Program 2023

Purchase your tickets for the AEGN Annual Conference 2023
Event details
Tuesday 2 May to Thursday 4 May
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney NSW 2000
AEGN hosted
Tuesday 2 May 8:00 am to Thursday 4 May 5:00 pm

The theme of the AEGN 2023 conference is building power, shifting power.

Tickets are now closed. If you have any questions please contact

Tuesday 2 May

Pre-conference workshops

9.30am to 12.30pm — Deep memory and deep collaboration with philanthropy and First Peoples

The conversation about how philanthropy can walk alongside First Nations in Australia is not a new one. The intersection of environmental grantmaking, climate justice, energy transition and First Nations is relatively new and uncharted territory. Considerations of climate change, caring for country, and the roles of stakeholders to act with more awareness of just and equitable practices are blending together in collaborative conversations about our shared future.  

We all need to build on our knowledge of cultures, climate and collaboration to overcome barriers and blockages in how philanthropy and First Nations communities can work together more effectively to improve environmental outcomes. 

In this workshop, we will examine your deep memory of environmental philanthropy and explore Deep Collaboration practices that might help us to overcome barriers and improve our collaborations between First Nations and other multicultural Australians.


Mark Yettica-Paulson

  • Venue: Terrace Room, Australian National Maritime Museum
2.00pm to 5.00pm — The personal impact of the climate and biodiversity crises: nourishing yourself to sustain effective action

This workshop will take you on a journey through your own feelings about the climate and environmental crises we face, demonstrating the importance of connecting with others at this critical time for action. It will include practical skills you can employ to foster a culture of care and active hope – for yourself and others – to grow and sustain effective action for people and our planet. 


Carol Ride — Founder and ED, Psychology for a Safe Climate

Dr Beth Hill — Program Development Coordinator, Psychology for a Safe Climate

Dr Sally Gillespie — Writer, workshop facilitator, lecturer and public speaker

Christie Wilson —Clinical psychotherapist, climate activist and facilitator

  • Venue: Terrace Room, Australian National Maritime Museum

Conference welcome drinks

6.00pm — Welcome drinks: Terrace Room, Australian National Maritime Museum

Joins us for drinks and canapés the night before our conference starts. Connect with other members and celebrate with 15 years of the AEGN.

  • Venue: Terrace Room, Australian National Maritime Museum

Wednesday 3 May

Morning sessions

8.45am to 9.15am — Welcome to country and conference opening
Welcome to Country

Craig Madden


Amanda Martin —CEO, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

9.15am to 10.05am — Keynote Speaker: Dr Bruce Lourie

To exist in perpetuity or not?

The Power of Now and Philanthropy’s Role. Spending down to fast track the transition to a prosperous, equitable low-carbon economy


Dr Bruce Lourie — President, Ivey Foundation

Hayley Morris (moderator)— Executive Director, Morris Group

10.05am to 10.45am — Keynote: Larissa Baldwin-Roberts

This year and indeed the next decade are critical to redress past wrongs and fundamentally transform how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are heard, responded to and provided with power.  We must recognise and build the power of First Nations leadership so that we can achieve a future that is just and prosperous for all and where nature is cherished and our climate is stable. 


Larissa Baldwin-Roberts — Widjabul Wia-bul woman from the Bundjalung Nations and CEO, GetUp

Millie Telford (moderator) — First Nations Justice Director, Australian Progress

Midday sessions

11.15am to 12.15pm — Imagine if!

Leading thinkers on climate justice, regenerative technologies, nature protection and economic transitions discuss what the world might look like if we achieve their visions for change. What are the most promising initiatives happening right now, and what else needs to happen to realise their visions of a just and sustainable future.


Rathana Chea — CEO, Multicultural Leadership Initiative

Professor Alana Mann — University of Tasmania

Kristin Vaughan — Managing Partner, Virescent Ventures

Dr Michelle Maloney — Co-founder and National Convenor, Australian Earth Laws Alliance

Danny Kennedy — CEO, New Energy Nexus

Susheela Peres da Costa CIMA (moderator) — Founder, The Stewardship Centre

12.15pm to 1.00pm — Trust, humility and transparency – shifting power in practice

Committing to justice, integrity and equity are keys to achieving environmental outcomes. And acting with humility to address the power imbalance that exists between funders and those seeking funding is essential to achieving lasting change. In this practical session we will go beyond the buzz words and explore real world examples of funders who are walking the talk – and making mistakes along the way.  


