The first line-up of powerful international voices includes:
Secretary General, Amnesty International
Kumi Naidoo has been Secretary General of Amnesty International, the world's largest human rights organisation, since August 2018. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1965, Kumi’s first taste of activism came at age 15 when he organised and took part in an anti-apartheid protest that saw him expelled from his school. As a result of his continued anti-apartheid activism, he was forced to live in exile in the UK in 1986.
He returned to South Africa in 1990 to work with the African National Congress. He went on to hold multiple leadership roles in civil society and global organisations, including as the CEO of Civicus and Executive Director of Greenpeace. Naidoo holds a BA in Law and Political Science (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and a DPhil in Politics (University of Oxford).
Columnist for The Guardian
Owen Jones is a columnist for The Guardian and one of Britain's most well known political commentators, broadcasters and authors. He was born in Sheffield, grew up in Stockport and studied history at Oxford. After working in a trade union and as a parliamentary researcher, his first book, the international bestseller Chavs, was chosen as one of the New York Times top 10 non-fiction books of 2011. In 2013 he won Young Writer of the Year at the Political Book Awards. His second book is the bestselling The Establishment: and How They Get Away With It, an exposé of Britain's powerful elites.
He is a columnist for The Guardian, and has appeared regularly as a panelist on BBC's Question Time, and news programmes for the BBC, Sky, and Channel 4.
Writer and social advocate
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-born Australian mechanical engineer, writer and social advocate. Yassmin worked on oil and gas rigs around Australia for almost half a decade. She is the author of “Yassmin's Story” and the upcoming novel "You Must be Layla". She is currently based in London.
Yassmin's presented Australia Wide, a weekly current-affairs show on the ABC and Motor Mouth, a podcast on becoming an F1 driver. Her TED talk, "What does my headscarf mean to you?", has been viewed 2 million times. She has written for Teen Vogue, The New York Times and The Guardian, and delivered keynotes in over 20 countries. Yassmin was awarded the 2018 Young Voltaire Award for Free Speech and Queensland Young Australian of the Year in 2015.
Iranian-Kurdish journalist and refugee, detained on Manus Island
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist, human rights activist and refugee currently detained on Manus Island after fleeing Iran in 2013. Behrouz holds a masters degree in political geography and geopolitics, and has also worked as a freelance journalist for several Iranian newspapers. Behrouz has written for The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and the Huffington Post. In August, he published his memoir, No Friend But The Mountains, a groundbreaking book of prison literature which poetically uncovers Australia’s offshore detention regime and the systematic torture of people seeking asylum.
Australian journalist and political editor at The Guardian Australia
Lenore Taylor has been the editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia for two years and is the chair of the Walkley Judging Board. Lenore has been with Guardian Australia since its launch in May 2013, when she joined as political editor. Lenore has been honoured with two Walkley Awards and has twice won the Paul Lyneham Award for excellence in press gallery journalism. She is a formidable commentator on the Australian political landscape and has long been a regular guest on radio and television current affairs programs, including the ABC's Insiders.
100+ speakers to be announced
Progress 2019 is shaped and supported by eminent co-chairs representing a cross-section of Australian civil society organisations.
CEO, Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS)
Dr Cassandra Goldie has been CEO of ACOSS since July 2010. With extensive public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, she has represented the interests of disadvantaged people, and civil society, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities. Prior to joining ACOSS, Cassandra held senior roles in both the NFP and public sectors.
Executive Director, ActionAid Australia
Michelle Higelin is the Executive Director of ActionAid Australia and has led the organisation's international programs and policy work for the past three and half years. A committed feminist, Michelle has over 20 years of experience working to advance women's rights in Australia and internationally, including as the Deputy General Secretary of the World YWCA, one of the world's largest women's movements.
CEO, Australian Conservation Foundation
Kelly O’Shanassy is the Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Conservation Foundation. Kelly has worked in the government, business and community sectors to established world-first environment protection policies, save water, boost recycling, safeguard fragile rivers from overuse and pollution, stop coal mines and kick-start renewable energy, as well as advising business CEOs on their journey towards sustainability.
National Campaign Coordinator, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Kara Keys is a descendant of the Yiman and Gangulu peoples of central Queensland. She commenced at the ACTU in February 2013 as the ACTU Indigenous Officer and now leads campaigns as an ACTU National Campaign Coordinator. Kara believes that a positive, self-determining future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is fundamentally entwined with a strong, progressive trade union movement.
National Director, Amnesty International Australia
Claire is the National Director of Amnesty International Australia and has over 30 years of experience in rights-based work and the not-for-profit sector. Claire is a member of Amnesty’s Global Management Team, which oversees the implementation of Amnesty's strategic plan around the world. Over the last decade Claire has achieved significant growth and impact, more than doubling both supporters and turnover.
Executive Director, Centre for Australian Progress
Nick is the Executive Director of Australian Progress and brings 15 years’ experience driving social change. Previously, Nick co-founded one of the world’s first social networks, TakingITGlobal.org, played a leading role in the growth of GetUp, worked in global strategy at Amnesty’s International Secretariat and managed public engagement for Greenpeace. He has served on numerous boards including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Centre for Policy Development.
Alan Kirkland is CEO of CHOICE, Australia’s largest consumer organisation. Alan’s work in social movements stretches back to his school days, where he organised protests against cuts to public education. His working life has spanned roles in homelessness, social security, disability services and law reform, with the common thread being an interest in redressing disadvantage.
