Conference Speakers & Panellists

Adam Woolnough

Engagement Manager, Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement, 
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

Presentation Title: The AIS Engagement Program connects elite athletes to local communities to inspire and drive participation opportunities – Key learnings that can be embraced by sport, local government and education to activate local communities.

Adam started his sporting journey with a professional nine season rugby league career in the NRL with the Newcastle Knights, Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm between 2002-2011.

Read More

Following ‘retirement’ from competitive sport, Adam entered the workforce via the underground coal mines in Newcastle. This career direction lasted three years until dissatisfaction and lack of motivation lead to seeking a re-entry into the sporting world.

In 2015, Adam secured a position at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) as a Personal Development Advisor, part of the high performance system in Queensland. The role was fundamentally assisted, advocated and guided Queensland’s elite athletes in areas such as; career and education, life building skills, wellbeing, transition and community engagement. From 2017-2018, Adam was the Senior Personal Development Advisor, with a major accomplishment being the strategic re-direction of the QAS Personal Development program.

Adam now works in the newly formed Australian Institute of Sports ‘Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement’ team. The five pillars to the program consist of mental health, conduct and professionalism, career and education, personal development and engagement. Adam’s role see him lead the national approach to engagement across key sporting stakeholders.


Alex Burrows

Founder, ActiveXchange

Presentation Title: Embracing data to drive change across communities and cohorts – How can organisations leverage the value of their existing data, coupled with a range of other datasets and the latest market intelligence? Data can track intelligent-led action plans and strategies, guiding delivery and funding decision in an accurate, credible and consistent way

Alex has influenced how over 10 million people are active today, guiding and coordinating decision making on facility location, design and investment through to programming, pricing, marketing and operations.

Read More

This now includes heading a Sydney-based Data Team which uses unprecedented predictive modelling and machine learning techniques to bring more people into sport, leisure and fitness, and keep them active for longer.

8 years ago, at the age of 26, Alex co-founded from the UK what’s become globally the largest aggregated member and activity database, and through this has helped over 3,750 facilities and 20+ national sport bodies to simplify their decision making by using market and business intelligence software (often for the first time), drawn from data on over 500 million visits.

 In April 2018 he arrived in Sydney and launched ActiveXchange (opening up a capability similar to that used by the large supermarket chains), which is now 10-strong, working closely with some of the largest and smallest operators and sport organisations in Australia and New Zealand.

The team is focussed on developing and managing a core set of investment, operational and marketing predictive sector models, powered by market intelligence drawn from 3 million ANZ members. This gives ActiveXchange partners the confidence to make positive change faster, by having a clear line of sight on the value of this change.

Alison Oliver

Chief Executive Officer,Youth Sport Trust

Presentation Title: Making physical education fit for purpose – It is important to understand young people’s behaviours and activation points. The Youth Sport Trust has evolved over the past 20 years to continue to meet these changing behaviours and needs, what can be learnt from school and out of school programs in the UK for Australia?

Ali is the Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust, an independent charity devoted to changing young people’s lives through sport.

Read More

Ali joined the Youth Sport Trust in 2004 and has fulfilled the roles of Implementation Director, Sport Director and Managing Director before becoming the CEO in July 2015. Prior to this Ali was the Deputy Director of Sport at the University of Bath having initially been the course leader for the initial teacher training programme for Physical Education. Before this Ali was Head of PE at Millfield School, having started her career as teacher in Essex.

During her career Ali has worked with and on behalf of a range of other organisations. She supported the British Olympic Foundation’s education programme back in 2004 and delivered the Paralympic Inspiration Programme on behalf of the British Paralympic Association in London 2012.  Ali led LOCOG’s Youth Panel, and is a member of the selection panel for the Young Sports Personality of the Year. She is currently a Board member of the Healthy Learning Trust, a Trustee of Chance to Shine, and an advisor to Sheffield Hallam University on their Sport strategy. Ali has also worked on a number of international assignments including a project with Sport & Recreation South Africa which was part of the International Inspiration Programme.

Andrew Grubba

Head of Sport, Ryan Catholic College, Townsville

Presentation Title: ACTIV8 – Changing the thinking in a school to encourage 2,000 children to be more active – After last year’s NSC, the Heads of Sport developed their ACTIV8 Physical education program, designed to provide more opportunities for the students at the Townsville P-12 school to be more active. To date, results indicate the program is proving beneficial to the physical, mental and social health of students and will hopefully lead to improved behaviours and academic performance

Andrew is the Head of Sport (Year 5-8) at Ryan Catholic College, a P-12 school of approximately 2000 students in Townsville, North Queensland.

