CommsDirect 2016 Speakers and Trainers


Abo, Sarah, SBS-std

Sarah Abo

SBS World News

Sarah Abo reports for SBS World News from SBS’s Melbourne newsroom.She started her career at Network Ten in Adelaide as a reporter and presenter, before moving to the Melbourne newsroom and joined SBS World News as a presenter and reporter in 2013. She was involved in SBS’s 2014 Brazil World Cup coverage, from where she also filed a feature for SBS’s international current affairs program, Dateline. Sarah was a 2014 CNN Journalism Fellow. In 2015, she travelled to Paris, reporting from the COP21 Climate Conference, and a few weeks ago returned from Afghanistan where she was embedded with the Australian Defence Force. Sarah was born in Syria and holds a BA with Honours in Journalism from Monash University.
PANEL: Communicating amid disruption. Thursday June 9, 9.40am-10.40am


Natasha Akib

Natasha Akib

Digital Producer, Digital Storytellers

Natasha specialises in media and marketing for social and environmental good organisations. Natasha spearheads Stories For Impact – Digital Storytellers’ education platform aimed at democratising storytelling using smartphones and accessible technology. Natasha was previously Community Builder at StartSomeGood.com – the leading crowdfunding platform for social impact projects and has as also been directly involved in managing 6 crowdfunding campaigns which have raised over $100,000 in total.
WORKSHOP: Video within reach. Wednesday June 8, 9.30-11.30am


Bethany Atkinson-Quinton

Bethany Atkinson-Quinton

Radio Producer

Bethany Atkinson-Quinton is a radio producer, presenter and creative audio maker based in Melbourne. Currently working across multiple audio projects for PBS, RRR, FBi and the Australian Red Cross, Beth is passionate about the power of storytelling to capture and present varied experiences and voices. @bethanyaq
WORKSHOP: Podcasting Crash Course. Wednesday June 8, 12.00-2.00pm


Mary Barry

Mary Barry

CEO, Our Watch

Our Watch is the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children. Mary was previously CEO of the National Heart Foundation of Australia since 2014. Prior to this, Mary was CEO of the Victorian State Emergency Services for 8 years and CEO of the Victorian Association of Health and Extended Care for 6 years. She was originally qualified with a Hospital and Health Social Gerontology Certificate and holds subsequent Post Graduate Diplomas in Health Sciences and Public Policy and Management.
KEYNOTE: Communicating for Change. Thursday June 9, 8.40-9.20am


Nathan Burman, Twitter

Nathan Burman

Head of PR & Communications, Twitter Australia

Nathan Burman manages all external communications and public affairs for Twitter in Australia. He is passionate about helping people understand how Twitter can be used to discover great content, connect with others, and express themselves. You can find him on Twitter at @NBurman.
PANEL: Social Media. Thursday June 9, 3.30-4.30pm


Maria Catanzariti

Maria Catanzariti

Communications Manager

Maria Catanzariti is the Communications Manager at Twitter Australia. She is passionate about innovation and driving mass participation and engagement through technology. Before joining Twitter, Maria spent two years as Strategic Communications Manager for UN Women Australia. Here Maria was responsible for developing and implementing communications and social media strategy and partnerships, with a particular focus of International Women’s Day. She has extensive experience working with local and State Governments and not-for-profit sector having also worked as a Ministerial Adviser and Media Adviser to NSW’s first female Premier. Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) and a Masters in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Sydney. @mariac
WORKSHOP: Tweeting for maximum impact: Twitter for communicators. Wednesday June 8, 3:00-4.00pm


Joel Clapham, MediaSuper

Joel Clapham

GM Communications & Marketing, Media Super

Joel Clapham is a member of the fund’s executive. A professional writer and creative by trade, Joel has worked in corporate communications for membership organisations since 2005. As head of communications for our industry’s own super fund that counts journalists, writers, printers and digital natives among its membership, Joel and his team know only too well the importance of well-crafted, well-informed and faultlessly accurate communications. Striving to innovate is essential, given the high levels of disengagement and apathy that superannuation still needs to overcome. As well as his role with Media Super, Joel is also a developing comedy writer and performer. Twitter: @jaclapham
SHOWCASE: Interactive Ink. Thursday June 9, 12.00-12.15pm


Carolyn Dunbar

Carolyn Dunbar

Regional Director, MEAA Victoria & Tasmania

Carolyn Dunbar is the Regional Director of MEAA in Victoria and Tasmania and works across all sections of MEAA, advocating for media and communications workers around workplace and professional issues. Carolyn was previously an Industrial Officer at MEAA and an Associate to a Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission. Twitter: @carodunbar
Lunchtime: A word from Carolyn Dunbar


