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SEGRA Foundation

Summit Speakers

This year’s theme is Beyond Boundaries: Fostering Connection, Partnership, and Collaboration for Regional Growth. The program is coming together and in partnership with our host, Regional Development Australia South West, we are pleased to share a snapshot of speakers, with more to come.

Our focus this year is on partnerships and collaboration to affect change in the regions. We also want attendees to get out and about in the Busselton Margaret River region, experience the south west and meet the leaders making a difference. We look forward to seeing you to Busselton!

Mark is the CEO of the Murray Darling Association, a not for profit organisation with over 80yrs of history spanning across four states and more than 170 local governments. The vision of the organisation is that a healthy Murray Darling Basin supports thriving communities, economic development and sustainable productivity. Mark will share his experience of working across geographical boundaries for improved community and economic outcomes.

Mary G is the ‘the Big Black Queen of the Kimberley’ and she is the ‘closest thing to Royalty in the country’. Affectionately known as the ‘unofficial Queen of Australia’ and the ‘Queen of the people of the Kimberley’, Mary G uses humour to explore politically sensitive topics. Mary G will perform at the Summit and then later in the day return to discuss Indigenous issues as a ‘behind the humor’ Q and A.

Bec Bignell, is changing landscapes across the country from the perspectives of regional people through her production company Cockatoo Colab and creative agency Rural Room. Bec was the creater of the Netflix show Homespun and collaborated with the Regional Australia Institute on the podcast ‘You Moved Where?’

A character, a creative sage, a disruptor: he’s been called it all.

But over his twenty plus years heading up thebox, Scott Robinson’s most enduring qualities are clear in his approach to progressive leadership and his knack for having bloody good ideas.

A natural storyteller with an analytical mind, Scott is a bonafide multidisciplinarian across strategy, technology and creative. Sitting in the centre of this paradigm, Scott leads the specialist team at thebox with a strong focus on culture.

Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner is the Hon Fiona Nash.

Ms Nash has a deep love for regional Australia and an enduring interest in regional education, with strong links to the education sector. She is a champion for regional, rural and remote education, working with stakeholders and governments across sectors so all Australians can access a high-quality education, regardless of where they live.

Participation, attainment and completion in all levels of education can be more difficult the further you travel from major cities. As Commissioner, Ms Nash aims to bridge this gap and address the disparity in education outcomes.

Her broad remit to improve regional education from early childhood education to tertiary education means she can provide a national focus and direction for regional education.

Ms Nash has previously represented New South Wales in the Senate from 2004 to 2017, holding several ministerial roles including Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Regional Communications and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education.

On 16 November 2022, the Government announced a panel of eminent Australians to develop the Australian Universities Accord and undertake a broad review of the higher education system. This panel includes Ms Nash, in her capacity as Regional Education Commissioner, to ensure the voice of regional students, communities, industry and institutions are heard.

Clem Newton-Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Skyportz. Clem has been at the forefront of assembling the pieces of the emerging air taxi ecosystem for several years. He is chair of the Advanced Air Mobility working group of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems, serves on the Federal Government’s New and Emerging Aviation Technologies committee and the NASA Advanced Aerial Mobility working group in the United States. 

His presentation will discuss how the world is on the cusp of a revolution in the way we move people and goods and how Advanced Air Mobility to connect the regions, brings enormous opportunities for remote communities.

Luke Webster is the Lead for School and Community Engagement at Curtin University. The University is committed to supporting more equitable access to higher education in rural, regional, and remote Western Australia. Working closely with the dynamic network of WA Regional University Study Hubs (RUSH), the University is fostering a shared understanding of opportunities, barriers, and solutions, to collaboratively address Higher Education aspiration and outreach, pathways, course design and delivery, and meeting WA’s workforce needs.

Curtin University recognises that each community is different, so connecting regional partners with key leaders and decision-makers has become increasingly important, and led to the formation of the inaugural Regional Exchange event, which included all five WA Universities and their RUSH partners. It also helped shape new university learning experiences, such as Curtin’s Regional Changemakers.  

