Professional Staff Conference

SHAPING OUR FUTURE: What does this mean for us?

Professional Staff Conference | June 14-15 2023


The Professional Staff Conference has become an important event in the University calendar.

The Conference provides Professional Staff members the opportunity to share what they do across the University.


This year, the Professional Staff Conference is being held over two days. The first day, 14 June, will be held virtually via Zoom. It will feature a number of concurrent sessions with presentations from your colleagues plus various mood booster sessions throughout the day. You can register for all or as many sessions as you would like. 

The face-to-face event being held at Commbank Stadium on 15 June will feature engaging presentations plus a closing keynote speaker and prize draw. 

Key Highlights

  • An address by the Vice-Chancellor and President;
  • Presentations by various staff across the University;
  • Keynote address from:
    • Michael McQueen; a multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and bestselling author of nine books. Michael was formerly named Australia's keynote speaker of the year - Closing Keynote, Thursday 15th June
  • Mood booster sessions on topics including embracing change, disrupting monotony and promoting digital well being:
    • Luke 'Cookie' Cook plus Adam Axford & Dr Kristy Goodwin – Wednesday 14th June
  • Time for catchups with our Sponsors plus lots of fun and prizes!

Wednesday 14 June

Session Time Session Presenters Watch Now
09:30AM - 09:45AM Conference Opening & Acknowledgment of Country Luke 'Cookie' Cook
09:45AM - 10:00AM Mood Booster: Dear Digital, We Need To Talk Dr Kristy Goodwin & Luke 'Cookie' Cook
 10:15AM - 10:45AM Concurrent Session: Transformation Program: Moving Forward, the Western Way Dr Kay Visser & Alicia Ballesty
Concurrent Session: Embedded future-oriented processes: leveraging our skill-mix  Fiona Byrne & Dr Kathy Donohoe
Concurrent Session: Creating Magic using Adobe Creative Cloud  Stephanie Bourke
Concurrent Session: Shaping Our Future Indigenous Leaders  Josh Mason & Fiona Towney
Concurrent Session: Diverse degrees and Indigenous Futures   Amelia Corr
11:15AM - 11:45AM Concurrent Session: Decarbonising towards Climate Positive: How can you help? Dr Roger Attwater
Concurrent Session: Wellbeing Service Directory - Broadening Networks & Accessibility Rabyh Barhoum & Nabeel Shah
 Concurrent Session: The development of a novel online statistics course Merryn Horrocks & Dr Jim Pettigrew
Concurrent Session: NPILF & Western: Enhancing WIL, STEM & Industry Engagement  Marie Kelliher
Concurrent Session: More than pretty pictures on walls? Western Sydney Uni’s Art  Margaret Hancock & Dolla Merrillees
01:00PM - 01:30PM  Concurrent Session: Launch Pad Entrepreneurial Education and Innovation Carla Dias Wadewitz
Concurrent Session: Building a High-Performance Culture   Rebecca McCulloch & Natalie Bradbury
 Concurrent Session: Re-shaping Learning Abroad in a Post-Pandemic World  Steven McDonald & Erin Hilaire
Concurrent Session: Developing external relationships that shape our future.   Penny Clarke & Ray Villarica 
Concurrent Session: Empowering Student Success through Exceptional CX   Sara Tavora & Heather Winter
02:30PM - 02:45PM Mood Booster: Looking at the World with Awe & Wonder Adam Axford & Luke 'Cookie' Cook
03:00PM - 03:30PM Concurrent Session: PGx: A differentiated approach to digital learning Lynnae Venaruzzo & Botong Cheng
Concurrent Session: Shaping Our Future with Sustainability and Resilience Bhadra Chandran & Emma Boddington
Concurrent Session: What can we learn from listening to our Future Students? Sophie Partridge, Kellie Burke & Amy Ferguson
Concurrent Session: Shape of U: How university studies are positively impacting high school students through the pilot Academy U program Ciaran Smyth & Alicia Pinning
Concurrent Session: Volunteering at Western Michelle Gillard


Keynote Speaker

Michael McQueen is a multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and bestselling author of nine books.

With clients including KPMG, Pepsi and Cisco, he has helped some of the world’s most successful brands navigate disruption and maintain momentum.

Michael is a regular commentator on TV and radio and his work has featured in publications ranging from the UK Daily Mail to and the Huffington Post. In addition, Michael is a familiar face on the international conference circuit having shared the stage with the likes of Bill Gates, Dr. John Maxwell and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Michael has spoken to over 500,000 people across 5 continents since 2004, and is known for his engaging, entertaining and practical conference presentations.

Having been formerly named Australia’s Keynote Speaker of the Year, Michael has been inducted into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame

Mood Booster Session Speakers

Having personally experienced how our always-on digital culture is compromising people’s wellbeing and is counter to optimal and sustainable performance, award-winning researcher and speaker Dr Kristy Goodwin is on a mission to promote employee wellbeing and bolster workplace productivity in an always-on digital world.

As one of Australia’s digital wellbeing and productivity experts, she shares practical brain-based hacks to tame tech habits and the latest evidence-based strategies to decode the neurobiology of peak performance in the technological era.

Senior business leaders and HR executives from the country’s top organisations engage Dr Kristy to help them promote employee digital wellbeing and performance.

Her roster of clients includes Apple, Macquarie Bank, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Queensland, Challenger, Westpac, DLA Piper, Westpac, McDonald’s, Westfield, Randstad, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Cuscal, State Street, National Broadband Network and Foxtel.

Adam Axford is addicted to wonder – the profound sense of curious excitement that reminds us anything is possible.

Through riddle, rhyme and rhapsody, Adam guides us to moments which disrupt monotony, revitalise curiosity and reconnect us with the magic of the moment.

Adam’s passion for illusion, psychology and wordplay find their home on stage and in the crowd, creating impossible moments that connect, inspire and blow peoples minds.

Raised in London, Adam grew up in an entrepreneurial home and worked as a street-market trader throughout childhood. These formative years nurtured an innate ability to connect and command a crowd.

In early adulthood Adam trained in NLP and worked as a hypnotherapist, fusing a love for words and the desire to impact others.

In 2007 these puzzle pieces formed, turning a lifelong hobby into a full-time endeavour – a career in entertainment.

Adam’s creativity has continued to thrive, solidifying him as one of Australia’s most exciting talents.

After receiving his career break in radio, Cookie over the last 20 years has established himself as a senior leader in media & helping companies improve their culture.

Cookie is an ideas man, change maker, connector, employee culture specialist, entrepreneur, host, father and husband.

He is also someone who has battled burnout, lost people very close to him, had to reinvent his business in a day, and been on the brink of losing it all!

Cookie found his purpose when launching (Netflix for businesses who want the most for their people) at a time when people (and himself) needed it most. After interviewing over 400+ experts & personalities, showed him first hand how the power of storytelling & conversations can change a person's life forever and also galvanise a community to do good.

Cookie is now on a mission to make the world a better place, one conversation at a time

His topics include Navigating Life’s Puzzle (Mental Health Journey), Entrepreneurial Mindset (Professional Growth), Setback to Success (Personal Growth) & Conversational MUSCLE (Communication + Connection).