Emma Eldridge, Communications Permalancer

Emma Eldridge

Communications Permalancer

Emma is a communications professional with 11 years’ experience in agency, the arts, media and NFPs. She works as a permalancer across social media strategy and training, online community management, copywriting and editing, and marketing. She’s a learner and lover of all things digital, creative and cultural. Emma has worked with clients including ANZ, Chunky Move, Colonial First State, International Association for Dance Medicine & Science, Medibank, Melbourne University Business School, National Gallery of Victoria, Orygen: The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, The Australian Ballet School, The Gordon, Victoria University, Western Chances, Willett Marketing (Australian Institute of Architects, AustralianSuper, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, and Cadbury Fundraiser), and William McKinnon. She also plans and guides tours of Japan.
PANEL: The total comms professional. Thursday June 9, 11.00am-12.00noon


Gagnon, Alys, Mamamia-std

Alys Gagnon

Parenting Editor, Mamamia

Alys started writing after the birth of her first child as a way of processing the tsunami of emotions she experienced. After a period as a freelancer, she was delighted to join the team at Mamamia as an editor after the birth of her second child in early 2015. She writes about parenting, children, current affairs, feminism, and the place of mothers in the wider community. The Motherish facebook page, which she oversees, was named the number one most engaged facebook page in Australia in 2015. Alys has a background in social justice, lobbying, advocacy and politics. She lives in a messy house in suburban Melbourne with her husband and two children. Twitter: @AlysJ
PANEL: Social Media. Thursday June 9, 3.30-4.30pm


Aimee Gossage, Quantcast

Aimee Gossage

Senior Sales Manager, Quantcast

Aimee works at Quantcast, a data-driven, real-time programmatic company leveraging online behavioural insights to deliver value for marketers. With 10-years’ experience in digital media, Aimee has worked across momentous change within the industry, mainly due to the growth and impact of new technologies and big data. She is passionate about assisting agencies and marketers to understand on how to leverage new platforms and datasets to make smart marketing decisions. Aimee holds a Masters in Communications from Queensland University of Technology and has previously worked at REA Group; Foxtel & Channel TEN. @aimeegoss
PANEL: Hot data. Thursday June 9, 2.15-3.15pm


Belinda Hawkins, Senior Journalist, Australian Story, ABC TV

Belinda Hawkins

Senior Journalist, Australian Story, ABC TV

Belinda Hawkins has reported on national and international events for ABC TV and SBS TV for 30 years, filing from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Eritrea, Cuba, Germany and Russia. For the past 15 years she has been a senior journalist with ABC TV’s Australian Story program. Her documentary work has been recognised with a raft of awards. Among them are seven Quill awards including the Gold Quill, four New York Festival Medals and four United Nations Media Peace Awards. She also has two Walkley awards and ten times been a finalist. Her book about the Jock Palfreeman case called Every Parent’s Nightmare was longlisted in the Walkley Book Award in 2013. Earlier this year she broke the extraordinary story about Australia’s first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson, in an episode of Australian Story called “The Minister’s Secret”. Belinda has a Master of Arts in English Literature from the University of Melbourne. She started her working life as high school teacher in country Victoria.
KEYNOTE: Communicating for Change. Thursday June 9, 8.40-9.20am (moderator)


Robyn Hunter

Robyn Hunter

CEO, MS Australia

Robyn was appointed as CEO of MS in March 2013. She was promoted from the role of COO, which she had held since March 2011. Robyn’s appointment marks a new era as we focus on building the organisation into a thriving social enterprise. This will deliver benefits to people living with multiple sclerosis in the new landscape shaped by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. With more than 20 years in the health sector, starting as a clinical physiotherapist in rehabilitation, Robyn understands the challenges faced by people living with multiple sclerosis. These are not abstract issues for Robyn as her mother, Elsa, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS when Robyn was a child. The memory of her mother inspires Robyn’s deep commitment to better meet the needs of people affected by multiple sclerosis and to maximise every opportunity to manage the impact of the disease on their lives. Robyn’s career trajectory includes providing home and hospital-based rehabilitation services in Australia and overseas before moving into senior management roles in private sector health and private health insurance. Her significant achievements include managing Medibank Private’s preparation for privatisation and holding senior executive roles responsible for operational management, corporate strategy and planning and health services strategy and purchasing. Since joining our organisation, Robyn succeeded in getting the MS Needs Analysis off the ground, a national study being used to provide a base for future planning of services and advocacy for people living with MS. Robyn also established the Risk management and Quality Frameworks that focus on enhancing outcomes for people affected by multiple sclerosis. Robyn’s focus remains on ensuring the organisation is well positioned for the future and she will continue to play a crucial role in influencing the development of DisabilityCare Australia on behalf of people with MS. With more than 15 years of management experience, Robyn holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)
SHOWCASE: This Bike has MS. Thursday June 9, 3.00-3.15pm

