Keynote presenters

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann
Aboriginal activist, educator and artist

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu and a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker.

In 1975, Miriam-Rose became the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher. As an art consultant for the Department of Education, she visited schools through the Top End, advocating for the inclusion of visual art as part of every child’s education.

Miriam-Rose later became the principal of the Catholic school in her home community before being appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council. In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation, to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society – driving reconciliation at a grassroots level.

Through her professional and creative life, Miriam-Rose has remained dedicated to maintaining the cultural independence of her people and being a spokesperson for the Aboriginal worldview. In recognition of her leadership, she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal and an Honorary PhD in Education from Charles Darwin University.

Dr Miriam Rose was awarded the Senior Australian of the Year in 2021.

Hugh Mackay
Social psychologist and researcher

Hugh Mackay is a social psychologist and researcher, and the bestselling author of 21 books, including eight novels. His new book, The Kindness Revolution, will be published in May 2021.

Hugh has had a 60-year career in social research, and was also a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years. He is currently an honorary professor in the Research School of Psychology at ANU, and a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Among other honorary appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board and an honorary professor at Macquarie, Wollongong and Charles Sturt universities.

Hugh is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Society of NSW. In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.

Ursula Stephens
Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Social Services Australia

Dr Ursula Stephens has a long personal and professional commitment to the social services sector. She is a passionate advocate for social inclusion and the not for profit sector, having served in the Australian Senate for twelve years, including as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, negotiating the National Compact and supporting efforts from government and the sector to establish the Australian Charities and Non Profit Commission.

Ursula has been an adult educator, senior public servant, small business owner and social entrepreneur. She chairs the Code Authority of FIA, Fundraising Institute Australia, is a Visiting Fellow and Director at Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non Profit Studies, at QUT and served on the Board of the School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia for three years.

Ursula holds a doctorate in Public Administration and brings strong leadership and governance experience to her role. She has a deep understanding of Catholic Social Teaching principles that underpin the work of our Social Services member network. She is a thought leader in the areas of social innovation and entrepreneurship. Born in Ireland, Ursula’s joys are Irish music, poetry and literature.

Ursula Stephens
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Manila

Ordained to the priesthood in 1982, Cardinal Tagle has served as a parish priest, spiritual director, and taught philosophy and theology.

After earning a licence in sacred theology and a doctorate summa cum laude, he became a member of the College of Consultors and of the Presbyteral Council and Episcopal Vicar for religious. He gave lectures, directed retreats and organised updating seminars for priests, religious and laity in the Philippines and abroad. He also took part in the activities of the Bishops’ Conference and of the Federation of Episcopal Conferences of Asia.

In 2001 he was appointed Bishop of Imus, Philippines, with youth as a special focus. Ten years later he was appointed Archbishop of Manila. He participated in the conclave of 2013 that elected Pope Francis.

In 2015 he became President of Caritas Internationalis and in 2019 Pope Francis appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 2020, Pope Francis decided to co-opt him into the Order of Bishops, equating him in all respects with the Cardinals holding the title of a suburbicarian.

Chiara Porro
Ambassador of Australia to the Holy See

HE Ambassador Chiara Porro is a career diplomat who joined Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in 2009. She has held a range of positions in Canberra, including most recently as Director, Ministerial and Executive Liaison Section, Executive Branch. She was seconded as an Adviser to the International Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2016-17), and has worked in DFAT’s Budget Branch (2015-16) and Africa Branch (2014).

Overseas, Ambassador Porro has served as Deputy Consul-General in Noumea, New Caledonia (2018-2020), on a short term mission to West Africa (2016), and as Second Secretary in New Delhi, India (2011-2014).

Ambassador Porro holds a Master of International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of York, United Kingdom. She speaks Italian and French. Ambassador Porro presented credentials to His Holiness Pope Francis on 27 August 2020.

Ambassador Porro is married and has two children.

