We’re all motivated to bring the transformative power of writing to kids – building confidence, literacy and helping young people find their voice.

Our Executive Team
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Dr Catherine Keenan AMExecutive Director

Cath was formerly a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, working as an arts writer and as literary editor. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford University.

She and Tim McGregor co-founded the Story Factory in 2012 and Cath has been our much-loved executive director ever since.

In 2016 she was recognised for her work in community, connection and literacy when she was selected as Australian of the Year Local Hero.

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Richard ShortStoryteller-In-Chief

Prior to joining the Story Factory, Richard taught at secondary schools (English and English as a Second Language) in the Western Suburbs of Sydney.

He has completed a Master of Teaching, and in 2014 completed a Master of Creative Writing at The University of Sydney.

His poetry and prose have been published widely, both locally and internationally. Individual poems have been awarded prizes or shortlisted for the Montreal Poetry Prize, Val Vallis Prize, Newcastle Poetry Prize, Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize and University of Canberra Poetry Prize.

His first book of poetry (written under the pseudonym Rico Craig), Bone Ink, won the 2017 Anne Elder Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Kenneth Slessor Prize (NSW Premier’s Prize); his second collection Our Tongues Are Songs was published in 2021 by Recent Work Press.

In addition, he has lectured in numerous tertiary courses including: Creativity, Youth Culture and The Arts; Integrated Arts and Education; and regularly leads poetry workshops for adults. He is currently a judge for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Richard looks after all our Big Projects, dreaming up thrilling new ways for us to bring the joy of creative writing to our students.

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Bilal HafdaStory Engineer

Bilal is a high school English teacher, and a poet, and is known for generating 24/7 positive vibes.

At Story Factory, he is in charge of all our afterschool and holiday programs. If you want to publish a book of your own, he is the person to talk to! Alongside running poetry and creative writing workshops at our centres, he runs the Bankstown Poetry Slam in his spare time. He is constantly looking to facilitate and nurture the voice of the participants of the slams and audiences who attend them.

He is our Youth Engagement Officer so if you’re a student emailing us or messaging us online, Bilal is the guy on the other end of the zoom call/message/email/exchange of memes.

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Craig NewOperations Manager

Craig is our much-loved Operations Manager, across every detail of our workshop delivery and the day-to-day running of Story Factory.

The speed of his emailing once broke the sound barrier. He is in the middle of a teaching degree, loves chocolate (a lot) and The Muppets, and is known for walking and reading at the same time.

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Nikola AmanovicDirector, Community & Innovation

Prior to joining the Story Factory Nikola led several community development initiatives in Western Sydney and overseas. Before that, he worked in business and performing arts. Nikola has a keen interest in impact storytelling and community building, in-person and online, using traditional ways and modern technologies.

Nikola loves learning and using trans-disciplinary knowledge to make sense of the world and connect with others. In 2009, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Art (Directing) at NIDA. His other studies were in the area of community development, business, creative writing and visual culture.

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Tommie ClarkSenior Program Manager

Tommie is a trained Speech and Language Pathologist and has worked in education for the past eight years. She is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Research (Education), and her thesis investigates the role of dialogic talk on writing in the Story Factory workshops.

Tommie has previously worked closely with staff and students in schools to develop reading and writing programs that enhance access to the curriculum. She started at Story Factory as a volunteer in 2017, eventually wrangled her way into a Storyteller position and became Senior Programs Manager in 2023.

Tommie loves reading fiction and is in multiple book clubs. She enthusiastically partakes in the Good Weekend Quiz every Saturday morning but is yet to pass.

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Ruth FriedlaenderGrants & Strategy Manager

Ruth has a background in not-for-profit fundraising and grant writing in Australia and The Netherlands and has experience working with a range of diverse communities.

She is a lover of all things related to books, reading and writing and genuinely believes in the power of storytelling. When her head is not in a book, she can be found attending live music gigs, watching rugby or off on adventures with friends.

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Kate ClugstonPhilanthropy Manager

Kate has always worked the intersection of creative industries and social impact. She is a fundraiser with a difference; a creative producer, campaign strategist and impact storyteller.

With an early career in theatre for social change, Kate has had a lifelong interest in the art of storytelling, especially its power to build movements, change minds and enable empathy. She is interested in how we can use creativity to tackle complex problems and contribute to a more equitable, sustainable future.

