Scholars Forum

Working together for gender equality

30–31 October 2019, Canberra 

The upcoming Scholars Forum will bring together scholars from South and West Asia for a program of professional development and high-profile networking opportunities. Scholars will be joined by representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, senior representatives of advocacy groups, and staff from Australian universities and institutions.

In line with the theme “Working together for gender equality”, scholars will learn about the economic, developmental, social and human rights benefits of gender equality and be empowered to influence change upon returning home.

Scholars Forum program


Date Time Activity
Wednesday 30 October Before midday Scholars arrive in Canberra*
  Midday–2pm Free time
  2.30pm Bus departs hotel for social activity and Welcome Reception
4pm Arrive at Parliament House
5–5.30pm Parliament House Security Clearance
5.30–6.15pm Parliament House Tour
6.30–8.30pm Welcome Reception
9pm Bus departs Parliament House for hotel
Thursday 31 October  7.45am Checkout from hotel
  8am Bus departs hotel for the National Museum of Australia
9am–5pm Scholars Forum
5.15pm Bus departs National Museum for Canberra airport

*Due to flight times and distance travelled, some scholars will arrive on Tuesday 29 and some will depart Friday 1 (morning). 

Dress code

We recommend you wear either business attire or national dress for the Welcome Reception and business attire for the Scholars Forum.

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 2:30pm on Wednesday. You will not be able to enter Parliament House without photo ID.


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.

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 and West Asia.

If you choose to make any changes to your flight itinerary to accommodate other commitments, these will need to be made directly with Corporate Traveller and at your own cost.

Corporate Traveller Contact Information

Phone: 1300 654 805 (available after hours)**
Contact: Linda Staines, Travel Manager, Corporate Traveller
Quote: Your Booking Number (starts with a B) (top right-hand corner of your itinerary)

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.

** It is best to contact the travel manager during working hours to make amendments. The fee to amend bookings during business hours is $27.50 and during after-hours is $44.

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 (uber, taxi or bus) and email all receipts together, to

You must provide your bank details to be reimbursed for these costs. Reimbursement will be made approximately one week after the event (assuming you have provided all necessary details).

Transport arrangements in Canberra

Further information regarding airport pickup and transport around Canberra will be provided in the coming weeks. All transport to and from the program venues will be organised for you.


Accommodation has been booked for you at the Mantra on Northbourne, 84 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, ACT 2612.

The program has covered the cost of your accommodation. Your room is likely to be a one bedroom apartment, and the booking includes breakfast for one person.

The hotel is located one block from the centre of Canberra 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.

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.

Meal Allowance

All breakfasts will be provided at the hotel for the duration of your stay. Breakfast is served from 7am in the restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel.

Participants will receive a lunch allowance of $20 for Wednesday, 30 October 2019.
Lunch on Thursday, 31 October, will be arranged at the Forum venue.

Participants will receive a dinner allowance of $30 for each night they are in Canberra.

Meal allowance payment
The total meal allowance will be given to you in cash when you arrive at the hotel in Canberra.

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.

Further information about this event, including the program, dress code, ground transport and advice on what to bring will be provided in the coming weeks.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to sharing these updates with you soon.

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
  • 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, communities or in your personal life.

Key speakers, panel members and discussion leaders

In order of appearance:

Dr Stone has been a longstanding and active advocate on gender equality issues in Australia and internationally. A former Australian politician, she represented the Division of Murray, Victoria, from 1996 to 2016.

As a long serving member and recently Chair of the Australian Parliamentarians for Population Development Group, Sharman was elected the Vice Chair of the Asia-Pacific Population Development Group with special responsibilities for promoting the rights of women and girls in the region. In this role and as the Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Sharman has championed the cause of eliminating child marriages, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, poverty and disease in our region.

She delivered Australia’s Statement on the Status of Women in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, where she also worked on the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Dr Stone has advocated for overcoming disadvantage in numerous international forums, always addressing the role and partnering of Australia in supporting our region’s special needs.

Learn more about Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls 

Mr Wojciechowski has worked on a range of foreign, economic, trade, development and consular policy issues, focusing in particular on the Indo-Pacific region.

Before starting in his current role in September 2019, Mr Wojciechowski was Australia’s Ambassador to Poland with non-residential accreditations to Czechia and Lithuania. He held the position of Assistant Secretary, Economic Advocacy and Analysis Branch (2013-15) and led on the Australian Government’s Economic Diplomacy agenda.

Mr Wojciechowski also worked for the then Australian international aid agency, AusAID, (2011-13) where he led a branch responsible for Australia’s relationship with multilateral development banks, multilateral development policy (including in the UN, OECD DAC and the G20 Development Working Group) and bilateral cooperation with other donors. He was Australia’s IDA Deputy to the World Bank and ADF Deputy to the Asian Development Bank (2011-12).

Mr Wojciechowski served overseas in Poland (2016-19), Belgium/EU (2007-2010), Indonesia (2001-2004) and South Korea (1995-98).