Kate Jones

Freelance journalist

Kate Jones is a freelance journalist who specialises in small business, finance and property. She writes for a range of publications including The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun, Forge, ShortPress, The New Daily and realestate.com.au. Before becoming a freelancer, Kate spent 10 years as a reporter at the Herald Sun covering rounds as diverse as medical, courts and urban affairs. Twitter: @kateljnes
PANEL: The total comms professional. Thursday June 9, 11.00am-12.00noon

Marion Joseph

Head of media and public affairs, National Gallery of Victoria

Marion Joseph has spent a decade working in media as a journalist, editor and publicist. She has written lifestyle columns for Melbourne Weekly and City Weekly, edited the arts section for Leader Newspapers, and was senior fashion features writer for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore. She has was a publicist promoting local and international music acts and major theatre productions for Arts Centre Melbourne and is currently Head of Media and Public Affairs at the National Gallery of Victoria. She has degrees in B Comms (Professional Communication) and BA (Journalism) from RMIT University.
PANEL: Activating narrative. Thursday June 9, 12.15-1.15pm


James Kirby

James Kirby

Wealth editor, The Australian; co-founder, The Eureka Report

James Kirby is one of Australia’s most experienced financial journalists. He is managing editor of the online investment site Eureka Report and editor of The Australian’s Wealth sections. James is a weekly business commentator on TV at ABC News Breakfast and Sky Business and a weekly guest on several radio stations. He was a co-founder and shareholder in the Australian Independent Business Media, which was taken over by News Ltd in 2012. He is currently on the board of the Walkley Innovation Grants.
PANEL: Hot data. Thursday June 9, 2.15-3.15pm


Michael Knox

Michael Knox

Managing Partner & Chief Creative Officer, Grey

Michael has over 20 years experience in communications and advertising, and has worked on some of Australia’s most well-known brands including MYER, AAMI, Telstra, Australia Post, QANTAS, TAC, the Victorian Racing Club and MS Australia. Michael leads an integrated Creative Department that sees storytellers and technologists working together to solve problems of all sizes for clients in all categories. Michael’s work has been awarded at major award shows including Cannes, One Show, London Internationals, New York Festivals, Mobius, AWARD and MADC. Michael has also been invited to judge at both local and international award shows.
SHOWCASE: This Bike has MS. Thursday June 9, 3.00-3.15pm


Jason McPherson, Culture Amp

Dr Jason McPherson

Chief Data Scientist, Culture Amp

Jason is Chief Scientist at Culture Amp where he has worked with fast growing tech giants such as Airbnb, Pinterest, Etsy and many others on internal culture measurement and research. Jason has been using, designing and analyzing surveys for over 15 years, and his research has been published in the American Psychological Association’s key methodology journals. Previously a founding member of the workplace survey team of Kenexa Australia and APAC Research Consultant for Towers Watson. Jason has a PhD in Psychology and has published research on cognitive assessments as well as survey statistics and methodologies.
PANEL: Communicating amid disruption. Thursday June 9, 9.40am-10.40am


Joe Milton, ASMC

Dr Joseph Milton

Senior Media Officer, Australian Science Media Centre

Joe Milton is an evolutionary biologist who, after studying the evolution of plants for ten years at various Scottish universities, made a move into journalism. Since then he has written for the Financial Times, Nature and New Scientist, among others. Joe joined the London Science Media Centre in 2010, where he was Senior Press Officer for Mental Health, before taking up the position of Senior Media Officer at the Australian Science Media Centre in July 2012. Joe is a regular guest on ABC Radio National’s Drive show, discussing science stories with host Patricia Karvelas.
SHOWCASE: Media placement: Big concepts for a broad audience. Thursday June 9, 4.30-4.45pm


