Keynote speakers

Professor Lea Waters AM, PhD

Professor Lea Waters AM PhD

Replenishing staff wellbeing without depleting leader energy: The recharging power of micro moments 

Professor Waters has worked with DE schools for more than a decade including work with the former Bastow Institute and being the Director of the Masters in School Leadership, a partnership between Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the Department of Education.

Her Visible Wellbeing program is being used by schools in Australia, Canada, South Africa, The Netherlands, India, Belgium, Hong Kong, UAE, China, and New Zealand. Visible Wellbeing is on the Victorian Department’s Schools Mental Heath Menu and is approved as an evidence-based program by Beyond Blue and the South Australian Department of Education. DE schools have been using Visible Wellbeing since 2015 beginning with Kambrya College and spreading to other metro, regional and rural schools.

Professor Waters was the Founding Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne and is a world leader in this field with over 120 research publications. She is the only Australian to have been President of the International Positive Psychology Association and has been the Ambassador of the Positive Education Schools Association for a decade.

Lea’s best-selling book ‘The Strength Switch’ was the top release on Amazon, listed among the Top Reads by Berkeley University’s Greater Good Science Center and one of the Top Five Books for Parents and Children in the UK’s Top Five site. It has been translated into 10 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Hungarian, Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian.

In 2015, Professor Waters was listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Women of Influence by the Financial Review and Westpac bank. In 2017 she was listed in the Who’s Who of Australian Women. In 2020, Lea was honoured by the Governor General of Australia and named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her leadership in psychology, education and the mental health sector.

Lea has written for The Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Atlantic, and The Guardian and her work is featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Toronto Globe, Huffington Post and more.

Lea Waters AM, PhD

Geraldine Atkinson

Geraldine Atkinson

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson in conversation with Angela Singh  

Geraldine Atkinson is a proud Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman and co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

For over 40 years, Geraldine has been instrumental in driving government and policy reform in Aboriginal education.

From starting in the field as an Aboriginal teacher’s aide in 1976, Geraldine moved forward to become the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI), a role she has held since 1999.

In that role she represents the organisation on Koorie education matters across all education sectors: early childhood, school education, and post compulsory education and training.

Geraldine obtained a Bachelor of Education from Deakin University in 2013 and went on to obtain her Masters of Education in 2019. In early 2020, her leadership in Aboriginal education was further recognised with the awarding of a Deakin University Honorary Doctorate Award.

Beyond the field of education, Geraldine has been a strong voice in areas such as justice, reconciliation and family violence:

• Member of the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum on the development of the Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: towards a safer future for Indigenous families and communities 10 year plan (2008).

• Signatory to Victorian Government’s Burra Lotjpa Dungaludga (“Senior Leaders Talking Strong”) – The Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 4 (2019).

• Member of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.

• Inducted in the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Role (2018).

Susan Ogden

Susan Ogden 

Leading school improvement in 2023

In this presentation, Susan will share through stories, of what she has learnt about leading a complex school and highlight the strategies that have not only enabled her community to build a powerful learning environment and successfully overcome the challenges they have faced, but also retain her love and commitment for the job.

Susan has been a staff member at Dandenong High School for over 30 years. Appointed as Principal in 2012, she has led the community through a period of intense change, with a focus on building a culture of collective and continuous school improvement.

A committed and innovative educator, she is driven by a passion to make a difference within her low socio – economic community and ensure the school, one of the most diverse in Victoria, provides an environment where all students can achieve success and strive for excellence. 

Tracey Ezard

Tracey Ezard

Leading with courage and kindness 

Momentum for transformation, whether evolution or revolution, is held in the thread built between the individual and the collective. 

From everyday micro-collaborations between educators and students to macro system-coherence, it is connection and partnerships that drive change. 

To do that we need cultures that foster the ferocity to transform, and the warmth to connect and inspire people. As leaders, drawing from a combination of courage and kindness strengthens culture and connection. 