Since 1996, Janelle has worked to strengthen social justice organisations tackling issues from women’s empowerment through to supporting people with HIV/AIDS in the US, in Australia and around the world. She has developed, managed and evaluated programs to secure equal opportunities for women and girls through leadership and life skills development in diverse settings, from boardrooms to schools.

As Executive Director of UN Women Australia, Janelle facilitates fundraising and advocacy in support of UN Women’s global gender equality agenda. As a fundraiser, grant maker and program manager, she has nurtured countless partnerships across the private, philanthropic and non-governmental organisation sectors to accelerate change for good. She has worked across generations to develop and implement grant making strategies to support organisations building bridges to promote peace and coexistence around the world.

Janelle completed her Master in Nonprofit Management as a Colorado Trust Fellow in 2001, and her Master in International Studies as a Rotary World Peace Fellow in 2009.

At Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Lisa Sharland is applying her research interests in the United Nations and multilateralism, peacekeeping reform, Australia’s engagement in UN peacekeeping, African security issues, Australia-Africa engagement, protection of civilians and women, peace and security.

Lisa has been a Visiting Fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington DC and the National Institute for Defence Studies in Japan. She remains a non-resident Fellow in the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program at the Stimson Center. She has also worked as a consultant for the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations.

Before joining Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Lisa worked as the Defence Policy Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations in New York, where she provided advice on peacekeeping and defence-related policy issues. Before working for the Australian government, Lisa was in Washington DC studying at the George Washington University and gaining political and legislative experience in the offices of US Members of Congress.

Lisa holds a Master of International Studies from the University of Sydney, as well as a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Macquarie University, Australia.

Mrs Molitor is an experienced senior leader in professional services, international trade and the development industry. Before being appointed CEO of Scope Global in January 2016, Christine was Executive Manager, Global Operations. In that role, she led the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, Scope Global’s international network, and the People, Culture and Services portfolio.

Scope Global’s clients include the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Education and Training, and Department of Defence. Scope Global also works for the Asian Development Bank and many Australian universities in the area of tailored student mobility programs.

Before joining Scope Global, Christine was the joint founding partner of a successful international consultancy business that specialized in strategy development and execution, leadership and culture development, and Board and CEO development.

Christine holds a degree in Psychology and an MBA from the University of Adelaide. In November 2017, she was successful in obtaining a grant from the Industry Leaders Fund to attend a Strategic Leadership Program at Oxford University.

Ms Adamson’s career in the Australian foreign service spanned decades of bilateral and multilateral efforts to pursue Australia’s national interests over a period of major transformation and emerging global challenges. Through eight overseas postings she has been a witness to historic change: reunification in Vietnam, reconciliation and justice in Cambodia, and the end of the Cold War in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. She has participated in multilateral negotiations on issues ranging from non-proliferation and gender equality to sustainable and inclusive economic development.

Ms Adamson has recently retired following four years as Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan. She was previously Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea; Ambassador to Cambodia; Ambassador to Poland; Ambassador to the Czech Republic; and Australian Consul General in Berlin and the newly recreated States of the former German Democratic Republic. Her earlier postings were to Bonn, Vienna (UN) and Hanoi. She received state awards in Poland and Cambodia for her role in advancing bilateral relations.

Ms Adamson graduated from the Australian National University with a BA in 1974 and later completed a Diploma of Education at the University of Canberra. At ANU she majored in Pure Mathematics and Psychology with a sub-major in Sociology.

Ms Zarmeen Pavri is currently a Non-Executive Director sitting on the Board of U Ethical Funds Management, a $1.2 billion ethical investment manager, which proudly boasts that 50% of its Board are women. She also sits on various Advisory Boards of ‘profit for purpose’ and impactful businesses. Zarmeen currently runs her own strategic consulting and impact advisory business from Sydney, applying her 25 years’ experience across funds management; environmental, social and corporate governance; social impact investing; and international development sectors.

Prior to her entrepreneurial journey, she was the Fund Manager for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s InnovationXchange’s $20 million social impact innovation portfolio for the Asia Pacific region. Before that, she held several executive leadership positions, including Executive Director – Strategy Execution at Pengana Capital, a $3.5 billion equities fund manager.

Before Pengana, Zarmeen was the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Development at MIR Investment Management, being one of the youngest COOs in the Australian hedge funds industry at the time. She successfully championed and enabled the investment management business to grow its funds under management from $250 million to $6.5 billion within 4 years, led multiple teams, and has had demonstrable experience in setting up numerous investment products/funds both onshore and offshore.

Dr Curnow has more than 20 years’ experience in research and international development spanning the water, agricultural, natural resource management, legal, economic, education, social and health sectors. At the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Jayne is currently a member of the Audit Committee that manages risk and ensures value for the Commonwealth across the ACIAR research portfolio.