Kate parents two neurodivergent boys, is studying a Master of Creative Intelligence and Strategic Innovation at UTS and in her spare time loves practicing yoga, walking in nature and exploring a diverse range of interests via literary non-fiction.

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Evie WillieStory Guide

Evie is a proud Wiradjuri woman and a Singer/Songwriter and Storyteller who has over 10 years of extensive experience mentoring children and young people within grassroots communities across Sydney and abroad.

As the new Story Guide, Evie plays a vital role at Story Factory and primarily focuses on all First Nations engagement across the organisation.

Evie is extremely passionate about empowering and helping young people find their voice.

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Aphrodite DelaguiadoSenior Manager, Communications & Publishing

Aphrodite first joined the Story Factory as a volunteer tutor in 2020 and is very excited to return as part of the Communications and Publishing team. Aph completed a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) at Western Sydney University and has worked as a designer and content creator at UNSW, Uniting, Department of Education, Guide Dogs and Black Dog Institute. Aph is also a creative writer and self-publisher of zines.

Our Storytelling Team
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Vanessa AndresNational Program Manager

Vanessa is an experienced creative and educator with a passion for fostering creativity in young people. Born and raised on Darug land, she has taught across Western Sydney, regional NSW and overseas.

When she’s not creating content to inspire young people you can catch her on the airwaves highlighting the best of local music on FBI Radio.

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Tony BrittenSenior Storyteller

Tony first joined Story Factory in 2016 and became a full-time Storyteller in 2018. He was a high school English teacher for nearly 20 years and has worked as an education consultant and in arts education.

Tony continues to present to teachers and students at state, national and international conferences. He can incorporate a quote from Mean Girls into any workshop and loves that his job allows him to play with words and ideas with kids of all ages.

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Kirsty McGowanSenior Storyteller

Kirsty is an experienced primary school teacher with a background in youth work and community services. She is a strong believer in the empowering nature of education and creativity. She is delighted that she gets to spend her days supporting students to find their voices and express themselves.


Kirsty is an avid reader and TV watcher. In her free time she enjoys writing, acting, and crocheting amigurumi.

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Tash BonyngeStory Mechanic

Tash (they/them) is the Story Mechanic at Story Factory. With over a decade of experience in the education biz, they believe you can never have too many stickers. Tash is dedicated to improving the well-being of young people and amplifying under-represented voices through the power of storytelling.

When they are not at Story Factory, you can find Tash singing show tunes, scoping out the perfect camping spot, or shooting hoops with their boys.

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Kevin NgoDigital Storyteller & Story Mechanic, Youth Engagement

Kevin is an arts worker based in Western Sydney. He has performed for organisations and events including the Biennale of Sydney, Bankstown Poetry Slam and the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Alongside the Story Factory he is also involved with the RESPECT Program, which focuses on educating boys about the nature of Domestic Violence through music. Kevin is currently learning to regain his mother tongue of Vietnamese.

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Carol QuastStoryteller

Carol was an active volunteer at Story Factory for years before becoming a storyteller. She is passionate about making creative writing fun and enjoyable.

Carol is a trained teacher and has taught in primary and secondary schools. Currently she mentors trainee teachers for UTS as a tertiary supervisor.

Before returning to her home in Redfern in 2011, Carol was a lecturer for post graduate trainee teachers at two London universities and was Chair of Governors at a large comprehensive boys school in London’s South East.

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Russell SmithStoryteller

Russ is a proud descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people. He is a graduate of NIDA and has been performing stories for the last 20 years.

Along with his performing career Russ has a Masters in Teaching from UWS and has been teaching children and adults for many years.

Russ has returned to the Story Factory after a few years at NIDA as the National Program Manager for children and youth.

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Lamisa HaqueStoryteller

Lamisa is a fresh 2021 graduate, but has been working as a Storyteller since 2019. She considers teaching creative writing as a means to build confidence in students her absolute dream job.

Alongside Story Factory, Lamisa writes for and runs The Pvblication, a platform that writes to decolonise spaces and experiences. She hopes to continue amplifying voices that go unheard, stories left untold and concepts that are left unexplored.

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Ailsa Liu Digital Storyteller

Ailsa is a creative professional passionate about intersections of technology and art. She is undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Arts complemented by experiences across facilitating creative writing, arts skills and coding workshops, audio visual tech, digital live streaming.

