Barat Ali Batoor is a photographer, born into a family driven out of Afghanistan during civil war when most of his relatives were massacred. He returned to his ancestral country for the first time after September 11, 2001, when the Taliban regime was still in Kandahar despite the U.S. campaign to oust them. After visiting the devastation and destruction of 23 years of war, he decided to work for his country and draw the world’s attention to the plight of the Afghan people, choosing photography as his medium of expression. Batoor began taking photos in 2002 and launched his first solo exhibition in 2007. His photographs have been exhibited in Denmark, Dubai, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Japan and Afghanistan. His work has been published in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, Stern, India Today, Outlook Afghanistan, Afghanistan Times, among others. He received a photography grant from New York’s Open Society Institute for his project ‘Child Trafficking in Afghanistan/The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”. He also won the Nikon-Walkley photo of the year in 2013.
Adam Alter is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave. The book examines how features of the world shape our thoughts and feelings beyond our control. He has also written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Huffington Post, and Popular Science, among other publications. Alter is an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at NYU’s Stern School of Business. His research focuses on the intersection of behavioural economics, marketing, and the psychology of judgment and decision-making. His work has been published widely in academia, and he has appeared on television for NBC, CBS, and PBS. Alter received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of New South Wales, where he won the University Medal in psychology, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University, where he held a fellowship in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Scholars.
Richard Banati is an internationally-recognised scientist with interdisciplinary research interests in the brain’s innate immune system and the development of advanced medical imaging for the non-invasive study of brain function. Richard is Professor and Foundation Chair of Medical Radiation Sciences at the University of Sydney, Director of the Ramaciotti Centre for Brain Imaging at the Brain & Mind Research Institute (BMRI) and Director, University of Sydney node of the National Imaging Facility. The research of Professor Banati and his colleagues has received recognition through the bi-annual Award of the German league for Research into Alzheimer's Disease, in addition to many more international accolades. In 2008, Professor Banati joined the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as a Distinguished Research Fellow. He is now a member of the ANSTO Executive Team and supports the CEO in the focus areas of strategic research and national and international collaborations and partnerships.
Dr Clio Cresswell is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at The University of Sydney, researching the evolution of mathematical thought and the role of mathematics in society. Born in England, she spent part of her childhood on a Greek island, and was then schooled in the south of France where she studied Visual Art. At 18 she simultaneously discovered the joys of Australia and mathematics, going on to win the University Medal and complete a PhD in mathematics at The University of New South Wales. Communicating mathematics is her field and passion – Clio has appeared on panel shows commenting, debating and interviewing; authored book reviews and opinion pieces; joined breakfast radio teams and current affair programs; always highlighting the mathematical element to our lives. She is the author of ‘Mathematics and Sex’.
Jihad Dib is the Principal of Punchbowl Boys’ High School in Sydney’s South West. Appointed to the role of Principal at 33, Jihad was one of the youngest principals in NSW when he took over and his modern approach revolutionised the school. Jihad’s leadership has led to a significant reduction in absenteeism, increased morale, surging enrolments and much-improved academic results at the school in the seven years he has been Principal. In addition to outstanding outcomes within the school, Jihad’s philosophy of having his students actively engage with the wider community has established a wonderful sense of pride in the school among the Punchbowl community. The school was awarded a National Literacy and Numeracy Award and Director General’s Award, with Jihad himself winning the Inspiration category for NSW at the 2013 Pride of Australia Awards. Jihad’s work at Punchbowl Boys’ High School has been supported and recognised by many high-profile people, including 2013 Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose.
post are a collaborative performance ensemble based in Sydney. Comprising Zoë Coombs Marr, Mish Grigor and Natalie Rose, post’s work is a unique combination of political sensibility and high-camp kitsch aesthetic. Straddling live art, theatre and contemporary performance, they could be described as ‘hybrid’, but prefer ‘genre-queer’. post carry a deep irreverence for the institution of theatre and a deep reverence for the moment of live performance it houses. This has amused, bemused and probably annoyed audiences around the country for the last decade. post are concerned with the truly absurd, drag, imposters, impressions, bad acting, boy genii, The Biggest Loser, birth, death, auditions, shamans, epitaphs, avatars, and those nightmares where you have to give a speech, but haven't got any pants on. Their latest work Oedipus Schmoedipus ran at Belvoir Theatre as part of the 2014 Sydney Festival.