Craig Foster
Human Rights Activist, Sport & Social Responsibility, Author, Adjunct Professor, Broadcaster, Former Socceroo
Former Socceroo Craig Foster is a passionate advocate for multiculturalism, refugees and social equality as a member of the Australian Multicultural Council and 18 year, multi Logie-winning broadcast veteran with SBS Television.

Holding a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Master’s Degree in International Sports Management and a Postgraduate Degree in Football Management, Craig works across a vast range of social programs from indigenous rights and self-determination, homelessness and domestic violence, climate action and gender equality and is particularly well known for his refugee advocacy.

Craig was the driving force behind the successful campaign to release footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was imprisoned in Thailand in 2018. Craig united and led a global coalition of advocacy groups, charities, high profile Australians and sport to free the footballer. The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) acknowledged his leadership.

In 2019, Craig travelled to Port Moresby to meet with refugees and asylum seekers still detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to bring attention to their plight.

Craig also founded the #PlayForLives campaign during COVID-19 disruptions. With a strong conviction that the sporting community should give back to society, he encourages professional athletes and organisations to fill vacant volunteering positions in community organisations.

In 2021, Craig became a Member of the Order Of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List which he dedicated to his refugee friends and former Manus Island detainees, Moz Azimitibar and Farhad Bandesh, and Hakeem al-Araibi as well as all refugees seeking safety around the world.

Lyndall Brown
Spiritual Accompanier of Retreats and Workshops

Lyndall Brown is a Sister of St. Joseph whose life has been enriched in the various ministries she has been involved in, beginning with Education. For many years Lyndall has been involved in working with adults, enabling them to enrich their lives through retreats, workshops in spirituality and personal group, and through Spiritual Accompaniment.

Robert Fitzgerald
NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner

Robert Fitzgerald AM was a Commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for five years and is currently the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner.

Robert, a commercial lawyer by profession, has a diverse background and extensive experience in commerce, law, public policy and community services. He has served on numerous NGO boards and committees including previously as President Australian Council of Social Service. Robert was the inaugural Chair of the Advisory Board, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. He has been involved in numerous Catholic agencies including as State President of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Board of Caritas Australia and Member of the NSW Catholic Commission on Employment Relations.

Robert holds degrees in commerce and law from the University of NSW and an honorary doctorate from the Australian Catholic University. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994. He is a recipient of the Centenary medal, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Australia Catholic University in 2001. He is currently Adjunct Professor at University of Western Australia and Patron of Justice Connect and SAMSN (Survivors and Mates Support Network).

Specialist workshop presenters

Igniting Sparks: McAuley Ministries

Margie Abbott rsm is a member of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). She has been offering retreats in Eco Spirituality since 1990. Margie’s qualifications in education, spirituality, theology, and counselling, as well as psychodrama, create a foundation for spontaneity and creativity. Her four publications include recently published Cosmic Sparks.

Photo courtesy of:

Writer, educator, researcher, Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman

Biography to come…

Lead Organiser, Sydney Alliance

Biography to come…

Honorary Professor, ACU and Honorary Fellow, UWS

Anne Benjamin, brings about 50 years’ experience in teaching, administration, leadership, governance and consultancy in Education, Higher Education and Church across Australia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and India. She has worked with Ministerial PJPs, the Australian Council of Churches, the Lutheran Church of Australia and Sydney Anglicare. She served as Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta from 1997-2005.

Anne’s published books include Leadership in a Synodal Church (with Charles Burford – 2021), Australian Catholic Educators 1820-2020 (co-edited with Seamus O’Grady – 2020), Catholic Schools: Hope in Uncertain Times (co-edited with Dan Riley – 2008), Saffron and Silk (2016), Gemstones, an anthology of collaborative poetry (2016), Children of the Kingdom and Storymakers (Project director) as well as numerous papers. Anne and her husband Susai have three adult children and one brand new granddaughter.

