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Hon Steve Irons MP - Ministerial Address
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships
Steve grew up in a large family. His foster father, David, was a local church minister and his foster mother, Mary, a social worker at a hospital. His parents always instilled in Steve that investing in people from all walks of life was the key to building a strong local community.
As Parliament’s only former ward of the state, Steve has an important role in ongoing work for the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants and is well respected by all parties for his bipartisan work on this social policy issue.
With 30 years experience in small business, Steve completed an apprenticeship as an electrician after high school and prior to moving to Western Australia. Later, Steve started work in 1981 for a national company in Welshpool doing clerical and factory work. In 1983 Steve became Sales Manager and went on to achieve record sales. In 1996 Steve became the owner of that company.
Over a long period of time Steve has made many connections with the Kewdale-Welshpool industrial hub, Steve knows there are many great businesses and workers in this hub as it is one of the last true manufacturing areas left in the state, as well as being the premier freight centre.
As a young footballer at East Perth Football Club and a former Colts coach at Perth Football Club, Steve learned teamwork is the key to success on any of life’s playing fields and that you only get out of life what you put into it. A former Director of Junior Development at Perth Football Club, Steve is proud to pass on these valuable lessons to young people in the community.
From 2004, Steve as a single parent became the custodian of his son, Jarrad, and experienced many of the issues families and single parents face. Steve married Cheryle in 2011 and is grateful for the enormous support she provides him working in the electorate, particularly on issues surrounding women’s health.
In Parliament Steve is Chair of the Health Committee and co-founder of the Parliamentary Friends of Senior and Ageing (PFSA), Steve takes a special interest in these issues.
Steve was noted by political commentators in Australia as the only Liberal to defeat a sitting Labor Member at the 2007 Federal election winning the seat of Swan by 164 votes (0.19%). After a boundary redistribution made Swan a notionally Labor seat and in one of the most high profile results of the 2010 election, Steve successfully won the seat of Swan by 4019 votes (2.53%). At the 2013 election Steve retained the seat winning by 10685 vote
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Ged Kearney MP - Opposition Address
Shadow Assistant Minister for Skills Member for Cooper
Ged was elected as the federal member for the Victorian seat of Batman (now called Cooper) in 2018 and is the first woman to hold the seat. She started her working life as a nurse and rose to become federal secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation before being elected as president of the ACTU. She has been a strong voice for workers’ rights and social justice inside Labor and the Parliament, and a passionate advocate for the environment, asylum seekers, education and universal health care.
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Steven Joyce - Keynote Speaker
Director, Joyce Advisory
Steven has 25 years of successful leadership experience across a unique mix of senior commercial and government roles, working in governance and executive positions with boards of directors, ministers, external stakeholders and the public.
He has a strong strategic focus, working with others to create and deliver competitive plans and programmes in a range of commercial and political settings, including restructuring and reorganising entities if necessary and building momentum to achieve the required results.
He believes strongly in communicating the vision regularly to all stakeholders and taking people with him on the journey. He designs structures around achieving measurable outcomes and works constantly to remove roadblocks to enable people and teams to own and achieve the goals set for the organisation.
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Stephen Koukoulas - Keynote Speaker and Members Lunch Chat Session
Managing Director, Market Economics

Economics matters. Understanding where the economy is and where it is going will drive profits, investment decisions and employment opportunities. And of course, the critical thing is what to do about economic news, how it might impact your business, your clients and your personal finances.

Few economists have both the global and local experience of Stephen Koukoulas. His background covers the spectrum of economic insight - from his role as Chief Economist of Citibank to Senior Economic Advisor to the Australian Prime Minister.

Stephen’s combination of both public and private sector provides an unparalleled insight into the opportunities and risks of today’s markets.

As a speaker Stephen has been called upon to discuss the economy with audiences as diverse as the corporate world to school students - an affirmation of his ability to turn complex economic analysis into terms mere mortals can understand.

In these uncertain financial times, Stephen combines tailored economic overview and analysis with a level of humour and engagement not usually associated with the economics.

For articles written by Stephen Koukoulas, click here.

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Michael McQueen - Keynote Speaker
Multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and six-time bestselling author

Michael McQueen is a multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and six-time bestselling author.


With clients including KPMG, Pepsi and Cisco, he has helped some of the world’s most successful brands navigate disruption and maintain momentum.


