Theme and Professor in the School of Design in the Creative Industries Faculty.  She is also the Director of Senior Living Innovation – an industry research collaboration whose aim is to optimise the lifestyles of future seniors by identifying innovative approaches to designing for future housing, products and services. Her research directly explores the understanding of, and accountability for, the real effects felt by people resulting from changes in their physical, social and cultural life. She has established strong collaborative partnerships with various community, industry and government organisations to investigate the dynamics of liveable communities, centred around the idea that transdisciplinary approaches to addressing challenges lead to more sustainable outcomes. Professor Buys was National President of the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG), is an AAG Fellow and an AAG Distinguished Member.

Amy Child, Senior Transport Planner, ARUP

With over 14 year’s national and international experience, Amy Child is a transport planner at Arup specialising in transport strategy and travel demand management.  She holds qualifications in Civil Engineering, Urban and Environmental Planning and Transport Planning and Management.

Passionate about all things ‘city, Amy strives to provide transport solutions which are equitable, considerate of the urban fabric and enhance the user experience.  She offers a wealth of expertise in developing transport strategies with a focus on walking and cycling.  Most recently she has been involved in the development of low stress cycling infrastructure suitable for all, rather than the brave few.

To date Amy has had a number of career highlights including developing the transport strategy for the new Perth Stadium and working with the Olympic Delivery Authority providing travel planning advice to businesses impacted by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

Peter Ellyard, Futurist

Peter Ellyard is Melbourne based futurist, strategist, speaker and author. He has had a long involvement in public policy and in the development and implementation of long term strategies . He is a graduate of Sydney and Cornell Universities (Ph.D).  Peter has been CEO of 4 public sector organisations concerned with the future, the environment, planning, industry and technology and was a Chief of Staff of Environment Ministers in Canberra for three years.   has worked with the UN system including as a Senior Adviser on climate change and biodiversity protection to the 1992 Earth Summit.

He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian Institute of Management and is the author of three books, most recently Destination 2050: a concepts banks and toolkit for future makers (2012).  He is currently writing software that will provide such a concepts bank and toolkit that will enable others to shape their and our future.  

Andrew Heslop, social entrepreneur, commentator, community advocate, founder of Neighbour Day

Andrew Heslop is an award winning keynote speaker and community leader with a global reputation as a social entrepreneur for founding Australia’s annual celebration of community, Neighbour Day.

He is also a thought leader and frequent media commentator, represented exclusively by The Fordham Agency in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew began his career aged 15 with John Fairfax Ltd in Adelaide at 5DN 972 in 1985, working with the city’s leading news talk personalities. His credits also include the ABC, 3AW and Austereo as the B105 Morning Crew Producer.

Neighbour Day actively builds social capital, promotes social cohesion, integration and positive relationships between neighbours of all ages and from all cultural backgrounds all year round.

Through his initiative Andrew has empowered communities and demonstrated how the power of advocacy can positively change the way we interact, achieve and communicate. In 2014 he gifted Neighbour Day in perpetuity to Relationships Australia. He now holds the role of Ambassador and Neighbour Day founder with the organisation. Andrew is also an Australia Day Ambassador, a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Advisory Community, an Australian Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s global Food Revolution Day and an Ambassador for the Garage Sale Trail. He has formerly held the Australian Government roles of Champion for the National Broadband Network, Champion for the National Compact and as an Outreach Partner with the Office for the Not–for–Profit Sector in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

At his invitation Governor–General Her Excellency Dame Quentin Bryce AC CVO provided the Anniversary Address for Neighbour Day’s 10th year in 2012. In March 2012 he was also recognised by the NSW Parliament for Neighbour Day and in December named NSW Volunteer of the Year for developing, leading and funding Neighbour Day.

In March 2011 he was a delegate to the People’s Parliament for The Daily Telegraph and Sky News Australia. Andrew was the inaugural winner of the Westpac Prize in 2010 for developing Neighbour Day and in January that year was named by Fairfax Media as one of Sydney’s TOP 100 Most Influential People in the[sydney]magazine.

In April 2008 he participated in the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay and in May spoke at the United Nations about Neighbour Day’s growth from a Letter to the Editor to a national event supported by communities and local government.  A portrait of Andrew by Sydney artist Bruce Remmer was entered into the 2010 Archibald Prize.

Dr Melanie Lowe, Lecturer in Public Health, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

Dr Melanie Lowe is a lecturer in public health at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. Her research spans the urban planning and public health fields, examining how to plan healthy and liveable urban environments. She works collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams of researchers and policymakers to strengthen the consideration of health in urban policy and planning. Melanie has published work on integrated planning, urban design and health, liveability indicators, translating research into practice, and policy options with co-benefits for mitigating obesity and climate change. In 2014-15 she was a founding National Co-chair of the Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network (AECURN).

Cat Matson, Chief Digital Officer, City of Brisbane

Cat Matson is Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and is charged with the digital transformation of the city as a means of accelerating economic growth and equipping small to medium enterprises with the digital skills to accelerate their business.

As an experienced digital and start-up strategist and respected business leader, Cat drives the Digital Brisbane strategy.  The CDO delivers programs to improve digital uptake in the small and medium businesses, educates children on coding and supports start-ups and budding entrepreneurs, while also connecting visiting entrepreneurs with Brisbane’s business community.

Cat is a passionate advocate for human-centric ‘smart cities’, recognising that digital is an enabler, not an outcome in its own right. She is a regular panellist and moderator for key industry events, speaking about everything from digital in small business to the problem with smart cities.

Cat endeavours to discern trend from fad in the digital space and determine how businesses can leverage new technologies to reach their full potential.

Brent McAlister, Executive Director Sustainable Development, Lismore City Council

Brent has over 25 year’s award winning expertise as a local government senior manager, planner and place making champion. He has worked in New Zealand, NSW and Queensland local government mainly in regional cities. He has won planning awards for growth management plans.  But he cherishes being awarded the Mainstreet Association 2016 champion’s award for promoting CBD revitalisation projects in Australasian town centres.

Marianne Taylor, House Detective

Marianne Taylor is the “House Detective”, a freelance architectural historian who specialises in investigating the history of houses. With an extensive background in heritage conservation and management, she also provides consultancy services in these areas.

In 2015, Marianne was the recipient of the Helen Taylor Research Award for Brisbane Retro. This project involved researching and recording surviving “as built” examples of post-war houses, culminating in a highly successful exhibition and e-book.

Marianne seeks to promote the importance of retaining examples of our old buildings. She is particularly passionate about the sympathetic adaptive re-use of buildings, as a sustainable and environmentally conscious alternative to demolition.

Peter Smith, CEO, City of Port Phillip, Victoria

Peter has over 25 years experience working in the public sector at all three levels of Government in Australia where he has held senior management roles in the Federal Government, NSW and SA State Governments and in Local Government in both Adelaide and now as the CEO at the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne, Victoria.

Peter is passionate about community engagement and building community capacity and resilience through co-creation with Governments and has a relentless focus on achieving better outcomes for the communities that he works with and on providing better value for customers and recipients of Government services. He has spent many years reforming Government services to deliver better value and is a leading advocate of place based approaches to achieve this.

His strengths include strategy, governance, placemaking , housing and urban development, leadership development and organisational change. He has also worked as an adjunct professor where he has spent over ten years teaching MBA students strategy and leadership in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Peter also has considerable experience as a Board Director on Government and NFP Boards, including past chair of Place Leaders Asia Pacific. Most recently he worked as an Asia Pacific representative on the international Future of Places Advisory Board which worked directly with UN Habitat to recognise and establish the importance of public space within the new Urban Agenda of the UN.

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