Ailsa is dedicated to participating in marginalised communities by skill sharing, mentoring and art-making. She also makes sound art, performance work and shares fiction and poetry with the world. She is exploring liminal spaces and identities, cultural practice, conflicting feelings and discordant sounds.

Ailsa’s favourite things are people, brunch, swimming in saltwater and long walks. She is working on practising patience and deep listening.

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Harriet Thomson Storyteller

Harriet is a proud Wiradjuri woman of north east Wiradjuri Country, living and working on Gadigal land.

Currently, Harriet is completing her Bachelor of Education (Primary), in which she hopes to use her knowledge and experience for better supporting the young, deadly children of our community. She has previously worked in primary schools across Sydney in before and after school care programs, where she undertook an inclusion support role.

Harriet particularly enjoys escaping the city and spending time in any Australian terrain where she can find cool bugs or birds.

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Adriana Wainstok Digital Storyteller

Adriana has been working with children and teenagers for over seven years at a non-profit organisation in Brazil. She believes that education is our weapon to change the world and when it is combined with the encouragement of creativity, there are no limits to where one can go.

Graduated in International Relations in Brazil, Adriana has lived in five different countries and is currently completing her Masters in Journalism at the University of Sydney. She is a fan of chronicles and has a long time passion for creative writing, which has allowed her to share her adventures around the world with her friends and family over the years.

Adriana is passionate about cultures, art, and exploring new places with her camera, searching for stories that make her eyes sparkle. In her spare time she loves watching silly romcoms, practicing yoga and taking a swim in the sea
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Isabella GehaStoryteller

Isabella is a trained high school English teacher, and has been working in education for the past nine years, with experience in developing writing programs and running English classes and workshops. She has qualifications in Psychology, Honours qualifications in English, and a Masters in Secondary Education, with research interests in literacy and education policy. Isabella started at Story Factory as a volunteer in 2019, and has been working as a Storyteller since 2023. Isabella enjoys reading contemporary fiction and watching 90s sitcoms, and she is particularly skilled at trivia on The Simpsons!

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Vivian Pham Storyteller

Vivian’s vocation began in kindergarten. While other children were spilling paint over their shorts, she was penning stories about the trials and tribulations of fairy princesses on the quest to find magic medicine. Violence and grit of this nature continue to stain her work. In high school with the help of Story Factory she wrote a novel called The Coconut Children, which was published in March 2020 by Penguin Random House. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Creative Writing and, now, the title of Casual Storyteller at the same organisation that gave her her literary start. She is currently working on the stage and screen adaptations of her novel.

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Helen CoolicanStoryteller

Helen has over 20 years’ experience as a teacher, and is passionate about putting creativity back at the heart of education. She is a veritable dynamo, has a wonderful warm manner with kids and grown ups, and is a fantastic organiser.

Helen plays a key role in maintaining the Story Factory’s connections with the local community and led the Home Project to success in 2014.

Helen is known far and wide for her mastery of the colour red and can often be spotted sporting a fabulous red ensemble.

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Rebecca Smith Senior Storyteller

Rebecca worked as a high school English and Drama teacher before joining the Story Factory in early 2018. From a young age she has always held a passion for reading, writing and the creative arts.

She is currently completing a Master of Creative Writing at Macquarie University, which she hopes will lead her to publishing work for the first time.

When she is not working, Rebecca spends her time being a doting mum to her daughter and mastering martial arts.

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Nick Bryant-SmithDigital Storyteller

Nick is a hip hop artist and songwriter who has has toured and collaborated with many of Australia’s premier musicians.

Nick has extensive experience facilitating poetry and writing workshops in schools, youth centres and juvenile justice around NSW. He started at Story Factory as a volunteer in 2021 before joining the Storyteller team in 2023, working across both digital and face to face programs.

He loves reading and doing crosswords to the soundtrack of his burgeoning record collection and is a certified apple juice connoisseur.

Our Staff
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Melissa JimenezVolunteer Manager

Melissa comes from a background in disability support and running volunteer programs for university students.

She’s passionate about social justice, mental health and working with young people, and is always looking for big and small ways to brighten the lives of others.

Prior to finding her path in the community sector, Melissa worked as a creative copywriter, so a love of writing has always been a constant in her life. When she’s not chatting with volunteers, you can find Melissa reading, learning new tricks on her roller skates or binge-watching the latest Netflix series.

