Dr Allan Dale,

Conference Chair, Professor of Tropical Regional Development, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow with Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute. He is also the Chair of Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Inc. Allan has a strong interest in integrated governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world and in northern Australia.

He has both extensive research and policy expertise in building strong governance systems, but particularly in regional development and natural resource management. Allan was previously the CEO of Terrain NRM from 2005 to 2010 and has held executive and management roles within the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Department of Community Services (Social Impact Assessment Unit).

He also has global experience in respect to the social impact assessment of development. While Allan originally grew up north of Cairns, having started his career as an agricultural scientist, his doctoral work explored rural development in remote Indigenous communities and he has long working relationships with Traditional Owner groups throughout Cape York Peninsula, Torres Strait and the Gulf. After spending the last 10 years in Babinda, Allan and his family now reside in the Speewah area west of Kuranda.

Fiona Jose,

Executive General Manager, Cape Operations, Cape York Partnership

A proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Fiona’s love for her family, culture and heritage shaped her career in empowering local change in Indigenous communities.

Fiona first joined the Cape York Institute in 2010 and has since held a number of executive positions as Director of Leadership for the Cape York Leaders Program, Chief Executive Officer of Cape York Institute, and now Executive General Manager of Cape Operations for Cape York Partnership.

Fiona’s professional career began with a traineeship at Education Queensland and during her 10 years with the department, she soon advanced to senior management positions. Here she gained a wealth of experience in leadership, management, education and government relations.

From there Fiona accepted an opportunity with a regional airline where she led Aviation Australia’s Indigenous Programs. Fiona further secured a reputation as a strong manager and Indigenous advocate, as Employment Manager for one of Queensland’s largest group training organisations.

She was the winner of the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award – Queensland for Purpose and Social Enterprise, and the Australian Institute of Management – Queensland Not-for-profit Manager of the Year in 2012.

Fiona is hands on in a number of Indigenous led organisations. Fiona is a Leader of Empowered Communities, Board Member of Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Djarragun College and Cape York Girl Academy.

Terry Hill

CEO, Pilbara Development Commission

Terry Hill was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Pilbara Development Commission in February 2015.

Prior to joining the Pilbara Development Commission, Terry spent four years as Executive Director (Irrigated Agriculture and Diversification) at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia Government. Prior to that, Terry spent six years in Adelaide as the Deputy Chair of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation.

Terry holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, a Masters in Agribusiness and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Professor Ruth Wallace,

Director of the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University

Professor Ruth Wallace is the Director of the Northern Institute, the social and policy research institute at Charles Darwin University.  Her research engages with Indigenous people and other marginalised groups throughout Northern Australia and the region.  Her areas of expertise are workforce development in regional and marginalised areas, regional development and growth in remote areas, community engagement, and Indigenous enterprise development in remote areas.  With a vision to continue as a leader of excellence in addressing critical questions, Ruth delivers excellence in research and research leadership that seeks to understand regional development and provide strong evidence for policy development, capacity building and responding to the needs of governments and communities in the region.  Her work is situated in regional and remote areas of Northern Australia and Indonesia, with a specific focus in research approaches to improve service delivery and adaptation, undertaken with Aboriginal people in remote and regional areas.

Ruth was the first female to be awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Agriculture and Life Sciences in Australia which she will undertake at Kansas State University in early 2017.  Other roles include the Social Science Technical Advisor, Plant Biosecurity CRC Science Committee Advisory Panel; and was the winner of the 2016 Australian Institute of Management Leadership Excellence Award Leader/Manager of the Year for the Northern Territory.

Professor Scott Bowman,

Vice Chancellor, Central Queensland University

Professor Bowman began his professional life as a radiographer. Along with his professional qualifications in this area, he also holds Masters Degrees in Politics and Business Administration and a Ph.D. in clinical decision making. Since moving to Australia, he has held senior positions at Charles Sturt University, the University of South Australia and James Cook University. In August 2009 he was appointed the Vice-Chancellor and President of CQUniversity Australia.

