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Keynote speakers

Rhoda Roberts

Keynote speaker: Rhoda Roberts AO – Creative Director, Parrtjima Festival and First Nations Advisor, AGB Events

Keynote address: ‘Co-designing festivals with First Nations peoples’
‘Ask the Experts’ panel member

A Widjabul woman from the Bundjalung territories, Rhoda Roberts AO and an experienced festival director and versatile indigenous arts executive. She holds over 25 years experience in international and national major event curation across commercial, community and non-profit organisations. Rhoda is the creative director of the Parrtjima Festival (NT)

Rhoda’s celebrated career highlights include artistic director of the Festival of the Dreaming staged in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. She was the creative director for the Awakening Segment Sydney Olympic Games 2000 Opening Ceremony.

Further hero events include: Bluesfest’s Boomerang Festival, Rugby World Cup 2003, Athens handover ceremony, the opening ceremony of the Musee Du Quay Branley, Paris, Japan Expo, World youth Day events and Australia Day events, where she developed and directed the Woggan ma Gule annual ceremony for ten years. 

She was a co-founding member of Australia’s first national Aboriginal theatre company, the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust (ANTT) and coined the term Welcome to Country, “establishing a focus on protocol manuals and welcomes by local custodians for the arts and media industries”.

Rhoda is the co-founder the Aboriginal National Theater Trust. She was commissioned by Opera Australia to direct and write “Yarrabah the Musical”, following the success of her direction of the international Opera Miricoloa a Milanao by Italy’s Giorgio Battistelli for the Brisbane Festival 2009.

She is an experienced content producer, having written, directed and produced several documentaries, including In the Gutter No Way for SBS TV (1989) and was the first Aboriginal to host a national prime time current affairs program.


Anthony Bastic AM

Keynote speaker: Anthony Bastic AM – CEO & Creative Director, AGB Events

Keynote address: ‘Activating non-traditional public spaces: strategies for inclusive festival content design’

Anthony Bastic is a pioneer in conceptualising, producing and delivering festivals and major public events in Australia and overseas.

His talents and achievements are significant, having initiated Noël Sydney(2023) and ELEVATE Sydney (2022) as stunning new events for Sydneysiders, as well as Parrtjima – A Festival of Light, an indigenous festival for visitors and locals in Alice Springs since 2016.

Anthony was instrumental in establishing Vivid Sydney and held positions of Curator and Festival Director of Light for a decade.

In 2006, Anthony established AGB Events to design and create high-profile events in Australia. AGB Events has initiated and managed inspiring experiences in some of the world’s most iconic locations. Highlights have included Sydney Invictus Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies (2018), developing the creative strategy and state-wide programming for EXPO2020 Dubai, and Art Gallery of NSW Opening Celebrations (2022).

Anthony is committed to continuing to shape Australian events and share our cultural voice around the globe.

Government updates

Samantha Palmer – General Manager Visitor Economy and Client Programs, AUSTRADE

Topic: Supporting event professionals through THRIVE 2030 and government initiatives

Samantha Palmer has been the General Manager of Austrade’s Visitor Economy and Client Programs Division since April 2021. Sam is responsible for leading the nation’s tourism and visitor economy policy and programs, Austrade’s Export Market Development Grant program, and is Austrade’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Champion.

Samantha brings 30-plus years of diverse experience with more than 20 in senior executive roles. She has led policy, programs and corporate  transformations in the Queensland, WA and Commonwealth governments in fair trading, environmental protection and national parks, transport and road
safety, housing, disability, official statistics, and Indigenous communities. She has also run a tourism business and worked in the performing arts, university and community sectors. Sam was 2013’s Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence.


The Hon. John Graham, MLC – NSW Minister for the Arts; Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy; Minister for Jobs and Tourism

Topic: NSW Ministerial address – a way forward for NSW

The Hon. John Graham MLC was elected in 2016 to serve the people of NSW and appointed his Ministerial portfolios in 2023.

As NSW Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, Minister for Jobs and Tourism, Minister for Roads, Special Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, the Hon. John Graham MLC is working at the intersection of culture, technology & entrepreneurship.

He is committed to supporting vibrant and inclusive cultural industries, creative cities, and the creative economy.

