2017 APEN International Conference - Guest Speakers

 Keynote Speaker

Wednesday 13 September, 9.00am

Workshop Leader,
Thursday 14 September, 2.30pm


Professor Dr Regina Birner, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

"Governance challenges and gender issues in agricultural innovation systems in the developing world."

  Prof. Regina Birner is Chair of Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development at the University of Hohenheim, Germany.  Her research focuses on the political economy of agricultural policy processes and on the role of governance and institutions in agricultural development, with a focus on smallholder farming. 
Gender is a cross-cutting concern in her research. Prof Birner has extensive empirical research experience in Africa and in South and South-East Asia, and she has published widely in these fields. 
Prof. Birner is a member of the Advisory Council on Agricultural Policy of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and a member of the Advisory Council on Bioeconomy of the German Federal Government. She has been consulting with international organizations, including the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 
Prof. Birner holds a postdoctoral degree (“Habilitation”) in Agricultural Economics and a PhD in Socio-Economics of Agricultural Development, both from the University of Göttingen. She received her M.Sc. degree in Agricultural Sciences from the Technische Universität München-Weihenstephan, Germany.

The presentation starts by sketching major trends in food security and sustainability in different regions the developing world, focusing on agri-environmental problems, hidden hunger and hunger crises. This is followed by an analysis of why agricultural innovation systems had limited success in promoting the development of sustainable agri-food systems, in spite of the major reform efforts of recent decades, such as decentralization, and increased private sector involvement. Four types of governance problems are identified: (1) public and private under investment in agricultural innovation, which is caused by market failures and political economy challenges; (2) lack of coordination within agricultural innovation systems; (3) insufficient capacity and incentive problems of agricultural extension, the major “bridging institution” in the agricultural innovation system; and (4) limited voice and agency of farmers and consumers in the system. A gender analysis of the agricultural innovation system shows that all four governance challenges are exacerbated by gender inequalities that remain inadequately addressed, in spite of long-lasting efforts to promote gender mainstreaming in agricultural development. Special attention is paid to the role that power and discourse play in persistent gender inequalities. Drawing on practical examples, innovative strategies will be discussed that may contribute to overcoming the governance challenges and gender issues in agricultural innovation systems in the developing world. 


Keynote Speaker

Thursday 14 September, 8.00am


 Matt Kealley,  Environmental and Natural Resources Manager,  Canegrowers, Brisbane, Queensland

"Meeting consumer demands through Best Management Practice and extension activities."
  Matt Kealley is the Environmental and Natural Resources Manager at CANEGROWERS. 

Matt has an Environmental Science background and a broad base of experience within the biotechnology, environmental, agricultural and communications sectors. 
Matt’s early years were spent on water quality and vegetation management in Western Australia. He moved to Queensland in 2004 and has been working within the biotech and agricultural industries on challenging projects that included the registration of new products with the APVMA, the commercialisation of natural insecticides, and the complexities of biofuels, GM crops, and infrastructure within the Australian grains industry. 

Matt likes to takes a hands-on approach which has required specific dealings with industry, government and government agencies. 

The talk will pose this question: what will you need to do as an extension professional to help your clients show they grow sustainable sugarcane?
It will touch on the drivers for sustainable sugar, the Smartcane BMP and Bonsucro link to achieve this, the challenges faced in getting change and some ideas on how to do this. 


Keynote Speaker

Friday 15 September, 10.30am

Dr James Turner,  AgResearch Ltd, Hamilton, New Zealand

"Mis-adventures in Co-innovation: The what, why and how of co-innovation."
  Dr James Turner is a Senior Economist at AgResearch Ltd and leads the Primary Innovation programme; a five year multi-organisation research programme on innovation in the New Zealand primary sectors. He studies, develops and evaluates approaches to enhancing the impact of science in agriculture through extension, participatory research, co-innovation and collaborative processes. James has 20 years’ research experience in forest and agricultural management and economics, with a PhD in forest economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Co-innovation has gained interest as an approach to research, development and extension to tackle complex challenges in agriculture. This has involved a shift from linear approaches, where solutions are developed by researchers and then extended to stakeholders, to iterative processes, where solutions are co-developed among stakeholders from multiple sectors and scales to support simultaneous changes in technology, markets, regulations and other practices. Co-innovation requires new roles of researchers and extensionists, as well as enabling settings in programmes and organisations undertaking and supporting co-innovation. A 5-year New Zealand government-funded research programme – Primary Innovation – aimed to: (i) implement and evaluate co-innovation in six projects; and (ii) identify barriers and enablers to co-innovation in the NZ primary sector. Primary Innovation highlights that co-innovation: (i) requires context-specific practices – how and when co-innovation is implemented must be tailored to the particular situation; (ii) requires adaptability by programmes and organisations to capture positive benefits from iterative processes of co-development; and (iii) is more effective when enabling structures and incentives are present. These requirements are enabled by programme and organisational leaders who champion a co-innovation approach, and reflexive monitors who act as process coaches for programmes to guide context-specific co-innovation practices.