Millie Telford — First Nations Justice Director, Australian Progress

Saffron Zomer — Executive Director, Australian Democracy Network

Bec Milgrom (moderator) — Executive Director, Tripple

Project Showcase — climate and environment

2.00pm to 3.30pm — Project Showcase: 8 amazing projects and organisations for funding

Eight strategic projects representing a breadth of climate and environment work in Australia will pitch for funding from the AEGN membership. For the first time in three years, our showcase will take place in-person, giving NGOs the chance to sit down with interested funders to discuss impactful work that needs support across our sector.

Afternoon sessions

4.00pm to 5.00pm — One year into our new Parliament, now what?

The transition is happening! Australia has had a welcome change of federal government, opening the door to real progress on climate and nature policy. One year in to the 47th Parliament we take stock to explore what has been achieved, what needs to be achieved and what the implications are for different sectors including philanthropy. Bring your reflections and questions as we grapple with how to make the most of this historic opportunity. 


Mark Wakeham—Australian Program Director, The Sunrise Project

Nicky Ison — Head of Direct Advocacy, Boundless Earth

Matt Kean MP — Member of the Legislative Assembly

Rebecca Huntley (moderator) — Director of Research, 89 Degrees East

5.00pm to 5.30pm — Wrap up and reflection

Amanda Martin — CEO, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

5.30pm to 6.30pm — Networking drinks
  • Venue: Ripples Restaurant, Australian National Maritime Museum
6.30pm to 9.30pm — Networking dinner
  • Venue: The Tasman Light Gallery, Australian National Maritime Museum


Thursday 4 May

Morning sessions

9.00am to 9.30am — Welcome and member reflection

Amanda Martin —CEO, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

9.30am to 10.40am — A once in a generation opportunity to get our laws working for climate and nature

In 2020, Graeme Samuel delivered an independent review of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act setting out 38 recommendations to reverse the current state of environmental decline. The federal government has responded with its Nature Positive Plan, and the new bill is under development. Graeme Samuel will be joined by other experts to reflect on where philanthropy can, and should, engage in the process. This is a once in a generation opportunity to achieve step change. Whether you are normally an advocacy funder or not, this is a moment to make a difference. 


Graeme Samuels AC — Professor, Monash University

Rachel Walmsley — Head of Policy & Law Reform, Environmental Defenders Office

Dermot O’Gorman — CEO, WWF Australia

Lisa Cox (moderator) —Environment Reporter, Guardian Australia

Midday sessions

11.10am to 1.00pm — Concurrent sessions on hot topics

In this session you will have an opportunity to join two smaller-group conversations spanning a range of hot topics about how we build and shift power. Meet other funders who share your area of interest, hear from topic experts and researchers, and see where the conversation goes!

11:10 – 11:55 options

  • Rivers of the north – avoiding the mistakes of the Murray Darling Basin: Australia’s Top End contains some of the world’s last free flowing tropical rivers, which sustain unique wildlife and ecosystems. But these rivers and the lands surrounding them are under increasing pressure from extractive interests – particularly the cotton industry – and impacted by rapidly accelerating land clearing. A number of organisations have launched legal actions against land clearing. What other collaborative effort needs to be activated to protect the north? 
    Speakers: Kirsty Howey — Executive Director, ECNT
    Tanya Stul (moderator) — Stul Family Foundation

  • Shifting the system around agriculture and land use: A major transformation of the food and fibre sector has the potential to protect and ultimately restore nature while drawing down carbon in soils and providing equitable access to healthy food for all. But what is needed to bring about this shift? And what role can philanthropy play?   
    Speakers: Eli Court — CEO, Soils for Life
    Emma-Kate Rose — Executive Director, Food Connect Foundation
    Michelle Gortan (moderator) — CEO, Macdoch Foundation