Tracey is known for her ‘Ferocious Warmth’ leadership approach (IS professional collaborative culture work). Tracey’s collaborative framework The Buzz, which creates an environment of learning, trust and innovation, is used in education and organisational systems throughout Australia and the UK. Her Buzz Diagnostic on collaborative cultures has been used by over 500 schools and has had over 11,000 people participate. Tracey has run leadership programs for education and system leaders for over 17 years in all education sectors in Australia and in New Zealand. She also works with education federations in the UK and in Asia. 

Tracey is the 2022 recipient of the ACELVic Hedley Beare Educator of the Year award, a National Fellow of the Australian Council of Education Leaders (FACEL) and a Certified Speaking Professional. She was awarded the Professional Speakers Association Breakthrough Speaker of the Year Award in 2023. She has a background in teaching and educational leadership in the Victorian state system, business management and HR in fine dining restaurants, and project management in the automotive industry as part of the Teacher Release to Industry Program.



Workshop Presenters
Associate Professor Lisa McKay Brown PhD

Associate Professor Lisa McKay-Brown PhD

Implementing a multi-tiered system of support to respond to school attendance problems

School attendance and school attendance problems (SAPs) are a national concern for the education sector. The impact of SAPs may lead to outcomes that are detrimental to young people, their families, and the wider community. SAPs impact youth through the loss of valuable educational opportunities and contribute to poorer wellbeing outcomes. This session will examine school attendance problems and their impacts on student engagement. Participants will learn about typologies of school non-attendance and the implementation of tiered responses. Participants will also explore the use of data and school attendance teams to lead change in their setting. 

Lisa is Senior lecturer at the Melbourne Graduate School for Education. Specialties are Inclusion, Mental health and School refusal. Lisa has 25 years' experience working within Education and is a regular contributor to academic research. Lisa is on the Board of the Association for Positive Behaviour Support Australia (APBSA) and is co-Chair of the Research network. Lisa has a large focus on the marginalised youth and how to increase attendance and offer behavioural support.  

A/Prof Lisa McKay-Brown (unimelb.edu.au)

Tasneem Chopra OAM

Tasneem Chopra OAM

The case for cultural competence in leadership

The increasing breadth of cultural diversity in classrooms across Australia invites a rethink of how we co-opt the cultural collateral of students in an inclusively forward way. As Principals navigate the intersection of cultural diversity and progressive education, this is an opportunity to approach diversity as an asset, not a liability. This workshop will explore how principals can lead with diverse intent and respond to the opportunity multicultural students represent, often with their dual languages/cultural contexts, many of whom have the capacity to enhance the overall learning experience of entire school communities if leveraged inclusively. 

Tasneem is an experienced cross-cultural consultant and DE&I trainer who helps organisations understand diversity and inclusion with an intersectional lens. She speaks at national and international events and is also an engaging panel moderator and MC. Her work has been widely published across academia and within the media. 

Tasneem Chopra OAM - Consultant, Speaker, Broadcaster

Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings 

Find your leadership edge 

Today's educational learning environment is ever-changing, complex, connected and often uncertain. 

For educational leaders to succeed, they need to be ready to navigate these challenges by finding their leadership edge. Success requires high levels of integrity, adaptability, courage, perseverance and empathy, and ultimately, a willingness to discard leadership myths and forge their unique leadership style. 

Set in the context of a changing world and learning landscape, this workshop draws on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and human development. Through this workshop, you will gain insight into how to: 

• Adapt your leadership style to changing circumstances 

• Help your colleagues and team thrive through this complexity 

• Build a leadership environment that is fit for the future 

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert. Internationally recognised, she is the award-winning author of three books and is welcomed on stages globally to help inspire leaders, teams and organisations to create thriving workplaces. Her mantra is simple: help people thrive, and progress is accelerated. 

