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2022 National Conference image gallery

About the conference

RECONNECT, RECOGNISE, REALISE is the theme for our 2022 CEF National Conference. We are excited to finally be able to get together again to increase CEF’s impact on rural and regional Australia and the young people who are its future.

As a valued member of the CEF family, we’d like to extend an invitation to join us at our complimentary event in Canberra. We are locking in some great speakers and we have taken your feedback from past years on board to ensure the conference is interesting and relevant to you.

Your attendance at this event is highly valued and thanks to our partner, we are able to provide this conference at no cost and with one nights complimentary accommodation at Vibe Hotel, Canberra Airport. Places are limited so please get in early.

Travel subsidies may be available for our interstate committee members and those furthest from Canberra. Please get in touch via [email protected] or on 02 6362 3162 to discuss as we would love to see as many of you there as possible!

If you are arriving on Friday afternoon, we would love to see you for a casual drink from 5.30pm.

On Saturday evening following the conference, please join us for our inaugural Alumni Awards Evening at Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport for drinks, nibbles, networking and to help us celebrate the successes of our students.


Accommodation has been reserved at Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport . CEF will cover the cost of one nights accommodation in a shared room (king or twin). Please indicate on your registration form if your preference is to stay Friday, Saturday or both nights and with whom who you would like to share.

If you would like to stay both nights, we can reserve your room for the additional night for $185 which will be payable directly to the hotel upon arrival.

If you prefer not to share, a limited number of single rooms are available for which CEF will cover 50%  of the cost for one night, the balance will be payable directly to the hotel upon arrival.

  • Parking is available at $14 per night
  • Breakfast is an additional $20 per person


When:  10am-4pm, Saturday 22nd October, 2022
Where: Vibe Hotel, Canberra Airport 
What’s on?

10.00 – Welcome Juliet Petersen, CEF

Cybersecurity  – Donna Roberts, CEF

    • How can you stay safe in a digital world?

National funding opportunities   – Emma Burns & Lisa Carrick, CEF

    • CEF Extra
    • Education partner co-funding
    • VET co funding

Student support and success  – Lara Drew from The University of Canberra (UC) and Rizwan Khan from Australian National University (ANU) will chat about the support available on university campuses.

Session  – Student and grant management  – group discussion session:

    • Shortlisting students
    • Interviews
    • Allocating grants

Mentoring – Richard Austin, Mutual Marketplace General Manager

    • Following the completion of our CEF Mentor Pilot Program, Richard will reflect on what was learned and how it might be rolled out to committees to support students.

The Country Universities Centre (CUC)  – Chris Ronan

    • Chris will facilitate an interactive session exploring the way CUC works and its connection to communities       

Health and wellbeing – Sharon Richens, Altius Group wellbeing specialist & physiotherapist

Showcase presentation

Session  – Fundraising tips and ideas  – group discussion session

Katie Walker Outstanding Service Awards – presentation

    • Margaret Carey 2021
    • Justin Fleming 2022

Our Patron – Judy Brewer

Open Forum/Q&A

16.00 – Conference Closes

Friday from 17:30:
Join us for a casual drink in the ‘Living Room’ by the bar at Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport

Saturday 18:00-20:00:
Alumni Awards Evening at Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport

Our presenters

Richard Austin

Richard is one of Australia’s leading management and business development experts. His proven change management skills, digital innovation and ability to entrench a single vision of success while maximizing performances means he is in high demand consulting, coaching and mentoring.
Richard holds an MBA (University of South Australia), has completed Business Studies through Harvard Business School and holds a Certificate in Digital Strategy. He is a facilitator in Social Style and Versatility, and Situational Leadership.

Judy Brewer

Judy is the Patron of CEF and is a high profile public speaker, writer and advocate on issues relating to education, autism and family carers. She has been actively involved in an executive capacity in many related organisations.
In 2013, Judy received the Asia Pacific Autism Award and in 2016 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to people with a disability, particularly to those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, to refugees living in rural areas, to women, and to education.

Donna Roberts

Donna has over 25 years of experience in the health sector, working in administration, statistical data, project management and information technology. She has a love for regional Australia and learning more through meeting people and communities while travelling. She enjoys working with everyone at CEF and the foundations as each person is working towards a common goal - to guide students to a better future. She believes that these warm and genuine connections made though CEF are vital to its success.

Rizwan Khan

Riz (he/him) works at the Australian National University as the Deputy Manager for Student Equity and Outreach. At his role at the ANU, Riz uses Human Centred Design tools and methods to design equitable and inclusive experiences for equity students, and impactful outreach activities. This is also close to Riz’s research focus, which he is progressing through a PhD that is looking at practices of student equity professionals in designing innovative services for equity students. Riz has worked as a service design professional across multiple industries, managing service and digital transformation projects. In his spare time, Riz bakes sourdough bread and enjoys listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

Sharon Richens

Sharon is a Wellbeing Specialist with Altius Group. She loves helping clients with successful, best practise strategies to have a profound influence on the culture within their organisations. She is a qualified Physiotherapist with many years of Occupational Rehab experience, and an ACDC accredited Mediator, specialising in workplace issues and Safety Leadership. She partnered with ABC Commercial and Happy Body At Work, an award winning workplace wellbeing program that improves employee energy, resilience and performance. The program has been rolled out to over 30,000 participants, in organisations as diverse as the ASX, Minter Ellison, University of Sydney, Optus UTS, CSIRO, PWC.

Chris Ronan

Chris is the National President of the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) and Director, Equity and Engagement at the Country Universities Centre. He has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors across the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. Chris has also worked on projects with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education in policy, student equity, widening participation and rural student transitions. He holds a Masters degree from the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Dr Lara Drew

Dr Lara Drew works as a Student Success Coordinator in the Student Equity and Participation Team at the University of Canberra. She also has a PhD from the University of Canberra in Adult Education. Lara’s other research and writing interests include embodied learning, activism, intersectionality and enabling education. She is also an activist and participates in various grassroots campaigns for social justice.