The Student Leadership Conference is an opportunity to develop your leadership skills and to grow your professional network.

It is hosted by the Student Leadership Team and is funded by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF).

 Guests at 2019 Student Leadership Conference

2022 Student Leadership Conference

The theme for the 2022 Student Leadership Conference is Leading in the New Reality.

At this one-day event you will network with like-minded peers and:

  • develop new leadership skills
  • engage with VU students and the broader community
  • listen to professional speakers present on engaging topics
  • receive a Certificate of Attendance
  • gain hours that count towards the LEAD Program.

The event includes:

  • inspiring keynote presentations
  • interactive workshops
  • networking opportunities
  • entertainment and more.

2021 Conference details & program

The theme for the 2021 Student Leadership Conference was Resilience and Reinvention.

The Conference was held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre on Friday 30 April, with delegates joining online.

View or download the 2021 Student Leadership Conference program

The event included inspirational keynote speakers, interactive workshops, catering, networking, a LinkedIn photo booth and more!

Keynote address by Professor Adam Shoemaker, Vice-Chancellor & President

 Professor Adam Shoemaker

Professor Adam Shoemaker is the Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University.

Prior to his current appointment, he was Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University, and has held senior leadership roles at a number of other Australian universities. He is one of Australia’s leading researchers in the area of Indigenous literature and culture.

Adam has a compelling vision for the future of Victoria University, with a goal to make VU the best dual sector university in the world. Adam is excited to lead VU as we innovate and sharpen our progressive way of learning to ensure graduates are ready to make a real contribution to the workforce, whether it is around the corner or around the world.

Nyadol Nyuon

 Nyadol Nyuon

Nyadol Nyuon is a lawyer, community advocate, writer, and accomplished public speaker.

Nyadol was born in a refugee camp in Itang, Ethiopia, and raised in Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya. In 2005, at the age of eighteen, she moved to Australia as a refugee.

Since then, Nyadol has completed a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne. She now works as a senior consultant in the Community Crime Prevention Unit of the Victorian Department of Justice.

Nyadol is a vocal advocate for human rights, multiculturalism, the settlement of people with refugee experiences and those seeking asylum. She has worked and volunteered extensively in these areas with a range of organisations.

Nyadol is also a regular media commentator in these areas, having appeared on ABC’s The Drum, as a panellist on Q&A and contributing to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Saturday Paper, to name just a few.

Simple strategies for our mental wellbeing

The plenary session will provide a brief overview of the evidence behind the everyday strategies we can use to promote and protect our physical and mental wellbeing. We will share a few examples and practice a couple of brief and simple wellbeing techniques together.

Dr Alex Parker, Executive Director of the Institute for Health and Sport/Professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health

Alex Parker is the Executive Director of VU's Institute for Health and Sport (IHES). IHES addresses real-world problems of local, national and global relevance in both health and sport. Research within IHES encompasses exercise science, active living, chronic disease, biomedical sciences, technology, nursing, community health, psychology, public health, sport performance, sport in society, sport participation and sport business.

As a Professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health, Alex's research examines the role of movement in preventing and treating mental health concerns. Her research is mainly in youth mental health and she is also a practising clinical psychologist. Alex is involved in research to support the mental wellbeing of VU students and is a member of VU's Refreshed Student Mental Health Strategy 2018-2021 Reference Group.

Read about the in person workshops here.

Win the 'What if...?'s War

Anita van Rooyen, Confidence Hackers

 Anita Van Rooyen

You know those thoughts that keep you awake at night? The ones that keep swirling through your head, over and over? Together in this workshop we'll discover ways to win against your ‘what if...?', the ‘why me?’ and the ‘what the?’ thoughts.

Ignite & Rewrite Your Story

Anita van Rooyen, Confidence Hackers

In this interactive session, we'll discover the beliefs that hold us back from moving forward, then using guided vision work, create amazing new beliefs that powerfully move you forward to the version of leader you aim to be.

Resilience in your career & making opportunities

Daniel Lunardi and Tonya Wimhurst, Careers Consultants

 Daniel Lunardi

In this workshop we'll discuss resilience while searching for jobs and throughout the application process, as well as how to:

  • articulate skills developed through COVID-19 (resilience & adaptability)
  • network for support
  • explore and create opportunities for yourself through freelancing, entrepreneurship, networking, business creation, personal branding and embracing the gig economy in the future of work.