AFIC 2023 Master of Ceremonies

Sean Murphy, AFIC 2023 MC  I  Managing Director, Mama Dojo

From a past in children’s entertainment, to a present as major event MC, Sean Murphy has worked at almost every kind of festival imaginable.

Sean is a grizzled veteran of cultural programming for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2022 Commonwealth Games. Whether the Sydney Opera House or a sandy-floored stage in the Solomon Islands, he’s built energy and atmosphere at events in over 55 countries.

His festival MC portfolio includes the likes of Birmingham Festival (UK), Melbourne Comedy Festival, Floriade NightFest, Strathfield Spring Festival, Lithgow Halloween, Bathurst Winter Festival, Bayside Streets Alive, Bendigo Easter Festival and many more!

Read more about Sean’s work at


Jason Holmes

Jason Holmes – Managing Director, H2 Insurance Solutions

Topic: ‘Event insurance – preparing for the unexpected’

Jason Holmes is a specialist in insurance for festivals, major events, entertainment, film, conference and exhibition industries. He began his insurance career with an international broker back in 1995, and over the last 27 years, has looked after insurance for all facets of the entertainment industry. In 2007, he founded H2 Insurance Solutions.

With a portfolio of national and international clients, including TEG, Frontier Touring, Regional Touring, Zaccaria Concerts & Touring, The Untitled Group, Chugg Entertainment, Bluesfest, Live Nation, Nitro Circus and many more, Jason has all the tools and experience to best represent his clients to insurers.

Jason is always looking for areas of improvement and prides himself on understanding the unique needs of his clients, to ensure their specifications are met and expectations are exceeded. Whether it be a local community event or a large festival or national/international tour, a local TV production or an international feature film, H2 Insurance Solutions have an experienced team throughout Australia and New Zealand and across the globe who are ready to provide insurance advice and solutions with service and integrity.


Alana Hay

Alana Hay, Founder and Managing Director, Milestone Creative

Topic: ‘Event marketing – staying ahead of the game’

Alana Hay is the Founder and Managing Director of Milestone Creative Australia – a multi award-winning event marketing, digital, social and creative agency.

Alana is an experienced marketing professional with 20+ years’ experience in operations and marketing for major events and festivals, business events, venues, hospitality, music, entertainment and tourism. She has previously served as a director of Meetings & Events Australia.

Alana has led hundreds of national and global event marketing campaigns and strategies for festivals and major events. Examples include SailGP, Bondi Festival, Very Short Film Festival, Naidoc Week celebrations, Pride and Joy Sydney, Cheeky Food Events, Park Sounds, and many more!


Berish Bilander

Berish Bilander, CEO, Green Music Australia

Topic: ‘Collective climate action: Adelaide festivals work together to drive change’

Berish Bilander is a composer, pianist and CEO of Green Music Australia, a globally recognised not-for-profit dedicated to helping the music industry reduce its environmental impact. He has toured extensively with his own ensembles and as a freelance musician for bands like Vika and Linda Bull, and dedicated his activist life to climate and social justice.

With over two decades of experience in the music sector as both a performer and arts executive, Berish has played a pivotal role in leading sustainability initiatives, including spearheading the global #BYOBottle campaign and helping to launch Australia’s first green festival alliance – Party with the Planet.


Greg Donavan – Managing Director, Outback Music Festival Group

Topic: ‘Creating the world’s most remote music festival – sustainability lessons from the outback’
Panellist: Sustainability – Best Practice Approaches

After spending 35 years working in senior positions in the banking and insurance industries, Greg fell into the events industry in 2013 when he decided to found a 250km charity fun run in the Simpson Desert (QLD), called the Big Red Run.

After featuring some live music as part of the run, he realised there was an appetite to take it further. He took a $300k redundancy pay out and started the the Big Red Bash the world’s most remote music festival!

The Big Red Bash has grown significantly over the past 10 years and now attracts crowds of over 10,000 annually. You can watch Australian Story’s recent documentary on Greg here.

With the successful Big Red Bash firmly established, in 2022 he established a sister event on the Mundi Mundi Plains near Broken Hill, called the Mundi Mundi Bash.


