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District Conference 2021 19th to 21st March
District Conference 2021
Celebrate the great work done by the Rotarians of District 9675, and share in the fun.
Conference Presenters
John Brogden AM
“They say the comeback is greater than the setback”
As one of Australia’s leading politicians and now a business leader, John Brogden is living proof that even from the darkest places, there can be a way back. Whilst John has reached the highest levels in his professional career, his personal journey is one of highs and lows, strength and courage.
John’s career in politics started when he became a Member for Pittwater in the NSW Parliament in 1996. In 2002, he was elected Leader of the Opposition on his 33rd birthday – the youngest person ever to lead a major political party at Federal or State level in Australia.
However, it’s John’s personal story that best illustrates his resilience and his incredible ability to come back from the lowest of lows. His willingness to share the details of his journey to recovery make him a compelling and inspirational storyteller.
John was diagnosed with depression in early 2006 following a suicide attempt in 2005. His passion for mental illness stems from a breakdown that marked a turning point in his life and reframed the discussion around depression, particularly in the corporate world. Thanks to his profile, John has changed the way we talk about suicide and in turn, is helping thousands of individuals through his involvement with Lifeline Australia as Chairman.
John is also the Chairman of Furlough House Retirement Village and Patron of Sailability Pittwater, Bilgola Surf Lifesaving Club, Avalon Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and Kookaburra Kids. He was appointed to the Board of Landcom as Chairman in January 2012 and became Chief Executive Officer in May 2018. From 2015 to 2017, John was the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Prior to this, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Services Council from 2009 to 2015, and Chief Executive Officer of Manchester Unity from 2006 to 2008.
John has walked a very public journey of success, failure and redemption - from the highs of political leadership, through the lows of his suicide attempt and depression and most recently, new leadership roles and success in business.
An outstanding advocate for mental illness, John shares his experiences of depression and suicide with honesty and bravery and challenges the common misunderstandings of living with a mental illness.
John Brogden is a passionate and charismatic speaker in the areas of Leadership, Depression and Mental Health.
Dr Nicole Reilly

Dr. Nicole Reilly is a Research Fellow at the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong and Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychiatry, UNSW. She has worked in the field of perinatal mental health for over 15 years and has a particular interest in population-level approaches to prevention and early intervention. Nicole is committed to working alongside consumers, clinicians and policymakers to achieve the best outcomes for women, children and families, and will be ever grateful for the generous post-doctoral fellowship support Australian Rotary Health provided to her from 2018-2020. 


