Luke Furness

Luke Furness is a Senior Associate at Clayton Utz, Australia’s largest independent law firm. He is the board director and former CEO at Out for Australia, a national LGBTIQ+ student mentoring not-for-profit. Out for Australia is one of the biggest LGBTIQ+ and mentoring charities in Australia and has helped over a thousand students develop valuable skills and succeed in the workplace. Luke has written articles and given interviews for ABC Radio, Lawyers Weekly, and Wellness Daily. He is a well-known contributor in topics such as living happily and productivity in the workplace. Luke graduated from the University of Queensland in 2013 with a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) before completing his Master of Laws at the University of Sydney in 2016. His TED Talk tackles an essential question for all mentees – “Who am I?”  According to Luke, the answer is much closer than you think.

Mikhara Ramsing

Mikhara Ramsing (LLB(Hons)/BEcon(Hons); GAICD) is a social entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. She is the founder of Miks Chai – a tea social enterprise which funds suicide prevention – and Ethnic LGBT+ – a national resource platform for culturally and linguistically diverse LGTBIQA+ communities. She believes stories save lives and has travelled 70,000Km around Australia in a self-built tiny home connecting with rural communities. An act of service that saw her nominated for Young Australian of the Year QLD. Mikhara is passionate about using business models to solve social problems. She completed her Economic Honours at UQ on micro-finance; was awarded a Westpac Social Change Fellowship enabling her to attend Harvard University where she studied social impact and was recognised by the AFR as one of Australia’s Top 100 Women of Influence. In her talk, Mikhara shares a simple tool to enable the quick identification of what makes a good business good.

Rachel Allavena

Associate Professor Rachel Allavena is a specialist veterinary pathologist. She is a veterinarian with a PhD in immunology and a background in pharmaceutical development. She studies the appearance and mechanisms of how disease affects animals and how to combat them. Her research focuses on immunotherapy; a treatment option designed to wake up the body’s immune system, priming it to kill and prevent the spread of cancer cells. Rachel’s studies focus on our closest friends, Dogs. Dogs share our lives, our lifestyles and our propensity to develop cancers in our lifetimes. In fact, dogs can often develop aggressive cancers that will significantly impair their quality of life and shorten their time here with us. In her talk, Rachel will discuss the amazing ways cancer treatments can be developed to help both us and our dogs through ground-breaking translational research.

Paul Harpur

Dr Paul Harpur is a former Paralympian, former Fulbrighter, has practised as a lawyer, and now drives disability inclusion as an academic, disability leader and internationally acclaimed disability rights scholar. Paul dreams of a world when it is no longer about them and us, and just about us. Paul is an associate professor at the University of Queensland Law School, an Academic Fellow at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, an international distinguished fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute, and non-executive director at Help Enterprises. In 2019, Paul received a citation from Universities Australia “for outstanding leadership in translating disability strategy into a vision of Ability Equality and core university business”. In his talk, Paul builds on his experiences chairing the UQ Disability Inclusion Group and his work at Harvard Law School Project on Disability as a Fulbrighter and sets out a vision for aligning disability inclusion with university strategy.

Maggie James

Maggie James is a music therapist with 18 years of experience in paediatric healthcare and has worked extensively in intensive care and palliative care. She is the former Clinical Leader of Allied Health Oncology Services and the Music Therapy Department at the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH). Maggie volunteers in the area of music therapy and palliative care internationally and is a board member of the Butterfly Children’s Hospice in China. In 2014, she was recognised for her community contribution and awarded The University of Queensland MBA Service to the Community Award. Maggie is passionate about using music to support children in palliation and believes that like birth, the death of a child should be with dignity and love. Maggie wants to share what years of clinical experience and family feedback have taught her: that music provides a meaningful connection with the dying child until the end and beyond.

Lukas Ritson

Lukas Ritson is the Co-founder of Wearthy, a playground designer and educator. His work has touched the lives of tens of thousands of children Australia-wide. Lukas has collaborated with childcare centres, schools, community nature-based events, and has also presented keynote talks on the importance of play in Finland, the United States and across Australia. Keeping children curious, creative and confident through offering the adventurous childhood they deserve is the principle that elevates Lukas’ play environments. Lukas believes that play should be a holistic experience for children – one that fosters connection, encourages resilience, and cultivates compassion. His innovative playground designs emphasise sustainable, quality materials, as they create a healthy stage for limitless learning opportunities. In his talk, Lukas wants to share his own experience living with ADHD and how it helps him design playgrounds that support the development and well-being of children.

