Past Participants

These are some of the past participants of the diverse group of young and dynamic leaders from the two countries who join to discussion on topical and relevant issues.


Alice is a Dharug woman with extensive experience working with First Nations communities across regional and remote locations. She is the Indigenous Programs Manager at the Australian Volunteers Program and advises internationally as Managing Director of Connecting Cultures International. Alice focuses on equitable inclusion and community development. At the Australian Volunteers Program, she facilitates connections between cultures and empowers individuals and communities to share knowledge and enhance cultural understanding. She is passionate about creating avenues for respectful and meaningful dialogue, providing equitable engagement between Australia and the Pacific. Alice is committed to amplifying First Nations voices and leadership in development and diplomacy.

Allan is a Consultant at Ernst & Young (EY) in Perth, on the Infrastructure Advisory team. Prior experience includes policy development and research in the government sector. Allan contributes to organisations such as Australia’s Department of Education, Wesfarmers, and Accenture. His expertise and interests focus on sustainable change, with regard to education, human rights, and poverty alleviation. Allan is a First Nations man from Far North Queensland. His personal background gives Allan a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities concerning infrastructure, Indigenous affairs, and sustainable development. Allan collaborates with stakeholders to create innovative solutions and drive positive change in the communities he serves.

Anita is a Bougainvillean- Australian woman, born in Bougainville and based in Canberra. She is an anthropologist, employed as senior consultant at ERIAS Group, an Australian firm specialising in environmental and social impact assessment and management consultancy in energy, resource and infrastructure sectors. Anita was a founding managing director of an Indigenous-owned recruitment consultancy, 3 Emus Recruitment. Her doctorate attained at the Australian National University focused on Indigenous entrepreneurship and landowner businesses in Papua New Guinea’s mining sector. Anita also worked in Central Australia with at-risk Indigenous Australian youth. She is passionate about sustainable outcomes for Indigenous peoples impacted by extractive resource development.

Anna-Liza has a diverse background in sports, counselling, and professional speaking. With over twenty years’ experience in the sports industry, Anna- Liza is a former elite athlete, sports administrator, events coordinator, and athlete wellbeing advocate. She represented Papua New Guinea in swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, three Commonwealth Games, and five World Championships. As an accredited counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association, Anna-Liza works with athletes and high performers, empowering them to achieve success alongside mental health and wellbeing. She is a passionate speaker who delivers engaging keynotes on the importance of prioritizing mental health and well-being.

Anthony is the Digital Content Manager in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) International Services Team. His career began as a cadet with ABC News, evolving into a broadcast journalist across Australia. For the past four years, he has focused on covering the Pacific Islands, transitioning from a journalist to a digital content manager. Notably, he spearheaded the development and launch of ABC Pacific, a digital brand aimed at engaging audiences across the Pacific Islands. His team creates content to connect with audiences in Papua New Guinea, a crucial demographic for ABC International Services.

Bethanie is a freelance journalist and producer currently contributing to The Guardian Australia, covering Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Pacific region. With over a decade of experience, he has an extensive background in PNG, having previously served as the PNG Producer for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and worked with PNG’s national television station, EMTV. Bethanie has covered a broad spectrum of subjects, including political developments, elections, violence, natural disasters, sports, and developmental challenges. Bethanie’s unique perspective comes from having immersed himself in PNG’s political landscape to understand government agendas, leadership dynamics, and PNG’s diverse population and development journey.

David is an International Development Consultant focussed on climate change adaptation and resilience, disaster risk reduction, and social inclusion programs throughout the Asia-Pacific region. He provides technical and project management support for clients including the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Council of Regional Organisations for the Pacific (CROP) Agencies, multilateral institutions, international governments, and non-government organisations. David is of proud Dhanggati heritage, and is Co-Founder of the Association of First Nations Australians in Development (AFNAD), providing a culturally safe platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working in Australia’s international development sector.

Dylan is an Agricultural Scientist, who is passionate about using science and local knowledge to improve food security. Dylan is completing his PhD candidature at the University of Melbourne. His work is supporting a traditional owner group to develop one of their Indigenous food plants into a modern-day crop. Dylan first travelled to Papua New Guinea in 2019 as a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholar, where he undertook his Honours research and a semester exchange at Unitech, alongside an internship with Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture. Dylan is interested in how we can better harness initiatives, such as the NCP, to benefit the Australia-PNG relationship.