Keynote Speaker

Friday 15 September, 11.30am


Chris Sounness,  CEO, Birchip Cropping Group, Birchip, Victoria

"Agricultural extension beyond 2020."
  Chris Sounness, CEO of BCG, has spent twenty years at the development and extension end of  getting innovation and research on farm.

He grew up on a family farm in WA. Since 1992 Chis has worked in the Wimmera Mallee of Victoria, firstly in Private Breeding Canola research and then a long stint in the Government Agricultural department.  With the department he worked with farmers and their advisers to increase uptake of agricultural research particularly through building farmers knowledge and skills in agronomy and seasonal climate risk.  

In the next few years digital agriculture, the data it creates and the utilisation in decision making both on farm and all along the supply chain is going to lead to many exciting changes. What they are and how disruptive they will be is in our hands.

Conference Master of Ceremonies

Greg Shannon

The MC for the conference is Greg Shannon.

Greg is an Extension Agronomist with the North Qld based Sugar milling company Cofco Tully Sugar.

Originally from the wheat belt of the western Darling Downs, Greg graduated from USQ with an Applied Science degree and worked for 3 years as a nurseryman in Toowoomba  before venturing north to teach horticulture at the then Burdekin  Agricultural College for 5 years. He joined the Qld sugar industry in 1996 with the Sugar industries main RD&E Company then known as BSES and remained in an extension and extension leadership role with BSES until 2012 based in the Herbert region of North Qld.  He was the recipient of a  Centenary Medal for “Services to  Primary Industries” in 2002.

Greg has worked in most areas of sustainable agriculture production and extension and was the Qld Regional Coordinator for APEN 2010-12.
In his current role with Cofco Tully Sugar Greg has also gained valuable international experience in Brazil and China. 

   Concurrent workshops on Wednesday afternoon, 4.30pm - 6.00pm.

Workshop Leader

Wednesday 13 September, 4.30pm

Graham Harris

"Extension Policy and direction."
   Graham Harris has worked as an extension officer with the Dept of Agriculture and Fisheries (and its previous iterations) in the Queensland Government since 1981.  He has worked with landholders and rural communities across Queensland primarily involved with the raingrown and irrigated cropping sectors.
He was joint leader of The Farm Program within the former Cotton Catchment Communities CRC, responsible for the oversight of research within the Water Use Efficiency, Crops and Soils and Resilient Farming Systems sub-programs.  In 2005 he used his Swire Group Churchill Fellowship to study precision irrigation technologies in the USA and Israel.

He currently is a Team Leader in the DAFs Sustainable Farming Systems Unit based in Toowoomba, with staff working in irrigation, pulse agronomy, economics, on-farm research and the development of cropping systems in the northern Gulf Rivers catchments.

An original APEN member he is passionate about the role extension (both public and private) has in enabling landholders and rural communities to deal with and adapt to change.  He is currently the APEN Queensland Regional Co-ordinator and Vice-President.
 Greg Shannon, Extension Agronomist, Cofco Tully Sugar, Tully, Queensland
 See above.

  Peter Hanrahan, Peter Hanrahan Consulting, Clunes, Victoria 
During a career of 34 years with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, Peter initially gained national recognition as an extension and research officer in a range of sheep technology areas.  He then moved into project development and management and gained specialist knowledge on evaluation, communication and market research.  Peter also managed drought, chemical residues and bush fire recovery programs.
After setting up his own consultancy company in 2004, Peter has consulted to Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, Land&Water Australia and other research corporations and co-operative research centres on a wide range of projects to improve delivery to the target audiences which meets their needs. 
He is particularly interested in knowing where target audiences are starting from, having a realistic understanding of what can be achieved in the timeframe, developing innovative and efficient delivery methods and measuring impact.