Fran Molloy, Managing Editor & Talent Manager (Australasia), Contently

Fran Molloy

Managing Editor & Talent Manager (Australasia), Contently

Fran combined roles as a freelance journalist and part-time university lecturer for over a decade, and since 2015 she has worked with Brendan Fitzpatrick, job-sharing a managing editor role for US content platform Contently. They commission stories and photography for ANZ’s Your World digital platform, editing content and liaising between the client, freelancers and Contently in New York. Fran also recruits freelancers as a Talent Manager for Australia. She also founded Freeline (the Australian freelance journalists network), has been a judge of the Walkley Freelance Journalist of the year award and is a long-term Media Alliance member. Fran worked variously as a radio, magazine, newspaper and online journalist and spent several years as Manager of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism before going freelance. Now, her byline appears in wide range of outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC, and a wide range of outlets in Australia and internationally. She also teaches environmental journalism at the Sydney campus of New York University. Twitter: @franmolloy
PANEL: The total comms professional. Thursday June 9, 11.00am-12.00noon


Nunn, Gary, ChangeDotorg-std

Gary Nunn

Communications Director, Change.org

Gary has 11 years of communications and PR experience in the not-for-profit sector which has led him to his current position as Director of Communications for Change.org – the world’s biggest social change platform that empowers everyday people through online petitions. Starting his career as a Press Officer for Barnardo’s UK, Gary went on to manage communications at Stonewall, Europe’s largest gay equality campaigning organisation. He was responsible for promoting the campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools with the slogan: ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ After that Gary was Communications Manager at Comic Relief, where he edited See Africa Differently – a news site, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – exclusively dedicated to telling the under-reported good news stories about Africa. In this role, he interviewed Kofi Annan and Tony Blair. When Gary moved to Australia, he became PR and Communications Manager for children’s cancer charity Camp Quality. In the role, he reunited Beyoncé with cancer sufferer Chelsea James a few months before her death in a story that went internationally viral. During his time at Camp Quality, the charity climbed six places up the Charity Reputation Index from 12th to 6th – becoming the highest ranked children’s charity by reputation in Australia. In addition to his communications work, Gary is a journalist. He has written for The Guardian for eight years, the last two of which have seen him write a regular column for their Mind your language section. Gary also contributes regularly to Fairfax’s mastheads. Twitter: @garynunn1
PANEL: Activating narrative. Thursday June 9, 12.15-1.15pm


Huw Parkinson

Huw Parkinson

Video Editor

Huw Parkinson has been a freelance video editor for 10 years and is currently working with the ABC, where he’s successfully exploring new forms of storytelling in programs including Insiders. Huw has an innovative way of approaching big news events by framing them in popular culture for both a traditional TV and internet audience. His videos for Insiders receive tens of thousands of hits on ABC websites and are always picked up by other online media outlets in both Australia and internationally. Huw won a Walkley Award for Multimedia in 2015. Twitter: @rabbitandcoffee
SHOWCASE: Viral video content. Thursday June 9, 9.20-9.35am


Khali Sakkas, Isentia

Khali Sakkas

Executive Director, Insights & Research, Isentia

Khali directs Isentia’s insights services across the Asia Pacific. With over 13 years’ experience in communications research, Khali has a deep understanding of measurement and the media intelligence industry. She is passionate about Insights, and has presented at a range of conferences, providing strategic advice on demonstrating success, reputation management and the impact of integration. Khali holds a Bachelor of Communications from Charles Sturt University, has previously worked as an academic researcher for Monash University and also as a researcher for Indonesia’s national newspaper, Kompas. She is an AMEC Board member and co-chair of the AMEC APAC Chapter. @khalic
PANEL: Hot data. Thursday June 9, 2.15-3.15pm


Nick Shelton, Broadsheet

Nick Shelton

Founder & Publisher, Broadsheet Media

Nick Shelton is the Founder and Publisher of Broadsheet, a digital publication covering food, drink, fashion, art and entertainment across Australian cities. Having launched in late 2009 in Melbourne Broadsheet now has an audience of 1.3 million unique monthly visitors, a staff of 25 and clients including Mercedes-Benz, Lion Nathan, Westpac and Holden. In 2015, Broadsheet published two hardcover cookbooks and ran a pop-up restaurant for 2 months in collaboration with 25 Melbourne restaurants, cafes and bars. Broadsheet also runs Scout, an employment classifieds business with a focus on the hospitality, creative services and retail industries.
PANEL: Activating narrative. Thursday June 9, 12.15-1.15pm


Tania Sheward

Tania Sheward

Producer/Director, Digital Storytellers

Tania, a former BBC TV Producer also tutors university students in Video and Mobile Journalism, covering the art of engaging storytelling and hands-on production.Tania regularly facilitates workshops teaching organisations and individuals how to craft visual stories using a smartphone.
WORKSHOP: Video within reach. Wednesday June 8, 9.30-11.30am


