YOUR 2019 INTERACTIVE KEYNOTE SESSION SPEAKERS
Tony Cook PSM is the Director-General of the Department of Education. Before joining the department in April 2018, Tony worked for six years in the Australian public service as the Associate Secretary for Schools and Youth within the Department of Education and Training.
Tony has held several senior executive positions in the Victorian public service, including Deputy Secretary, Government and Corporate with the Department of Premier and Cabinet; Deputy Secretary, Office for Children and Portfolio Coordination; and Deputy Secretary, Office for Planning, Strategy and Coordination within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. He began his career with Education Queensland.
Tony is a registered primary school teacher with a major in early childhood education. He has been a deputy principal and has taught in schools and preschools in Queensland and the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Education from the Queensland University of Technology.
In October 2013 Tony was made an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Council for Education Leaders, and in January 2014, he was awarded a Public Service Medal for outstanding public service, especially in driving schools policy and funding reform in Australia.
Professor Simons joined Western Sydney University from the University of South Australia, where she had worked in a number of leadership roles in the School of Education, including as Dean and Head of School. She has qualifications in Human Services and Adult and Community Education and a PhD from the University of South Australia.
Professor Simons is an active researcher, having won a number of Category 1 grants from the Australian Research Council and from the National Vocational Education and Training Research and Evaluation Program. Her research interests include workforce development in education, learning in workplaces; educational leadership and policy and practice in vocational education and training.
Professor Simons is the immediate Past President of the NSW Council of Deans of Education. She is the Vice President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, a member of the Initial Teacher Education Committee for the NSW Education Standards Authority and a member of the Academic Board for Le Cordon Bleu Australia. She is a former President of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Association. She has had experience serving on a range of government committees, including the South Australian Teacher Education Taskforce, and various state and federal government advisory groups for education and family services.
Greg Whitby is a teacher, advocate, administrator and leader. His mission to transform schooling for every child and young person is driven by a strong commitment to justice and equity.
As a Catholic Education leader in the Parramatta and Wollongong Dioceses in NSW, Greg has led significant cultural change with a focus on innovation, collaboration and investment in teachers’ learning. Prior to this, he was a teacher and school leader in government and Catholic schools. He has also lectured in the faculty of business at Western Sydney University.
Greg’s service to education has been recognised through the 2018 Australia Day Honours list with the award of the Australian Medal (AM) and the award of a Papal Knighthood in the Order of St Gregory the Great in 2013. He has received a presidential citation from the Australian Council of Educational Leaders and in 2017, he was awarded the Sir Harold Wyndham Medal for his contribution to the education of young people in NSW.
Greg has written extensively about education including as the author of Educating Gen Wi-Fi. His weekly column on education “Top of the Class” is syndicated across 22 NewsLocal papers in NSW. His contribution to the public debate has led to many media appearances including on Sunrise, The Project, The Drum, The Conversation Hour, Mornings with Wendy Harmer and Richard Glover’s Drive. Greg’s advocacy for change and innovation has also led to many international conference addresses, including the invitation to present to the Congregation for Catholic Education’s first World Congress in Vatican City in 2015.
Greg will continue to challenge accepted thinking about learning and teaching for the change education can bring for all of us.
Jenny Atta has been the Secretary of the Department since March 2019.
Jenny joined the Department in December 2015, as Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Finance Services Group. In this role, she was responsible for the management and oversight of the Department’s financial, procurement and information technology services, along with strategic advice and planning for state budget processes, and infrastructure policy and delivery across the education and training portfolio.
Jenny has many years’ experience in senior public service leadership roles, notably at the Department of Treasury and Finance where she led the portfolio analysis function within Budget and Finance.