Abstract: Change is a constant for the extension profession
The nineteen seventies were a golden era for agricultural extension in Australia. Federal and state departments and producer research organisations funded and delivered well-resourced projects, often with poor co-ordination and little assessment of performance.  Since then, the funders have reduced funding and become more demanding on what is achieved in often unrealistic timeframes.  Producers are progressively better educated, are managing larger and more complex businesses and the amount of information bombarded at them has escalated from an ever-widening range of funders, deliverers, commercial suppliers and other interest groups.  In the last forty years, the lot of the extensionist has become increasingly harder with shorter term contracts for specific outcomes with less training.  The extension profession has tended lag the change and has evolved, begrudgingly, to meet the different environment.
What will the future bring?  Probably, more of the same but at an increasing rate of change.  Funding is likely to continue to drop and be more targeted with greater demands.  However, predicting the future is fraught with danger. It is far more important that practitioners and their organisations are prepared to accept change is inevitable and be prepared to respond with innovative, lower cost approaches, often gleaned from outside agricultural.
Malcolm Letts, Deputy Director-General, Agriculture, Queensland

As Deputy Director-General, Agriculture, Malcolm leads the development of policies, research and interventions that foster an efficient, innovative, productive and successful agricultural sector.    
Malcolm has extensive experience in agricultural policy, industry development and program design and management. He has been instrumental in designing and delivering extension and frontline service programs including leading the Queensland Property Management Planning program (Futureprofit) for 8 years and designing components of major restructures in the dairy and sugar industries.  Most recently, he was Executive Director, Regions and Industry Development.  For five years he was also responsible for the trade and investment area of the food and agribusiness industries.
Malcolm has worked with the Queensland Government for 24 years.  He has a particular interest in supply chain improvement, and in modernising extension and broader service delivery to better meet the needs of food and agribusiness companies.  

Where is the public value in extension?
Abstract: Public policy generally seeks to foster economic growth and improve social welfare without harm to the environment. Traditionally, the role of government has focused on addressing failure of the market to optimise these outcomes. Governments have funded and delivered agricultural research, development and extension services because the structure of the industry reduces the ability of small firms to undertake their own R&D. However, the structure of the industry in Australia has changed substantially over the past 30 years with deregulation, ongoing consolidation and increasing levels of vertical integration. In addition, we have witnessed the digital revolution with computers and the internet fundamentally changing the way we communicate and access information. New theories of public policy encourage governments to create public value rather than address market failure alone. This talk explores how these developments might influence our view of the role of government in extension today.

Workshop Leader

Wednesday 13 September, 4.30pm

 Adam Royle, Extension Agronomist, Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd, Ingham, Queensland

"Running effective extension programs."

Evan Shannon, Principal Agronomist,  Farmacist,  the Burdekin, Queensland

Evan has been a practising agronomist in the Burdekin since graduating from the University of Qld with an agricultural science degree in 1980. In that time, he has seen the 45,000ha of the Burdekin River Irrigation Area from its’ inception, development phase and current status as a mature irrigation development.
He is currently operating as an agricultural consultant and advisor to many of these growers. 
Evan has a comprehensive agronomic knowledge in a range of broadacre and horticultural crops, particularly irrigated cropping systems, under furrow, drip or overhead irrigation systems.
He has worked in QDPI (now DAF), BSES (now SRA) and acted as farm manager for two of the largest family farming enterprises in the Burdekin for 14 years. 
Evan is passionate over helping and supporting growers through the dilemma of practice change and has seen a range of extension methodologies used with varying degrees of success. 


Evan’s presentation will outline some of the keys to running effective extension programs as well as aspects likely to minimise the success of such a campaign. Throughout his career, the most satisfying extension achievements have been where growers have been active participants and drivers of the program, either as physically buying into a program or involved in Participatory Action Learning activities.

   Daryl Parker, Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership Regional Extension Officer, Mossman, Queensland

Daryl  has over 30 years’ experience as an Agricultural Extension Officer having worked in South Australia, Northern Territory, Thailand and, for the last 13 years, in Mossman.  This has given him considerable experience in developing and delivering programmes to provide both productivity and environmental sustainability benefits to client farmer groups and communities. Daryl is hosted by Mossman Agricultural Services.
He has also completed the Roseworthy Diploma in Agricultural Technology, the Graduate Certificate in Rural Extension (Gatton) and most recently a Master’s of Science (Spatial Sciences).

