"Finding Gold" is about a life of determination above all else. Anne's four brothers died multimillionaires. All self-created. Each one left their mark in the world for others to enjoy. Anne set her own target to learn something new every day. And at 89 years old, she's still doing it. Never say ‘it cannot be done.’ After a life of pain and deprivation, and detecting as a hobby for about ten years, on Anne's 81st birthday in 2013, she found a gold nugget just outside Kalgoorlie worth over $35,000. And in 2023, Anne and husband Albert are returning to Kalgoorlie to look for more. "Finding gold" is about the deliberate, determined search for happiness and fulfillment, even when it always seems just out of your grasp.
Susi Fox: "Connected compassion: healing the climate, healing ourselves"
"Dr Susi Fox explores the psychological factors that impact our capacity to influence the climate crisis, and describes how by treating all parts of ourselves with curiosity and compassion, we are more able to take effective climate action from a place of inner and outer connection." Dr Susi Fox is a mental health GP, sex and relationship therapist and author based in the Macedon Ranges. She utilises the evidence-based modality of Internal Family Systems to assist her clients towards loving all parts of themselves, and endeavours to practice Self-leadership in her daily life.
Dr Richard Mayes: "Social Prescribing: connection with myself and my community."
"Social prescribing is a healthcare approach that involves linking patients with non-medical support services in their communities to improve their overall health and well-being. The aim is to provide patients with holistic support that addresses their social, emotional, and practical needs, alongside any medical treatments they may require. This empowering and practical approach sees patients partnering with their doctor and community to explore and be linked to activities they enjoy, with benefits amplified through social connection. The evidence across the international stage is clear: that social prescribing should soon be considered an essential tool in any primary care physician's tool belt and in any community's health and wellbeing response." Dr Mayes is a GP / Obstetrician in Castlemaine, Victoria, practicing across Goldfields Medical Group: Lyttleton Street Medical Clinic, Bendigo Health and Castlemaine / Dhelkaya Health. Richard is passionate about medical education and was awarded the RACGP Brian Williams Award in 2021 in recognition of services to rural and regional medical education as a GP Registrar Supervisor, and Clinical Hub Coordinator for Monash University Medical School for the Goldfields region. Richard is instructor for the Australian Maternity and Reproductive Education, Maternity Safety Education Program (Royal Women's Hospital) and PROMPT (practical obstetric) training programs. His own journey in reclaiming joy and wellbeing through dance led to his interest in, and commitment to social prescribing.
Manue René: "Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself: The Power of Positive Framing and Re-Imagining Queer Storytelling"
"My name is Manue, and I'm a genderqueer writer, journalist and storyteller living on beautiful Dja Dja Wurrung Country. That is how I would like to introduce myself to you today. When I tell people I am genderqueer, I don't see that as me coming out, but as a powerful choice to introduce myself that way. We’ve known for a long time that you don’t just come out once and — though this language has an intricate history — it has been a while since we made a conscious shift forward to positive framing for queer storytelling. We can love each other more through the language we use, and we can move the narrative onwards to an understanding of the fluidity, beauty, and power of choosing to re-introduce yourself." Manue is a genderqueer writer, journalist and storyteller living on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. They completed their Bachelor of Journalism at RMIT and, during that time, presented and produced a current affairs show on JOY 94.9 and were a feature writer for Acclaim Magazine. They were completing a Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne when the pandemic hit and, feeling the impact of lockdowns, relocated to the countryside. Since then, they have been working with regional young people impacted by the pandemic as Communication, Engagement and Project Support for Youth Take Over Loddon Campaspe. Manue has volunteered for local pride events like the Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health Pride Camp, Camp Different and Mount Alexander Shire’s Over the Rainbow Pride Formal. Manue believes in people power and telling your own story.
Joel Hines: "Our stories connect us"
"Now more than ever with the experiences the world has had over the past few years and the acceleration of technology and artificial intelligence it is so important that we remember the importance of human connection. Stories have been used for generations as a way of transmitting knowledge and wisdom but also connecting us as humans in our shared experience. When we share our story with others it is not only a gift that helps them see another perspective but also creates permission for them to share their own story. When we dare to share our thoughts, feelings and experiences with others it can not only normalise their own experiences but also help us to make sense of our own." Throughout a career spanning over 25 years working in Mental Health, IT, Training, Educational Leadership and Group Facilitation, there has been a common theme of guiding others to explore the shared experience of being human. With his finely honed skills of empathy and compassion, Joel is at his absolute best when he is holding space for others. He naturally adapts to the situation at hand and exercises deep listening and presence with a calm and considered energy. Joel has a strong belief that every person has unique gifts that should be celebrated. With integrity and authenticity, Joel encourages and empowers individuals to step towards the absolute best version of themselves. A natural storyteller with a calm, grounded presence, Joel is passionate about guiding groups on experiential journeys exploring humanity and creating meaningful connection.