She chairs the Gender Committee and led the development of the ACIAR Gender Equity Policy and Strategy 2017–2022, encompassing corporate business and research programs. She has direct oversight of a portfolio investing in collaborative research projects between Australian researchers and country partners across Asia and the Pacific.

Jayne holds a PhD in Anthropology and is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, a Director on the Board of Volunteering ACT and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Jayne is fluent in Indonesian and Malay, with extensive experience and networks across Asia and the Pacific.

Dr Shashini Gamage is a journalist from Sri Lanka and holds a PhD (Media and Communication) from La Trobe University, Australia, conducted under an Australia Awards Scholarship during 2012–16. Her thesis is an ethnography of Sri Lankan migrant women’s soap opera cultures in Melbourne. She has worked in television media since 2004, specializing in gender and reconciliation, documenting women’s lives in conflict zones during the civil war.

She is currently a researcher of La Trobe University’s ‘Ageing and New Media’ project, researching older Australian migrants’ cultural production. In 2017, she received a small competitive grant under the Australia Awards Alumni Innovation Challenge to set up an alternative feminist online media space called Women Talk, providing women in Sri Lanka a platform to network, talk openly about gender and women’s positions, and profile their work. She is also currently studying filmmaking at Deakin University.

Annemarie is currently acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Gender Specialist for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), after working as DFAT’s senior gender specialist since 2013. Prior to 2013, she spent 15 years advising and managing projects on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment at country and regional level for the International Labour Organisation and UNDP in South East and South Asia.

Annemarie holds a PhD in International Relations from the Australian National University.

Annika is CEO of Male Champions of Change, a high-profile coalition of men who step up beside women to accelerate change on gender equality issues in organisations and communities.

As inaugural CEO, Annika led the development of a replicable and scalable model that has enabled Male Champions of Change to grow from its founding group to an internationally recognised social change coalition of more than 230 CEO-level leaders and organisations. Together, they are focused on achieving gender equality, advancing more women into leadership, and creating the conditions and cultures that enable women to thrive.

Prior to commencing as CEO of Male Champions of Change, Annika spent 15 years working in both the public and the private sectors. She has worked for the US government, the United Nations Development Programme and multiple international NGOs focusing on public policy.

Martin Fisk joined Menslink in March 2011 after a 25-year career in both the private and the public sectors, including nearly ten years running his own business. Since joining Menslink, he has significantly expanded the reach of Menslink’s support programs, with nearly ten times the number of young men accessing their free counselling, mentoring and group programs than at the beginning of the decade.

In 2012, Martin designed the award-winning ‘Silence is Deadly’ campaign to reduce the stigma of admitting to problems. This program has been successfully rolled out to tens of thousands of students across high schools, colleges and universities across the Canberra region and has resulted in significantly more young men getting help when they need it.

Martin is currently the Vice President of the ACT Council of Social Services and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He serves on the ACT Government’s Gambling and Racing Commission’s Advisory Committee.

Dr Tahmina Rashid is an Associate Professor of International Studies, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra, Australia. She has a PhD and MA from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Master’s degree in political science from University of the Punjab, Pakistan. She was a Fulbright scholar in 1996 and was also awarded the Ford Foundation’s ‘Asia Fellow Award’ in 2004–05 to work in urban slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

She is the author of Contested Representations: Punjabi Women in Feminist Debates in Pakistan and co-editor of International Development: Linking Academia with Development Aid & Effectiveness. Her area of interest is gender and sustainable development, with a geographical focus on the Asian region. Her academic interests include feminist movements in South Asia; radical Islamic movements; migration and identity; sustainable development and human rights; micro-credit and women’s empowerment; conflict and post-conflict humanitarian assistance; religious extremism; and the politics of migration.

My Linh Nguyen has a Master of Development Studies (specializing in Women, Gender, Development) from the Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands, and Master of Social Science (Health Practice) from the University of Queensland. My Linh has more than 15 years of experience working for development agencies (including the United Nations) and international non-governmental organisations in Australia and Asia.

My Linh’s areas of technical expertise include gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. She has strong skills in participatory research, proposal writing, building institutional gender capacity, training facilitation and working in partnership with socially marginalised groups.

Amanda is Program Director, Male Champions of Change (MCC) Health Group. In this role, Amanda supports some of the Australian Health sector’s most influential CEOs to accelerate change towards gender equality.

Amanda was also at the forefront of Australian Public Service efforts to create a more diverse workforce and inclusive workplace in her previous role at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. An area of special interest in this role was a review of the Domestic and Family Violence policy and commencing work towards the development of a leading practice response to both people impacted by domestic and family violence and staff who perpetrate violence.

Amanda is a keen runner – which serves her well as she cares for her exuberant son, Oscar.

The inaugural Scholars Forum

Learn about the first Scholars Forum for South and West Asia, held last year in Canberra

Learn more

Hawwa's reflections

Scholar Hawwa from the Maldives reflects on the first Scholars Forum for South and West Asia

Read her reflections