Abstract:  Discussion of group extension process for BMP in Mossman.
Facilitation and capacity building approach; Plan the process as well as the content for the outcomes; Develop an extension plan with the growers and not for them; Base it on sound extension principles:[Experiential Learning cycle, Principles of adult learning, Participatory problem solving model]; Used a hierarchical process:[Where are you now? Where do you want to go? What is stopping you? (Identify Barriers/Impediments), How can we help you in this? (Overcome barriers), Let’s do it. (Extension plan)]; Test the plan and have faith in the process to deliver outcomes; Extension officer is a group/leader/facilitator not technical expert; Poor Planning Promotes (P…) Poor Performance

  Associate Professor Dr Ruth Nettle, University of Melbourne, Victoria
Dr Ruth Nettle leads the Rural Innovation Research Group (RIRG) at the University of Melbourne.  Ruth's personal research interests include: 
Rural workforce development (human transitions in farming and the role of collaborative action in supported change), The role of extension in rural change (learning systems, adaptation), Multidisciplinary research, development and extension (the role of RD&E in rural innovation), Farming systems change (decision-making, technology and change). Ruth also provides input into the strategic issues facing rural industries in Australia through strategic reviews: Human and social capacity, Role of Development in the future of RD&E, Role of extension. 
The Rural Innovation research Group currently includes 5 Research fellows and an active post-graduate program, and teaches under-graduate and postgraduate subjects in Leadership, Human Resource Management, Innovation and Change, and Agricultural Extension. 

 Ruth will contribute results of recent research into the role of private sector in extension in Australia and insights into key features of successful extension programs from across different industries and programs.

   Warwick Waters, Program Manager, CottonInfo, Toowoomba, Queensland

Warwick spent nine years as an extension officer working in the Queensland dairy industry followed by the position of Principal Scientist in the QDPI responsible for NRM projects being conducted by the Dairy Program.  He then joined the Social Research Team at AgResearch in New Zealand for four years, responsible for managing their Adult Leaning projects.  This included the development of learning programs for New Zealand agricultural industries and organisations and conducting social research on productivity and environmental issues.  
From 2008 to 2014, Warwick worked as a consultant in the area of rural social research.  Clients include Dairy Australia (including project leadership of the Client Stocktake project, a research project that segmented Australian dairy farmers based on their world view that included partnerships with the University of Melbourne).  Projects covered understanding farmer needs and motivation for behaviour change, planning and review of extension projects (including weed control, automatic milking systems etc) and the application of resilience theory to crisis response.
Since 2014, Warwick has managed the CottonInfo extension program.  CottonInfo is a Joint Venture partnership between Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Cotton Australia and Cotton Seed Distributors.  It is an industry collaborative model of development and extension, aimed at connecting growers with research, improving communication and responding to emerging issues.  The team consists of seven regional extension officers, nine Technical Leads, the industries myBMP program and a communications manager.

A major challenge for the CottonInfo program is to connect growers with research.  To enable this, there has been a significant shift in the last three years from a focus on extending the outcomes of research projects to building adoption pathways into projects from the beginning.  This process involves considering the stage of technology development, identifying the adoption characteristics of the technology early, and considering the appropriate involvement of end users in the research process.
As a specific case study, Warwick will describe the industry practice of researcher tours, which have the threefold objectives of enabling growers and consultants access to the latest research, providing an environment for researchers in a similar field to spend an extended time interacting with each other, and providing an opportunity for researchers to gain an understanding of the diversity of contexts that their research is being applied to.


Workshop Leader

Wednesday 13 September, 4.30pm

Jodie Ward, Pastoral Production Officer, Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Katherine, Northern Territory

"Using social media to engage and captivate your target audience."
Jodie Ward is a Pastoral Production Officer with the Department of Primary Industry and Resources, based at Katherine, NT.  Previously she was with the Department’s rangelands and beef research teams for six years, which included coordinating workshops and small field days. 
Jodie enjoys her new role in extension and especially using social media to engage with those involved with the northern beef industry. When not at work, Jodie enjoys horse riding and recently rode in the Mongol Derby – an epic 1000 km horserace across Mongolia.

Workshop Leader

Wednesday 13 September, 4.30pm

Dr Warren Hunt

"Rural Health"

   Warren Hunt has 26 years of experience in agricultural extension and rural industry capacity building. His career began in the pastoral zones of western New South Wales and Queensland working in rangeland management and the extensive grazing industries. He progressed to program leadership roles, coordinating integrated pest management in Australian sugar, and later managing a state-wide sheep program for the University of Tasmania on behalf of Australian Wool Innovation. He has and continues to lead extension programs in Top End horticulture, and has mentored staff in extension roles during his tenure with the Northern Territory Dept. of Primary Industry and Resources (NT DPIR). In recent years Warren has branched into the realm of agricultural policy, and is on an Australian Government working group reviewing the current intergovernmental agreement on drought. He has also investigated the feasibility of new agri-development prospects in the Northern Territory, and provided advice as to how these might be advanced. Warren is on the organising committees for the North Australian Food Futures Conference, and the Australasia Pacific Extension Network 2017 International Conference.