Irene is an academic at Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea. She focuses on the teaching, learning and research of public health leadership and training. Irene has a PhD that applies Melanesian ways of knowing, being and doing to the curriculum of health workers. Her PhD research provides the opportunity for leadership and knowledge exchange within the areas of Indigenous research, contextualizing public health, gender and development, and the politics of Melanesia. Irene was the lead organiser and Chairperson of the Diwai Post Election Women’s Forum, focusing on the experiences of women in the 2022 national elections.

Jenna is the Project Manager for International Development at Ninti One Limited, where her work focuses on First Nations participation in Australia’s international development program. Jenna is experienced in working in a technical advisory and project management capacity with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the private sector and the not-for- profit sector in Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region. By working on PNG- based programs over the past 18 months, she has developed a strong passion for continuing the strong cultural connections between First Nations Australians and Papua New Guineans. Jenna holds a Bachelor of Development Studies from the University of Newcastle and has completed short term study in India and South Korea.

Kembol has over eight years’ work experience in business development, consulting, and marketing. He focuses on trade, investment, and education opportunities and partnerships between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Kembol works with a range of stakeholders, including government and donor agencies, industry associations, the private sector, and education providers. He is currently contributing to the development and implementation of the Austrade strategy and business plan for PNG and the Pacific region. Kembol is passionate about connecting Australian businesses with opportunities in PNG, attracting international investment, and promoting Australia’s education services to PNG and Solomon Islands.

Langa is Assistant Secretary for the Economic Policy Branch with Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM), and Head of the Open Government Partnership Secretariat, PNG. His Assistant Secretary role involves the coordination of the formulation, review, and implementation of PNG’s Economic and Development Policies. As the Head of Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat, PNG, Langa coordinates the formulation and implementation of the six Cluster Commitments of the OGP National Action Plan 2022- 2024. The focus of the OGP is to promote transparency, accountability, integrity and making government responsive to citizens’ needs.

Lesley completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at the National Art School, Australia (2021). He competed four times in the Archibald Prize and was twice a finalist in the prestigious Brisbane Portrait Prize (2020 and 2023). Lesley was raised in the Port Moresby suburb of Morata, which houses one of the city’s largest squatter settlements. Growing up in this environment led him to find art: Lesley found painting fascinating and a means to escape his reality. In recent years his work focused on hyper-realistic portraiture, mainly capturing Indigenous faces dressed in traditional attire. He says: “as a contemporary Indigenous artist, I try to capture an essence of what is still alive today and is expressed through their faces, before it dies out”.

LizMary is Managing Director of PNG Creative & Cultural Promotions, a social enterprise aiming to preserve and promote Papua New Guinean cultural heritage through an annual Oceania Cultural Festival in Cairns. As a cultural exchange program, LizMary is providing a platform for cultural ambassadors to act on behalf of Indigenous communities in Australia and PNG, to help them gain international exposure at the Festival. Bringing together stakeholders including from the tourism, arts and culture industries, traditional custodians of lands in Cairns, and relevant government authorities, the program will help modernise PNG arts and culture to meet the demands of international markets.

Philip is a geoscientist from Papua New Guinea (PNG), born and raised in PNG. He graduated from the University of PNG in 2012, majoring in geology, and has since been working in the mining industry for over a decade. He is currently employed by Newcrest Mining Limited at Lihir gold mine, as Technical Services Superintendent. Philip is experienced in change management and operational improvement, with an interest in arts, history, and culture. He is passionate about human rights and supports non-profit organisations to deliver services in rural communities of PNG. Philip has volunteered with the YWAM Medical Ship (based in Townsville, Queensland) to deliver donations and medical supplies to remote areas of the southern region and western province of Papua New Guinea.

Rebekah has led programs across technology, social enterprise and international development sectors for the past five years. She is currently Program Coordinator for Catalpa International, a non- government organisation bringing fit-for-purpose digital solutions to development programs across the Indo-Pacific. Through her work Rebekah has found cultural safety and responsiveness key to successful implementation. She is interested in applications of technology that incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing while improving service delivery, particularly in climate change, governance, education, and health. Rebekah is fond of hiking and singing songs in different languages (sometimes at the same time).

Renee is Supply Chain Excellence - Local and Indigenous Content Lead for Shell’s QGC business, focused on developing Queensland’s onshore natural gas reserves. Her passion to make a difference in the lives of others led her to found Project Yumi, a not-for-profit organisation that strives to enhance the quality of education and healthcare in Papua New Guinea. Over the last seven years, Project Yumi has saved over one and half million quality resources from landfill and impacted over 50,000 Papua New Guinean lives. Holding a Bachelor of Education, Renee began her career with Education Queensland as a primary school teacher.

