Scholars Forum

Networks for influence and impact

12–13 April 2023, Canberra 

The upcoming Scholars Forum will bring together scholars from South Asia and Mongolia for a program of professional development, networking, and cultural engagement in Australia’s capital. Scholars will be joined by various speakers and guests, including representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, other Australian government agencies, non-government organisations, and diplomats.

At the Forum, in line with the theme Networks for influence and impact, scholars will enhance their abilities to build networks and establish enduring connections that are drawn on throughout their careers to increase their impact. Scholars will learn how they can make the most of their time in Australia to develop linkages to complement their study, enhance their ability to engage with organisations and individuals and improve their ability to implement change upon their return home.

Scholars Forum Program

Scholar videos submitted ahead of the Scholars Forum can be viewed here.



The following resource will be referenced at the Scholars Forum:

The Australia Awards Linkages Guide for Scholars

We will visit the First Australians Gallery and the Talking Blak to History Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Scholars can familiarise themselves with these spaces prior to travel by clicking on the links.

A series of videos featuring members of the Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri peoples – the traditional custodians of the Canberra region – perform a welcome to country and explain their connection to country can be viewed here.

Please note these times are firm and you will need to be on time.

Date Time Activity
Wednesday 12 April Before midday Scholars arrive in Canberra*
  11:00am Some scholars will attend meeting with their Ambassador/High Commissioner or diplomats
  from 12.00pm Lunch available at hotel
  1.30pm Bus departs hotel for afternoon program
2.00pm Tour of Australian Parliament House
3.00pm Photos in Parliament House Forecourt
4.00pm Depart Parliament House
4.30pm Self-guided Tour First Australians exhibition at National Museum of Australia
5.30pm Welcome to Country
6.00pm Welcome function
8.00pm Depart National Museum of Australia for hotel. End of day’s program.
Thursday 13 April from 6:30am Breakfast available in hotel
  7.45am Check out from hotel and load bags on coach
  8.15am Bus departs hotel for the National Museum of Australia
9am–4.40pm Scholars Forum
5.00pm Bus departs National Museum of Australia for Canberra airport

*Due to flight times and distance travelled, some scholars will arrive on Tuesday. Those travelling from Sydney will arrive via bus at 12:00pm. 

Development Impact and Linkages Plan (DILP)

Please ensure you have a copy of your DILP with you on 13 April, either printed on paper or electronically on your laptop or tablet.

Dress code

Wednesday 12 April

The dress code for Wednesday 12 April is business attire or national dress for Wednesday 12 April. We cannot guarantee that you will have access to your hotel room prior to the bus leaving for the afternoon program at 1:30pm, so we recommend that you either wear your business attire or national dress on your flight or be prepared to change in the public bathroom at the hotel before 1:30pm.

Thursday 13 April

The dress code Thursday 13 April is business attire.

Photo ID

Please ensure you carry your photo ID with you at all times while you are in Canberra and especially when departing the hotel at 1:30pm on Wednesday. You will not be able to enter Parliament House without photo ID. Please also bring your name tag with you (these will be assigned to you upon arrival). Student ID cards are important to carry as well, especially those travelling from NSW via coach.

Flights (excluding NSW scholars)

Please make sure you have checked your flight details carefully to make sure that the flight dates, times, meal preference and the spelling of your name are correct. Not all flights include meals so please be prepared before your flight and take note of timings for those observing Ramadan.

Not all scholars from each state are on the same flight, so please make note of your information.

Please ensure you have your photo ID and check-in no later than 60 minutes before departure. It is your responsibility to ensure you arrive at the airport with adequate time before your departing flight.

Luggage weight limits apply on all domestic flights. You have an allowance of one item of checked baggage and one item of carry-on baggage. Any excess baggage will be an additional cost to you and is not covered by Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia.

Coach (NSW scholars only)

Scholars travelling from NSW will meet at 8:00am for a 9:00am departure.


“Murray’s Sydney Central Bus Terminal”
486 Pitt Street
Central Railway Station

Luggage allowance

  • 1 carry-on bag (Must fit under seat or overhead – no wheels)
  • 1 checked bag (Max 32kg)

Excess luggage is subject to additional charges and must be paid prior to boarding at your expense. Any excess baggage will be an additional cost to you and is not covered by Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia.

You will return to this location on Thursday evening.

Contact Information

Bianca Warnock can be reached on Facebook Messenger as ‘Bianca Warnock‘.
0405 377 373

Dave Gordge
0407 796 239

There are scholars assigned as Travel Team Leaders in each state for Australia Awards South Asia & Mongolia. Please note your Travel Team Leader below. It is your responsibility to know who your Travel Team Leader is and to have numbers saved in your phones.

