Guest speakers and facilitators

Bernadette Maheandiran

Bernadette Maheandiran

A Research and Legal Analyst, having worked with Market Forces on their South East Asia coal finance campaigns since April 2017. In this role, Bernadette works with different groups in Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan to provide finance-related analysis and information to assist in their campaigns. Before coming to Australia, she trained as a lawyer in Canada and worked in Toronto in human rights law for seven years.

Beth Hill

Beth Hill

A facilitator and social researcher who studies the cultural and psychological dimensions of climate change. Trained as a facilitator in the Work that Reconnects (Deep Democracy work) and experienced in teaching mindfulness and compassion practices, Dr Hill currently works both independently and with the group Psychology for a Safe Climate offering workshops to activists, climate researchers, professionals and community members grappling with climate change, supporting them with grief, burnout and conflict.

Bill Price

Bill Price

A resident of the southern West Virginia Mountains for more than 30 years. He has worked with grassroots groups dealing with irresponsible fossil fuels extraction in Central Appalachia as well as with groups working on social justice issues from health care to childhood poverty.

Bill became active in the environmental movement in 2001 after flooding heavily damaged the community of Dorothy, WV where he lived. The failure of a large sediment pond on a mountaintop removal mining operation directly above this small community contributed to the severity of the flood, which destroyed and damaged several hundred homes in the valley downstream. In 2003, Bill had the opportunity to begin working with the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program.

Bill continues to work with the Sierra Club as a field organizing manager where he supports and supervises organizers working on a variety of environmental and social justice issues for the Beyond Coal to Clean Energy, Ready for 100, Healthy Communities and Dirty Fuels campaigns in Appalachia and the Southeast. He has facilitated community organizing workshops, strategy meetings and visioning sessions.

Bill has co-facilitated diversity and Dismantling Racism workshops around the country for over 12 years. He is also a trainer and coach for the WV Trainers Project which does trainings of trainers on social activism.

He lives with his wife, stepson and their cat in Charleston West Virginia.

Boe Spearim

Boe Spearim

A Kooma, Murawarii and Gamilaraay community organiser, born in western Sydney and raised on the Southside of Brisbane.

He has been involved in community radio since 2012 volunteering at 4zzz on the Indigi Briz program then later studying and completing a Cert 3 in media broadcasting at 98.9fm where Boe found employment after leaving the station and then coming back in 2017. Boe began hosting Let’s Talk a talkback program that discusses issues that affect First Nations people. This year Boe created a podcast called Frontier War Stories. In each episode, Boe speaks with different Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people about research, books and oral histories which document the first 140 years of conflict and resistance. These times are the Frontier Wars and these are our War Stories.

Before finding his passion in radio, Boe got involved in activism at the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy which was established in March 2012 in Musgrave Park.

Carly Willoughby-Rolls

Has volunteered, led and worked on community organising and politically engaged projects for the past 23 years.

In 2018 she launched Minimalista through which she speaks about and advocates the minimalist lifestyle and coaches successful women entrepreneurs to do less and thrive in motherhood, business and life.

For the 19 years before that she worked as an organiser and campaigner across progressive and social change issues and volunteered on community, political organising and culture and arts projects. Carly stands proudly with change makers in the union, community organising, environment and political movements to protest, campaign and lobby to see the changes we desire enacted.

She is a qualified and experienced Facilitator, Adult Educator and Life Coach who has trained and developed hundreds of activists and changemakers over the past two decades.

gabby gillespie

An Appalachian community organizer who has spent fifteen years building community and resistance. gabby began their activism journey in queer liberation work in 2004 and moved into environmental organizing in 2007. gabby spent many years in leadership with Mountain Justice, organizing spring breaks and summer camps supporting learning around environmental justice, community organizing and non-violent direct action in coal impacted communities around Appalachia. Their learning and sharing was shaped by the popular education model, grounded in the concepts of experiential learning and the idea that we all come into learning spaces with expertise to offer.

gabby was hired by the Sierra Club in 2015 and has since become a core trainer for their new organizer training as well as being involved in designing and facilitating many workshops, meetings and retreats. While their work is mostly grounded in environmental justice communities in Southwestern Virginia impacted by coal and gas extraction, they remain committed to leadership development, mutual aid, and dismantling oppression. As an herbalist and healer with much knowledge passed down from ancestors and chosen family, gabby is dedicated to incorporating healing justice into their work as a trainer and organizer.

