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The Hon Karen Andrews MP – Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills

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Karen Andrews is the Australian Government’s Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and Federal Member for McPherson in Queensland, representing the Liberal National Party since the 2010 federal election.

Following the 2016 election, she was appointed Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.  In that position, her focus is on raising the status of VET as a valued pathway for Australians to a job and career.

Mrs Andrews is a long term resident of the southern Gold Coast and brings her experience in engineering, industrial relations and running her own business to her position as the Member for McPherson.

She is a strong supporter of the not-for-profit sector and its contribution to local communities and is patron of a number of organisations.

Karen Andrews is married with three children attending school and University.



The Hon Adam Marshall MP – Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and Assistant Minister for Skills

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Adam Marshall is the Minister for Tourism and Major Events and Assistant Minister for Skills and proudly represents his local community as the Member for Northern Tablelands in the NSW Parliament.
Having grown up on a farming property near Gunnedah, in the state’s North West, Adam is proud to have always lived and worked in country NSW. He attended Gunnedah South Public School then Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth.
Completing school, Adam returned home to help manage his family’s farming enterprises. He became a journalist, during which time he was elected to Gunnedah Shire Council, at the age of 19, in 2004.
Adam was elected Deputy Mayor in 2007 and then, at the age of 23, Mayor in 2008, a position he held until he stepped down from local government in 2012 to move to Armidale to study at the University of New England. During his time in local government, Adam also served as Chairman of the Namoi Regional Organisation of Councils (NamoiROC), Chairman of the NSW Country Mayors Association and Senior Vice President of Local Government NSW.
Elected to the NSW Parliament in 2013, Adam has previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW, before his elevation to Cabinet in January this year.


Jon Black – Managing Director, TAFE NSW


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Jon Black was appointed Managing Director of TAFE NSW, Australia’s largest vocational education and training provider on 7 December 2015. Previously Jon was Director-General of the Queensland Departments of Environment and Heritage Protection, and Energy and Water Supply



Claire Madden – Social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator 

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Claire Madden ( is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change. Claire is the author of Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials.

As a social researcher and demographer, Claire is widely regarded as a leading voice on multi-generational engagement and emerging social trends by corporations, the media and the wider community.

As a media commentator, Claire is regularly interviewed on prominent television programs including The Drum, The Project, The Today Show, SkyNews, Sunrise and The Morning Show, as well as on the radio and in print media. Claire is on the board for a financial services company and on the Advisory Board of UTS Business School. Claire is also the Founder and Director of the research based strategy and communications agency, Hello Clarity (

Jason Sultana – Executive Officer, Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT 

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Jason is the Executive Officer of the Apprentice Employment Network NSW ACT since 2015. Jason has worked in the Group Training Industry for 6 years in various roles. Jason has over 17 years experience in the VET industry and is actively involved in various working parties within the VET industry.

John Liddicoat – General Manager, Novaskill



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John joined Novaskill in 2009 is the current General Manager. During his time at Novaskill, John has expanded both its product offering and footprint, most recently internationalising the business with the inclusion of VET operations in various locations in China. John has been involved in the Group Training Industry for over 17 years.

He is the current Chairperson of the Apprentice Employment Network NSW and ACT and sits on the board of the National Apprentice Employment Network.


Lauren Tiltman – National Executive Officer, National Apprentice Employment Network 

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National Executive O cer of National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN), Lauren Tiltman, brings an extensive background in group training to her consultation and advocacy work. Beginning her involvement in group training as a trainee, Lauren continued in the sector taking on an Apprentice Consultant Support Officer role within a group training organisation before being appointed the Executive Officer at Group Training Australia (SA).
She has served on a number of youth advisory bodies including the Playford Youth Advisory Committee, the Policy Council at the Youth A airs Council SA and was Chairperson at the Ministers Youth Council. A former participant and mentor in the Today’s Skills: Tomorrow’s Leaders program, Lauren understands the business of group training from the perspective of a wide range of stakeholders.



Patrick O’Reilly – Principal, Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College 

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Patrick O’Reilly is the Foundation Principal of Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College (SCCVC), a Trade Training Centres in schools initiative, in Burwood, NSW. SCCVC offers 18 different VET qualifications to both full-time and external students, with approximately 40% of students undertaking a School-Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship.  This includes operating a number of business and enterprise opportunities where students deepen and extend their learning within Southern Cross Vocational Enterprises (SCVE). SCCVC is recognised as a National Centre of Excellence, having won the 2013 and 2015 Australian Training Awards ‘School Pathways to VET’ category.