Jake Challenor – CEO & Co-Founder, Sound Story

Topic: Crisis Communications Planning – Protecting your Festival’s Brand

Jake Challenor is an experienced publisher and journalist, turned future-focussed storyteller. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sound Story, a strategic PR and communications agency for ambitious brands disrupting the global entertainment industry, offering corporate and crisis communications, media relations and publicity, stakeholder engagement, executive profile building, and more. The agency’s clients include media companies, music and live entertainment groups, and start-ups transforming the future.

He is also currently the Print Editor of Rolling Stone AU/NZ magazine.

Jake was the founding editor of Variety Australia. He also held the position of Publisher for respected trade media brands, The Music Network and Radio Today, for over five years.


Caitlin McNaughton – Manager, Research and Insights, Patternmakers

Topic: National audience research – how cost-of-living pressures are affecting festival audiences

Caitlin is Patternmakers’ Manager, Research and Insights. She leads a team of analysts to deliver high quality insights. Caitlin has managed qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation projects with clients such as Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, ACMI and The Australian Ballet, as well as collaborating on the Audience Outlook Monitor.

Caitlin has extensive experience in arts management in the festival sector across audience development, fundraising, data analysis and ticketing, having worked for arts festivals such as Melbourne Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

She brings a strong understanding from the frontline of how data can help strengthen the culture and community sectors.


Roderick van Gelder – Crowd Safety Consultant, Event Safety Institute Australia

Topic: Crowd Science – The Swiss Cheese Model

Roderick started his career in the performing arts in 1976. He worked with major Dutch companies before starting a career in production management and lighting design. In that position, Roderick oversaw national and international tours. In 1990 he was offered the position of Production Manager for Sydney Dance Company. Roderick was appointed Technical Manager for Playbill Venue Management in 1998.

From 2005, Roderick focussed on providing risk management and WHS advice for the entertainment industry through his company, Stage Safety.

He holds a Level 5 Diploma in Crowd Science and applies this knowledge to public, corporate, music and festival events.

Sustainability panel members

Jessica Wundke – Manager, Policy Reform – Green Industries SA

Panellist: Sustainability – Best Practice

Jessica works across policy areas covering food and organic waste, single-use plastics, events waste management and packaging, to align policy outcomes to support strategic objectives for resource recovery, and promoting the circular economy in South Australia.

Jessica led the development of the 2022 Guidelines for Waste and Recycling at Events and Venues to support event and facilities managers to implement systems to reduce material impacts of South Australian events.


Andrew Macarthur – Managing Director – Clean Vibes and City Return and Earn

Panellist: Sustainability – Best Practice

Andrew Macarthur is an Australian entrepreneur and the founder of Clean Vibes and City Return and Earn. Both companies provide sustainable event cleaning and waste management across Australia, as well as the City Earn and Return depot in Mascot.

Andrew has extensive experience in the events industry and has worked with some of Australia’s most prominent festivals and major events, such as Australian Fashion Festival, Lost Paradise, Oktoberfest Adelaide, The Sun Herald City2Surf Sydney, GABS Craft Beer and Cider Festival Brisbane, Ultra Music Festival Melbourne, plus many more across the country!

He is passionate about providing high-quality cleaning and sustainable event waste management services that are both eco-friendly and affordable. 

Andrew has worked his way up the ranks from a general cleaner to managing large retail commercial contracts with the world’s largest cleaning company. After noticing a gap in the market, Andrew conceived the idea of moving into the sustainable event market of the cleaning industry and thus Clean Vibes was born.

Under his leadership, Clean Vibes has grown to become one of the most reputable cleaning and waste management companies in Australia. Clean Vibes now has multi-year contracts in every state and territory across the country. Recently the company signed a multi-year contract with Northern Territory Major Events Company, along with a significant partnership with Major Events Gold Coast. 

Andrew’s commitment to excellence and sustainability has earned him a reputation as a leader in the event industry.


Robert Slikker – Group General Manager, Bold Futures

New Product Showcase Presenter: generating revenue from your waste

Rob leads the Olinga Group of companies which includes Bold Futures and a leading event labour hire firm Casual Hands. For more than 20 years Rob has worked with large technology organisations aligning best of breed technology and innovative services to create outcomes for public sector customers.