Huong Truong

Huong Truong

A union organiser with the National Union of Workers and mum of two. In 2018, Huong served as Greens Member for Western Metro of the Legislative Council (Upper House) in the Victorian Parliament. Huong Truong is a public servant by trade, with a Masters in Environment and Planning.

Ian Lisser

Ian Lisser

Lead Organiser with the Finance Sector Union in Sydney. As well as having a long history in various roles in the union movement spanning 30 years, from shop floor delegate to union President. Ian is also known for his work in GetUp! and Amnesty International as an activist trainer and facilitator. Ian undertook the COF Fellowship in 2017, the Australian Progress Fellowship in 2016 and the Harvard Leadership, Organising and Action: Leading Change executive program in 2018 as well as having undertaken training with the ACTU, Plan to Win, Ayni Institute and the International Institute for Peace (IIP) and International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict. As well as being focused on organising and building workers power via representative workplace structures and networks, Ian focus in on member to member recruitment, leadership development, mentoring and training of both organisers and workplace leaders.

Isaac Astill

I began my organising journey as a Campus Organiser in South Australia with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. I moved to Queensland, and worked with the Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance to organise against proposed coal ports.

For me, the distinguishing feature of community organising is durable power, wielded by many. The power built comes from the community affected, who can continue to utilise that power after a campaign is over.

I really love strategy development; it’s what gets me out of bed!

Jason Macleod

Jason Macleod (Associate)

Jason is a community organiser, educator, and researcher who has been working with local communities and social and environmental justice movements in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region since 1991. The context of this work varies, from conflict settings, to international and local NGOs, to local government, to community-based organisations, neighbourhoods and villages, although most of his work is with grassroots communities and ordinary people working for social change. He teaches civil resistance at the University of Queensland and is a training associate with the Change Agency, Australia’s leading activist education outfit. Jason is married with kids, wrestles with his Quaker faith, lives in a cohousing settlement, and currently has aspirations to raise chickens. Whenever possible he enjoys a long walk in wilderness country or to ride a perfect pitching wave. He lives on Jaggera land in Brisbane.

Email Jason Macleod

Josh Creaser

Probably my first exposure to community organising was in year 10 of high school when learning about global waste problems and oceans swirling with garbage inspired a ‘student led, clean up our school and community project’. Perhaps to date the hardest organising context I’ve worked in….’You can lead a teenager to a bin, but you can’t make them put their rubbish in to it!”

One thing led to another from these formative days and I got involved with the AYCC, where I was properly introduced to the ideas of extreme climate change, youth campaigning, and gaining some agency in the struggle for our future. So ensured 3 years of active learning as a coordinator of school projects and then the Canberra team, making friends across Australia, deep frustration at times and ultimately feeling like I’d done my dash and was ready to get fully immersed in the academic world.

Then along came the Bill McKibben whirlwind Do The Maths tour, and once again I felt that sense of exciting and possibility. I got involved in setting up 350 Canberra and 18 months on am still helping coordinate our local campaign to get the ACT Gov to divest from fossil fuels.

Kate Smolski

Kate Smolski

Kate is an environmental advocate with fourteen years of experience in grassroots organising, campaign strategy, media relations, policy and lobbying. As a grassroots organiser and campaigner Kate has worked for several leading US environmental non-profits including Green Corps, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Through innovative campaigns and trainings she has worked with a range of groups to effectively advocate for action on climate change, clean energy and lands and wildlife protection. From Congressional panels to community halls her work has focused on effective advocacy, capacity building and the development of broad-based coalitions. Kate moved to Sydney in 2012 and is currently the CEO at the Nature Conservation Council. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Rhode Island.

Kate co-founded tCA’s Community Organising Fellowship and was a core member of the facilitation team 2014-2016.

Larissa Baldwin

Community Organising is grassroots-led solutions to create change. I think it differs from other approaches because it is the most impactful. It’s also the only type of organising that has created any change for Aboriginal people.

I am the National Co-director of SEED. I’m passionate about a range of social justice issues facing Indigenous communities and seek change through self-determination and indigenous youth leadership. I have previously worked for Oxfam across their Indigenous programs to help young people and women engage with decision makers and advocate on behalf of their families and communities.

One thing that I bring is knowledge of how to communicate and advocate for Aboriginal communities – it’s something that I’ve learned from growing up on country, and it’s what gives me the most satisfaction in my job.