Michael is a regular commentator on TV and radio and his work has featured in publications ranging from the UK Daily Mail to and the Huffington Post.


In addition, Michael is a familiar face on the international conference circuit having shared the stage with the likes of Bill Gates, Dr. John Maxwell and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Michael has spoken to over 500,000 people across 5 continents and is known for his engaging, entertaining and practical conference presentations. Having been recently named Australia’s Keynote Speaker of the Year, Michael was inducted into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame.


To view Michael's video library, click here.

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Linda White - Speaker
Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Linda White is Assistant Secretary of Workforce & Apprenticeship Industry Branch in the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. Working in the skills area of the department, the Branch is responsible for providing advice on and supporting industry’s engagement with the apprenticeship system including the policy and management of the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, the Skilling Australians Fund and establishment of Industry Training Hubs. Supporting industry includes a key role in working with Group Training Organisations in their role as a critical employer of Australian Apprentices. Linda has worked in the employment and vocational education and training area for more than 25 years and has been responsible for introducing a number of major apprenticeship, industry skills and workforce initiatives.
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Wendy Walker - Masterclass Presenter
Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
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Megan Lilly - Panel Moderator
Head of Workforce Development, The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group)
Megan Lilly is the Head of Workforce Development for The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), In this role Megan is responsible for the development of all education and training policy as well as member service delivery across the breadth of workforce development. In particular, this includes the GTO, Talent Solutions and Graduate Employment Services. Prior to this she was the Chief Executive Officer of Business Services Training Australia, the national industry advisory board for the business services and related industry sectors. Before joining the national board, she held several senior management positions in various Victorian TAFE institutes.
Ms Lilly is a member of the Australian Industry Skills Committee (alternating Director), Deputy Chair – Worldskills Australia, member National Apprenticeship Employment Network, member of the Australian College of Educators and the Naval Shipbuilding College – Delivery Advisory Committee. Megan has also been appointed to the expert Panel to Review the AQF. She has been a member of the Australia India Education Council, including Chairing the Skills Working Group, Manufacturing Skills Australia, Australian Qualifications Framework Council, Queensland Ministerial Commission, Victorian Skills Commission and Australia Pacific Technical College.
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Erik Salonen - Panelist
Director Business Development, TAFE QLD SkillsTech
Erik has developed his experience and knowledge of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector over a 30 year period, starting in TAFE as a Fitting and Turning teacher. Erik has since held a number of senior leadership roles within the VET sector including the (then) Department of Education, Training and the Arts, Manufacturing Skills Queensland, Construction Skills Queensland, and most recently in the position of Director, Business Development at TAFE Queensland SkillsTech.
In all his roles, Erik has been an advocate for workforce development and vocational education and training, specialising in government and industry liaison on VET policy and practice, VET funding and industry workforce development initiatives.
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Troy Williams - Panelist
Chief Executive, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia
The International Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is the peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational education and training sector. Appointed to the role in late 2018, Troy has worked with the ITECA Board, members and stakeholders across government to strengthen the organisation’s capability to support its members and represent the entire independent tertiary education system. This included the transition from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) to ITECA, reflecting a stronger focus on industry leadership, policy advocacy and member engagement.

An established leader of industry associations spanning professional bodies and industry associations, he’s held senior roles with the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA), the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) and the Australian Institute of Building (AIB). He was made an AIB Life Fellow is recognition of exemplary services as Chief Executive.