Transform discomfort & vulnerability into strength & resilience

Nicole Melder, Senior Counsellor,  VU Wellbeing Services

Nicole Melder

Students will gain insights into how transformative discomfort, confrontation, and vulnerability can be when leaders have the courage to identify and admit to what we are feeling, even when the feelings may be extremely challenging to cope with. Nicole will share her experiences of being in challenging situations and invite students to share their own, and demonstrate how being open and honest about our vulnerabilities will transform us into agile, resilient and courageous leaders. Nicole will draw on work by Dr Susan David (psychologist and management consultant) to facilitate a discussion around emotions and how our emotions can be used as a strength rather than weakness.

Authentic leadership for planetary health

Jeannie Rea, Associate Professor, Senior Manager Planetary Health

Jeannie Rea

Our planet embodies resilience and reinvention – it always fights back despite all that humans do to destroy it. First Nations peoples around the planet have cared and advocated for the wellbeing of people, place and planet as custodians of Country, despite the relentless destructive impacts of invasion and colonisation. At VU we have made a whole of university commitment to make planetary health part of all we do. Students through participation and leadership in education and research as well as co- and extracurricular activities can make this real.

What makes a leader in transformative change for the wellbeing of people, place and planet? Do we need to reinvent leadership? Explore these questions, and workshop how to be a being a resilient and authentic leader to make a better world today and tomorrow.

Ending gender-based violence - what can men do?

Shelley Hewson-Munro, Teaching Focused Scholar & Project Manager, Working Together with Men

Shelly Hewson-Munro, smiling portrait in front of Australian forest

Join a leading expert in the field of gender-based violence and some guys who are working hard to become allies for equity.

Violence against identifying women and gender-based violence is one of the biggest social-justice issues and human-rights violations across the world. Ninety-five per cent of all violent acts are committed by men either towards women or other men, so many of the answers to changing this statistic rely on men joining women to work together to end violence at all levels in our society.

This session will explore:

  • Pro-feminism - could this be for you?
  • Outdated masculinity norms and their impact on men and our world.
  • Tips from men who have tried to be active bystanders and allies.
  • Your next steps for becoming an ally and principles that you can use personally, as well as in your leadership roles with men.

Resilient Me

Marian Cronin, Associate Director, Inclusion and Engagement

In small groups, women and female identifying people will have the opportunity to work with Marian for an experience of exploration, learning and growth. Together we will tap into our own resilience, recreating our narratives, examining our "self-talk", taming that "inner critic", and doing a deep dive into the myth that our success is due to "luck".

Yes, I am a human

Emma Sheridan, Senuri Weerasekara & Michael Deppeler, Student Mentors

This workshop will focus on human interaction, team building after isolation, group work and resilience. During our workshop we will be doing some interactive activities using a giant Jenga in the form of a competition. As fellow colleagues, we will also be focusing on the student experience during one of the toughest years we faced in 2020.

Building Resilience in a Disruptive World

Associate Professor Thinh Nguyen, Head of VU Academy

The last 12 months have seen unprecedented disruption and change. Many found it challenging, while other saw opportunities to thrive. What makes one person resilient while others falter from the stress? This workshop will present the science behind resilience and how to build it.

Read about the online workshops here.

Placemaking & planetary health possibilities for reinventing relatings

Dr Helen Widdop Quinton, Lecturer & Research Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities & Paramitha Eka Putri, PhD Candidate 

Place and planetary health are both generative concepts for rethinking our relationships with and between people, places and the planet. In this workshop we will explore these concepts and some applications. Through case examples we will draw attention to possibilities for placemaking, building resilience, restoration through nature connections, contact zones for action, and shifting of worldviews for planetary health.

As a workshop group we will identify strategic possibilities for your own place based and resilience activities.

Overcoming Implicit Biases & Covert Racism

Stefan Sambol, PhD Candidate - Institute of Health and Sport

 Stefan Sambol

An inescapable reality is we make thousands of decisions a day, ranging in severity and the amount of mental effort we apply when making a decision. There are many mental shortcuts we take to save time and effort. However, through these "automated" decision-making processes we are susceptible to biases and display clear favouritism for our own in groups.

In this workshop we will cover implicit cognition, how through our life experiences we have unconsciously made associations that may negatively affect how we interact with people of different ethnicities, gender, or sexual orientation. You will have the opportunity to complete a racial implicit association task and learn what "unconscious biases" you may harbour. Most importantly, we will learn what it means to have these implicit biases and how to be more "conscious" when interacting with others.

Using feedback to gain the edge in your next job interview

Justine Warne, Coordinator Enterprise Skills Development, Employability & Success

Justine Warne

This workshop will explore how to use feedback to your advantage in your next job interview. You will learn how to ask for constructive feedback, and how to apply it to give you the edge that will help you land the job you want. 