  • Turning Just Transition into action: After years of talk about the need for a just transition for communities across Australia – it’s starting to happen! In this session we will get an update on what the Federal Government is doing, how members across the country are funding this work, and what is needed to make the most of this historic opportunity to transition to a clean, green economy.   
    Speakers: Mark Wakeham — Australian Program Director, The Sunrise Project
    Ellie Smith — Trustee, SM Robinson PAF
    Sue Matthews — Trustee, Mullum Trust

  • Key things to build NGO capacity: This session will expand an earlier conversation about good partnerships to introduce capacity building looks explore the interface between trust and power. We’ll draw on findings from recent research, experiences from the AEGN network and member examples. 
    Speakers: Jim Phillipson – Rendere Trust
    Jane Thomas — Program Manager at The Myer Foundation & Sidney Myer Fund
    Beau Austin — Programme manager, Full Circle Foundation

12.00-12.50 options

  • First Nations climate justice in practice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at the forefront of both impacts and solutions to climate change. How can philanthropy offer support? We will hear from those with firsthand experience of the impacts of climate change and explore some examples of projects that are making a real impact.  
    Speakers: Tishiko King — First Nations Program Manager at Australian Communities Foundation
    Peter Murray — CEO, Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation
    Millie Telford (moderator) — First Nations Justice Director, Australian Progress

  • Expanding the narrative for nature: Around 80 per cent of Australians now understand the climate emergency we face, yet only 34 per cent appreciate that we are in a biodiversity crisis. The threats of habitat loss and invasive species are compounded by the devastating impacts of climate change, and nature-based solutions are key to averting the worst impacts. There’s an urgent need to fold nature into the climate story. So how do we expand the narrative, centring people in the picture too? 
    Speakers: Jack Pascoe — Chief Councillor at Biodiversity Council
    Basha Stasak — Nature Campaigns Manager, Australian Conservation Foundation
    Karina Holden — Head of Factual, Northern Pictures
    David Haslingden (moderator) — Chairman Australian Geographic Society

  • Phase out Gas – Australia’s rising carbon problem: Australia’s single biggest contribution to climate change is the coal and gas we extract and burn for domestic use or to export. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of gas – right up there with Qatar, and there are new mega-projects on the horizon. In this session we will explore the major pieces of work that need to be done and the organisations that are leading this work.  
    Speakers: Mark Wakeham — Australian Program Director, The Sunrise Project
    Lucy Manne — CEO, Australia
    Eytan Lenko — AEGN Deputy Chair, Director of the Lenko Family Foundation and CEO of Boundless Earth

  • ‘From Colour Blind to Race Conscious’ – Research on philanthropy and diversity: The Macquarie Group Foundation, Perpetual and Philanthropy Australia have partnered with the Jumbunna Institute and Centre for Social Impact to explore how cultural diversity is reflected in Australian philanthropy, from boards to beneficiaries. Hear from the report collaborators about the relative lack of attention cultural diversity has received in Australian philanthropy and what steps funders can take.
    Speakers: Josh Gilbert — Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Institute
    Jack Heath — CEO, Philanthropy Australia
    Linh Do — Director of Wattle Fellowship, University of Melbourne

Project Showcase

2.00pm to 3.30pm — Project Showcase : Caring for Country – Four First Nations Organisations share their story

Get to know four incredible First Nations organisations working to Care for Country in different ways across different corners of the land, delivering benefits for people, place and culture. Learn about their future plans and the difference that philanthropic funding can make in seeing these become a reality.  

Afternoon sessions

4.00pm to 5.00pm — Personal Power: Stepping In and Reaching Out

How do we as individuals step into our personal power to build the power of the network and our broader movement? AEGN members reflect on how they have harnessed their influence and networks to grow philanthropy and advocate for the issues and organisations they fund, including the successes, epiphanies and challenges they’ve had along the way.


Hayley Morris— Executive Director, Morris Group

Clare Ainsworth Herschell —Co-founder, Groundswell Giving

Eytan Lenko — AEGN Deputy Chair, Director of the Lenko Family Foundation and CEO of Boundless Earth

5.00pm to 5.30pm — Wrap up and reflection

Amanda Martin — CEO, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

Event cancellation policy