His academic history encompasses undergraduate and post-graduate applied science degrees with the University of Queensland - Gatton College, and a Doctor of Philosophy conferred on him by the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 2014.


Liz Little, CEO, Rural Alive and Well Inc, Tasmania

"The evolution and impact of a psychosocial support program in rural Tasmania."
Liz Little studied social work at the University of Sydney, her first job was in mental health and was soon one of Australia’s first street based youth workers in Griffith NSW and has worked with local government youth work in Australia and London. Liz has since managed local government community services and in 1983 was a lecturer, then senior lecturer at the School of Social Work at the University of Tasmania, then completed her Masters in Social Sciences. In 1990 she moved to the Department of Premier and Cabinet where she established the Tasmanian Office of the Status of Women. She briefly served as the Director of the Policy Division of the Premier’s Department and was then appointed as Tasmania’s inaugural Sex Discrimination Commissioner. In 2001 she became Principal Consultant with the Department of Justice and headed up the Strategic Policy and Projects branch where she was responsible for the design and implementation of the whole-of- government Safe-at- Home family violence program; the establishment of the Court Mandated Diversion of Drug Offenders program (Drug Courts); and, sex offender treatment programs. Liz also participated in the Australia-Vietnam Joint Program on Gender Equality in relation to eliminating violence against women; the Australian Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program by delivering training in China; and in 2011 was invited to speak at the House of Lords in London on the elimination of domestic violence. Liz retired from the Tasmanian public service in 2009 but soon decided to take up the role of CEO of the Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS) in 2010. Liz was Chair of the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence (NASASV) for 3 years.

Rural Alive and Well Inc. (RAW) was established by farmers in 2008 as a result of farmer suicide after a prolonged drought in Tasmania. RAW has two key programs:
The HaRC program works to build resilience and community capacity to respond to challenging life experiences by forming partnerships with individuals, families, and whole communities to support local people to design local solutions to respond to local issues;  
The Outreach program delivers direct client services and is available 24/7 either face-to-face or through our phone service. Outreach Workers conduct regular farm and house visits making contact with those who are isolated or overlooked or are simply ‘doing it tough’. Our approach is ‘non-clinical’ in style and presents as caring, confidential, non-intrusive, and available when and where help is most needed. 
There are a range of determinants contributing to suicide in rural communities including the cumulative effect of difficult conditions such a drought, flooding, fire, economic and financial factors, family pressures,  relationships, and domestic violence, as well as a lack of immediate access to key services or a reluctance to use those that are available. 
RAW operates in a mainstream policy framework that lacks an understanding of both the impact of trauma on individuals and communities and what is ‘culturally safe’ practice in rural communities. Mainstream models generally attempt to transpose services designed for urban communities onto rural settings. Our two key programs are currently evaluated in order to identify ‘what works’ in delivering ‘culturally safe’ services to rural communities.


Professor Richard Murray, Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland

"Strengthening rural and remote health systems in Australia"

Professor Richard Murray is the Dean of the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University (JCU). At JCU he leads Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and related research and service. He is also responsible for general practice training for 90% of Queensland under the Australian General Practice Training Program. Professor Murray’s career focus has been in rural generalist medicine, Aboriginal health, public health, tropical medicine, medical and health professional education and the healthcare needs of underserved populations. He has a national and international profile in rural medical education and rural medicine and has held a range of leadership positions.

Prof. Murray is acting President of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, a Director on the Board of the Mackay Hospital and Health Service and a past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. Prior to joining JCU as Planning Director of the Rural Clinical School in 2005, Professor Murray spent 14 years in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, including 12 years as the Medical Director of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council.

Prof. Murray’s research interests include meeting the needs of medically underserved populations, health workforce innovation, chronic disease and application of evidence, information technology and quality enhancement systems in health care practice.


Dr Donna Rudd, Lecturer, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, JCU 

"Making pathology services more available to persons in remote regional locations."