Honorary Professor, ACU

Charles Burford is an Honorary Professor of the Australian Catholic University where his research and work in leadership, moral literacy, and linkages between leadership and culture over more than 40 years have received international recognition. Charles consults to the University, School, Church, Health, Police, and Business sectors in Australia and internationally. He is a Fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leadership and was awarded the Willower Award for Excellence by the University Council for Educational Administration (USA) for his contribution to the study of values and ethics in leadership. He has been a Visiting Research Scholar at Pennsylvania State, and Fordham Universities in the US and the University of Verona, Italy.

Some of Charles’ other interests included playing International Rugby for Canada. He is married to Dianne and has three adult children and ten perfect grandchildren.

Catholic Life, Education and Mission (CLEM), Wollongong Diocese

The CLEM team exists to support the evangelising mission of the Church as it is lived out within Catholic schools.The CLEM team exists to support the evangelising mission of the Church as it is lived out within Catholic schools.

The team aspires to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to make the richness of our Catholic spiritual heritage accessible to the staff, students and their families who form our Catholic school communities.

Anthony Costa Media, Digital Ministry Agency

Biography to come…

Dorish Maru College (DMC)

Biography to come…

Youth and Networking Coordinator, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Biography to come…

Associate Pastor, New City Church

Steff Fenton (they/them) identifies as a queer Christian. They are due to graduate with a Masters of Divinity from University of Divinity in December 2021. Steff is co-founder and co-pastor of New City Church, a safe, diverse and inclusive community in Sydney for people seeking Jesus on the margins. Steff is also the Chair of Equal Voices Sydney, a network of local Christians networking and equipping the Church to be more LGBTIQA-inclusive. Steff shares some of their experiences on

Policy Officer, National Ethnic Disability Alliance

Biography to come…


Biography to come…

Leadership Team, Sisters of the Good Samaritan

Meg is a member of the current leadership team for the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. She has a background in education and formation of staff and students. Meg has lived and worked in indigenous communities in Australia and the Pacific.

Biography to come…

Project Officer, Inclusion (Evangelisation Brisbane, Archdiocese of Brisbane)

Jessica Laidler is a Project Officer for the ‘Inclusion Team’ within the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Within this role, Jessica is responsible for engaging 21 Catholic cultural communities within the Archdiocese, responding to their settlement and pastoral needs, whilst also ensuring that these communities and their cultural heritage are included within the life of the Church. Jessica is also the Community Engagement Officer for Nationality For All (NFA), a civil society coalition with the goal of promoting collaboration on addressing statelessness in Asia and the Pacific. Jessica developed an interest in migration and passion for sustainable development during her time working as a Project and Research Officer in Cambodia, for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). There she published a quantitative and qualitative study on the impact of cross-border parental migration on children left behind. Now she continues her work in the field of settlement and inclusion within the Brisbane Archdiocese. Jessica completed a Bachelor of International Relations at Bond University and a Master in Public Policy at Deakin University.

Leadership Team, Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea

Gaye has had considerable experience living and working in cross cultural situations. Since her profession as a Sister of Mercy she has been involved in consultancy and facilitation using her skills in the areas of education, community development, spiritual formation and spiritual direction. She has lived and worked in cross cultural settings in Pakistan, refugee camps in the Thai-Burma border and Papua New Guinea. Gaye is on the Leadership Team of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Catholic Priest of Sydney Archdiocese

Peter Maher is a Sydney Diocesan Catholic priest. Peter has a Bachelor of Theology Degree from The Catholic Institute of Sydney and a Masters degree in Adult Education (University of Technology Sydney). He has worked in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and university chaplaincy. He has been in ministry with LGBTIQA+ Catholics, their families and allies for over 25 years. He is Co-chair of Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for Ministry and a member of the national board of Equal Voices. He is editor of The Swag, The National Council of Priests of Australia quarterly magazine.