Read More

Andrew started his educational career at Gumdale State School in Brisbane. He then spent 10 years at St. Margaret Mary’s College as their Secondary School Head of Sport before commencing at Ryan Catholic College as the Middle School Head of Sport in 2015. In his teaching career, Andrew has taught Health and Physical Education of students from year one through to year twelve.

Andrew is passionate about inclusive education and enabling students to engage in physical education and become lifelong ambassadors for physical activity and health. In collaboration with Brendan Wendt, his fellow Head of Sport at Ryan Catholic College, Andrew designed and implemented a physical activity program (ACTIV8), and launched an inclusive AFL Academy, to provide more opportunities for the students at the College to be active and overcome many of the barriers connected with participation in physical activity.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Griffith University, and also runs his own fitness business in Townsville called G-Fit Townsville.

Andrew O’Loughlin

Director, Experience Design Co.

Presentation Title: Understanding of the strategic role events can (and should) play in sport and physical activity, especially given their growing popularity, and the shift in the way we consume sport in today’s world

Across 25 years in sport and entertainment, I have learnt that events can be a powerful platform to connect and influence people. To get attention, motivate action, engagement and sales. However, I have seen that events often fail to deliver. The goal is not defined. The plan is not achievable. The influence is not evaluated.

Read More

In a busy world there is often no time, funding, or resource for strategy and evaluation. And in our competitive world inevitably the events will then fail. They are no better, or more valuable than what we’ve already got. They are not successful, and barely manageable. Yes, it is difficult to get it right, but what I have also experienced over the years is that this is all achievable.

Using my new ‘Experience Design’ methods, creating design-led, evidence-based events will have the influence they seek to make. They deliver on the promise, to the audience, for the event organisers, and their partners.

I have learned a lot in 25 years, so I’m now looking to connect you to meaningful knowledge. I’ve learnt by working with talented people on some of the world’s major events. With leading teams, and brands like Nike, ESPN, Red Bull & J.P. Morgan. With some of our major not-for-profit, sports and entertainment organisations, and our largest local governments. I’ve spent the last 10 years as Managing Director of an Events Agency, and I’m now looking to help you, as an Advisor. I am focusing on helping event owners and industry leaders to succeed in the world of events.

Dr Bernie Holland

Professional Learning Manager, ACHPER Vic

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Brendan Wendt

Head of Sport, Ryan Catholic College, Townsville

Presentation Title: ACTIV8 – Changing the thinking in a school to encourage 2,000 children to be more active – After last year’s NSC, the Heads of Sport developed their ACTIV8 Physical education program, designed to provide more opportunities for the students at the Townsville P-12 school to be more active. To date, results indicate the program is proving beneficial to the physical, mental and social health of students and will hopefully lead to improved behaviours and academic performance.

Claire Sparke

Head, Population Health UnitAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Ms Sparke is the Head for the Population Health Unit within the Health Group at the AIHW. She has a background in epidemiology and broad experience in reporting on health and welfare data including chronic conditions and risk factor monitoring, developing indicators for health performance frameworks and evaluation of employment and aged care programs. 

Read More

In her current role, she manages a unit that promotes improvements in population health information, including reporting on risk factors to health including physical activity, nutrition and obesity; reporting on social determinants of health; working with stakeholders to identify data needs, gaps and options for data development in population health; and reporting on international data, including provision of official Australian data to the OECD and WHO.

Damian Gorman

General Manager Business Development, Belgravia Tree House

Presentation Title: Supporting clubs to focus on program development and delivery by partnering with organisations to support the compliance and business side of managing the sport

Helene Windels

Sport & Recreation Planner, Logan City Council

Presentation Title: Local and national data, is there a place for both? Logan City Council, in partnership with Griffith University, gathered its second round of local participation data to understand local physical activity patterns. This research informs actions that aim to improve community wellbeing over time.

Helene has over 10 years’ experience working at Logan City Council in sport and recreation planning.

Read More

Coming originally from France where she received a master is sustainable sport and tourism development. She worked the USA for Maryland State Parks for 4 years prior to moving to Australia. This experience has given her an international perspective on the industry.

Helene is passionate about getting more people active and always looks to back up her work with reliable research and data. Over the years she has led nature based recreation initiatives, master planning, strategy development, community engagement and more.