Team Leaders:


Mr Sohaib Rasheed
0424 518 242


Dr Amrit Pokhrel
0415 203  733

Ms Radhika Orari
0499 158 256


Ms Chanda Devi Sunar
0426 878 984


Mr Nima Yoezar
0421 722 632


Mr Nyambat Ganbold
0493 444 253


Please note:

– you will need to pay for any costs associated with changing your flights directly to the travel agent.
– you must not arrive any later in Canberra than what is currently specified on your itinerary
– the Australia Awards team will not be able to assist you with any flight changes.

Travel to and from the airport (home state)

Australia Awards is committed to caring for the environment and ensuring that event planning is as eco-friendly as possible. We, therefore, ask that you use public transport where possible when travelling to and from the airport in your home state. If public transport is not available, we ask that you make an effort to ride-share with other scholars travelling to the event to minimise carbon emissions.

We will reimburse you for the cost of your travel to and from the airport in your home state. Please ensure you keep your receipts (bus or train ticket, uber, or taxi) and email all receipts together, to or For those scholars living in ACT, transport to the hotel will be reimbursed as above.

You must provide your bank details to be reimbursed for these costs.

Transport arrangements in Canberra

Further information regarding airport pickup and transport around Canberra will be coordinated by Bianca Warnock. Australia Awards team members will be at Canberra Airport for flight arrivals, and Jolimont Centre for coach travellers from Sydney. All transport to and from the program venues will be organised for you. Any travel you wish to make outside of the schedule of the Scholars Forum will be at your own expense. It is your responsibility to be present for hotel/venue/tour transfers on time.


Accommodation has been booked for you at the Canberra Rex Hotel, 150 Northbourne Avenue, Braddon, ACT. This includes scholars already living in ACT.

The program has covered the cost of your accommodation. Your booking includes breakfast for one person, which is available from 6:30am on Thursday 13 April (and on Wednesday 12 April for those having to stay overnight on 12 April). For those observing Ramadan, a ‘Sehri box’ can be collected from Bianca Warnock on the evening of Wednesday 12 April. It is your responsibility to notify Bianca of you need this.

The hotel is located 1.2km north of Canberra’s CBD. The events will not be held at the hotel.

An Australia Awards team member will greet you on arrival at the hotel and assist with check-in.

All scholars are required to check out and remove your bags from the room on the morning of 13 April, prior to departing on the bust at 8:15am. You will travel directly from the forum venue to the airport.

Please note:

Check-in time is usually from 2:00 pm and your room may not be available on arrival and before your first activity. If your room is not ready, reception can store your luggage until it is available. We will make every effort to arrange early check-in, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Australia Awards will cover the cost of your room charge (breakfast included) only. Any additional expenses (e.g. extra bed, room service, phone calls, laundry, mini bar, other incidentals) charged to the hotel will need to be paid by you. Each guest’s final account will need to be paid prior to departing the hotel. You may need to provide a copy of a credit card when you check in.


You will be given a water bottle on arrival with your delegate bag. We recommend that you fill it up and take it with you prior on the afternoon of 12 April.

All breakfasts will be provided at the hotel for the duration of your stay. Breakfast is served from 6.30am. Please see note about Sehri boxes above for those observing Ramadan.

Wednesday 12 April
Provided for at the hotel

Thursday 13 April
Provided at the Forum venue.

On 12 April, food will be available at the evening Welcome Function at 6.00 pm.

On 13 April you may purchase dinner at the airport/coach terminal and be reimbursed for up to $30. Please ensure you keep your receipt for dinner on 13 April and email it with receipts for your transport, to or You must provide your bank details to be reimbursed for these costs.

Please be advised that the program is a rigorous one requiring a full commitment from participants. Family members will not be able to attend any of the sessions or activities with the participant.


There are three competitions for scholars to enter.

  • Folktale video competition
  • Social Media competition
  • Networking competition

Folktale Videos and Competition

Scholar videos submitted as part of the competition for scholars from South Asia and Mongolia can be viewed here.

Social Media Competition

During the Scholars Forum you will be encouraged to share photos and captions to social media. Hashtags will be used to track entries. You will need to ensure your profile settings are public to allow entries to qualify.

Entries will be selected for best photo and post (combined), using hashtags


This competition is open to all attending Australia Awards scholars (Timor-Leste, Myanmar, and South Asia & Mongolia) and will be awarded the week after the Scholars Forum has concluded.