Michelle Gibbings | Workplace Expert, Author, Leadership Facilitator, Talks 

Zack Haddock

Zack Haddock co-presenting with principals

Strengthening professional capability of principals in Koorie education leadership journey 

The Strengthening Professional Capability of Principals in Koorie Education (SPPIKE) professional learning program supports Victorian education leaders to embrace Aboriginal cultural understandings and to strengthen their capability to implement systematic workforce cultural change at a school level, as well as improve teacher capability to be responsive and achieve improved Koorie outcomes. 

This session will be facilitated by Zack Haddock, Executive Director, Koorie Outcomes Division, alongside two Victorian school principals who will share their journey with the SPPIKE program, including discussions around overcoming challenging conversations to promote positive cultural identity and excellence in schools. 

Mark McCrindle

Mark McCrindle 

Top trends impacting the future of the education sector 

Only occasionally in history do massive demographic changes combine with huge social shifts, ongoing generational transitions and unprecedented technological innovation so that within the span of a decade society altogether alters. The education sector is currently in the midst of one such transformation. While these changes impact every school, the principals that will future proof their school communities are those who understand the times, influence the trends and shape the future. Based on the latest research, Social Analyst Mark McCrindle will navigate attendees through the top megatrends having the biggest impact transforming Australia and the future of education sector.  

Mark McCrindle is a recognised thought-leader in tracking emerging trends influencing society. He is the author of five books on emerging trends and social change, including Generation Alpha: Understanding our children and helping them thrive and Work Wellbeing: Leading thriving teams in rapidly changing times. His advisory, communications and research company, McCrindle, counts among its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and leading international brands. McCrindle conducts an annual, industry-wide research report about the education sector - The Future of Education Report. Mark also chairs the board of an independent school and is a board member of the Association of Independent Schools (NSW). 

Mark McCrindle – Mark McCrindle 

Associate Professor Glenn Savage PhD

Associate Professor Glenn Savage PhD

Navigating “what works” in the new evidence ecology 

Never in the history of education have school leaders had access to such a dizzying array of research evidence. Every day, it seems, there is a new report, toolkit, or TED Talk promising to tell us “what works” to improve schools. In this workshop, Glenn Savage will engage participants in active reflection on the ‘evidence ecology’ school leaders now inhabit. Rather than asking “what works?”, Savage will compel leaders to ask, “what might work here?”, in ways that put context at the heart of attempts to creatively experiment with evidence in schools.  

Glenn Savage is an Associate Professor of Education Policy and the Future of Schooling at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. His recent book, ‘The Quest for Revolution in Australian Schooling Policy’ (Routledge 2021), provides a detailed history of schooling reform in the Australian federation and offers a strong critique of failed attempts to improve national schooling outcomes. Glenn has extensive research experience, with funding totalling over $3 million, including major commissioned and collaborative research grants with AITSL, ACARA and the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership. He currently leads an Australian Research Council project that is examining ways to improve collaboration between government agencies in the development of national schooling reforms. 

A/Prof Glenn Savage (unimelb.edu.au)


Session 1 - School Workshop 

Session 2 - School Workshop 

Leading numeracy improvement through a small schools Professional Learning Community

The Cathedral and Outer Shepparton small schools Professional Learning Community

This workshop will discuss an innovative approach to a Professional Learning Community made up of four small schools.

In 2023 the focus is numeracy including looking at usage of the High Impact Teaching Strategies to improve student outcomes in numeracy.
The group is a terrific example of very small schools working cooperatively together and using Professional Learning Communities to improve outcomes.  

Principal network support for principal health and wellbeing

Hume Merri-bek network

A workshop focussed on how small groups of principals in the Hume Merri-bek area, with the support of a psychologist have created a support system for principal health and wellbeing.

In this workshop, you will hear about how the ‘4PRINS’ wellbeing strategy deepens collegiality, whilst focussing on developing risk-mitigation strategies to provide leaders the space and tools to care for their own mental health and wellbeing and strengthening professional relationships. 

Leading positive behaviour supports in mainstream and special schools

Monash Special Development School 

This workshop will focus on leading positive behaviour supports in mainstream and special schools, based on the implementation of School Wide Positive Behaviour Support in special schools.