Tahina is the Founder of the Grass Skirt Project (GSP), a pioneering organisation addressing gender- based violence in Papua New Guinea through sports and wellness initiatives. A former tri- international elite athlete in rugby league, Olympic weightlifting, and powerlifting, Tahina brings a unique blend of sports expertise and social advocacy. She serves on Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Women Lead Governance Board, overseeing a $170 million investment into gender equality. Key programs under her leadership include the Hevea Cup & Wellness Expo, Gymbox, and the 10 Million Strong pilot leadership program, each aimed at fostering community development, gender justice, and individual empowerment.

Torres is an environmental scientist, published author, and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing. He focuses on culture, education, sustainability, and economic development. Torres worked previously with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority as a Land and Sea Ranger in the Torres Strait and is currently an Indigenous Research Projects Advisor at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). His work specialises in community engagement, facilitation and partnerships delivering multi-stakeholder scientific projects – work for which he is globally renowned.

Victoria is a Registered Nurse/ Midwife with 12 years’ experience within the healthcare industry. Currently working for Queensland health in rural Queensland and as General Practice Nurse in northern Brisbane, Victoria is an advocate for cultural safety. She has a strong passion for Indigenous healthcare specifically in rural and remote Australia, which transcends to PNG where her roots are. This led to co-founding Bridging Beyond Boundaries in Australia and PNG. Victoria is also an upcoming entrepreneur in PNG culture and tourism, starting her own business with her sister and mother this year – PNG Handcraft Collection – focusing on ‘giving back’ to locals whilst promoting and preserving culture.

Stefanie is an epidemiologist. Her current work focuses on routine childhood immunisations and health system strengthening. She previously led the COVID-19 surveillance team at WHO PNG and has lived and travelled extensively in PNG for the last two years.

Stefanie is passionate about building research skills and data analysis capacity to support evidence-based decision making and program implementation. She has a PhD in Public Health and a background in HIV prevention and sexual health.

Owen is a founder and Executive Director of CTE Australia and CTE PNG, a specialist electrical and mechanical engineering, training, and consultancy firm. CTE’s main objectives include supporting the PNG government’s target of electrifying 70% of the country by 2030 through expanding power and energy infrastructure, the development of renewable energy projects, and providing technical training programs to upskill the local workforce to an international standard.

Owen is a business professional with extensive strategic advisory, regulatory compliance, and project execution experience across a broad range of sectors in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, and Malaysia. With over 15 years’ experience across oil and gas, mining and resources, and major energy infrastructure projects,

Owen has a long-standing relationship and love of PNG, beginning in the early 90’s when he moved to Tabubil, Western Province, with his family. He has a keen interest in strengthening and improving economic ties between Australia and PNG. He currently sits on the Australia- Papua New Guinea (APNG) Association Committee, which aims to develop trade between Australia and PNG.


Alyssa is a Research Officer at the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre under the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Alyssa provides research and analysis on Papua New Guinea’s economy, is a member of PNG’s Central Banking ActReview Secretariat and was seconded to the University of Papua New Guinea as project coordinator in 2022.

She was previously a Research Fellow and Economist at the Lowy Institute.

Clancy is an energetic community- builder, educator, and human resources professional with global experience in stakeholder engagement and socioeconomic mobility programs. He graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in 2014, specialising in anthropology and Spanish and Latin American Studies, and has since been fortunate enough to forge a career combining his love of travel with his quest for community impact.

Clancy has a deep appreciation for humanity’s diversity and places a premium on accountability to people and promises. Clancy’s time is spent between Australia and PNG, supporting the delivery of equity programs to marginalised communities. In his current role as a consultant, he oversees the program management of CareerTrackers PNG, a PNG-led non-profit social enterprise that leverages internships as a tool for human capital development. Clancy played a key role in establishing the program in country, connecting him irreversibly with PNG and the aspirations of its youth.

Manu (they/them) is an aspiring writer and community development practitioner who works as a Community Development Officer for Three For all Foundation. Three for All Foundation is a not-for-profit international development organisation working with LGBTQIA+ populations in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Asia, and in refugee camps of East Africa. In PNG, Manu leads projects on capacity development, working with key populations including LGBT groups. In Australia, Manu leads the Queer Refugee Asylum Seeker Program at Many Coloured Sky, chairs the Queer Refugee and Asylum Seeker ServicesNetwork, and sits on the Board for the Council to Homeless Persons Victoria. Manu is also a successful recipient of the Community Research Fellowship from the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at Melbourne University, starting in 2023. Originally from Wewak in East Sepik Province of PNG, Manu worked in Tourism and Development in PNG, Bougainville, and Solomon Islands before moving to Australia.