Photo courtesy of:

Director, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Biography to come…

Group Mission Integration Manager - Formation and Ethics, Modern Slavery Project Lead at St Vincent's Health Australia

Biography to come…

CEO of MacKillop Family Services

Dr Robyn Miller is a social worker and family therapist with over thirty years’ experience in the community sector, government and child protection. She was a senior clinician and teacher for fourteen years at the Bouverie Family Therapy Centre, La Trobe University, and part of an innovative team working with families who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse. From 2006-15 Robyn provided professional leadership as the Chief Practitioner within the Department of Human Services in Victoria, and has also worked as a consultant with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Robyn is currently the CEO of MacKillop Family Services, one of the largest providers of specialist services to vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Victoria, New South Wales, ACT and Western Australia. Robyn sits on the Board of Catholic Social Services Australia, Australian Catholic Standards Ltd and the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies in NSW.

Anne has worked with three year olds to 100 year olds in various forms of mission-inspired leadership roles in Australia and the United States. Her professional ‘trinity’ has always been the connection between liturgy, social justice and pastoral care; areas across which she has considerable experience and expertise. Whether as province rep for a UN NGO, mentor of school mission leaders, conference organiser, writer or liturgical leader, Anne brings creativity, rigor and a deep love of her complex faith to all she undertakes. Her higher level studies in liturgy are matched by experience of prayer within and beyond the institutional church – with boards, kindergarten children, colleagues from diverse faith backgrounds and those mourning loved ones. At present Anne is on sabbatical: learning Ikebana, reading poetry, volunteering, cooking new recipes and taking her 98 year old mum on adventures!

Photo courtesy of:

Integral Ecology Animator and Mission Ministry Resource Coordinator of ISMAPNG

Sally Neaves is the Integral Ecology Animator and Mission Ministry Resource Coordinator of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Formerly of Rahamim Ecology Centre, Sally facilitates retreats, rituals, and workshops in Laudato Si’ inspired Integral Ecology, eco-spirituality and Earth literacy.

Photo courtesy of:

Biography to come…

Director, From the Heart

Biography to come…

Quandamooka woman

Biography to come…

CEO, Mercy Community

Biography to come…

Associate Director, Inclusion (Evangelisation Brisbane, Archdiocese of Brisbane)

With over twenty years’ experience in youth ministry, leadership formation, event management and advocacy, Eric is dedicated to creating greater pathways of inclusion within the Catholic Church. Eric is an experienced leader, group facilitator and mentor, with a passion for equity and justice. Eric has a lifelong commitment to an inclusive Church that welcomes marginalised groups and champions the many benefits of diversity. Eric’s current role oversees a team in the Archdiocese of Brisbane working in areas of Justice and Peace, Multicultural Pastoral Care, Reconciliation with First Nations Peoples, Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations.

Eric has a great love of music, Everton Football Club and most importantly his wife Tayo along with their three children Olayemi, Akinola and Aarinade.

Biography to come…

National President, ACRATH

Biography to come…

Biography to come…

Director of Formation, Mercy Partners

Biography to come…

Director of St Columbans Mission Society for Oceania

Born in Wauchope NSW, I was educated by the Josephite Sisters and then the Marist Fathers. In 1970 I was ordained as a Columban Missionary and appointed to the Philippines, which was an amazing experience. Four years later I studied Scripture in Rome and then taught at the Columban seminary in Sydney followed by four years in Boston and Chicago. I returned to Sydney to lecture at the Pacific Mission Institute, which was a great experience also, as we missionaries from all over the country delved deeper into understanding our call to mission. In 2000 I became involved in Columban administration in Melbourne, Dublin, Hong Kong and now back in Melbourne. Continuing the journey of missionary discipleship is my reason for living!

Facilitation Team, Plenary Council

Biography to come…

Conference sponsors

Conference organisers:

Conference endorsed by:

Principal sponsor:

Gold sponsor:

Bronze sponsors:

Bronze sponsors:

Bronze sponsors:

© 2021 Catholic Mission. All rights reserved.    Privacy Policy   Contact us