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Thuy GiangVolunteer Manager

Thuy grew up in Cabramatta and always dreamed of living and working in faraway places. Little did she know that even though she loved adventures abroad, her heart was always in Western Sydney.

Thuy has worked with young people in Western Sydney for seven years, most recently managing the mentoring and driving programs at Youth Off the Streets. Thuy loves finding ways to bring together people and resources to empower and engage young people.

She is incredibly passionate about volunteering, having seen the difference that nurturing and positive adult relationships can have on  young people.

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Jane HanAdministration Officer

Jane used to moonlight in digital media and research before finding her way to the Story Factory, first as a volunteer and now as an admin officer – making sure that all the bits and pieces behind the scenes are running smoothly.

We’d be lost without her. When she’s not running around after her little girl she likes to dabble in yoga and food adventures.

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Natalie Goodes Publications Manager (Maternity Leave)

Nat has worked in production and communications in both Sydney and New York. She thrives on sharing the stories of amazing people and where better to do that, than Story Factory!

Nat is the wizard who pulls together our student writing into beautiful publications, fueled by her passion for contributing to the empowerment of Australia’s young people.

With her extensive skills and experience, she looks forward to making a difference and celebrating the amazing creativity of our students.

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Ela Pinar Open Programs and Publishing Manager

Guard Up (2018) and Raw Soul (2019). Ela now works with Story Factory as Publication Manager and Open Program Coordinator. She also had been a volunteer at Story Factory since 2019. Creative writing has been a big part of Ela’s life, and sharing this passion with other young people has been something she always strives to do.

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Natasha CapstickGrant Writer & Fundraising Coordinator

A lifelong lover of storytelling, Natasha is known for her unapologetic overuse of the em dash punctuation mark.

Natasha is currently completing her graduate studies in psychology and is particularly interested in how arts-based programs can support community wellbeing.

When she’s not working or studying, you will likely spot Natasha tending to her succulent garden, exploring new places with her camera, or absorbed in the latest fantasy novel.

Our Board
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Gemma SalteriBoard Chair

Gemma is the Executive Director of CAGES Foundation; a Private Ancillary Fund that supports organisations working to ensure every Indigenous child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

She is a director of The Funding Network, an advisor for the Roslyn and Carlo Salteri Foundation and a founding member of Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation of Giving program.

Gemma is also a graduate of the Australian Companies Institute of Directors and the Chief Executive Women’s Leadership program. In 2016 Gemma was awarded Philanthropy Australia’s Emerging Philanthropist Award.

Prior to her work in philanthropy Gemma worked in marketing and product development for consumer product businesses such as Avon Products, The Body Shop International and held various senior management positions at Blackmores Australia including most recently heading up their product innovation team for Asian markets.

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Ali GreenDeputy Chair

Social entrepreneur, Ali Green, is CEO and co-founder of leading independent Australian book publisher, Pantera Press. Green is 2020 and 2019 Sydney Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Arts & Culture) and was named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review for exemplifying, through Pantera Press, the trend towards integrating business and social good. Ali is a Harvard Business School Alumna and sits on a number of industry committees and boards including Writing NSW and the Pantera Press Foundation. Ali was a founding member of Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation program.

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Dr Cath Keenan AMExecutive Director and Co-Founder

Cath was formerly a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, working as an arts writer and as literary editor. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford University.

She and Tim McGregor co-founded the Story Factory in 2012 and Cath has been our much-loved executive director ever since.

In 2016 she was recognised for her work in community, connection and literacy when she was selected as Australian of the Year Local Hero.

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Katie Newton-JohnSecretary

Katie is General Counsel and Company Secretary at Levande. Katie was formerly the Group Company Secretary and Corporate Counsel at Allianz Australia and General Counsel and Company Secretary at Western Sydney Airport. She is a lawyer and governance professional and has worked for a broad range of ASX listed, government, public and not-for-profit companies in both Sydney and London.

Katie was previously a graphic designer for television and is passionate about the arts and creativity.

She has sat on the Boards of several not-for-profit and educational entities, including the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation and Variety the Children’s Charity.
Katie studied and  trained as a lawyer in London with Ashurst. She also holds a post graduate qualification in corporate governance from the Governance Institute of Australia.

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Benjamin Law

Ben is a journalist, columnist, TV screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both of which have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.

The Family Law is now a major SBS TV series, translated into a number of languages.