Troy currently serves on the General Council of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), and as an industry appointee to a number of Australian Government committees. He has served as a Director of the former Property Services ITAB and the Property Services GTO. He’s a fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Troy is an experienced policy advocate with an established network of contacts across the political spectrum, and he has a highly nuanced approach to evidence-based policy development. Troy has a long career with membership-based organisations, where he has emphasised member engagement and collaborative partnerships.
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Gail Silman - Panelist
A/Director Industry and Community Relations Training Services NSW Skills and Economic Development
Gail Silman is Manager Industry Projects, Department of Industry. She manages the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP). The ISLP embeds targets for employment and skills development into NSW Government procurement for major infrastructure projects and includes targets for apprentices, trainees, learning workers, young people, women in non-traditional trades, and Aboriginal participation.
Prior to this, Gail was a Senior Adviser with Australian Industry Group and held senior management roles in the Commonwealth Government – all focussing on employment, education and training.
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Fiona Lawrie - Panelist
Director and Founder, Tradeswomen Australia Foundation
Fiona Lawrie’s career began as a light vehicle apprentice, during her apprenticeship and time working in the automotive industry she identified a lack of support, promotion and opportunities for women in trade industries.
During her apprenticeship, Fiona started a networking group for women in trades. Building relationships and establishing partnerships with business and industry, Fiona developed and implemented strategies to increase the participation of women in trades.
After her time in the Automotive industry, Fiona worked in Business Development for an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network working with employers to hire apprentices and assisting career seekers entering apprenticeships. Fiona then worked in project and funds management for an investor group within the building and construction industry.
With a rounded experience Fiona understands the opportunities of gender equity in male dominated industries. Fiona has since founded Tradeswomen Australia Foundation with the mission to increase the representation of women working in trade industries. Tradeswoman Australia Foundation is a registered charity with the ACNC. It exists to encourage and support women in trade occupations. The charity values workplace diversity and works with employers to help them achieve benefits such as higher employee engagement, Improved performance, Greater innovation, Retention of talent, Improved employee wellbeing and lower levels of unlawful behaviour such as harassment and discrimination.
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John Tucker - Dinner Speaker
General Manager, TAFE QLD SkillsTech
As General Manager, John is responsible for the strategic direction and overall operation of TAFE Queensland SkillsTech as the lead TAFE region and the largest public provider of trade and technician training in Queensland.

As a key member of the TAFE Queensland Executive team John is an experienced educator at heart and has a passion for teaching and learning.

Prior to stepping into the TAFE Queensland SkillsTech General Manager role, John was the Executive Director of Educational Delivery, developing VET strategies and policies to ensure the viable delivery of trade and technician programs that achieve 'best practice' training outcomes for students and employers, locally and across Australia.

John is a leader in innovative teaching and learning practices. He leads a team of dedicated directors & managers to support TAFE Queensland SkillsTech to train and educate the thousands of students who choose to explore a vocational education and training pathway.

John is also a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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Mark Hodgson - Speaker
Executive Coach, Author, Advisor and Keynote Speaker
Mark Hodgson comes from a corporate background and has held senior leadership roles in the UK, Australasia, Central Europe and Russia. He is now a leading thinker in Transformation and Influence - helping leaders to unlock their inner talents for success and happiness.

Mark has inspired large teams across a range of commercial and not-for-profit businesses. A natural disruptor, he helps CEOs, executives, consultants and entrepreneurs to position themselves as leading influencers and is an expert in leading change. He is a Graduate of the AGSM Change Management programme, a Faculty Member of Thought Leaders Business School and a Partner of the About My Brain Institute.

His book, ‘Time to Shine: Adapting who you are and what you know to succeed in the ideas economy’ explains what we need to DO, BE and BUILD to show up as successful, fulfilled and authentic Influencers.

Mark is an Executive Coach, Author, Advisor and Keynote Speaker.
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Peter Treseder - Speaker
Education Manager, AustralianSuper
Peter has over 35 years of experience in the superannuation industry, 20 of those with AustralianSuper, and for the majority of his “super” career, Peter has been focussed on designing and implementing superannuation education programs to help members engage with their super, to ultimately, enjoy their retirement.

Peter believes the “mystery” of super needs to be removed, to encourage a change of attitude towards it. By altering an attitude, you can change a behaviour, this then gives people confidence to make decisions, which will make a difference to their future. “Spending time now, engaging with super, means less wasted time in retirement regretting a missed opportunity”

