Keynote speakers

Read about the line-up of inspiring keynote speakers below:

Barbara Thomas

Barbara is currently a post-graduate student at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, one of three people awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK. She is passionate about sustainable development, social justice, and research that seeks to understand the political nature of social change processes.

Before studies, she worked with the Institute for Human Security and Social Change, at La Trobe University, as their PNG Projects Coordinator supporting the Papua New Guinea – Australia Governance Partnership.  Prior to her role with the Institute, she served as the Executive Director of The Voice Inc, a local youth development organisation based in PNG. Through various capacities held with the Voice over a period of 11 years, Barbara supported the organisation’s growth from a student-led initiative to a fully-fledged organization. She is also a co-founder of the PNG Young Professionals Network and served as its interim chairperson from 2018 – 2019.

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Prof Chris Roche

More about Institute for Human Security and Social Change:

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Chris is Professor of Development Practice at La Trobe University where he is also the Director of the Institute for Human Security and Social Change. Chris is also Deputy Director (Impact) of the Developmental Leadership Program, an international research program which explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development, and co-led DLP’s work on Gender and Politics in Practice.  Prior to joining La Trobe in 2012 Chris worked for over 25 years for International NGOs as a project manager, evaluator, policy researcher and as a director.

Chris is particularly interested in understanding the practice of social change processes and how those involved might be more effectively supported.  He is the author of Impact Assessment for Development Agencies: Learning to Value Change, and co-editor of  Ethical Questions and International NGOs, and The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development: Playing the Game to Change the Rules.

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Ralph Regenvanu

Ralph Regenvanu has been the Leader of the Opposition in Vanuatu since a change in Government after the March 2020 general elections. He is currently serving his fourth term as the Member of Parliament for Port Vila. He has held a number of Ministerial portfolios over time, including as Vanuatu’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2017 until April 2020.

Ralph has a background in cultural heritage management and served as Director of the National Museum of Vanuatu from 1995 until 2006. Ralph was Co-chair of the National Sustainable Development Plan Core Group which was responsible for developing Vanuatu’s ‘National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030’ which was launched in early 2017.

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