2021 Conference highlights

 Guests at 2019 Student Leadership Conference
 MC at 2019 Student Leadership Conference

Previous conferences

Past speakers include:

  • Catherine Bell (Bell Training Group)
  • Tasneem Chopra (Anti-Racism Champion, Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Professor Marcia Devlin (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Senior Vice-President, Victoria University)
  • Rebecca Scott (STREAT)
  • Kon Karapanagiotidis (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre)
  • Vanessa Doake (Code Like a Girl)
  • Conrad Tracey (Inspire9)
  • Nina Roxburgh (Foundation for Young Australians)
  • Tom Amos (Sidekicker)
  • Fiona Triaca (Naked Ambition).

The 2020 Student Leadership Conference took place on Friday 18 September 2020.

The theme for 2020 was Inspirational and Collaborative Leadership.

The Conference was held virtually through the EventsOnAir Online platform and included:

  • inspiring keynote presentations
  • interactive workshops
  • speed networking opportunities in between workshops to meet new people
  • a stretching session to promote physical and mental wellbeing
  • an opportunity to participate in a paint & sip event

Conference Program

Official Welcome: Leon Kerr (Director, Student Services) and Alexander Haw (Student Leadership Assistant)

Acknowledgement of Country: Karen Jackson, Director Moondani Balluk

Opening Keynotes

Professor Corinne Reid ‘Extreme Teams’

Professor Corinne Reid (DVC) is responsible for the VU Research Portfolio and co-sponsor of the Planetary Health initiative at VU.  

Corinne formerly held a Chair in Psychological Therapies in the School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh and continues to be a Senior Fellow of the Global Health Academy.

Corinne is also a primary researcher with the Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity in Western Australia, and co-lead of the FLOURISH research team with members in the UK, Chile, Malawi and Australia.

Corinne is committed to the values of Olympism; that is, the strengthening of the global community and development of mutual respect through sport. For the past 25 years she has worked with Olympic teams and individuals as they strive to be the best they can be.

Corinne’s PhD explored the personal qualities and values that support individuals and teams to perform under the most extreme conditions and to build team relationships that can withstand the pressures of the highest levels of competition.

Dr Ross Coller

Ross is a senior executive with over 25 years’ experience within the tertiary education sector, the last 14 with a focus on advancing the educational mission of universities through engagement with those outside the institution. 

His approach is on creating value through understanding the drivers of the University and building relationships based on trust, relevance, authenticity and resonance.

Ross is also the Chair of the VU Ally Network and is committed to creating an inclusive and respectful culture at VU for LGBTQI+ and gender diverse community members, staff and students.


“Tell me about yourself" confidently in 2020 - Annique Teycheney

Networking for Success – Anita van Rooyen, Confidence Hackers

Power up Your LinkedIn profile - Daniel Lunardi

Commitment to gender equality: a core 21st century skill - Marion Cronin & Fleur Taylor

Wise Words I Have Heard - Grant Weir

Being an LGBTQIA+ ally can inspire you to be a better leader - Tessa Caramia, Minus18

Performing Brave - resisting the persistence of sexism - Jeannie Rea

Leading Fearlessly – Anita van Rooyen, Confidence Hackers

How to foster team well-being, innovation and collaboration amidst the ultimate disruptor: a global pandemic! - Donna de Zwart, Fitted for Work

Stretching Plenary Session

Brooke Olsen from VU Sport guided conference attendees through a stretching session in the middle of the day. The much needed stretch after being zoomed out acts as a movement break that energizes students for the rest of the day’s workshops.

Closing Keynote

Catherine Bell ‘The Heart of a Leader’

A proud Victoria University graduate, Catherine is the Director of Bell Training Group, a boutique consulting firm inspiring visionary leadership and best people practice with organisations around the globe.

Catherine passionately believes that good business can change the world and through her own work, has contributed over 100,000 impacts towards the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, including clean drinking water, health and education support for those in need.

Catherine works with leaders and teams to help them find the courage to face challenges, create environments of excellence and bring out the best in every individual, and brings her unique blend of science and heart to every interaction.

Post Conference Social Event

Paint & Sip with Cork & Canvas: Conference attendees received a Creativity Kit with everything needed to paint. A talented artist guided participants step-by-step to paint the featured artwork while enjoying a glass of wine or other beverage and some nibbles.

 Guests at 2019 Student Leadership Conference
 Guests at 2019 Student Leadership Conference