Plenary sessions

Meet the Plenary speakers

Great Hall, Doors 1 and 8


Monday 14 May 2018

Welcome Dr Paula Parker, AVA President


"The boundaries between human and technological evolution and intelligent technologies" 
Dr Jordan Nguyen

With today’s staggering advances in technology, many new possibilities are emerging which almost seem to have come straight out of the realms of sci-fi fantasy. When we connect some of the dots between various cutting-edge fields, the innovations become even more intriguing.
In this presentation, Biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen will raise an incredibly interesting and perhaps confronting conversation around links drawn between the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, new techniques in 3D human scanning, neuroscience, and the ideas of human consciousness.
This topic raises a number of questions about what it is to be human and what is a moral approach to the incredible things we can achieve today with the latest advancements in technology – advancements that are increasingly blurring the lines between the virtual world and the real world.


About Dr Jordan Nguyen   

Dr Jordan Nguyen is on a mission to improve the lives of as many people as possible. By re-imagining and re-defining the boundaries between human and technological evolution, Jordan is at the forefront of bringing about positive, sustainable and life-altering change.

An internationally renowned engineer for humanity, Dr Nguyen designs life-changing technologies that are intelligent, futuristic and inclusive, and many of these are made to transform the lives of people with disability.  In 2012, Dr Jordan Nguyen completed a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), having developed a mind-controlled smart wheelchair for people with high-level physical disability.

A passionate advocate for social change, Jordan follows the mantra of: “One Life. Persist to Improve Many”. He whole-heartedly believes that each life has the capacity to improve the lives of many, and that this simple yet profound idea can change the world and shape the future.


Tuesday 15 May 2018


"Beyond Bias: Leveraging the Power of Difference" with Dr Jennifer Whelan

A culture of inclusion actively seeks and values the full contribution of diverse people, skills, perspectives, and experiences. It drives better performance because it grows our collective intelligence. Diverse, inclusive teams are smarter, despite this, organisations large and small struggle to realise the benefits.

Unconscious bias is a stubborn challenge to working better with difference. Dr Whelan, Managing Director of Psynapse, will demystify what unconscious bias is, why it impacts on decision-making around diversity, why inclusive teams perform better, and will introduce some of the key mindsets that can help leverage the power of diversity.



About Jennifer Whelan

Jennifer is the founding director of Psynapse Psychometrics. A former Research Fellow at the Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne, Jennifer is a recognised academic expert, thought leader, and organisational consultant specialising in corporate diversity, inclusion and innovation. She helps leaders in a range of organisations from large and listed, to tertiary, government, and non-profit to lead beyond bias, and unlock the power of difference.

Jennifer is an active thought leader and a regular contributor to industry forums, events, and public debate, including contributions to The Conversation, The Age, and Women’s Agenda; and engagements with The Sydney Opera House (Ideas at the House), The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), UNWomen, Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), The Diversity Council of Australia (DCA).


Wednesday 16 May 2018


"The Science of High Performance Thinking" with Dr Jenny Brockis

About Jenny Brockis
Dr Jenny Brockis specialises in high-performance thinking. An expert in brain fitness and long fascinated by the brain and human behaviour, Dr Jenny reveals how to cultivate the mental agility, flexibility and adaptability required to meet the needs of the modern workplace, and thrive.  Her mission, should you choose to accept, is to boost organisational health.

What do you need to always perform at your best, to feel fulfilled and look forward to getting to work each day? 
Being good at your job, loving what you do and feeling proud of your achievements isn’t always enough to overcome the challenges of working hard for too many hours, chronic fatigue and managing difficult clients that can grind us down.   In this keynote Dr. Jenny will unpack the key findings from the neuroscience and positive psychology that provide the essential toolkit for greater resilience, adaptability and long-term happiness. 


Thursday 17 May 2018


Ben Cunneen Memorial Plenary with Professor Jakob Zinsstag "One Health and its potential for integrated disease surveillance and control"


About Jakob Zinsstag

Jakob Zinsstag graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine (Dr. med. vet.) on salmonella diagnosis from the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Berne in 1986 and holds a PhD in tropical animal production. After his studies, he worked in rural practice and as post-doctoral fellow on trypanosomiasis research at the Swiss Tropical Institute. From 1990 to 1993, he led a livestock helminthosis project for the University of Berne at the International Trypanotolerance Centre in The Gambia.

From 1994 to 1998, he headed the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Since 1998, he has been in charge of a research group at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in Basel investigating the interface of human and animal health with the focus on the health of nomadic peoples and the control of zoonoses in developing countries under the paradigm of "one health". He has been Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Basel since 2010 and Deputy Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Swiss TPH since 2011.

He is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH) and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp, Belgium. He is a member of the Transdisciplinarity Board of the Swiss Academies of Sciences and President of the International Association of Ecology and Health. His research is partnered with several international networks, such as the EU FP7-funded network on Integrated Control of Zoonoses in Africa and the Wellcome Trust-funded Africa Capacity Building network.