Dr Chad Renando is a Research Fellow at UniSQ and Co-Founder of Ready Communities.

Dr Renando will share insights from a novel approach to place-based transformation from the Ready Communities program. The two-year program pilot in Kempsey, NSW included support for the local backbone organisation, a dedicated ecosystem and policy mapping platform, a transparent evaluation framework, five community clusters, and culminated in a national 3-day event with a 12-month support program. Dr Renando will share what worked, what didn’t, and lessons learned that can be applied to regional communities across Australia.

Community asset ownership is increasingly being recognised as a catalyst for communities forging a new future, providing social, economic and cultural benefits.

The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship’s (ACRE) work with rural and regional Australian communities highlights a common starting point: safeguarding essential local services. More and more, communities are striving for autonomy and ownership of critical assets, consistent with models from the Northern Hemisphere, where there is a twenty five year track record of communities owning and operating key local businesses and assets.

Join Pete Ekstedt, the Executive Director Strategic Initiatives to delve into local and global insights, case studies, and essential conditions necessary to establish an empowering framework.


Tralee Cable is the CEO of the Shire of Mount Magnet, a remote local government in Western Australia.

Regional communities face the ongoing challenge of remaining current and relevant, while experiencing ever more disconnection from the rapid advances in technology and societal evolution that are occurring in more densely populated areas.  How can a remote community keep pace and provide a haven of support ?  Our town has embraced the innate resilience and leadership capabilities of women in an environment that has been traditionally considered hostile and unwelcoming and the community is thriving – with volunteerism at an all time high.  There are challenges to be overcome, but the rewards are outstanding.

Chris and DataAU have been a long time supporter of the SEGRA Foundation. Chris is responsible for the DataAU client base, and is located in AEC’s Townsville office. Throughout his time at AEC Group, Chris has been involved in developing and delivering extensive training and stakeholder engagement initiatives, which have included webinars, presentations, conferences, and hosting forums and workshops. With a broad range of internal and external stakeholders of AEC Groups’ data driven tools, Chris has experience in making the learning process streamlined for local, state and federal governments, private industry representatives, and economic and regional development organisations, Australia-wide.

Chris understands ‘all things DataAU’ and assists users in finding practical use cases across DataAU’s suite of economic tools and unique insights, assisting end users to efficiently drive their evidence-based decision-making goals. Chris also works closely with database management, economics, finance, research, programming, visual communication and executive teams, with intimate knowledge on data visualisation, and unique requirements of each user type.

Glenn is based in Townsville and is AEC Group Pty Ltd’s Senior Economist and Portfolio Lead for Regional Development.

With over 30 years of experience as an economist in Asia and Australia across the public and private sectors, Glenn brings extensive expertise in economic analysis, strategic research, economic evidence creation and data-driven insights. Having grown up in the Central Highlands of Queensland and the Lachlan Valley of New South Wales, Glenn is passionate about contributing to regional economic development and using economics and data to understand our regional communities’ unique socio-economic challenges and opportunities.

Glenn will open the SEGRA Summit with a State of the Regions address, as well as ‘Beyond Boundaries’ theme, exploring how to leverage economics and data for sub regional growth.

Kirsty Hill is the Fraser Coast Career Pathways Project Officer for RDA Wide Bay Burnett.

Kirsty will speak about the Fraser Coast Career Pathways Program (FCCPP), a School to Work Transition initiative dedicated to supporting students take the next step from school into a career or further education and training. FCCPP provides tailored support to students to equip them with the values, skills and knowledge required to succeed in the workforce through industry immersion tours and workshops, work experience opportunities, school-based traineeships and apprenticeships as well as work readiness preparation.

Kate Minter is the Managing Director of Rewiring Australia.

She is a social researcher and campaigner. She has worked with non-profits and membership based organisations leading projects on pressing social issues including women’s safety, the rights of migrant and gig-economy workers. She has degrees in social research and applied statistics.