Born in New Zealand, Mary began her working life as a high school English teacher before moving to Australia to study law. Her career subsequently included stints as a legal officer at the Independent Teachers’ Union and as a senior advocate at the Legal Aid Commission, rising to become Deputy Chief Magistrate of the Local Court of New South Wales in 2000. At the end of 2001 Mary entered a period of semi-retirement, returning to live on a farm in New Zealand and commuting back to Sydney for brief periods of work. In October 2006 she returned to Australia as a full-time magistrate, and in May 2007 became the first female State Coroner of NSW. After six and a half years in this demanding role and more than 250 inquests, Mary retired in October 2013.
Dave Kilcullen is a bestselling author and scholar, and former professional soldier and diplomat. He is Chairman of Caerus Global Solutions, a strategic research and design consultancy based in Washington DC and of First Mile GEO, a geospatial analysis start-up that works with communities in disaster and conflict-affected areas to create participative maps that guide humanitarian assistance. Before founding Caerus, Dave served for 25 years as an infantry officer in the Australian Army. He then went on to work with the U.S. State Department, where he was chief strategist in the Counterterrorism Bureau, Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, and then Senior Advisor for Counterinsurgency to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Dave advises world institutions, governments, businesses, NGOs and local communities across the globe, while working on complex humanitarian and security challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Sri Lanka, Colombia and elsewhere. Dave, who grew up in Sydney, is the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Accidental Guerrilla (2009), Counterinsurgency (2010), and Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, which won the 2013 PROSE award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in Government and Politics.
Mark Major trained and practised as an architect prior to focusing on the unique relationship between light and architecture. He has worked on a wide range of award-winning international lighting projects including the Millennium Dome, Zollverein Kokerei, Beijing International Airport, and the re-lighting of the interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral. He is currently the lighting master planner for the Barangaroo development in Sydney. Mark is a specialist in the field of urban lighting and was named as part of Monocle’s urban ‘Dream Team’ in July 2013. He also acted as the Lighting Design Advisor to the Olympic Delivery Authority for London 2012 and was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Special Assistance team for the Outer London Fund in the same year. With an active interest in architectural and lighting education Mark has lectured extensively in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, US and Australia. He was the co-creator of an educational project ‘Made of Light – the Art of Light and Architecture’. Mark is a corporate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the International Association of Lighting Designers and a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. He was created a Royal Designer for Industry in 2012.
Oliver Percovich first skated in an empty pool at the age of six, while growing up in Papua New Guinea. In 1995 he competed in the Mystic Cup, an international skateboarding contest in Prague. Prior to a life-changing move to Kabul, Oliver worked at the Centre for Risk and Community Safety on emergency management projects for various Australian government departments. In 2007 Oliver moved to Afghanistan from Australia when his girlfriend took a job in Kabul. Bored, he would skate the beleaguered city, and became a sort of pied half-piper, attracting street kids who would follow him around and ask for rides. Shortly after, Oliver founded Skateistan, a grassroots 'Sport for Development' project on the streets of Kabul. Today, Skateistan has more than 50 employees worldwide and is an award-winning international organisation with projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. The organisation is the first international development initiative to combine skateboarding with educational outcomes. Skateistan is non-political, independent, and inclusive of all ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds, offering both skating and general education classes for over 1000 boys and girls each week.
Prof Cyndi Shannon Weickert is dedicated to helping those suffering from schizophrenia. Prof Shannon Weickert obtained a BA in Biology and Psychology from Keuka College in upstate New York, and earned a PhD in Biomedical Science from Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City. Currently, Prof Shannon Weickert leads a translational research program at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) that uses insights from the molecular and cellular neurodevelopment of schizophrenia to design and test novel treatments for people with the condition. Her work has broad impact beyond psychiatry including examining molecular mechanisms by which hormones and growth factors cooperate to control gene expression and experimental examination of how sex hormones impact social development in adolescence. She has made pivotal contributions to the conceptualization of schizophrenia as a neurodevelopmental disorder and is best known for her pioneering work on brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and oestrogen receptor. Prof Shannon Weickert has delivered 132 papers and lectures worldwide. She is Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research, a joint position between NeuRA, UNSW and Schizophrenia Research Institute.