Pam Ahern: "What if we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others?"
"Throughout the ages, humans have been asking 'what if' to challenge past ways of thinking and open up new ways of living. And today, as never before, our answers to 'what if?' questions will not only determine our future, but whether we - humans, animals and the planet - shall even have one. Animals have long endured the worst of humanity and so again it's time to ask 'what if...' in examining our relationship with them: 'what if we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others?'" Pam Ahern describes herself as an animal advocate. She lives in the small country town of Lancefield, Victoria with an eclectic mix of formerly farmed animals. Starting out life in suburban Melbourne when told she could not have a pony, Pam’s ingenuity saw her create one. Since that time, and with animals always at her heart, and often in her bed, Pam has been creating a kinder world for animals. From the one-time champion equestrian she became, so yes, she did get a real pony, she gave it all up when a tiny piglet she named Edgar came into her life and took them both in a direction neither could ever have imagined.
Rodney Carter: "First Nations, the missing piece"
"With the many challenges we face today in ecosystem function and declining Biodiversity, the missing piece of the system's effective function is First Nations People. The wisdom and experiences of Ancestors living, nurturing and being on Country is ever-present today. Their descendants, their children, are leading new ways from this ancient knowledge to make Country well again." Rodney Carter is a descendant of Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta People and resides on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Bendigo, Central Victoria. He currently works for his people, the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd. Photo credit: Bill Conroy. The image is from the launch of the Galk Galk Dhelkunya.
Jen Willis: "Be your own hero"
"How many adventure books might you read before you decide that it is time to put down the books and live out your own adventurous story? For me, I read A LOT of books, watched a lot of films, and listened to a lot of talks. I was in awe of these epic stories of mountaineering, and the incredible people that were true heroes in my eyes. When I learned I had MS and realised the possibility that my days of being as active and mobile as I may like may be limited, I put my books down and set out on my own adventure. In 2022 I climbed two peaks in the Himalayas, and I am now returning to climb Mt Everest, as the first Australian with MS to do so. But mine is not just a story of climbing or of a life with MS, it is a story of seeking inspiration in the one place where I realised it matters most, in myself. I am writing this with a pile of duffel bags beside me, ready to board my plane early tomorrow to Nepal. I am excited to see just where the journey takes me,and what my quest to become my own hero will bring to me, and also to you." Jen Willis is a 51 and a single mum to three awesome humans. In 2008, after the birth of her third child, she became quite unwell and was advised it was possible she may have multiple sclerosis. She made a vow at the time that if ever she was diagnosed she was going to follow a childhood dream to learn to mountaineer, and also fundraise for MS research, knowing what an important role this research would likely play in her own future health outcomes. Fast forward to 2018, to a diagnosis, and so began her journey to "climb for a cure" for MS.
Graham Pitts: "The enemy is hope."
"Hope is being sold to many of my friends, past and present, as a drug of addiction. The merchants of deception are the fossil-fuel industries and the many politicians they own. But someone like me, who was once a professional gambler, knows that “hope” doesn’t alter probability and mathematical reality. Climate change means we live in a civilization that --- if we have the courage to tell ourselves the truth --- is heading to various end-time destinations. My past and present friends may hope to curb whatever we can of future fossil fuel use --- good luck with that --- but, of overwhelming urgency and importance, we must work as best we can on ways to protect our children and their children against the droughts, wildfires, famines, pandemics and wars to come. Along the way, we might well “unfriend” those “friends” who still rely on denial and hope. Some of them may prattle about “pessimism” or “hopelessness”. That’s not what this is about. It’s about facing up to how the cards have fallen. It’s reality." Graham Pitts is a writer with five films and over thirty plays professionally produced in Australia and overseas. He is also a former bookseller and professional gambler.