Rob’s primary focus is applying Olinga capability to common customer challenges in alignment with their operational and financial constraints.

Bold Futures’ core business includes ESG strategy and competitive advantage; climate change, circular economy business models; traceability and transparency across the value chain; executing, embedding, and scaling complex sustainability transformation programs; and harnessing digital technologies and analytics to enable sustainability.

Accessibility panel members

Liz Martin – CEO, Accessible Arts

Panellist: Accessibility – Best Practice

Liz Martin is the CEO of Accessible Arts and an award-winning musician with over 20 years’ experience in contributing to an arts sector that is authentically representative, diverse, and accessible.

As the peak arts and disability organisation in NSW, Accessible Arts strives to advance opportunities for people with disability or who are d/Deaf to develop professional careers and have equitable access to arts and culture across NSW.

As a leading disability, access and inclusion training provider for the Arts and Culture sector, Accessible Arts works closely with diverse arts and cultural organisations including Sydney Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Queer Screen and VIVID Sydney.


Ashleigh O’Gara – Event Manager, Ability Fest (Untitled Group)

Panellist: Accessibility – Best Practice

Ability Fest is a joint venture between The Dylan Alcott Foundation and the Untitled Group. A non-for-profit event, Ability Fest is proudly Australia’s first all accessible music festival and has raised just shy of $500,000 for the Dylan Alcott Foundation. Every ticket purchased contributes to the cause. The funds raised have already helped young Australians living with a disability fulfil their potential through the foundation being able to purchase much-needed sporting equipment and providing scholarships at leading education institutions, or mentoring programs with industry trailblazers.

In 2022, Ashleigh joined the team at Untitled Group as the Event Manager of Grapevine Gathering Tour, For The Love, Wildlands and Ability Fest. She also manages a number of single day venue shows throughout the year.

Prior to Untitled Group, Ashleigh worked at the City of Melbourne, evaluating event plans for some of Melbourne’s major events and festivals, such as the Australian Open, Christmas Festival and Run for the Kids.

‘Ask the Experts’ panel members

Lisa Dowsett – Head of Events & Partnerships, Northern Beaches Council

Panellist: ‘Ask the Experts’

Lisa Dowsett has worked in the mass participation events industry for 20+ years, and has worked across the private sector, peak bodies and State and Local Government.

Currently heading up the Event & Partnership Team at Northern Beaches Council, Lisa looks after a portfolio of over 50+ events including Taste of Manly, Sun Run, Picnic in the Park, Manly Jazz and World Food Markets.

Her strength of modelling events for growth and meeting community needs has seen her work in Australian and New Zealand on a number of portfolios including sport, food, business, arts and parenting. Delivering events such as City2Surf, Good Food Month and the Night Noodle Markets, Australian Running Festival, AFR Business Summitt, Round the Bays and Open Air Cinema.

Lisa was a founding Board Member of the Australian Mass Participation Sporting Events Alliance (AMPSEA) – formed during COVID-19 to provide a united voice for Australian companies who deliver events to ensure they could survive the crisis.


Shannon Green – Senior Manager, Business Development, Sydney Showground (Royal Agricultural Society of NSW)

Panellist: ‘Ask the Experts’

Shannon holds the position of Senior Manager of Business Development at Sydney Showground (SS), the venue and event operations department of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS). With more than 17 years of experience in business development, event planning & operations, Shannon is a seasoned professional in the venue and event industry. Her reputation for creative problem-solving, customer and stakeholder engagement, and improving client satisfaction precedes her.

Shannon started with SS in October 2005 in the event operations team and quickly discovered her passion for the festival side of the business. Shannon has contributed to some of Australia’s most renowned festivals and major events, including Big Day Out, Stereosonic and Soundwave.

After spending a decade in event operations, Shannon shifted her focus to business development, where she excelled at building client relationships and raising the profile of Sydney Showground as a premier venue for music events. Her efforts led to the successful acquisition of key events such as RNB Fridays Live, Festival X, and St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, as well as the growth of Sydney Showground.

Shannon’s experience and skills extend beyond Sydney, where between 2015 – 2019, she was part of the event operations & licensing team at Glastonbury Festival, the largest festival in the UK. Shannon provided support for the event control centre, crowd management, and security compliance.