Networking Competition

Scholars will have two Networking cards in their delegate satchels. You must engage with new and relevant networks and make notes and details on your card to demonstrate your initiative. At the end of each day, entries will be collected and drawn at random to award winners.

Environmentally-friendly principles

Workshops and conferences are contributors to the global carbon footprint, with travel as a major source of events-related carbon emissions. Other ways by which events add to the carbon footprint are single-use plastics, excessive use of paper / printed materials, and food.

We will make a conscious effort to reduce and offset the carbon footprint created by the Scholars Forum, including:

  • Arranging direct flights where possible
  • Organising bus transport for those travelling from Sydney, rather than flights.
  • Encouraging participants to use group transport to and from the airport
  • Minimising the use of non-biodegradable and non-recyclable utensils
  • Reducing the use of printed materials

We encourage you to take proactive steps to ensure the Scholars Forum is a green event and to think about implementing similar practices when organising activities in your workplaces, universities, communities or in your personal life.

Key speakers, panel members and discussion leaders

In order of appearance:

Gary was appointed First Assistant Secretary, North and South Asia Division in February 2021.

He served most recently as Australia’s Representative in Taipei 2018 to 2021.

He has previously served in roles in Australia’s missions in Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo.

Gary headed Australia’s international climate policy and negotiations team at the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and then the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) from 2011 to 2014.

Gary’s earlier roles include Speechwriter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Director of the then India and South Asia Section, and Adviser in the International Division at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Elizabeth Wilde’s career spans international and national levels, and a range of Commonwealth agencies including Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and as Head of Council of Australian Government and Commonwealth Constitutional Reform taskforces.

Ms Wilde currently heads the Development Policy Division which overseas Australia’s international development policy and budget, global scholarships and awards programs, and gender equality, disability, and social inclusion policy.

Prior to this role, Ms Wilde worked in the Office of the Pacific where she led the Key Sectors Branch for the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and Australia’s COVID-19 response to the Pacific. From 2017 to 2020, Ms Wilde was Deputy Head of Mission of Australia’s United Nations Geneva Mission, with overarching responsibility for humanitarian, health, human rights and disarmament issues. Ms Wilde had special responsibility for Middle East issues and was Australia’s lead on the International Syrian Support Group (political and humanitarian response).

Penny Morton has over fifteen years’ experience in the Australian Public Service, working on domestic and international policy. She is currently finalising Australia’s new International Development Policy, as Assistant Secretary of DFAT’s Development Strategy Branch. She recently completed a Master’s in Public Policy at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs (2021-2022), focusing on international relations and development policy. Prior to Princeton, Penny was the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Climate Change Branch and oversaw the development of Australia’s International Climate Advocacy Strategy in the lead up to the Glasgow Climate Conference.

Penny was previously Deputy High Commissioner at the Australian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2018-2020), where she oversaw the political, security, trade, development, and humanitarian agendas. As First Secretary in New York (2015-2018), Penny managed the social, political, and human rights portfolio for the Australian Mission in the General Assembly, focusing on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the rights of indigenous peoples and people with disabilities. Prior to this, as First Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan (2012-2014), Penny managed the human rights and gender portfolios, legal issues, and counter terrorism efforts.

Prior to joining DFAT in 2010, Penny was a senior climate change negotiator at the former Department of Climate Change from 2005 to 2010.

‘Alopi Latukefu was appointed Director of the Edmund Rice Centre in February 2023.

Prior to accepting the role with ERC, Mr Latukefu was most recently the Director for the Global Education and Scholarships team in DFAT – managing amongst other things, the Australia Awards.

Mr Latukefu worked for nearly two decades on Australia’s aid, economic diplomacy and foreign policy. During this time he also worked as an adviser and chief of staff to the minister responsible for the Pacific (2008-09) as well as work on China, Japan and India.

Mr Latukefu prior to joining the public service had a career working in the university sector, as well as with First Nations organisations and communities in northern Australia and for nearly two years as CEO of Goolarri Media Enterprises in Broome.

Mr Latukefu has had extensive experience working on Pacific issues including establishing one of the first web-based network and information sites (the South Pacific Information Network – SPIN) during his time with the Islands-Australia research program (ANU) in the mid-nineties.

In her current role Christine is the Director, DFAT SEAH Review Implementation, working to support DFAT’s proactive approach to eliminating sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment from their global workplace.

In 2022, Christine was honoured to serve in the role of Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls working to improve gender equality throughout the region for women in all their diversity.

Prior to her role as Ambassador for Women and Girls, Christine worked with the Pacific Gender Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on Reserve Service following completion of her lengthy full time Navy career in June 2021.