Separate to his “super” life, Peter is a cat person, MC’s conferences and trivia nights, enjoys golf on a very regular basis, plays AFL Masters for the Carrum Cowboys, 30 years after retiring early from his playing career at Box Hill in the VFA and writes the occasional song for Greg Champion on the ABC’s Coodabeen Champions.
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Allan Bonsall - Masterclass Presenter
Director, Looking Glass Pty Ltd
Allan spent his early career in the advertising business, the last 15 as CEO of two of Queensland’s most successful agencies, where he learnt to apply clear, strategic thinking to create effective business strategies.
The ad business also taught Allan that at the very heart of every business must be their customers. The promise you make to those customers, and the way you build their trust and loyalty is at the core of every strong brand. And the only way to determine what that promise should be is to know what differentiates (or could differentiate) your business from the rest.
In the same way, effective strategic plans should have ‘customer’ at their core. But many don’t. All too often, Allan argues, you find a poorly written mission statement, designed to satisfy the egos of the owners and or shareholders incapable of driving the necessary strategies to deliver results to the bottom line.
Over the past 20 years Allan has worked extensively in the VET sector delivering market research and strategic analysis in both the public and private arenas. He has worked with the Queensland and Federal Governments on different programs and has a sound understanding of the issues surrounding apprentice uptake.
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Lisel O'Dwyer - Masterclass Presenter
National Research, NCVER and Adjunct Associate Professor, Flinders University
Associate Professor Lisel O’Dwyer is a social scientist with 25 years of research experience in a range of fields but all with an underlying theme of social justice and inclusion. She has previously worked in ageing studies, generational differences in access to wealth and housing, health promotion and broad social policy at Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Central Queensland University and Monash University using quantitative and qualitative research methods.
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Peta Skujins - Masterclass facilitator
Director of the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service
Peta is the Director of the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service. Prior to this she worked at the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, after completing a PhD in Psychology. Her research interests include youth transitions between education and the labour market, and pathways through education systems.
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Peter Hoefer - Masterclass Presenter
Managing Director, Resolution Consulting Services
Peter has an extensive background in all key aspects of commercial business and public sector management, based on over 30 years of experience with a combination of Big 4 consulting firm and corporate management experience, including a CFO role in the Australian Public Service. He has a depth of understanding of public sector management based on over 20 years experience working with the Australian, ACT and NSW Governments, including administered grant programs. Peter also has a depth of experience in education and training having been an academic, teacher and provider of many professional development seminars and courses. Peter is currently the Managing Director of Resolution Consulting Services (operating since 2000), which is a niche public sector management specialist based in Canberra.
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John Hutchinson - Masterclass Presenter
Education Training and Employent Manager at National Rugby League (NRL)
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Gavin Lester - Masterclass Presenter
former National Rugby League player & Australian VET Ambassador
Gavin is a former NRL player who played for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Sydney Roosters and featured in the 1998 NRL grand final between the Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos. He has completed a Certificate IV in Building and Construction, and a Diploma in Building. He is a site supervisor and a VET Ambassador who is passionate about advancing Indigenous employment and training opportunities.
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Peter Nolan - Masterclass Presenter
Peter joined PEER in June 2106 as the CEO, having had over 20 years’ of involvement with GTO’s and RTO’s. With extensive experience in construction and mining, he has also led organisations in the hospitality and property sectors. Peter has a strong commitment to the health, safety and pastoral care of apprentices and trainees and creating an innovative, high performance culture.