Lucy Mayes: "Enough is enough"
"Lucy will take us on a journey (as she takes herself on a journey!) to link some of the many challenges of our times with the voice of our culture, and the inner voice some (many?) of us persistently and habitually tell ourselves: that we need to constantly do more, be more and have more. What if we can do more than simply watch the news helplessly, participate numbly in conversations about how tough, broken and scary things are, or how busy and broke we are? What if we are far more powerful than we think we are? A cry for our times to remember how some of us felt at the start of the Pandemic: "Oooh, this could be the beginning of new ways, new times." Let's not go back. Enough is enough." Lucy is passionate about and committed to community, connection, joy, the arts and deep listening. She is a recovering ‘change agent’ and has worn many hats including as lawyer, social worker, leadership development practitioner, facilitator, mentor and coach. Her happiest ‘hat’ is as a mother. She works for the Hush Foundation leading their Gathering of Kindness projects and runs her own business consulting in human centred workplaces, engagement, partnerships, strategy, leadership and governance across healthcare, not for profits and government. Lucy is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow for her service to youth leadership and was Victorian runner up in the Rural Women’s Award in 2008.
Meg Berryman: "Coming back to life"
"We can't regenerate our soils, our eco-systems and our food systems without also considering how we might regenerate ourselves. Join writer and activist Meg Berryman as she explores what it might take to change the ways we are being, so that we can change the actions we take - bringing ourselves and our communities back and changing the trajectory of our systems in the process." Meg Berryman is a neurodivergent, trauma-informed writer, consultant and somatics teacher seeding and teaching regenerative ways to live, lead, learn and do business. She lives, works, plays and unschools her two wildlings on Dja Dja Wurrung land, supporting individuals, communities and organisations to come back to life through her writing, consultancy and facilitated experiences. She is working toward a world where diverse folks feel valued and valuable, where we steward our resources wisely and where we heal the disconnection with nature, within ourselves and with each other so we may find regenerative soltions to the biggest social and cultural issues of our time.
Dr David Waldron: "Rethinking the ghost story"
"Ghost stories have been a part of human culture for centuries, captivating audiences with tales of the paranormal and supernatural. They are a powerful and ubiquitous part of our heritage, connected to stories of tragedy and darkness. Yet, all too often the emotional power of the ghost story becomes bogged down in a sceptics vs believers debate on the reality (or not) of the haunting experience. When we do so, we ignore the powerful cultural significance of those stories in folklore as signifiers of community trauma, guilt and injustice. It is time to shift the conversation towards a more meaningful and impactful discussion. Instead of focusing on the veracity of ghost stories, let us consider their roots in traumatic experiences and what they tell us about who we are and where we have come from." Dr David Waldron is a Senior Lecturer in History at Federation University Australia with a research focus on folklore and community heritage. A published author, Dr Waldron is regularly involved in public engagements, festivals, theatre, graphic novel writing and multi-media displays including Ballarat Heritage Festival. He is also the co-writer and researcher for the National Trust Australia People’s Choice award historical pod cast series “Tales from Rat City”.
Dr Kirby White: "There are no pockets in a shroud"
"The individual and Government purse is being drained on managing multiple chronic health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic pain but life expectancy is reducing. 12.5 million adults in Australia are overweight or obese and despite this being the majority of our nation, health organisations and medical practitioners still see this crisis as an ‘individual’ problem. The silent pandemic of obesity needs urgent prioritisation from a public health perspective. Dr White details the impact of global stigmatisation on obesity and addresses the economic costs of not prioritising obesity management and better yet, prevention." Dr Kirby White is a Specialist General Practitioner from Bendigo Victoria. Her medical career is dedicated to supporting patients with obesity. Dr White is an advocate for obesity to be recognised as a significant chronic disease and her work focuses on medical and surgical treatments for weight loss. Dr White was a Research Scientist at St Vincent’s Institute and has published her work in internationally recognised journals. Her contribution to the field of STEM was recognised by toy company Mattel honouring Dr White among 5 other women globally as carer role models. During the Covid-19 pandemic Dr White co-founded the project ‘Gowns For Doctors’ which produced over 7,000 reusable, sustainable medical gowns to protect doctors and nurses Australia wide. She was named Victoria’s Local Hero in the National Australia Day Awards and has used this platform to create awareness of sustainability of medical resources in rural and regional areas.