As a Maritime Human Resources Officer, Christine served as Australia’s Defence Adviser and Attachè to NZ, Cook Islands and Chile between 2018 and 2021. Christine Clarke’s previous roles included Head of the ADF Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office and served as Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul. She was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross in the Australia Day Honours List in 2013 for excellence in leadership.

As a committed LGBTQI+ ally, Christine led the Department of Defence contingent in the Sydney Mardi Gras on two occasions. She is strong advocate for women’s rugby and cricket, having held many senior Navy and Australian Defence Force executive committee positions.  She holds a Masters in HR and is an Australian Human Resource Institute medallist.

Elizabeth (Liz) Cowan is a gender specialist with 15-years’ experience working to advance gender equality, both in Australia and internationally.

Liz honed her gender technical skills through almost a decade working with the international non-government organisation, CARE, where she provided gender equality technical advice to programs in the Indo Pacific, with a focus on Timor-Leste and the Mekong sub-region. Liz has worked with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), leading the AFP’s engagement with the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Liz joined DFAT in 2022 and now provides technical leadership to enhance Australia’s efforts to integrate gender equality through the development program. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) and a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (Gender specialisation), both from the Australian National University.

Nick’s experiences of cerebral palsy and as a manual wheelchair user has shaped his drive for working to increase awareness and inclusion for people with disability in the wider community.

Extensive board, governance and political experience provides Nick with a strong foundation of knowledge across policy and access issues. He has been a Director of JFA Purple Orange, the Housing Board and a member of Ministerial Advisory Committees such as Students with Disabilities (SA), Physical Disability Australia and Home Modifications Australia. He was a candidate in the 2014 and 2018 State Elections for South Australian based political party, Dignity Party (formally Dignity for Disability).

A strong, passionate and active disability advocate, Nick is a certified Youth Worker specialising in engagement with a strong emphasis on empowerment. The original founder of the Julia Farr Youth Committee, now known as Enabled Youth Disability Network (EYDN). Nick was Chair from its beginning in 2008 until 2015 and continues to have an active role with the Youth Mentoring Program and Peer Support Networks.

Nick has also worked for Determined2 Immersion Therapy. A world first water-based therapy program that allows people with disabilities and injuries to use scuba equipment in a controlled pool environment to be as free as possible in water.

Rachel Lloyd is Assistant Secretary, International Policy Branch at the Department of Education.  She has previously worked at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, including on the COVID taskforce and in the Office for Women, as one of the original staff at the Parliamentary Budget Office and at the Treasury.

She has also worked at ANU and University of Canberra as a teacher, researcher and staff at university residences. Rachel prioritises corporate contributions in the workplace and has been the Chair of the PM&C Women’s network, Sponsor of the Dept of Education Social Club and as a mentor for current and former staff.  She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has degrees in Economics and Asian Studies from ANU.

Outside of work, Rachel volunteers in the netball and cricket communities and is Chair of a School Board.  She has two active teenage daughters who continue to keep her busy.

Mr Vosen is currently the Assistant Secretary of the Humanitarian Preparedness and Response Branch at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

In 2018 he was appointed Ambassador to Mongolia, serving at Australia’s Embassy in Ulaanbaatar until 2021.

He has previously served overseas as Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, Vientiane; and Counsellor, Australian High Commission, Port Moresby. In Australia, he has served Director , North Korea Section in DFAT, as Director, Afghanistan and Iraq Branch, AusAID,  and also in various positions in the Departments of Defence and Finance.

In October 2019, Russell Rollason was appointed International Development Advisor at E-Water.

He brought to this role 14 years’ experience in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade designing and managing international development programs in water resource management in the Indo-Pacific region.  He was instrumental in establishing the DFAT funded Australian Water Partnership.

A science honours graduate from the University of Queensland (Geology and Mineralogy), Russell also holds a Master in General Studies from the UNSW.  In 1998, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, for services to international development and humanitarian aid through the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) and promotion of social justice in Australia.

In 2010-13, Russell served as First Secretary in the Australian High Commission to India where he expanded Australia’s technical cooperation program with India in water resource management.  He managed Australia’s partnership with the World Bank regional South Asia Water Initiative.  After joining AusAID/DFAT in 2005, Russell drafted Australia’s first Mekong Water Resources Strategy and strengthened relations with the Mekong River Commission.

Russell has more than 20 years’ experience in civil society organisations, having served 12 years as Executive Director for ACFOA (now the Australian Council for International Development) and four years as the elected Chair of the Geneva based International Council for Voluntary Agencies.  He has also worked as a consultant and team leader for two Asian Development Bank technical assistance projects in Asia.

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