Laura Melville

Laura Melville

A community organiser with Environment Victoria, working mainly on the lands of the Braikalung people of the Gunaikurnai nation in the Latrobe Valley. Laura developed her organising skills at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), building the power of young people to take action on climate justice. As the national organising director at AYCC, Laura developed AYCC’s national training program, ‘Climate Leaders’, was the project manager for ‘Powershift’ in 2017, and lead the development of AYCC’s new organising and leadership development model.

Growing up in Gippsland, Laura is passionate about ensuring that the transition beyond coal provides regional communities with opportunities to thrive.

Louise Hislop

Louise Hislop

Studied political economy in the 1980s and has always taken an interest and a part in her democracy and the environment. As ‘things got more and more out of hand’, she’s become more and more involved, to the point where she found herself leading the charge for lasting change in Warringah.

In 2016, Louise was campaign manager for James Mathison in Warringah. Then in 2019, she was campaign co-manager for Zali Steggall’s federal election campaign. Louise is now Steggall’s electorate officer and project manager for Warringah’s Roadmap to Zero. She is the founding president of Voices of Warringah.

Maria (Maz) Clague

I’m have volunteered for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and SEED network to liaise, mobilise, organise and support Traditional Owners within their local communities in Australia against the fossil fuel industry. While I was at High School, I campaigned for the local Yaegl Language to be taught in my local community and schools.

I enjoy networking and communicating with different people and therefore a special skill and interest of mine is grassroots community organising and supporting local community individuals, groups and organisations.

Meriki Onus

Meriki Onus

Gunai and Gunditjmara woman from Bung Yarnda, Meriki worked in the legal sector for Aboriginal women’s rights for the past 10 years and is a co-founder and active organiser of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance – Melbourne. Meriki has worked across many different issues that impact mob in Victoria, in particular prisons and deaths in custody. Meriki is also a committee member on Pay The Rent, a national initiative to distribute wealth in stolen land.

Miriam Lyons

GetUp’s Organising Director. She ran the Wentworth by-election and Warringah election campaigns at GetUp.

Miriam is a renewable energy expert, policy analyst, writer and commentator, and the co-author, with Ian McAuley, of Governomics. She was the founding CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, where she is now a Fellow.

She has been a guest on various TV and radio programs, including the ABC shows Q&A and The Drum, has contributed to several publications and co-edited the books Pushing Our Luck and More Than Luck. Earlier roles include Policy Editor for, researching freedom of speech in East Timor, and organising ideas festivals.

Naomi Hogan

Coordinates community action in the face of expanding coal and gas projects across Australia. She has trained in science communication and natural resource management, with experience in science writing, community organising and media outreach.

Over the past decade, Naomi has worked with regional communities, farming groups and Traditional Owners across Australia on the frontline of proposed new gas fields and open cut coal mines. From company board rooms to parliament meetings and media stories, her approach has been to help facilitate local representatives to have a powerful voice.

Naomi is currently a National Coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance. The mission of Lock the Gate is to protect Australia’s agricultural, environmental and cultural resources from inappropriate mining. The charity aims to educate and empower all Australians to demand sustainable solutions to food and energy production. A large part of her current role includes mobilising community representatives and researchers to challenge the increasing threat of large-scale fracking and new gas fields across the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Philip Marii

Philip Marrii Winzer

Is first and foremost a Ngarabul & Wirrayaraay Murri from so-called New England, Northern New South Wales, and has been actively involved in fighting for Aboriginal rights and to protect country for over a decade.

Phil’s organising and campaigning are grounded in a deep passion for country and a strong belief in the necessity of decolonising and rooting ourselves in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing if our world is to survive the climate crisis that is already devastating Indigenous communities here and globally. With Phil’s own country facing a new wave of colonisation in the form of coal and coal seam gas extraction, they have been active in environmental campaigns to protect Gomeroi country for many years. Phil is also actively involved in Ngarabul language revitalisation and reclamation of country.

Phil has also been organising, campaigning and involved in frontline, on-the-ground anti-colonial resistance with the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance since 2014, including helping organise major protests like Genocidal20 (G20 2014) and Stolenwealth (Commonwealth Games 2018). Until recently, Phil was National Campaign and Organising Manager for Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, and led the implementation of a corporate campaign targeting companies involved in fracking in the Northern Territory amongst Seed’s national network of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.