Confirmed Plenary Speakers

Climate Justice Panel

Dr Matthew Rimmer (Chair)

Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland.


Aroha Mead

Aroha Te Pareake Mead is an independent researcher from Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou (Māori), Aotearoa New Zealand. She has been involved in Māori and indigenous bio-cultural heritage and conservation issues for over thirty years at local, national, Pacific regional and international levels and has published extensively in these fields.  She is currently on the Kahui Māori for the Deep South Climate Change National Science Challenge, the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Advisory Panel of Te Papa and member of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Expert Technical Working Group on Diverse Conceptualisation of Values of Nature and Ecosystems.

Her past work includes being Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic & Social Policy (CEESP) 2008-2016, Chair of the Board of the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment 2010-2017, Director & Senior Lecturer of the Māori Business Unit, Victoria University of Wellington 2000-2015, Policy Manager, Cultural Heritage & Indigenous Issues Unit, Te Puni Kokiri 1996-2004 and Foreign Policy Convenor, National Māori Congress 1991-2003. Aroha was also on the Governing Council of IUCN for sixteen years 2000-2016.


Dr. Amy Maguire

Dr Amy Maguire is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle Law School and an active media commentator on legal and rights issues. Her fields of research are public international law and human rights, with particular focus on self-determination, Indigenous rights, climate change and human displacement, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, and the death penalty. In 2015, Amy’s submissions and evidence before the federal parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty influenced the recommendations of the inquiry Committee. Amy has received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Overall Early Career Research and Innovation Excellence (2016) and been selected as a finalist for The University of Newcastle Alumni Awards – Beryl Nashar Early Career Researcher Award (2017) and the Lawyer’s Weekly Women in Law Awards - Academic of the Year Award.


Dr. Jason von Meding

Dr Jason von Meding is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia and leads the Disaster and Development Research Group in the School of Architecture & Built Environment. His research focuses on the social, political, economic and environmental injustice that causes people, across global societies but particularly in the developing world, to be marginalised and forced into greater risk of being impacted by disasters. Having accumulated a decade of research experience in disaster science, Jason takes a critical approach to the field and continues to argue that disasters are socially constructed rather than natural events.


Activist Panel

Sue Higginson (Chair)

Sue was a principal solicitor at the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) from 2013 until 2017 and chief executive officer of EDO from 2015 until 2017.


Tim DeChristopher

Founder, Climate Disobedience Center

Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.

For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison.  Held for a total of  21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government.  He has used this as a platform to spread the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold,
confrontational action in order to create a just and healthy world. Tim used his prosecution as an opportunity to organize the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising in Salt Lake City, and most recently founded the Climate Disobedience Center.


Aidan Ricketts

Aidan Ricketts is an experienced social and environmental activist, social change trainer, academic and published author. Aidan has over 25 years hands on experience as a campaigner and trainer and continues to provide strategic workshops, advice and training for emerging social movements and campaigns. Aidan has recently published The Activists’ Handbook: A step-by-step guide to participatory democracy which is published internationally by Zed Books, London. Aidan is currently employed as an academic at Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice, in Lismore, Australia. Aidan’s academic qualifications include undergraduate and post graduate degrees in law and a post graduate degree in education. He is currently completing a PhD examining the application of complexity theory to social movement organisation and mobilisation.


Dr. Anne Poelina

Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated, is a Nyikina Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Through her wide experience from working in Indigenous health, education, language and community development for over 30 years she has developed a deep understanding of issues impacting on Indigenous Australians living in remote locations.

Her childhood growing up in Broome, Derby and out on country has given her the love and respect for land, law and culture particularly in relation to creating industries that are culturally affirming and environmentally sustainable.

Dr Poelina has studied the historical colonial context of development in the West Kimberley and how it impacts on contemporary Indigenous participation in decision making, governance, land and water reform.  Dr Poelina explores the characteristics of different models of development in relation to the impact and outcomes for Indigenous people in the West Kimberley, particularly in relation to developing green collar jobs in the culture and conservation economy.