Detch Singh

Detch Singh

Cofounder, Hypetap

Detch Singh is a cofounder at Hypetap, the first influencer marketing technology platform in the Asia Pacific region. Hypetap works closely with brands and agencies to execute best in class influencer marketing campaigns. Clients include LG, Nestle, Tripadvisor, Shoes of Prey and Disney.
He has played a key role in pioneering how influencer marketing is reshaping the advertising, media and communications landscape in Australia. Prior to Hypetap, Detch worked in investment banking across Melbourne, Sydney and New York where his industry focus was on technology, media and general industrials. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Information Systems from The University of Melbourne.
PANEL: Social Media. Thursday June 9, 3.30-4.30pm


Skehan, Michelle, AustraliaPost-std

Michelle Skehan

Head of Communications – Media, Australia Post

Michelle Skehan joined Australia Post in 2013 working on the organisation’s largest regulatory reform package in its 200+ year history. As company spokesperson Michelle was tasked with engaging the public on the need for changes to the letters service and how Australia Post was transforming to meet customer needs. Over the past decade Michelle has worked across media relations, internal communications, issues/crisis management and investor communications in both the public and private sector for companies including Orica and Wesfarmers. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business, Master of Business (PR) and is a sessional academic with the Queensland University of Technology. Twitter: @AusPost_News
PANEL: Communicating amid disruption. Thursday June 9, 9.40am-10.40am


Teulon, Nick, 90Seconds copy-std

Nick Teulon

Melbourne GM, 90 Seconds

Nick Teulon heads the Melbourne office for 90 Seconds, the world’s cloud video production service who manage a distributed network of 4000 high level video content producers in 70 countries and are growing at 300% year on year. To date they have produced 8000 videos for brands including Uber, ANZ, Air New Zealand and Google.
PANEL: The total comms professional. Thursday June 9, 11.00am-12.00noon


Fiona Tweedie

Fiona Tweedie

Data scientist, The Australian Ballet

Fiona Tweedie joined The Australian Ballet in 2016 as their first data scientist to look for new ways to use data to inform decision-making in the company. Although she learned the value of the right piece of information during her studies in ancient history, it was training researchers in data analysis and management at the University of Melbourne that saw her transition to Big Data. Previously, she worked at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission as a policy adviser and researcher. Fiona believes in the power of data to entertain, engage and, most importantly, inform us whatever our field of endeavour. She is on the board of Open Knowledge Australia and is a previous organiser of GovHack and HealthHack in Melbourne.
PANEL: Hot data. Thursday June 9, 2.15-3.15pm


Vuki Vujasinovic

Vuki Vujasinovic

Sling & Stone

Vuki is the founder and CEO of Sling & Stone, the award-winning PR agency that represents established and up-and-coming challengers, disrupters, and innovators. Working on the media relations and corporate communications campaigns for brands like Xero, Kogan.com, Domain, and nearmap, the agency uses smart new approaches to PR to have a local and global impact.
PANEL: Communicating amid disruption. Thursday June 9, 9.40am-10.40am


Westerman, Helen, The Conversation-std

Helen Westerman

Business & economy editor, The Conversation

Helen is a founding editor of The Conversation. She has covered news, business and finance for The Age newspaper and was the small business online editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Helen leads the The Conversation’s federal budget coverage and led the coverage on domestic violence which was nominated for a United Nations of Australia Media Peace Award in 2014.Twitter @HelenWesterman
PANEL: Activating narrative. Thursday June 9, 12.15-1.15pm


Jason Whittaker

Jason Whittaker

Publisher, Crikey

Jason Whittaker became Crikey publisher in 2016. He is a former editor of Crikey and has led politics, business and arts publications for over a decade. Twitter: @thetowncrier


Rita Zonius, ANZ

Rita Zonius

Head of Internal Digital Communications, ANZ

Rita has more than 20 years’ experience in corporate communications, leading teams of communication professionals to mobilise employees around business priorities and demonstrate to external stakeholders how organisational strategy delivers value for customers and shareholders. Currently Rita leads ANZ’s Internal Digital Communications team, established in 2015 to support ANZ to realise the business benefits of enterprise social technologies, including driving a collaborative and engaged culture across ANZ’s workforce of around 60,000 staff globally. Last year, Rita led a significant project to deliver ANZ’s first truly global enterprise social network. This included developing and delivering governance, change, communication and training strategies and plans in line with global best practice to maximise the adoption of enterprise social technologies in the organisation. In addition to her accountabilities for guiding enterprise social networking, Rita governs ANZ’s global intranet platform and publishing model to ensure continuous improvement initiatives are aligned to international best practice user experience.
PANEL: Communicating amid disruption. Thursday June 9, 9.40am-10.40am