Keynote Speakers

Professor Sally KiftProfessor Sally Kift

Professor Sally Kift is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL), and elected President of the Australian Learning & Teaching Fellows (ALTF). From 2012-2017, she was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University. Prior to JCU, Sally was a Professor of Law at Queensland University of Technology, where she also served as QUT’s foundational Director, First Year Experience (2006-2007). Sally is a national Teaching Award winner (2003) and national Program Award winner (2007). She was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) in 2006 to investigate the first year experience and is a Discipline Scholar in Law. In 2017, Sally was awarded an Australian Award for University Teaching Career Achievement Award for her contribution to Australian higher education.

Professor Peter CramptonProfessor Peter Crampton

Peter is Professor of Public Health in the Kōhatu Centre for Hauora Māori at the University of Otago. He started his professional life as a general practitioner and later specialised in public health medicine. His academic career spans a variety of roles including serving as Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences and Dean of the Otago Medical School. His research is focused on social indicators and social epidemiology, health care policy, health care organisation and funding, and indigenous health. Peter has served on numerous government advisory panels in a variety of policy areas related to public health, health services, and health workforce, and has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to public health, health systems, health services management and indigenous health.

Sonja Braidner

Sonja is the Inclusion & Diversity Lead at Fire + Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

She began her career as a stage electrician and rigger at the Sydney Opera House before working as a theatrical and theme park lighting designer in the UK and Europe.  After being lured into a career change brought about by an interest in industrial negotiation she moved into HR.   Sonja brings experience in Organisational Development, Executive Coaching and Inclusion & Diversity, having consulted across numerous corporate and business sectors for the past 20 years. Prior to FRNSW, Sonja worked as the Deputy Director Equity & Diversity Strategy for the University of Sydney and Manager Workplace Diversity at UNSW and has shared a long history with EPHEA.

In the private sector, Sonja established the inaugural, global Inclusion and Diversity strategy for Singtel /Optus and worked in various inclusive leadership capacities within the Higher Education sector. Her passion for Human Rights saw her a founder and 1998 NSW Senate Candidate for a political party founded in response to societal issues pertaining to social inclusion and equity.

Sonja is a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute’s (AHRI) national Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Panel. She was the founder of the AHRI NSW Diversity Networking group and more recently has founded EMDIPPA for supporting inclusive practice across the Emergency Services and related industries; and formerly sat on the Executive of NEEOPA (NSW Equity Practitioners Association). Sonja holds post graduate qualification in Human Resources, commenced her studies in a Masters of Human Rights Practice, is an Alumni of Leading Together (Social Leadership Australia) and recently completed her CPHR accreditation.

In 2018 Sonja received a FRNSW Deputy Commissioner’s commendation for her work promoting diversity within the organisation; and is proud to be undertaking a Churchill Fellowship in 2019 to further delve into the multifaceted relationships between thriving workplace cultures and successful inclusion within Emergency Service organisations.

She is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences and is currently working collaboratively with researchers on a long-term Inclusion study within Australian Emergency Services.

A creative and commercially pragmatic HR practitioner, Sonja’s expertise lies in the tailored design of strategy and leading the adaptive delivery and implementation of actions to drive positive cultural change; enabling businesses and their people to share in the many successes afforded by inclusive and synergistic workplaces.

Carol Heijo

Carol Heijo majored in sociology at the University of Wollongong and has continued to engage in formal and informal learning throughout her career. She works as an HR Practitioner for the Federal Government and is also a Director on the Board of the Disability Trust and is the Chairperson of the Risk Committee overseeing a systematic approach to risk and risk management. Carol has 30 years of work experience in the Public and Private sectors and has significant experience in leadership, policy development and writing, consultation and 15 years of experience as an Equity Practitioner. Carol’s focus is on inclusion, access and equity in the employment and career progression of people with disability and is unapologetic in her tenacious approach to inclusion.

Carol identifies as being legally blind, non-binary and pansexual. She was born in Uruguay, South America and came to Australia when she was two.

Dr Leanne Holt

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy
Macquarie University

Dr Leanne Holt is a Worimi woman with further connections to Biripai country and over twenty years of higher education experience. Leanne is the current Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) at Macquarie University. She is President, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC), a member of Universities Australia Vice-Chancellor Plenary Committee, a member of the Department of Education’s Equity, Research and Innovation Panel and a member of TEQSA Panel of Experts.

Leanne’s research interests relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education policy and governance, with her PhD tracing the development of Aboriginal education policy in Australia. Recently she has led the development of a report on implementing a ‘Whole of University approach’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education as a part of a broader Accelerating Indigenous Higher Education report for the Department of Education. Leanne was previously at the University of Newcastle as co-Director of the Wollotuka Institute where she led Wollotuka to be the first university in Australia to achieve international accreditation through the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).

Sue WebbProfessor Sue Webb

Sue Webb is a Professor of Education at Monash University, Australia and was previously Professor of Continuing Education at the University of Sheffield, UK. She has researched the policy effects and practices related to access and participation of students from under-represented groups in the field of further and higher education, including the experiences of migrants and refugees. In addition to being a researcher, Sue has held senior leadership positions and responsibilities for developing the field and practice of lifelong learning and widening participation both in England, at the University of Sheffield and more recently at Monash University. Since the move to Australia, she has continued to contribute to the field of lifelong learning and access and participation to tertiary education through securing external funding (Category 1 competitive funding) from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Training Research (NCVER) for a project on the ‘Geographical dimensions of social inclusion in education and training in Australia’ (NR11104-21043 2011 -2014). This work has led to several publications on gender, migration, education and deskilling, as well as current work on gender and the effects of geography on post-school pathways to higher education and vocational education and training. At present, she is the lead investigator for an Australian Research Council (ARC) project DP170101885 entitled ‘Vocational institutions, undergraduate degrees: distinction or inequality?’ focusing on a comparative study of higher vocational education in colleges (non-university higher education providers) in Australia. Other current research includes a longitudinal study of people from a refugee background and their experiences of accessing higher education and employment in Australia.

Additionally, she has lectured and provided external advice to a number of universities in the UK and in New Zealand drawing on her strategic leadership experience and research insights into the concepts of learning identities and careers as a way of understanding risk, choice and agency in decision-making and learner transitions between school, college, university and employment. Known internationally for her research and leadership in the field of adult education and lifelong learning most recently in 2017 she co-edited with M. Milana, S. Webb, J. Holford and R. Waller (Eds.) The International Handbook of Adult and Lifelong Education and Learning Basingstoke, UK. In this regard, her work has contributed to policy development at institutional, national and regional level (the latter specifically in Europe where she has been employed as an expert in relation to European Union research on migration, language learning and ICT. She is also co-editor of the International Journal of Lifelong Education.

Liz ThomasProfessor Liz Thomas

Liz is an expert member of the Teaching Excellence Framework panel, recognising her expertise in student retention and success and learning and teaching.

Liz researches and writes about widening participation, student retention and success and learning and teaching. She is the author and editor of over ten books, and many journal articles, reports, briefings and practice guides. She regularly delivers keynote addresses and staff development workshops and programmes at higher education institutions in the UK and abroad.