Jaime Firman

Sports Partnership Manager, Australian Sports Foundation

Presentation Title: Capacity and capability building require funds – Growing participation is an emotive and engaging cause for fundraising campaigns and the local and philanthropic community

Read More

Professor Jo Salmon

Co-Director, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Professor Jo Salmon is Co-Director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. 

Read More

Jo worked for more than 12 years in the fitness industry and has an academic background in behavioural science/psychology and a PhD in epidemiology; hers is a lifelong commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of others. She has spent the last 20 years conducting research on the development of effective programs to promote children’s physical activity.

Jo has been a Chief Investigator on over 30 nationally funded research projects (AUD$17.6 million), and 14 international projects (US$7.7 million). She has published her research extensively with over 330 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and for the past 4 years has been named a Clarivate Highly Cited researcher, which ranks her in the 1% most cited authors in the world for her subject field. She has played a key role in development of physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents in Australia (2004; 2008; 2014).

She was a member of the Strategic Advisory Network for the Development of the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity, for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2017; and is a Distinguished International Affiliate (nominated) of Society for Health Psychology (2017).

Jonathan Fagg

Director, Sport Concepts Australia

Presentation Title: The growing interest in social sport has resulted in the development of new technology platforms and products to provide sport in a way the modern consumer wants to play it. A relentless and uncompromising customer centric approach is resulting in significant participation growth. What does this mean for the community and for sports clubs?

Jonathan is passionate about creating an easier way for people to participate in sport.

Read More

His 15 years of starting and operating sport participation focused businesses has provided a unique knowledge, experience and insight.

As Director at Sport Concepts Australia he operates across the structure, technology and delivery of the group owned products as well as consulting externally to industry.

Karen Jones

Executive Director Sport Infrastructure, NSW Sport and Recreation

Presentation Title: Planning for future generations to identify real needs and utilise open source data to enable planning and developing the right strategies in the right places

Markos Aristides Kern

Founder and CEO, Fun with Balls GmbH

Presentation Title: Modified sports through technology – Fun with Balls has taken the European market by storm after starting the company only two years ago. 

Markos Kern started his career at the age of 20 as Founder and Creative Director of Visual Drugstore, his design and consultancy company that focuses strongly on innovations and technology to explore any possibility in the creative field.

Read More

For almost two decades he has been in the creative field, using a holistic approach and deep expertise to realise extraordinary ideas and unique solutions.

A passionate thought leader and lateral thinker, Markos became the founder of several startups and his vision is filled with inspiration, foresight and imagination.

These skills mixed with technology let him to start Fun With Balls, his new adventure that is shaping the future of Sports and will contribute to provide a solution to one of the biggest issues in the developed world, in particular for the younger generation – inactivity.

At the same time, Fun With Balls is enabling operators, clubs and federations to update to a completely business model, allowing them to increase the participation and loyalty of their existing clients and to create additional revenue streams by attracting a completely new and younger audience.

Matt Cameron

Senior Project Officer, Physical Activity, VicHealth

Presentation Title: Exploring the results and key learnings from over 50 programs supported by VicHealth over past four years

Dr May Carter

Manager, Policy and Research – Sport and Recreation,Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Presentation Title: Targeted Participation: Linking sport and health 

Dr May Carter has academic qualifications in recreation management and leisure sciences, social science and environmental management. 

Read More

She has worked as a consultant, and as a lecturer and researcher with several universities.  May’s professional interests include physical activity and health promotion; planning, design and management of urban parklands; outdoor recreation and tourism in protected areas; and community development through engagement in planning and decision making.  May currently works in cross-agency policy development and research translation for the Western Australian state government.

Michael Burke

Sports Partnership Manager, Australian Sports Foundation

Presentation Title: Capacity and capability building require funds – Growing participation is an emotive and engaging cause for fundraising campaigns and the local and philanthropic community

Michael Nuttall

Executive Officer, Australian Primary Principals Association

Presentation Title: Appreciating a school’s perspective – A recent history of physical activity in primary schools; the challenges facing schools today in integrating more physical activity into the curriculum; who is responsible for getting children active; and, how we can make it happen in schools?

Michael Nuttall commenced as Executive Officer of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) in late 2010.

Read More

In over 30 years in primary school education, he has taught in Government, Catholic and Independent schools and, previous to working with APPA, held principal positions in two Canberra primary schools over twelve years (Marist College, Canberra and St Francis of Assisi, Calwell). In his classroom teaching years, he was more often than not the school’s sports co-ordinator.