Stephen Fallet – Manager, Investment Communications – Australian Super 

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BEc, Grad Dip Ec.  Stephen works as an investment specialist at AustralianSuper where he is Manager, Investment Communications.  In a career spanning 30 years in the investment management industry he has worked in asset allocation, investment strategy, portfolio management, economics and business development.




Robert Cousins – RTO Director, Western Sydney University 

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Robert Cousins is currently the RTO Director at Western Sydney University, as part of The College.
His previous roles include Associate Director, Sydney Institute of TAFE, Faculty Director Foundation & Business at Sydney Institute, Faculty Director of Creative Arts and IT at Sydney Institute, College Director of Sutherland TAFE, Petersham TAFE and the Design Centre Enmore.
He is an expert in the Australian Vocational, Education and Training Sector with over 20 years’ experience, including senior roles in strategic and high-profile VET management. His experience has seen him manage the complete range of VET qualifications including TRADE, Certificate, Diploma and VET Degree programs. He also has extensive experience managing VET in Schools programs with strong relationships with schools and industry. Robert has a passion for career pathways and transition education and sees the VET sector as a significant pathway into employment, in partnership with Industry.
In 2016 he was a speaker at the ACDEVEG Conference on VET Teaching and Teacher Education, and in 2013 was the Australian expert speaker at the New Delhi International National Conference on the establishment of Community Colleges in India.




Robyn Pemberton – VET Programs for Secondary Students, Department of Education 

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Robyn leads VET Programs for Secondary Students with the NSW Department of Education and has worked in the VET in Schools area in public education for over 20 years. Robyn trained as a secondary school VET teacher, and has held executive positions in NSW government secondary schools. Robyn has held positions at NESA developing VET curriculum and HSC examinations and is committed to improving the outcomes of young people in undertaking VET courses and successful transitions from school to work, employment and further training. Leading the team at state office includes oversight of the school based apprenticeship and traineeship program, the externally delivered VET (EVET) program, coordination of teacher training in VET and compliance support for the 4 Public Schools NSW RTOs, as well as support for the implementation of VET curriculum and programs.




Donna Lewis – Communications & Campaigns Manager, Industry Training Federation NZ 

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Donna has over 20 years experience in advertising and strategic communications, with wide-ranging leadership, campaign and relationship management experience in both the public and private sector.  At the Industry Training Federation she is responsible for the overall communications and the management of the successful Got A Trade, Got It Made campaign. Donna is passionate about the role of communications in behaviour change, especially in the public sector, leading to a more successful, productive and healthier society





Dr Nicky Murray – Programme Manager, Skills Highway NZ 

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Dr Nicky Murray is the Programme Manager for the Skills Highway workplace literacy and numeracy programme, which is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and based at the Industry Training Federation. She has been involved in industry training, workplace learning, and adult literacy and numeracy for a number of years. Nicky is a strong proponent of lifelong learning, having begun her under- and post-graduate studies later in life. Her doctorate thesis is entitled ‘Who gets their hands ‘dirty’ in the Knowledge Society? Training for the skilled trades in New Zealand’. She is passionate about the contribution that good literacy and numeracy outcomes make to a skilled and productive New Zealand.

David Hill -Head of Business Growth & Strategy, ARC Group 


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David is Head of Business Growth & Strategy at ARC Group, a Group Training Organisation, Registered Training Organisation and a Home Care provider. ARC Group is a member of AEN NSW ACT and the ACPET NSW committee. He has worked at ARC for 5 years and in the VET sector for the last 10 years. Prior to this, David worked as a senior public servant with the NSW Public Service, holding such positions as Director of Environment and Conservation, Sustainability Programs Division, and as Manager, Office of Regional Communities for the NSW Premier’s Department. He has a Bachelor of Business, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, Master of Urban Design, Vocational Graduate Certificate in Education for Sustainability and a Cert IV TAE. David also is currently President of the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce.



Tim Dodd – Higher Education Editor, The Australian

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Tim Dodd leads the tertiary education coverage in The Australian newspaper and edits the weekly Higher Education section on Wednesdays. He writes a regular column, also published on Wednesdays, which looks behind current issues in education.

Tim has 25 years experience as a journalist covering a wide variety of areas in public policy, economics, politics and foreign policy, including reporting from the Canberra press gallery and four years based in Jakarta as South East Asia correspondent for The Australian Financial Review. He was named 2014 Higher Education Journalist of the Year by the National Press Club.