Lyn Morgain is the Chief Executive of cohealth, one of Australia's largest community health organisations. Lyn is a member of the Ministerial Rough Sleeping Response Taskforce, and Chair of the National Complex Needs Alliance of the Public Health Association of Australia. She is also a board member of ACOSS and VCOSS, and Chair of the Footscray Community Arts Centre.
National Secretary, Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU)
Nadine is National Secretary of the CPSU. After studying economics at Macquarie University and being a union delegate in universities and local government, Nadine began as an organiser with the CPSU in 1995. She has also worked with the ACTU, and international unions such as the SIEU in America. In more recent times, Nadine has represented CPSU members in agencies such as DEEWR, ABS and the APSC as well as directing the CPSU’s involvement in the Your Rights at Work campaign.
Founding Director, Democracy in Colour
Tim is the Founder and National Director of Democracy in Colour, Australia's first national racial justice campaigning organisation led by people of colour. Previously, Tim was a Senior Organiser at United Voice where he helped young, low-paid workers start a new union in hospitality. He has led campaigns at Oaktree, been an adviser to two Senators, was the Campaigns Director at Jhatkaa (the Indian equivalent of GetUp!), led national communications at UN Youth Australia, and co-founded Open Sky - one of India’s most well-known performance art communities nationally.
Executive Director, Fair Agenda
Renee Carr is the Executive Director at Fair Agenda. She was named one of 2015's '100 Women of Influence'. Previously, Renee co-directed the 2011 Live Below the Line campaign, helping engage 6,000 Australians to raise more than $1.4 million for projects tackling extreme poverty and was part of the team that led The End of Polio campaign to secure $118 million additional funding for global polio eradication efforts.
National Director, GetUp
Paul is the National Director of GetUp and passionate about creating a more fair, flourishing and just Australia by driving campaigns on human rights, economic fairness, environmental justice and democracy. He ranked in the top 10 of the Australian Financial Rreview's Power Index of most covertly powerful people in 2017. Before joining GetUp, Paul led the successful campaign to protect over 160,000 hectares of Tasmania's ancient forests from the proposed Gunns' pulp mill.
Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre
Anna Brown is a human rights lawyer and founding Chief Executive Officer of Equality Australia, a leading voice and force for positive legal and social change for LGBTIQ+ people. Her fingerprints are on nearly every major reform for LGBTIQ+ people in recent years including playing a crucial role in achieving marriage equality through her work at the Human Rights Law Centre and as Co-Chair of the YES campaign.
Executive Officer, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
Karly Warner is a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal woman with connections to the Cowen and the Lockley families. She is Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and an advisor on the Aboriginal Advisory Council at Lander & Rogers. Previously, Karly was a practicing lawyer at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, with experience working across criminal, civil, children, youth and family law.
CEO, Oxfam Australia
Dr Helen Szoke is Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia and a strong advocate for foreign aid, international development, human rights, gender and race equity. Her distinguished career accomplishments includes leadership of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as Commissioner, and the Race Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
Rod Little is from the Yamatji and Nyoongar nations of Geraldton and Perth. He is co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and was previously the Director of Congress from 2011-2015. He is an active member of the multicultural alliance opposing changes to the Racial Discrimination Act; as well as a champion for the ACT Human Rights Office ‘Diversity in the Territory’ campaign.
CEO, Settlement Services International (SSI)
Violet is the CEO at Settlement Services International. Violet has an extensive background in the leadership of large not-for-profit organisations with over 30 years experience in governance, human resources and financial management. Violet was awarded 2017 Telstra Business Woman of the Year, and also received the title of Community Fellow from Western Sydney University.
CEO, The Climate Council
Amanda McKenzie is an environmental leader and CEO of the Climate Council, which was launched following Australia's largest ever crowd-funding campaign. She is on the Board of Plan International Australia. In 2014, Amanda was recognised as one of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence. Previously, Amanda co-founded the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC)
Luke is Secretary of Victorian Trades Hall Council, the peak body for unions in Victoria, representing over 40 unions and 500,000 members. Under his leadership, Victorian workers are taking grassroots action in unprecedented numbers to improve our working lives. Luke's experience organising some of Victoria's lowest paid workers drives him to fight for wage justice in Victoria. Under the banner of We Are Union, Victorian workers are leading the fight for progressive social change.
Lee Strike is the founder of YOUNG, an organisation dedicated to building the power of young people in national campaigns for representation and economic justice. Lee was most recently Product Lead and Digital Campaigner for The Equality Campaign running two successful YES campaign platforms. They have eight years experience as a Digital Campaigner and Producer working for and alongside organisations including Agency Strategic Creative, Leo Burnett, and Oaktree.
Executive Director for Policy, Strategy and Impact, RMIT University
Tom Bentley is Executive Director for Policy, Strategy and Impact at RMIT University. From 2007–2013 he worked for the Hon Julia Gillard MP as senior adviser, policy director and Deputy Chief of Staff. From 1999–2006 he was Director of Demos, an independent think tank in London. Tom works with institutions around the world on how achieve educational renewal together with inclusive economic and community development. He was a special adviser to David Blunkett MP in the UK, and is a member of the Victorian Education Minister’s Expert Panel on school reform.