At Rewiring Australia, Kate works across the organisation’s advocacy, community and research work, helping bring our big vision to electrify everything to life. In her work at Rewiring Australia, Kate is driven by how we bring all households and communities on the electrification journey and make sure access to the benefits of renewable energy are accessible to all.

Kate will discuss ‘Electrify Everything’, believed to be the simple answer to most of the challenges of a zero-carbon economy. It will save money at home and create new jobs and industries. Rewiring Australia is starting work towards electrifying a community and developing and modelling the tools and policies needed to scale it across the country.

Anthony Curro is the Chief Executive Strategy and Engagement at the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA).

The CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is delivering the Making Water Work program which is focused on next generation agriculture by diversifying and better managing water resources to meet export and domestic demands. Research is maximising new and existing water resources for a more circular economy and achieving environmental outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef. The collaborative project is based in the Rockhampton, Fitzroy catchment, with key partners from across government, industry, and the environment. The program is informing development models across regions in the north, demonstrating that development and healthy ecosystems can coexist, providing confidence for investors and meeting the regulatory requirements for sustainable agricultural development.

Dr George Wilkinson is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Australian Urban Design Research Centre at the University of Western Australia. He is also the Manager of City Growth at the City of Karratha.

Dr Wilkinson presented at the 2023 Summit in Toowoomba and is back to discuss the urgent case for local and regional empowerment in Australia. In the session, George will trace the history of state centralisation, federal aggrandisement, and the broken promises of federation, revealing the extent of regional inequality. Despite numerous attempts, efforts to address regional inequality in Australia have repeatedly failed. Why? George will discuss the dominant political narrative, one that sidesteps effective reform and disingenuously engages with regions.  Join us for an engaging discussion that challenges the status quo and offers bold reform solutions for a more equitable and empowered regional Australia.

Anna Dixon is the Director of BlueSalt Consulting. She has a wide experience of working with clients in regional WA and is known for her practicality and can-do attitude.

Partnering with ShelterWA and a diverse range of Tier 2 and 3 WA-based community housing organisations (regional and metro), BlueSalt reports back about the growth challenges and opportunities for these providers and the toolkit they developed to build capacity in the sector, with the end goal of increasing the supply of social and affordable housing in WA.

Pauline Bantock is a member of the Mogumber Outback Club as well as the Shire of Victoria Plains President.

The Mogumber Outback Club Inc, a community group located in the tiny wheatbelt town of Mogumber, purchased their local tavern and commenced the restoration and revitalisation of the building and business. From the first moment the concept was raised, it took just 15 months pull together a business plan, funding model and secure the purchase. After 6 months of intense renovations, the newly named Mogumber Hub opened, servicing the food, beverage, and social needs of the district. More than 12 months on, the business trading very well, open 7 nights a week with a fully operational kitchen and bar. It’s the power of COMMUNITY that has achieved the project. Ensuring everyone can be part of the project in some way and returning any potential profits back into the community through the incorporated not-for-profit structure, is key to the success.

SkyFarming  is a small consultancy consisting of Andrew Woodroffe, Susanna Floth and Peter Auer who bring together their respective long term experience in the fields of infrastructure project development and financing, renewable energy and wind resource evaluation, structural engineering and project management. They have developed and project managed the Mt Barker Community Windfarm, commissioned March 2011 and have also been involved with the Denmark Community Windfarm from concept to commissioning. They have also been involved with the Manjimup Renewable Energy Study and energy audits in Manjimup.

Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg is a consultant at BlueSalt Consulting in regional WA. Rhiannon will present on ‘More than water and agriculture – assessing drought vulnerability and resilience in regional Australia’.

Following their extensive work assessing drought vulnerability across multiple regions, climatic zones and local government areas in Western Australia through the drought resilience planning process, BlueSalt provides alternative indicators for assessing drought vulnerability and resilience.