Garry Browne AM

With over 20 years’ experience as CEO and Managing Director at Stuart Alexander & Co, Garry currently divides his time between Executive and Non-Executive roles in the Corporate, Government and Not-for-Profit space, along with various mentoring and philanthropic projects. 
Garry collaborates with senior leaders and board members across a range of organisations providing support, influence, and leadership. He currently Chairs various Boards for Stuart Alexander, Rotary Foundation Australia, UTS Faculty Advisory Board and UNSW International House residential college. He is also a board member for BARCATS, Raise Foundation’s Fundraising Advisory Council, The Centre for Social Impact Advisory Council, and the Australian War Memorial ANZAC Foundation. Garry is also an Ambassador for Legacy and was a District Governor of Rotary International in 2013/2014. 
Garry is a highly regarded industry leader, known for his expertise in consumer branding, and his successful management of various cultural change and innovation projects. He is passionate about giving back to the community via charitable organisations and through his work with young CEO’s and up and coming leaders.   
Garry recently launched his book “Brand New Brand You”, which focuses on personal branding and the importance of reputation and relevance throughout life. 
Associate Professor Elisabeth Murphy
Associate Professor Elisabeth Murphy is the Senior Clinical Advisor, Child and Family Health, NSW Ministry of Health.  Her professional life has been focussed on child health overseeing the implementation of a number of early intervention programs designed to lead to improved health not only in childhood but also throughout life.  These include NSW-wide evidence-based screening programs for hearing and vision, Aboriginal maternal and infant health programs, and promotion of health checks for improved health and development in the NSW Personal Health Record (known as the Blue Book). Concurrent with her Ministry role, Associate Professor Murphy works in Northern Sydney Local Health District as Network Director for Child, Youth and Family Services.  She is a past recipient of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians Medal, in 2018 was recognised as one of the Top 50 Public Sector Women and in 2020 was a finalist for The Premiers Award - NSW Public Servant of the Year. 
Greg Mullins AO AFSM
Greg Mullins is an internationally recognised expert in responding to major bushfires and natural disasters and developed a keen interest in the linkages between climate change and extreme weather events. He coordinated responses to many major natural disasters over more than 2 decades and retired as Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW in January 2017. 
During his 39 year career he served as President, Vice President and Board Chair of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities’ Council, Deputy Chair of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee, Australian Director of the International Fire Chiefs Association of Asia, NSW representative on the Australian Emergency Management Committee, Australian representative on the UN’s International Search & Rescue Advisory Committee, and as a member of the NSW Bushfire Coordinating Committee. He is currently Chair of the NSW Ambulance Service Advisory Board. 
In 2004 he was invited to address the International Fire Science Conference in Ireland on the impacts of climate change on emergency services. As acting Chair of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee in 2005-6 he re-established a Climate Change Working Group focussed on adaptation and was a member of the NSW Government’s Climate Change Council from 2007-16. 
He worked with bushfire fighting authorities in the USA, Canada, France and Spain during a Churchill Fellowship in 1995, studied at the US National Fire Academy in 2001-02, and represented Australian emergency services at many international forums. Upon retirement he rejoined the volunteer bushfire brigade where he started in 1972, and fought fires throughout NSW during Black Summer 2019/20. He is the founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, 34 former fire and emergency chiefs from throughout Australia and a member of the Climate Council. 
Courtney Krahe

District Rotaract Representative 20/22 Courtney Krahe joined her high school Interact club over 10 years ago. Over the last 10 years Courtney has participated in a variety of Youth Programs including; Interact, MUNA, RYE, RYLA, Rotaract Round Trips and was the charter VP of UTS Rotaract. Courtney's aim for her term(s) as DRR is to "Rebuild & Reengage" Rotarians and Rotaractors with each other across the District.  


Outside of Rotary, Courtney was a venue side Event Manager for 3.5 years and is currently completing her Masters in Project Management.  