A network approach to leading numeracy improvement

Riversdale network

This workshop will focus on how a network approach can be used to coordinate and lead numeracy improvement.

Leading whole school numeracy improvement 

Castlemaine North Primary School 

This workshop will discuss how Castlemaine North Primary School leveraged system supports (Primary Mathematics and Science Specialists initiative and Leading Mathematics) to drive whole school improvement in numeracy. 

A community of practice approach to leading wellbeing and attendance improvement

Mitchell and Murrindindi network

This workshop will focus on how a community of practice can be used to take a strategic, targeted approach to attendance and wellbeing improvement.

Strengthening Holocaust education

Brunswick Secondary College

A workshop on how Brunswick Secondary College built teachers’ confidence and self-efficacy in teaching the Holocaust, leading to implementation of a student-centred pedagogy and a range of positive learning and wellbeing outcomes. Strategies the school used, and challenges experienced will be covered, as well as the school’s partnership with Melbourne Holocaust Museum. 

Leading inclusive school partnerships: Reciprocity is the key

Western Autistic School & Seaholme Primary School

This workshop will discuss the methodology implemented through a collaborative partnership program at Western Autistic School and Seaholme Primary School to promote and celebrate autism, inclusion, and diversity. This program included the facilitation of the I CAN network’s Imagination Club, alongside broader teaching and professional learning developed by school staff. 

Whole school student engagement & wellbeing journey

Guthridge Primary School

This workshop will focus on using a series of strategic actions and a focus on what works to improve school climate, student engagement, wellbeing and achievement. Through research, data and evidence Guthridge Primary School has developed consistent schoolwide practices to maximise their impact and drive shared ownership.

Accelerating whole school numeracy improvement 

Leongatha Secondary College

This workshop will focus on strategies for leading staff through cultural change and data informed practice to gain improved engagement and outcomes for students. It will explore how the school aligned work efforts from a variety of system initiatives and collaborated closely with the local primary school to share expertise, act as critical partners and share pedagogy.

Staying In Education: Targeted and flexible approaches to at-risk students 

Monterey Secondary College

This workshop will explore how Monterey Secondary College has transformed outcomes through trauma-informed, positive education, improved culture and flexible program design to support and engage at-risk students. The collective approach has seen improved student outcomes in learning, wellbeing and behaviour, improved staff outcomes in physical, professional and psychology safety, and improved community perception.

Leadership and culture

University High School

This workshop will focus on the strategic importance of leadership teams and roles to school culture and goals. The workshop will explore designing a team to support change.   

This workshop will explore how a large school imbued with strong traditions set about the challenge of cultural change. At University High School, empowering change agents through a distributed leadership structure was a critical first step. This workshop will explore the role of leadership at all levels in driving improvement.

Sustaining learning improvement through whole school wellbeing

Burnside Primary School

This workshop will focus on whole school learning culture and approaches that support learning improvement for every student whilst building the capacity of every staff member to integrate learning and wellbeing under the banner of engagement.  The workshop will discuss the experience of starting a new school, now five years old, driven by vision and establishing culture.   

Leading and creating an inclusive school culture 

Kurnai College

This workshop will focus on establishing an inclusive culture and classroom practice. Kurnai College is an advanced Deep Engagement School working with an Education Improvement Leader - Diverse Learners to establish a high level of fidelity and become a lighthouse school for disability inclusion reform implementation. 

Achieving consistency - a team approach to teaching Year 12 General (Further) Mathematics  

Ballarat High School

This workshop will focus on developing a shared vision and using a team approach to ensure consistency and to achieve consistently high outcomes.

Leading and connecting learning and wellbeing

Beverford District Primary School

This workshop will explore distributive leadership in a small primary school, which resulted in reversing the trend of declining enrolments. The workshop will connect learning and wellbeing through school-based and regional supports.



Last updated 21 July 2023