Tim Sharp is an internationally acclaimed 25 year-old artist from Brisbane. Diagnosed with Autism at age three, his mother was told that she should “put him away and forget about him”. Ignoring this advice, Judy Sharp, a single mother of two young sons, instead tried everything she could think of to communicate with Tim, including drawing. At age 11, Tim's artistic talent developed to the point where he created his own super hero, Laser Beak Man. Tim’s creativity has seen him become the first person in the world with Autism to have his art turned into an animated television series screening on the ABC and internationally. In 2012, a film about Tim was shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His art is sold to collectors from around the world and in 2012, Tim's collaboration with a young rock band from Nashville Tennessee inspired a music festival raising awareness of Autism. Tim and Judy's story is one of great love and inspiration.
Dr Barry Traill is one of Australia’s leading environmental campaigners. Driven by a lifelong love of Australia’s bush and unique wildlife, Barry has successfully combined his expertise in zoology , skills in advocacy, and his ability to motivate and collaborate, to secure large areas of Australia’s land and sea from destructive threats. Barry’s work over three decades has been the catalyst for the protection of the highly biologically-diverse Box- Ironbark woodlands of Victoria, the cessation of the broadscale clearing of the Queensland bush, and the creation of the world’s largest network of marine parks. In 2007 Barry became the Australian Director of the global NGO the Pew Charitable Trusts and leads their work in protecting one of the world’s great remaining natural places – the Australian Outback.
Nicole Vincent is an Australian philosopher based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Delft, The Netherlands. In mid-2007 Nicole obtained a PhD in philosophy of tort law from the University of Adelaide, with a dissertation entitled 'Responsibility, Compensation and Accident Law Reform'. Later that year she became affiliated with the Philosophy Section at Technische Universiteit Delft in The Netherlands, initially working on Dr Gert-Jan Lokhorst’s neurolaw research project entitled 'The Brain and The Law'; and then as chief investigator of the international research project 'Enhancing Responsibility: the effects of cognitive enhancement on moral and legal responsibility'. From 2011 until 2013 Nicole was a research fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Macquarie University in Sydney, working on a project entitled 'Reappraising the Capacitarian Foundation of Neurolaw'. In August 2013 she joined the Department of Philosophy at Georgia State University in Atlanta as Associate Professor of Philosophy, Law and Neuroscience, and she remains affiliated with the Philosophy Section at Technische Universiteit Delft in The Netherlands, leading the 'Enhancing Responsibility' research project.
Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and Editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website, the online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia. Born in Stawell in Western Victoria, Stella cut her activist teeth at the age of 14 by conducting an access audit of shops on the local main street. It didn’t take long – it was a pretty short street. Since then she has been active in the disability community in a variety of roles, including membership of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council, Ministerial Advisory Council for the Department of Victorian Communities and Women With Disabilities Victoria. Stella was a two-time state finalist in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Raw Comedy competition; and has hosted eight seasons of Australia’s first disability culture program No Limits. With a strong interest in issues facing women and young people with disabilities, Stella has worked with the Youth Disability Advocacy Service to establish the LiveAccess project, advocating for better access to live music venues. She holds a degree in Journalism from Deakin University and a Diploma of Secondary Education from the University of Melbourne.
Markus Zusak was born in Sydney and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief, which has been translated into more than 40 languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and remains there eight years. His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry, were all published internationally and garnered a number of awards. It is The Book Thief, however, that has established Markus Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia. To date, The Book Thief has held the number one position at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in countries across South America, Europe and Asia. It has now been adapted into a major motion picture. The Book Thief (the film adaptation) is directed by Emmy Award-winning Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and was shot in Berlin by Twentieth Century Fox. The cast is headlined by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine, The King’s Speech).