Dr James Muecke AM
Dr James Muecke AM graduated with Honours from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1987. Following his internship, James lived and worked as a doctor in Africa and subsequently as an eye surgeon in the Middle East, battling malaria, wild animals, and rebel soldiers. He founded Sight For All in 2008, turning his boundless energy into a fight against blindness in the Aboriginal and mainstream communities of Australia and some of the poorest countries of Asia and Africa. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable projects are now impacting on the lives of over one million people each year.
His commitment to social impact and humanitarian endeavors has earnt him a string of awards including an Order of Australia in 2012, the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Leadership Award in 2013, and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur for Australia in 2015. James is Australian of the Year 2020.
James is a researcher, a teacher, an author, a musician, a photographer, and a film producer, and uses his many skills to deliver passionate, fascinating, and at times confronting presentations about his life, his work, philanthropy, resilience and social entrepreneurship. A neurological condition impacting on his dexterity has forced James into a premature retirement from surgery. Not letting his disability slow him down, James has redirected his vigour to crafting films, and has a number of powerful documentaries under his belt and several compelling projects in production.
Cam Calkoen
In a season of life where we’ve all had to test our resilience, ability to reimagine, resourcefulness, desire to thrive and making healthy mindset choices, there is no one, we believe who personifies this more than Cam Calkoen. Cam was born with Cerebral Palsy, something that his parents did not expect, something they had no warning about, something that was presented to them and Cam with a pretty bleak forecast. At the centre of all the bleakness were the limiting perceptions that Cam's biggest challenges in life would be both the way he walks and talks. But Cam's parents and Cam had a dream, for the parents it was to stay true to the dreams that inspired them to be parents, for Cam it was to be able to live life where he could travel, entertain and connect... connect with a lot of people.
Without giving away too much of what Cam is going to speak about, today at 36 years of age has been and is an athletic gold medalist, charitable fundraiser, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and 2 x recipient of a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Over the past 18 years Cams audiences have included, Vodafone, Heineken, RE/MAX, KPMG, YES Optus and he’s spoken throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the USA, Canada and Europe. Cam's inspirational story of ‘dream big achieve more’ proves that dreams are not airy fairy impossibilities, dreams influence mindset, dreams create goals, goals create opportunities and what we do with our opportunities is up to us. The way Cam walks and talks have become his biggest strengths and his passport to traveling, entertaining and connecting.
Here at conference we want to challenge perception of what it means to truly thrive in this world. Cam will impart wisdom through experience that is not only going to inspire you but motivate you to be the change in this world, the change for yourself, the change for others, the change for your community. 
When Cam was growing up much of the doctors aspirations were "to get this boy with cerebral palsy ‘living’ achieving a sense of ’normality." As Cam’s experience, “normal” is boring, difference is what people notice and when you mix the familiar with the unfamiliar that is where you create awesomeness!!!
Cam's keynote is sure to take us all on a journey of laughter and tears, but more significantly it’s sure to create an experience that celebrates the power of humanity, connection and dreams. That we all have a lot more in common than what makes us different so let’s aim to thrive.
Check out more awesomeness about Cam at
Samah Shda
 I arrived in Sydney Australia in 2019, after years of displacement and uncertainty. The aftermath of the 2003 war, sectarian violence and extremist radical groups pushed our family and many other families from religious minority to flee Iraq and seek safety elsewhere.
I grew up in an Assyrian family in Baghdad. In 2003, the collapse of Saddam’s dictatorship and the US military intervention changed the way we lived and functioned. Our schools, hospitals, shops and any form of normalcy became a target for violent extremist militias. We were introduced to new vocabulary like “military checkpoints”, “curfews” and “electricity generators”. Our lives revolved around essentials, but even then, we were not safe from being caught in the crossfire.
In 2010, I was awarded the Iraqi Student Project Scholarship to continue my higher education safely in the United States. Upon gaining my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Grinnell College, I returned to northern Iraq and participated in the refugee aid efforts during the 2014 refugee crisis caused by the Islamic State invasion. I worked with international non-governmental organisations and led fundraising initiatives to assist refugees and internally displaced families in camps around my region.
When the threat of the extremist groups reached our ancestral village in the north, my family and I had to no choice but to seek asylum in Turkey. For the first time in my life, I saw myself as a refugee and knew that this would always be part of my identity.
I continued to search for opportunities to continue my work with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I worked with local and international organizations that largely focused on refugee reintegration and access to Education. I coordinated the Iraqi and Syrian Student Project, a program that aimed at helping Syrian students to acquire their higher education in the United States and Canada.
In 2019, after three years of waiting in Turkey, we were finally given a refugee humanitarian visa to resettle in Australia. We were beyond happy, and more than ready to plan our futures in a place where we feel safe and dignified.
We really didn’t know what to expect when we arrived in Sydney airport, but we were welcomed by so many community members who made us feel truly blessed. A few months in, we were ready to My lived experienced as a refugee and my perspective on the refugee crisis through my international work were my guiding stones into volunteer work and advocacy in refugee policy.
Since my arrival to Australia, I have been actively involved with refugee resettlement organizations and refugee-led national advocacy networks representing the Iraqi community. I am a public speaker for the Refugee Council of Australia community engagement program and an Amnesty international activist organizing refugee rights campaign events in NSW. I am currently leading a research project focused on refugee access to higher education in Australia in collaboration with multiple refugee advocacy and resettlement organizations. I believe in using my own experience and story to raise awareness on the global refugee crisiswork, study and contribute to this beautiful country that we now call home.
James Allen
James Allen has been a member of Rotary since 2003 and is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Sydney.  He is the Project Director of Rotary Give Every Child A Future, the major international project to celebrate the Centenary of Rotary Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
Now retired, James was Managing Director of Stanton Chase in Australia, a major executive search consulting firm for many years.  He is a chemical engineer by training and his early career was in the mining and resources industry.