Dr Donna Rudd lectures in the areas of Clinical Biochemistry, Laboratory Management and Medical Laboratory Science in the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences. She has background in Medical Laboratory Science and has completed a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology.  
Donna has been working in public and private pathology and education roles throughout north Queensland since 1993 and prior to this, worked in Sydney. Donna's research interests include all things chemical pathology but particularly diagnostics and the translation of biomarkers into clinical practice. Her current projects include development and translation of novel biomarkers for the investigation of renal disease in collaboration with the NICU at TTH, subarachinoid haemorhage  and pregnancy dysfunction.
Donna is currently working on innovative ways for making pathology services more available to persons in remote regional locations. 

   Concurrent workshops on Thursday afternoon, 2.30pm - 4.30pm.

Workshop Leader

Thursday 14 September, 2.30pm

Carla Wegscheidl, Project Leader (Reef Extension), DAF Queensland

"Extension associated with the Great Barrier Reef."
This workshop, chaired by Carla Wegscheidl from DAF Queensland, follows on from a recent review of capacity building of extension in the Reef Regions.  The workshop focuses on how to maximise the capacity, effectiveness and impact of extension in this context. Four presentations will provide updates and set the scene for a workshop session:
Jeff Coutts (Coutts J&R) will outline the key findings from the extension review and its implications.  These include a need to improve coordination and collaboration; provide pathways for skill development for extension; fill gaps; support new graduates; establish a Reef Extension Network; and facilitate more peer to peer learning within farming systems.
Carole Sweetman (CEO Terrain) will draw from the Wet Tropics experience to provide examples, challenges and opportunities for greater coordination of organisations and programs delivering extension in the regions;
Diana Sunders (QFF) will provide an overview of the pilot new Graduate Program and how this is being rolled out with its implications;
Ken Solly (Consultant Bestwool/BestLamb) will share his experience in successfully facilitating peer-peer learning with producer groups in Victoria and the implications for the reef context.
 The presentations will be followed by a working session looking at how best to establish an effective reef extension network and how peer to peer working can be developed further to support producer learning in the reef regions.


Dr Jeff Coutts, Director, Coutts J&R, Toowoomba, Queensland

Dr Jeff Coutts is originally from North Queensland and was one of the founding members of APEN.  

He has been working in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management since the 1970s and more particularly in extension since the 1980s.  This has included working in the private, public, university and international development sectors in different extension capacities.

He completed a Masters in Agricultural Knowledge Systems at the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands followed by a PhD with a focus on extension policy development.  

Jeff was Director of the Rural Extension Centre before establishing his own program evaluation business in 2001.  He has undertaken significant evaluation activities and policy related reviews and extension in Queensland with a focus on the reef regions.  This has included a recent review focusing on how to strengthen extension and education to support management practice change on farms and properties to benefit water quality.  He is also an Adjunct Professor with the International Centre for Applied Climate Science at the University of Southern Queensland
  Carole Sweatman, Chief Executive Officer, Terrain NRM, Innisfail, Queensland

Carole has been the Chief Executive Officer with Terrain since 2010, having worked with the organisation since 2008.  Carole’s role as CEO is to work with the Board staff and community to deliver outcomes against Terrain’s Strategic Plan and the Wet Tropics Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) Plan. She works to foster a strong team base that is innovative, adaptive and accountable to ensure outstanding, effective and credible management of Terrain’s business and NRM delivery. 

Carole has worked in natural resource and environmental management for more than 25 years.  This has spanned roles in state and local government, the not for profit sector and community based natural resource management in Cambodia.  She has a Bachelor of Science and has spent most of her career working with community and landholders to help negotiate good land management outcomes. Carole and her family love the tropics and made a permanent move here ten years ago, after many years of “commuting” between Melbourne and Bingil Bay building (and rebuilding after two cyclones) their rainforest retreat.
  Dr Diana Saunders, Policy Advisor, Queensland Farmers’ Federation,  Brisbane

Diana has extensive experience as a project manager and research manager and has been involved in a large number of projects and initiatives to address skill and people development issues across agricultural industries. Diana holds a bachelor of Business Management, postgraduate studies in the Social Impact of Projects, and a PhD in Management. She has conducted research in the areas of innovation, teamwork, leadership, knowledge transfer in research alliances, and the economic and social impact assessment of projects.
Diana currently works as a policy advisor in workforce planning at Queensland Farmers’ Federation. She is part of the Rural Jobs and Skill alliance (RJSA), which provides leadership and advice to government, service providers and other organisations on employment, skills, industry training and workforce planning issues on behalf of Queensland’s agriculture industries. She is also the Project Manager of the Queensland Government supported initiative “Pilot Agricultural Capacity Building Program”, which aims to increase the capacity in extension services provided across the reef. 