Professor Bowman has led an ambitious program of renewal with the aim to make CQUniversity Australia’s most engaged University. He led CQUniversity’s 2014 merger with CQ TAFE, thereby establishing Queensland’s first truly comprehensive university. CQUniversity is now a renowned research institution in key industries.

CQUniversity is now ranked among the top three fastest growing universities in Australia and has also grown to become the largest University based in Regional Australia with more than 30,000 students, 2,500 staff, and 25 delivery sites spread across every mainland Australian state.

Professor Bowman’s deep commitment to engagement and social outreach has steered CQUniversity to become known as Australia’s most engaged university thanks to partnerships with communities, industry and government, both in Australia and overseas. CQUniversity is now renowned for being the country’s most inclusive university with the highest numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds including first-in-family, Indigenous and rural and remote students.

Under Professor Bowman’s leadership, CQUniversity’s unique vision, diversity, outreach, engagement, research, learning and teaching, and inclusiveness have also led to it being recognised among the world’s leading universities by both the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings. CQUniversity is also the only Australian university to become a Changemaker campus as part of global social innovation group Ashoka U and Professor Bowman’s vision for social innovation and change is a strong focal point as CQUniversity continues to grow into the future.

Mark Coffey,

Head, Office of Northern Australia

Mark has lived in the Northern Territory for over 30 years and is passionate about northern Australia development. Since arriving in 1985, Mark has contributed significantly to both public and community life.

Mark has led a number of initiatives to facilitate economic and social development in remote areas including the Alice Springs Transformation Plan and regional partnership agreements. In his role as Northern Territory State Manager in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, he was responsible for Indigenous programme delivery and coordinated a number of large reform programmes.

Prior to this, Mark was a 22-year veteran of the Northern Territory Police Force where he worked in regional and remote areas across the NT achieving the rank of Commander. Mark has served on numerous boards including the AFL
Northern Territory and is currently a member of the Northern Territory Parole Board and a director of the Connellan Airways Trust.

A very keen sportsman , having played cricket and AFL football , Mark is an avid supporter of the Carlton Football Club. Mark is married to Cate and has four children. Mark is currently the Head of the Office of Northern Australia
(ONA) in the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Inn ovation and Science where he is responsible to oversee delivery of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing the North.

Jason Schoolmeester,

Executive Director, Major Projects, Northern Australia Development Office

Laurie Walker,

CEO, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

Laurie Walker was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) in October 2016. The NAIF commenced operations on 1 July 2016 . It has been established by the Commonwealth Government to offer up to $5 billion over 5 years in concessional finance to encourage and complement private sector investment in economic infrastructure that benefits northern Australia.

Laurie has extensive and varied experience in banking and law. She has held leadership roles as an Executive Director, Institutional Loans and Specialised Finance at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) and as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer in the Institutional Banking and Markets, Corporate Finance division of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).  She has also worked in Hambros Australia’s financial advisory unit and as a finance lawyer at Allen, Allen & Hemsley. Laurie has a Bachelor of Arts and Laws (Honours) and Master of Laws (Honours) both from the University of Sydney.

Laurie has expertise in the project financing of economic and social infrastructure (including airports, roads, rail, schools and hospitals). She has advised both public and private sector counterparts. She was the CBA deal team leader in its role as a Joint Lead Arranger and Underwriter of the senior debt finance for the Sydney Airport privatisation which was awarded the INSTO Magazine 2002 Deal of the Year, Innovative Deal of the Year and Syndicated Deal of the Year. She was also the CBA deal team leader its role as Financial Advisor to the private sector consortium which developed the South East Queensland Schools which was awarded the 2009 Euromoney Project Finance Asia Pacific PPP Deal of the Year.

Laurie has had oversight of a complex lending value chain and with responsibilities for teams operating across Australia and in Singapore, Hong Kong, Auckland and London. She also has experience in the transformation of the end to end lending process and systems.  Laurie has strong stakeholder management skills and enjoys extensive networks in the Australian institutional banking and infrastructure sectors. She has a passion for talent development and the creation of a committed, empowered culture.