PEER is a non-profit industry-based organisation, a Group Training Organisation (GTO) and an award winning Registered Training Organisation (RTO), delivering nationally accredited training to meet South Australia’s skill development needs. The PEER Academy ensures students are trained, coached, mentored and supported to be their best – as trade professionals and as individuals. PEER supports the whole-of-person development for our learners, which provides them with opportunities and pathways to become a skilled professional within the Building and Construction industry. PEER – this year named the South Australian Training Provider of the Year and the Australian Small Training Provider of the Year – has invested in a significant upgrade of its training facilities to ensure it continues to deliver the preeminent trade training experience and outcomes for South Australians.
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Kathryn McGilvray - Masterclass Presenter
Managing Director, eLearning Educational Solutions P/L
Kathryn has been an educator for over twenty years in her capacity as a teacher, trainer, team leader, technology coach and consultant. She has much experience in teaching, training and course development for VET learners from a range of diverse backgrounds and qualifications. For the last two years, she has managed her company supported by an experienced team of educational designers, technical writers, project managers, a photography and film crew and liaised with a range industry expert to develop high-quality online training. The company has grown to meet the demand of industry in its adoption of technology for training. Kathryn has a keen interest is in supporting organisations to blend technology and she is a regular presenter at International, National and local conferences.
She is passionate about competency-based training and the effects of automation on the sector. Kathryn provides researched based insights in how trends in education theory are impacting adult education and how they can be used to develop engaging, contextualised online and blended learning for competency-based training. Providing practical solutions for integrating emerging technology to learners provides real solutions to training and compliance needs in Industry.
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Tony Feagan - Masterclass facilitator
Director of Wheretofromhere? (RTO consultant and professional auditor)
Tony Feagan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected RTO consultants and professional auditors. He has worked with large and small RTOs in the private and public sector for over 20 years. He is also an experienced trainer and assessor specialising in all areas of adult education and operated his own RTO for a five-year period between 2007 and 2012.
He holds a Bachelor of Further Education and Training from the University of Southern Qld and a Graduate Diploma of Adult and Vocational Education from Charles Sturt University. He also holds formal qualifications in auditing and is a registered lead auditor with the Internal Certification group, Exemplar Global.
He founded Wheretofromhere? in 2003 and as the name suggests, focusses on identifying improvement in every aspect of business operations. He has established more than 70 RTOs from scratch by building complete, tailored quality systems and he continues to work with many RTOs on systems, developing educational products and identifying organisational efficiency.
In 2008, he was instrumental in the only trial in Australia, of applying business excellence frameworks in RTOs. Tony has conducted over 1500 RTO audits and remains a contract auditor and investigator for the Australian Skills Quality Authority, the current national regulator. He has been auditing and working with GTOs primarily in Qld, since the implementation of the GTO standards in 2002.
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James Orr - Masterclass Presenter
Chief Technology Innovation Officer at MTA Queensland Group
James is a technology and innovation leader with over 10 years’ experience in both the group training and trade education industries, with a wealth of expertise in automation, innovation and emerging technologies, James has been at the forefront of technology adoption to bring leading advantages to industry.
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Angus Crowther - Masterclass Presenter
Strategic Advisor, Spark Strategy
With experience working in ministerial offices within government, Angus has a deep understanding of the political process and how organisations can better engage with government to affect positive and lasting outcomes. Angus has worked on projects, grants programs and policies with spend or investment from $30thousand to more than $1billion, working across social and economic policy portfolios. An integral component of Angus’ success in helping to achieve these outcomes was through his ability to engage with stakeholders from across the government, private and not-for-profit sectors. Each of these areas required bringing together a broad range of stakeholders and government agencies to work together to achieve synergy and deliver great outcomes for the community. Back home in Queensland, Angus was Co-Convenor for Rainbow Labor and engaged with government and the community to strengthen laws which protect LGBTIQ+ people from discrimination and harassment while seeking to progress lasting change to further foster a community which values diversity. He has worked on election campaigns for state and federal members and brings with him knowledge on the ins-and-outs of this process.
Spark Strategy
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Neil Pharaoh - Masterclass Presenter
Tri-Sector Executive Leader and Director, Spark Strategy
A Tri-Sector executive leader and director with nearly 10 years’ senior-level, strategic, corporate and not-for-profit experience building scalable, sustainable organisations, Neil brings a principled, tenacious approach to the leadership table that is committed to achieving the best possible social, commercial and economic outcomes. Leveraging a solid foundation in sales, marketing and communications, built with one of the largest corporates in the world, EDS/HP, he has traversed sectors and geographies, applying proven competency in strategic business planning, development and management to creating best-practice fundraising, communications and government advocacy frameworks, enabling philanthropic ventures to maximise opportunities and impact. Neil’s ability to build relationships and networks that transgress cultural and sector boundaries is perceived as one of his core strengths. Moreover, his skill at connecting seemingly disparate dots in order to define and operationalise highly effective business strategies is what defines him as the leader he is today. Able to think strategically and operationally, with a high level of analytical objectivity and agility, Neil offers a rare capacity for both innovation and pragmatism, securing future-state success across complex, operating environments.
Spark Strategy
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Glenn Barry - Acknowledgement to Country
Gamilaraay language group and people from NW NSW
Glenn Barry is from the Gamilaraay language group and people from NW NSW. He has called the Gold Caost home for nearly 50 years. He is on the Council of Elders at Griffith University and looks to show and share and learn about the benefits of First People’s ways of knowing, ways of doing and ways of being.

Glenn is a visual artist and likes apprentices who are learning from experiences and helpful direction, he resonates toward the role of mentoring others and also being mentored by those with kind hearts and understanding.
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Dianne Dayhew - MC
National Executive Officer, National Apprentice Employment Network
Dianne Dayhew is the National Executive Officer of the National Apprentice Employment Network, the member body representing the network of group training organisations that employ some 25,000 apprentices and trainees around Australia.
Originally an educator in primary and tertiary education, Dianne also has a professional background in the arts and creative industries.
Dianne worked with the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council for more than six years, initially running their NSW ITAB contract for construction and property services, and later as General Manager of Policy.
She established and managed three group training operations in both the arts and property services industries, and later worked with high profile organisations including SOCOG, SPOC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where she was a Senior Executive in the Human Resources Division.
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