Ken Solly, Agribusiness Consultant, Naracoorte SA.

Ken Solly is a noted rural educator and speaker based at Naracoorte in the South East of SA. In 2016 Ken developed and delivered a new sheep extension pilot program, “Lambs Alive” which focuses on improving Lamb Survival for Australian Wool Innovation. He also facilitates 2 Best Wool Best Lamb groups and 1 Lifetime Ewe Management group in Western Victoria. This month he joined the Leadership team for the new Profitable Grazing Systems program for Meat and Livestock Australia where he will mentor 6 consultants in the grazing industry.
Ken is well known in SA as a feature writer for the Stock Journal with his weekly column ‘Mind Your Business”. He says his most rewarding role is that of coaching and mentoring Nuffield Scholars and Churchill fellows. He mentors a significant number of young farmers and agribusiness personnel as well..
Much of Ken’s focus now is on empowering people and building personal resilience.
In November 2016 Ken was awarded the inaugural ABC Rural – Kondinin Group Rural Consultant of the Year Award at Parliament House in Canberra. 


Workshop Leader

Thursday 14 September, 2.30pm

Peter Larsen, Herbert Cane Productivity Services Pty Ltd, Ingham, Queensland

"Managing data for extension outcomes" 
  Mark Pawsey, General Manager, SST Software Australia, Fortitude Valley, Queensland

"SST -Agricultural data systems"

Mark has worked in the Agricultural Spatial information sector for 16 years following various roles in Agribusiness and on farm.

Mark’s involvement with SST Software has included roles as a customer, business partner and now General manager of the Australian Operations based in Brisbane, QLD.  
After spending a number of years in the SST head office in Stillwater Oklahoma, Mark returned to Australia to setup the Australian subsidiary. The focus is developing digital solutions and resources for use by Ag service providers and to develop the market opportunity for the agX platform as a standardised collaboration platform for other software developers.


Peter Wilmot, Business Development Manager, Esri Australia, Brisbane, Queensland


Peter has been with Esri Australia in Brisbane since 2008 and currently holds the position of Business Development Manager with a portfolio of high-profile clients that he continues to develop. His main focus areas are water, utilities, local government, engineering and agriculture in Queensland.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the spatial industry, Peter has been involved in several significant mapping projects in the US and with the national, state and local government sectors. 

Peter holds a Masters in Spatial Information Science from the National Key Centre for Social Applications of GIS (GISCA), University of Adelaide and is a recipient of the AURISA - ACKLIS Award for the best urban and regional student project throughout Australia and New Zealand. 

  Michael Sefton and Rod Nielson, HCPSL, Ingham, Queensland

"HCPSL - PA technologies and extension"


Drones are becoming an important new technology in the toolbox for agriculture. Not only does it provide a bird’s eye view of a crop or pasture, but there are a growing number of miniaturised attachments which are providing additional information for decision making for growers and agronomists. Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd. has recently bought into this new technology but the drone itself is only one part of the story. Multispectral camera systems and analytical photogrammetric software also contribute to the information toolbox. HCPSL intends to use the drone and multispectral camera over several sites where variable rate soil ameliorant application has been made and to periodically assess many of the trials that are being conducted in the Herbert region by research organisations and HCPSL itself, e.g. nitrogen use trials. Other uses will include identifying and mapping the spread of pests and weeds in the crop, assessment of crop damage due to flooding, saltwater inundation or other misadventure. 

It must be noted that drone technology is not just about the drone, but includes the many new sensor systems being created to be carried by a drone. These include multispectral and hyperspectral camera systems, thermal cameras and LiDAR as well as practical attachments for herbicide spraying, and nutrient and seed spreading in some crops. The possibilities will only increase. 

Satellite imagery, drones and associated technologies are now allowing a bird’s eye view for the assessment of crops. The launch and commission of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellite constellation, particularly Sentinel 2-a and Sentinel 2-b, have provided free multiband imagery at 10m by 10m resolution to users. This imagery, coupled with geographical information systems (GIS) software and the development of spectral vegetation indices, allows a regional scale view of vegetation health and vigour. This intern provides the opportunity to identify areas of low or failing productivity over crops or pastures enabling growers and agronomists to target specific areas for corrective management. 