Tim has direct experience in the education industry, working for IDP Education as its External Relations Manager from 2005 to 2012.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @TimDoddEDU 



Peta Skujins – Research & Content Officer, Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS) 

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Peta is the Research and Content Officer at the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS). She started in the role in 2017 after moving from NCVER where she worked as a Research Officer.
Having a background in working with young people interests include youth transitions between compulsory education and the labour market, pathways through the education system and career advice.

Ron Maxwell – CEO, VERTO 

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Ron Maxwell started with VERTO in 2014 as the Chief Executive Officer. Ron holds a Bachelor of Business (Economics) and has 20 years’ experience in the commercial sector. Ron has served on various boards and is currently a member of the Australian College for Private Education and Training’s (ACPET) New South Wales executive committee, Ron is also a director of the National Australian Apprenticeship Association, has served as a member of the National Skills Standard Council reference group for the introduction of the new National VET Regulator standards in 2014, and is a member of the New South Wales State Training Services’ Smart and Skilled provider reference group.
Previously, Ron served as Chief Executive Officer of Western College, a regional training provider based in Dubbo, New South Wales. During his time as Chief Executive Officer, Ron reshaped the college to become a recognised and award winning organisation. Amongst some of his accomplishments, Ron was responsible for establishing the Australian Technical College in Central West New South Wales. Ron is also a member of the NSW Skills Board Provider advisory group, has served as a member of the ACPET National VET Committee and is a former Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and Austen Brown Boog Solicitors advisory board member.
career advice.

James Moran – General Manager, Apprenticeship Support Australia 

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Currently General Manager of Apprenticeship Support Australia. He has a primary focus on building relationships with large national employers to build apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities and to make taking on an apprentice easier for national employers.

As General Manager he oversees Apprenticeship Support Australia’s national business development and account management functions as well as strategic partnerships with government and other stakeholder to enable the delivery of premium apprenticeship services to businesses and employees across Australia.

Prior to that had ten years of managing a successful Registered Training Organisation, providing broad experience in vocational education and training, strategic planning, business development and student acquisition

Leon Drury – Executive Officer, Manufacturing Skills Australia


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Leon Drury is the Executive Officer for the Manufacturing Skills Australia NSW Industry Training Advisory Body. In this role Leon represents a range of manufacturing industries and provides advice on their behalf to the NSW State Government.

Leon provides analysis on information and data and provides advice on trends that will impact the NSW manufacturing sector. Leon also liaises with his counterparts in other sectors and states to support an industry wide viewpoint.

Over his career, Leon has participated and represented Industry in a range of committees on skills including Western Sydney Vocational Training Committee, Sydney Aerospace and Defence Interest Group, Joint Industry Defence Organisations, South West Sydney Manufacturing and Engineering Task force, Manufacturing and Engineering Institute of Australia.

Leon Is currently the chair of the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC, Recently the Deputy Chair of the Digital skills PRG for IBSA and the chair of Joint ITABs NSW.



Chris Pracy – Head of SkillsPoint, Infrastructure, Energy and Construction, TAFE NSW

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Chris Pracy is Head of SkillsPoint, Infrastructure, Energy and Construction at TAFE NSW.  A civil engineer with post-graduate qualifications in spatial information, sustainability and vocational education, she is a passionate advocate for STEM, women in non-traditional occupations and the promotion of construction trade training as a preferred tertiary pathway.
Her SkillsPoint role frames Chris and her team as a relationship centre for industry, partnering with business and employers to design training products that not only meet current employer needs, but look to the future, respond to the opportunities provided by high-growth industry sectors, and integrate emerging technologies and trends. 



Greg Higgins – Head of TAFE NSW’s Digital Learning Lab


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The Lab, part of TAFE Digital, Australia’s largest Vocational Education training provider, is a centre of exploration and innovation focused on the applications of emerging technologies in education and industry. 
Greg has an extensive background in EdTech, including ‘Director of Academic and Learning Communities’ for ‘Smart Sparrow’, an EdTech start-up commercialising the worlds-first cloud-based adaptive learning platform, with offices in Sydney and San Francisco… and Senior roles in the global learning technology and publishing companies McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson.
Greg has a degree in Education, and post-grad studies in Multimedia and Online Learning.

We would like to thank the following 2018 Sponsors and Exhibitors:

Registration Opens
December 2015

Accommodation Cancellation Deadline
25 February 2016

Early Bird Deadline
2 March 2016

Networking Dinner RSVP Deadline
24 March 2016

Conference Dates
7 & 8 April 2016