Social entrepreneur Jimmy Murphy is a co-founder of the Town Team Movement. The non-profit social enterprise enables people and local government to connect, organise and act to regenerate neighbourhoods. Jimmy also co-founded Arts Impact WA, a philanthropic organisation that funds Western Australian arts projects and was the 2023 WA Local Hero.

Jimmy’s practical, positive approach has seen an action focussed, inclusive movement spread from Western Australia across the nation and to New Zealand. Social entrepreneurship can be about helping people connect to regenerate neighbourhoods and create stronger communities. 

Jimmy will present on the art of creating places people want to visit and live in.

“The imagination, the sweat, the enthusiasm, and the efforts of its people are the greatest resource that any place has”. Town Teams help people act to help bring their local places to life. Jimmy will cover the why, the how and the what of creating great places from the bottom up. 


Now in 44 different small, rural or remote communities in WA, Staying in Place is a community managed approach to enabling older people to receive the support they need to stay living in their own homes, in their own community – where ever it is – until end of life if possible. Helen Morton from Staying in Place will share how a coordinated approach has delivered local support. Through a local community coordination hub, local people register their availability as contractors on a national platform to provide the varied range of support needed – working whatever hours or days they choose. An approved aged care provider is engaged for the clinical governance, compliance, budget control and commonwealth reporting requirements. Needing very little upfront resource, Staying in Place is quickly sustainable in any community with client’s choosing to receive regular services on the days and at the times they want, by the contractor they choose – all via their government subsidised home care packages for eligible older people. 

Since March 2021, Susan Cull has been in the role of State Manager – Regional WA for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME). In this role Susan is tasked with developing and delivering a whole of state strategy for CME to represent industry in regional WA with a single constructive voice, and in turn support communities to be a positive voice for our sector.

Her presentation will outline the critical minerals being mined across regional WA and touch on their applications in the globe’s bid to decarbonise.  It will also explore the opportunities this presents to Regional WA, the State more broadly and the country.

Shelbie Owen is Head of Corporate Affairs at Racing WA – the principal racing authority and State-appointed regulator of thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing in Western Australia.

From Kununurra to Esperance, racing is embedded in the social fabric of every town in which we race with more than 25,00 people involved in our industry across the State.

Racing in Western Australia generates more than $1.3 billion annually in economic value, almost half of which is generated in regional areas, and sustains more than 10,000 full-time jobs.

There are 47 race clubs across the State, all of which serve as vital hubs that bring a sense of belonging and purpose to many, providing jobs, volunteering opportunities and shared facilities for community groups.

Tanya Butler is the South-West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub Knowledge Broker for the Grower Group Alliance.

With over 20 years as WA’s peak industry organisation for grower groups, the Grower Group Alliance does not shy away from proudly being a producer-led system of agricultural innovation, adoption and collaboration. The value of GGA relies on the strength of the network which has an extensive footprint across WA that is substantial, well organised, diverse and highly valued within the national agriculture industry. In the last five years, GGA has grown significantly, doubling their membership. Traditional farming systems groups of the WA wheatbelt, and extending to horticulture, rangelands, biosecurity, natural resource management and groups with a more niche focus. On behalf of their members, GGA brokers capacity building opportunities which supports groups to be fit for purpose, from governance to project management; and works with members to build regionally focused projects, including applied research and extension, meeting the priorities of groups members. This investment into the groups translates to investment into regional communities and the agricultural industries they represent. This unique structure of collaboration and ways of working leverages the network providing local value beyond boundaries.

The sustainability landscape for Australian companies is about to transform with the implementation of new climate-related risk mandatory reporting requirements as early as January 2025.

Australian net zero consultant Nick Palousis has spent the last twenty years building 2XE’s experience in this field by working with over 1,000 businesses and governments, helping them pursue ESG and net zero emissions. With the introduction of this new reporting, the ‘top end of town’ initially included in the mandate will also be asking for emissions data from across their supply chains. It impacts all businesses in all sectors.

A qualified high school English/Drama teacher, a graduate of the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and a working film and television actor, writer, director and producer, we are delighted to have Myles Pollard as our master of ceremonies on day one.