Bringing the Climate Science Story to Life

John Reid (Chair) is an Emeritus Fellow of The Australian National University (ANU). He was a staff member at the ANU School of Art & Design from 1978–2013. During this period, he integrated a visual art practice in photography, collage and performance about human rights, the environment and cultural identity into his role as a tertiary visual arts researcher, educator, curator and graphic designer. He works as a consultant specialising in the creative engagement of visual artists in science-based communication about the environment.


Prof. Nathan Bindoff, Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University of Tasmania in Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, head of Oceans and Crysophere Centre, and associate Director of IMAS.

Nathan is physical oceanographer, specializing in ocean climate and the earth’s climate system, with a focus on understanding the causes of change in the oceans. He was the coordinating lead author for the ocean chapter in the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report and Fifth Assessment reports. Nathan and colleagues documented some of the first evidence for changes in the oceans in the Indian, North Pacific, South Pacific and Southern Ocean’s and the first evidence of changes in the Earths hydrological cycle from ocean salinity. His most recent work is on documenting the decline in oxygen content of the oceans and dynamics of the Southern Ocean.

He also leads a program on climate futures and is impacts of climate change on Australian climate, in particular, on extreme temperatures, rainfall, runoff, agriculture and ecosystems.

He has published more than 115 peer reviewed papers and more than 44 reports.


Prof. Lesley Hughes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity and Development), Distinguished Professor of Biology

Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor Research at Macquarie University and a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia. She is an ecologist whose research has focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems.


Dr. Esther Achieng Onyango

Dr. Esther Achieng Onyango is an Early Career Researcher with interests in using systems thinking and trans-disciplinary approaches in climate change risk assessments, development of climate change adaptation strategies and translation of climate change and health research into policy. Her Doctoral dissertation, which was highly commended was an integrated assessment of climate change and malaria risk, which involved a biophysical risk profile, community knowledge and information needs assessment and use of Bayesian Belief network models to integrate information and suggest suitable adaptation options.


Storytelling Panel

Professor Christopher Wright, The University of Sydney (Chair)

Christopher Wright is Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School where he teaches and researches organisational change, management innovation, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism and political economy. He has published extensively on the history of management, management consultancy, the labour process and the changing nature of human resource management.

His current research explores organizational and societal responses to climate change, with a particular focus on how managers and business organizations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate environmentalism, corporate citizenship, organizational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. His research on climate change and business is internationally recognised and he has developed research collaborations with leading international climate scientists and global environmental organisations. He is a key researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute, where he heads up a group examining corporate climate transition.

His research has appeared in a broad range of leading journals including: The Academy of Management JournalOrganization StudiesJournal of Management StudiesResearch PolicyEnvironment & Planning AHuman RelationsOrganization and the British Journal of Sociology. As well as chapters in edited collections, he is the author of several monographs including The Management of Labour: A History of Australian Employers (Oxford University Press, 1995), Management as Consultancy: Neo-bureaucracy and the Consultant Manager (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and most recently: Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction (Cambridge University Press, 2015).


Sally Abbott

Sally Abbott is a former journalist and a PR Director who lives in Central Victoria with her partner. She was the inaugural winner of The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in 2015. CLOSING DOWN is her first novel.


Shelley Birse, screenwriter


Dr. Jason de Santolo

Jason De Santolo (Garrwa and Barunggam) is a researcher, creative producer & father committed to forging a sustainable world for future generations through through transformative research strategies, storytelling & practices of renewal. Born in Larrakia homelands - Darwin, he moved to Aoteaoroa/NZ at an early age, growing up to eventually study treaty & international environmental law. His unique research practice integrates video, creative practice & renewal strategies through a Garrwa driven decolonising research paradigm. In 2014 he received a UTS Research Excellence Scholarship to undertake a creative doctorate that explored the renewal of song traditions through his passion for filmmaking & collective aspirations for self determination & sustainable autonomy. ​