Likewise drones and the associated technologies provide similar opportunities to assess the health of crops and pastures, albeit at the farm or field scale. Recent advances in the miniaturisation of multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal cameras/sensors and the associated reduction in price along with the low cost of some high quality consumer drones, has opened the door for growers and researchers to acquire timely, as required imagery to access small in-field areas of failing productivity. The ability to quickly fly over a crop/pasture can allow quick identification of poor plant growth and an appropriate response over only area in question rather than an entire field, saving time and money.   

  Gareck Packer, Director, GP One Consulting, Townsville

"GP One - Custom apps for extension purposes." 

As a motivated self-starter, Gareck has led a specialist team over the past 8 years to deliver novel spatial enterprise systems to large scale organisations. 
GP One Consulting has a long relationship assisting a regional collaborative group (HRIC) establish and transition an enterprise approach to sugar cane harvest management, proven experience improving ESRI based corporate systems at SunWater, Townsville City Council and the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority, and an extensive background providing strategic advice, dashboards, mobile apps and support for disaster management partners (QIT Plus), volunteer non-profit organisations and executive management clientele.

GP One have developed our Conference App: 


Workshop Leader

Thursday 14 September, 2.30pm

Professor Dr Regina Birner, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

"Governance challenges in agricultural innovation systems and gender issues."

Workshop Leader

Thursday 14 September, 2.30pm

Dr John James, FutureBeef Regional Coordinator, Dept Agriculture & Fisheries, Toowoomba, Queensland

"Using technology to save time and money."
John is passionate about enabling change and innovation, and has over 20 years of experience working in extension. 

John enjoys using online engagement technologies to complement face-to-face activities and recently completed a PhD examining the factors that affect the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. He is a FutureBeef Regional Coordinato
r with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, based in Toowoomba. He also leads the FutureBeef eExtension project, providing online engagement mechanisms (including webinars, websites and social media) for the beef industry across the top half of Australia. 

Outside his government work, John has established a small business, High Impact Training, to provide webinar coaching services and professional development activities for the extension discipline. He enjoys being an active member of APEN and has served as a president, the convenor of an international conference, and the creator of the APEN mentoring scheme.

Workshop description: This interactive workshop will explore how using technology can not only save you time and money, but help you be more productive and achieve a better work/life balance. We’ll discuss webinars, collaborative mind-mapping, document sharing, eBulletins and eSurveys amongst others. Come and share your ideas and learn from others.


APEN Conference Dinner Speaker

Thursday 14 September, 8.00pm

Diana Parsons, CEO, Central West Farming Systems, Condobolin, New South Wales

"The challenges faced by extension providers."

Diana Parsons is the CEO for Central West Farming Systems an industry-owned not-for-profit body established in 1998 based in Condobolin in western New South Wales. CWFS delivers agricultural research and extension services to its 400 members, agribusinesses and the wider community in western NSW.  Working on a range of projects with stakeholders such as DAFF, GRDC, NSW DPI, CSIRO, SARDI, CWFS has become a premier research group in the region and is unique in NSW with its 11 regional sites operating within a 250km radius of Condobolin.

Di is also a regional committee member of Regional Development Australia; a board member of the CRC for High Performance Soils; Vice Chair of the local Business Linking Industry TAFE & Schools; a member of GRDC’s Farm Business Update NSW Steering Committee; she is also on the Scoping Steering Committee for the National Alliance of Farming Systems Groups; and is a founder of the founder of the “Hear the Bush Beat” program.  

Over the years we have developed countless theories, models and methods of communication so why is it still so hard to get our message across?  How do we make change happen?  
Communication occurs continuously and often unknowingly; and is made up of four important elements: • the source; • the message; • the channel; •the receiver.
Each element is dependent upon the other, and any breakdown in one will affect the others and your message is lost.
Have you ever heard the expression “Keep it simple stupid?”  To be effective as an Extension Provider, it is necessary to consider four fundamental elements in communication: • Simple, • Repeated, • Structured, • Coordinated 
Poor communicators often lose sight of these basic key elements, but even cultural and language barriers can be overcome with good extension.  This was demonstrated to CWFS during our visit to farming women in West Bengal, India last year where valuable information was exchanged and friendships formed.
In this age of multiple communication platforms, people are bombarded and overloaded with information.  The delete button on your keyboard is probably your best friend!
How do we overcome this as Extension Providers?  Understanding your audience and engaging them through targeted, relevant and timely information, is just the beginning.   

Keynote Speaker

Thursday 14 September, 8.00am

Keynote Speaker

Thursday 14 September, 8.00am