Our Speakers



Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of Australian Council of Social Service

Cassandra Goldie has been CEO of ACOSS since July 2010. With public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, Cassandra has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities.

Hon Dr Gary Johns, Commissioner, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC), Melbourne

Dr Johns was the Member for Petrie 1987-1996, a columnist for The Australian newspaper and the author of a number of books on charities and the not-for-profit sector.


Senator Catryna Bilyk, Chair of Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century

Born in Tasmania, and having lived there for most of her life, Catryna Bilyk was elected as a Labor Senator for Tasmania in November 2007, taking her seat in the Senate on 1 July 2008. She was re-elected in September 2013 and again in the double dissolution election of 2016 for a further three-year term. She is currently Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate and serves on six Parliamentary committees.

 Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute, Canberra.

Richard has worked as an academic and written a number of books including the June 2018 Quarterly Essay, Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and what comes Next. He is also a board member of the Port of Newcastle.


Robert Fitzgerald AM, Commissioner, Productivity Commission, Canberra.

Commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 2013-2017. Chair, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) Advisory Board 2012-2015. Board member Social Ventures Australia and QUT Centre for Philanthropy and Not-for-profit Studies. Robert has extensive experience in commerce, law, public policy and community services.

 Emeritus Professor Jenny Onyx, University of Technology Sydney

Jenny Onyx (PhD) is Professor of Community Management in the Business School at the University Technology Sydney (UTS). She is Co-Director of Cosmopolitan Civil Societies research centre, and former Editor of Third Sector Review. She is particularly concerned with issues of advocacy, social capital, volunteering and civil society and has published widely in these fields.



Our Panellists

Sarah Benjamin, Trustee, Keir Foundation

The Keir Foundation was established by Phillip Keir and Sarah Benjamin as a Private Ancillary Fund to foster innovation and excellence in the arts. Our goal is to enable artists to make original work of a high order. The Foundation supports the work of new and emerging practitioners across art forms. From the beginning, the Keir Foundation has supported works of contemporary dance, competition, theatre and visual art by partnering with festivals, producers and gallery spaces.

Dr John McKinnon Trustee, McKinnon Foundation

Since 2012 John, together with his wife Sue, has managed the McKinnon Family Foundation, a private ancillary fund that focuses on support for the environment, poverty alleviation and social enterprise development. Both John and Sue are keen to maximise use of their assets, which means investing the corpus as much as possible in line with their values and the mission of the foundation. Hence they have been at the forefront of impact investing.

Mary Crooks AO, CEO of the Victorian Women’s Trust

After an extensive public policy career, Mary became the Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust in 1996. She has designed and led ground-breaking community engagement initiatives, such as the Purple Sage Project and Our Watermark Australia, an exceptional example of a nationwide, community engagement project based around issues of water sustainability. In June 2012, Mary was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, for her distinguished services to public policy.