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Garigarra Mundine

Garigarra is a Wiradjuri, Bundjalung, Kamilaroi and Yuin woman from Dubbo, NSW. Garigarra began as an intern at the Story Factory in 2013 on the Home Project, helping to create relationships with local schools, businesses, community organisations, politicians and the police, and facilitating workshops for children and adults.

She graduated with a Bachelor of International Relations from the Australian National University in 2018. She was one of the ACT representatives for the 2017 National Indigenous Youth Parliament, represented the ANU at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto, Canada 2017, and represented the Wiradjuri nation at the Spirit of the Planet, international Indigenous festival in Bergamo, Italy 2016.

Since 2015 Garigarra has also worked part-time in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in international policy, cultural projects, cultural policy and strategic policy within Indigenous Affairs.

She also worked on Australia’s first ever Regional Deal for the Barkly region in the Northern Territory with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, leading the youth components of the deal, including amplifying youth voices in the region throughout the development and implementation stages of the deal. Garigarra is now at   the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she works on increasing and implementing First Nations perspectives and voices in Australia’s work in the Pacific. She is also a small business owner, running ‘Waybarra by Garigarra,’ creating traditional weaving and contemporary art.

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James Argent

James is a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group. At BCG, his experience includes working with a range of public and private sector and not-for-profit clients, and he actively supports a range of pro bono initiatives.

Prior to joining BCG, James worked as a paralegal at Herbert Smith Freehills and as a research assistant at the University of Sydney Law School.

James holds a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of Sydney.

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Grant LovettTreasurer

Grant is General Manager, Government & Regulatory Affairs, ASX Limited. He was Chief of Staff to Hon Joe Hockey (Shadow Treasurer and Commonwealth Treasurer) from 2012 – 2015.

Prior to that, Grant had more than 20 years financial markets experience – both in Australia and internationally – culminating as the Head of Fixed Income at UBS Australia. Grant has a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

He is also a Director of the Black Dog Institute and an avid reader of fiction.

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Dr Amy Thunig

Dr Amy Thunig (B.Arts, M.Teach, PhD) is a Gomeroi/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi yinarr and mother who resides on Awabakal Country. A full-time academic in the field of education, Amy is also an author, with her first book ‘Tell Me Again’ released in November 2022 via UQP. Amy contributes on various committees and councils including the AECG, and is a media commentator and panellist, regularly appearing on television programs such as ABC’s The Drum.

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Nick Carney

Nick is a Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills specialising in infrastructure and government services. He has deep experience advising government on complex procurements, including in relation to social and affordable housing, health services and transport infrastructure.

He recently retired from the University of New South Wales Council after 11 years. He sat on a number of committees including the Risk Committee (as chair), the Fundraising Campaign Cabinet and the 2025 Strategy Committee.

In 2012 Nick was awarded a National Volunteer Award (Education category) for the electorate of Sydney for establishing a scholarship and mentoring program for disadvantaged young people between Herbert Smith Freehills and the Come-In Youth Resource Centre in Paddington.

This program continues to run and has had over 100 young people participate.

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Murat Dizdar

Murat Dizdar PSM is the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, which delivers quality education and training services for the people of New South Wales. This includes the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector, government and non-government schools, and the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Murat’s career began as a social sciences teacher at Ashcroft High School. He has experience in a range of school leadership roles, including senior principal of Belmore and Punchbowl Boys High Schools.

He was awarded the Australia Day Public Service Medal in 2016, an Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) NSW Fellowship in 2019, an ACEL National Fellowship in 2020 and the Nanga Mai Department of Education and NSW AECG Inc Partnership Award 2021.

Murat is also a proud graduate of the NSW public education system. He never forgets the impact that Mr Griffiths, Ms Johanson, Mr Baker and Mr Sturm had on his life as a young student at Fort Street High School.

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David Hua

David Hua is the Director of Audio and Language Content at SBS.

David Hua has over 20 years experience in the media industry. He has held a number of senior executive roles at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been responsible for diverse portfolios across content, marketing, commercial, radio, and digital. Most recently, he led the ABC’s international services including ABC Radio Australia, ABC Australia (TV), and digital services that connect audiences around the world with Australian stories.

David did most of his tertiary education at the University of Technology, Sydney where he received his Honours and Masters degrees in media communications.

Born overseas, David now lives in Sydney and speaks Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.