Paige Krystal Wilcox

Former Queensland Director and Director of State Development for Out for Australia, Paige is an award-winning activist, writer, and Student Coordinator for The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, she has served as a Board Member for Open Doors Youth Service, and is on the Faculty of Medicine Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This passion was the driving force behind her science fiction novel Before We Pulled The Trigger, and is thoroughly explored in the semi-autobiographical Memorable series detailing life before and after her gender transition. Paige’s talk examines the cost, benefit, and lessons learned from taking agency over her personal story and making it available to the general public.


Ashley Baxter

As a founder and CEO of a waste technology startup, Ashley has always been passionate about sustainability and action on climate change. She has graduated from the University of Queensland in 2018, with dual degrees in Business Management and IT, alongside international experience, accumulated while working with high-tech startups and volunteering with environmental groups and movements. It was then that Ashley saw the massive global issues surrounding waste, the impact potential of recycling, and the role that innovative technologies could play in creating solutions. She went on to found Monty Compost Co, a startup company that develops hardware and digital technologies to enable efficient and accessible composting for everyone, everywhere, to tackle the significant challenge of managing organic and food waste. In her talk, Ashley will share with us powerful, yet, unexpected revelations that could help achieve efficient sustainability and solve climate change.

Allan Paull

Allan Paull is the DST Chair in Future Hypersonic Technologies. Following his PhD in applied mathematics, Allan started his career as a temporarily employed research assistant in a small team, undertaking hypersonic experiments at the University of Queensland (UQ). Allan hit a roadblock when some colleagues challenged his experimental findings. Driven by this challenge, Allan settled the matter in an extraordinary way! Some said he was brave, most agreed he would fail, but they all admired the dream. From the quest to find the truth, Allan developed and led the HyShot Flight Program, and eventually became the technical leader of the HyCAUSE and HIFiRE Flight Programs. In this talk, Allan highlights some of the twists and turns he has experienced in his life, and reflects on how adventurous beginnings could inspire a life-time career, in a highly unpredictable manner.

Tim Duignan

Tim Duignan works on computer simulations and mathematical modelling of salt solutions. He received his PhD from the Australian National University in 2015 and has carried out postdoctoral research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the United States. He has received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to at the University of Queensland on predicting the properties of salt solutions for energy storage applications. In his talk, Tim emphasises the vital role of salt solutions and their unpredictable properties by suggesting different tools which will facilitate the design of electrolyte solutions to realise improved performance of important applications such as energy storage and CO2 capture.

Deena Lynch

There is nothing predictable about the remarkable rise of Brisbane, Australia native Deena Lynch. The singer/songwriter, producer, and multimedia creative is the brainchild behind Jonze Society and its projects – the musical Jaguar Jonze and the visual subcultures of Spectator Jonze and Dusky Jonze. Each Jonze project has its unique identities, but a common thread of confronting shame and taboos runs through everything Deena does. Deena’s meticulously realized work has earned her partnerships with brands like Christian Louboutin, Reebok, BMW, Obey, Stüssy, and an abundance of press (Fashion Journal, Vogue, Marie Claire, VICE, FLAUNT, Line Of Best Fit, NME).  A tireless advocate for mental health, Deena uses a diverse range of channels to express herself and give others a chance to relate to these shared experiences. On the eve of Jaguar Jonze’s sophomore EP ‘ANTIHERO’ and a series of public speaking seminars, both at home and abroad, Deena joins us to share her experience of overcoming complex PTSD through art.

Ben Bjarnesen

Ben Bjarnesen is an educator and campaigner who believes that all people, no matter what their sexuality or gender identity is, deserve the right to live a life free from domestic and family violence. Ben became a fierce advocate of improved services for LGBTQ victims and survivors of DV after discovering a gap in services through his abusive same-sex relationship. Ben is a Churchill Fellow who investigated best practice solutions for the Police to enhance the way they respond to DV in LGBTQ communities. In 2020, he founded the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation, and was inducted into the Queensland Government Domestic & Family Violence Prevention Honour Roll. Most recently, he was named as a Human Rights Hero by the Australian Human Rights Commission. In his talk, Ben focuses on creating awareness about DV in any relationship, and equips the audience with strategies to identify and curb this social evil.