As Executive Officer, Michael oversees the operations of APPA’s Canberra-based national office and provides executive level support to its elected President, 28-member National Advisory Council and 8-member Board. He represents the association in discussions with the Education Minister, ministerial staff and departmental officers. His role at APPA also sees him representing the association at various national forums, co-ordinating and writing submissions to national inquires and liaising with APPA business partners.

APPA represents Australia’s 7200+ primary school principals. Its members are the three national principals’ associations together with the 24 state and territory associations. APPA is governed by its Board which is made up of representatives from all three sectors.

Michael is also president of Squash ACT and keeps fit hitting a squash ball three or so times a week.

Peter Banks

Board Member, School Sport Australia

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Peter Banks is employed by the Department of Education in New South Wales. Peter has spent 35 years involved in School Sport.

Read More

This includes involvement at School, Zone, Region and at the State level.

He was elected to the School Sport Australia board in 2018. He also holds the positions of Cronulla Zone and Sydney East School Sport’s President and New South Wales Primary Schools Sports Association Vice President.

Peter is a SSA service award recipient as well as a NSWPSSA service award winner.

Rayoni Nelson

Board Member, School Sport Australia

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Rayoni Nelson is a Board member of School Sport Australia, which is responsible for the development and promotion of school sport in Australia.

Read More

She is also the CEO of School Sport Victoria, who is the peak body for school sport in Victoria, as part of the Department of Education and Training.

Rayoni has over 20 years’ experience working across government, sport, health and transport sectors. Her career has included management roles in a broad range of areas including sport, physical activity, active transport, road safety, customer service and communications.

She is also a member of the Victorian School Sport Network, Victorian Olympic Council – Education Commission and ACHPER Victoria Allied Stakeholder portfolio.
Rayoni has a Bachelor of Management and a Masters in Sport Management.

She has also represented Australia in badminton at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

Steve Pallas

Founder and Managing, Director Sports Community

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience.

Steve Pallas is the founder and Managing Director of Sports Community. Sports Community was established in 2012 to support sports club volunteers, peak sports bodies, councils, state governments and other stakeholders who support volunteers. 

Read More

Before moving into sports management in 2008 to become the CEO of one of the largest football/netball leagues in the country, Steve was a highly successful financial services executive, holding several CEO, General Management and senior management roles.

At the age of 19, Steve become secretary of his local cricket club and by his own admission “was the worst secretary ever, mainly due to the fact I had no induction, training or support”.  This early experience drives Steve’s passion to empower sports club volunteers.  The goal of Sports Community is to simply make it easier and more fun for volunteers to be successful.

Today, as a result of his passion for grassroots sport and his accumulated knowledge from working with thousands of clubs from all parts of the country, across almost all sports, Steve is now considered an expert in community sports. He is an in demand as a speaker, a research partner and as a trusted friend for the volunteers and stakeholders that drive Australia’s sports clubs.

Sunil Menon

Community Engagement Manager, ICC T20 World Cup 2020

Presentation Title: Creating a lasting legacy for cricket through the ICC T20 World Cup 2020

Thomas Fleurot

Project Manager, Portas Consulting

Panel Discussion: Top three issues identified by the audience

Vanessa Phillips

Senior Project Officer, Physical Activity, VicHealth

Presentation Title: Doing Sport Differently – Exploring the results and key learnings from over 50 programs supported by VicHealth over past four years

Vickie Saunders

Director, The Sponsorship Consultants

Presentation Title: Healthier Choices, Canberra Sports Club Sponsorship program

Vickie Saunders is a thought leader, and founder of two companies, The Sponsorship Consultants and The Brand Builders. Vickie and her team work globally supporting the sponsorship and brand education of organisations and individuals, within sport, business and government.

Read More

Both companies are flourishing, with international sports and business clients including the US Olympic Committee, Sport Singapore, Sport England, Deloitte Singapore, ASICS Asia, Victorian State Government and ACT Department of Health.

The author of 4 books, Vickie speaks regularly at events around the world, sharing leading edge information that sets a new benchmark for the way sponsorship and branding is approached. Combining insights from the business and sports worlds, the strategies and mindset offered are focused on more than just financial benefits, and explore more holistic value and outcomes.

Vickie brings a very real and practical approach which enables her clients to identify their own uniqueness, ambitions and needs and connect them with the opportunities that allow them to reach their potential.