In addition to her professional achievements, Shannon is also an active volunteer for the Sydney St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival. There, she provides event logistics and stakeholder management support, while embracing her Irish heritage and supporting the Irish community in Sydney.

New Product Showcase Presenters

Jeremy Fleming – Founder and CEO, Stagekings

New product showcase presenter: Stagekings recently partnered with Irmarfer Structures as the official Australasian partner. Stagekings will introduce you to its new range innovative structures (Wave 55 Roof, Igloos and Multilevel decking structures). 

Jeremy Fleming is an award-winning leader, entrepreneur, and founder of Stagekings, Australia’s premier designer and fabricator of temporary event structures. Boasting over 28 years’ experience in scaffolding, Jeremy is renowned for expanding the horizons of temporary structures with Stagekings.

In 2020, Jeremy navigated Stagekings through the challenging COVID landscape, establishing it as one of Australia’s most remarkable pivot success stories. This transition projected the company onto the global stage and paved the way for the business to expand its reach and build upon its solid reputation for pioneering designs and creativity.


Luke Trickett – Founder and Managing Director, Backpocket

New product showcase presenter: Backpocket is the first payment service in the world that allows customers to checkout and instantly share the cost. Luke Trickett, the founder of Backpocket, will share the remarkable benefits for industries affected by COVID-19; boosting sales for cultural events, festivals, and other live experiences alike. Understand the untapped potential of group bookings and discover Backpocket’s inspiring vision for the future of social payments.

Luke Trickett is the founder of the public equities fund, Blue Stamp Company, which he has led and managed for more than 13 years. Luke has also founded two other fintech startups, Marmalade and Backpocket. Backpocket is the first payment service in the world that allows customers to checkout and instantly share the cost. Group Organisers are able to book tickets without footing the bill and share a unique payment link instantly with other payers to settle up within a week. Since launch in late 2022, Backpocket has helped thousands of Aussies pay for group experiences and receives consistently strong customer reviews.


Andrew Stone – General Manager, Meshh Australia

New product showcase presenter: understanding of how your attendees move and interact with your festival and event space through passive data collection

Andrew Stone is a veteran in the world of festivals and major events! With over 20 years of invaluable experience, Andrew has had the pleasure of working with renowned Global organisations such as SFX Sports Group, IMG, Supercars, and eps Australia.

With an impressive background in event management, his knowledge runs deep. Andrew’s professional attention now focuses on insights gathered from analysing consumer engagement and behaviour inside live event spaces, shining a spotlight on the transformative power of passive data collection.

Get ready as Andrew takes us on a journey into the future of event experiences and how passive, non first party data can shape them.


Dr Abbas Elmualim – Partner, Bold Futures

New Product Showcase presenter: generating revenue from your waste

Dr Elmualim is a passionate sustainability leader with proven track record in architecture, engineering and construction for sustainable built environment with acumen, drive and tenacity in project management, CSR and stakeholder engagement and management.

He has worked globally across Australia, the UK and the UAE; and has a wide tertiary education portfolio spanning across business, construction, and sustainable built environments.

Dr Elmualim brings a thorough understanding of the sustainability trajectories driving the construction and built environment industries across the supply chain, including sustainable facilities management and the Circular Economy. He holds a thorough understanding of current and future trends that impact the provision of education, training and employment such as sustainability, globalisation, and the gig-economy.

Presenter & Workshop Facilitator

Sally Porteous

Sally Porteous – Managing Director, Red Lanyard & The Event Planners Workshop; Founder, Event Managers Network

Topic: ‘Five building blocks to take your festival from idea to launch’
Workshop: ‘Taking your event from idea to launch: building blocks to success’

Sally Porteous is Managing Director of event management and production company Red Lanyard, where she produces festivals, conferences, events and meetings.

She is also the creator of the Event Planners Workshop, a series of training, coaching and mentoring products to bridge the gap between accredited education and learn-by-doing.

Sally coordinates and facilitates The Event Managers Network, a membership organisation that connects, supports and networks suppliers and event managers. She also leads the EMN Collective – a three day conference that brings together, connects, trains and supports experienced event managers, one off planners and industry suppliers in a unique, vibrant and memorable event.

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