Speaker Series

We’ve brought together some of the brightest entrepreneurs, changemakers and thought leaders from around the country and overseas to talk to you.

Why? Because it’s empowering and inspiring to hear other people’s stories. How they started a clothing label that helps the homeless. How they’re fighting for more female entrepreneurs. How they’re creating films that are changing the world. And because we’re obsessed with TED Talks.

Trust us, you’ll be sad if you miss the Unleashed Festival Speaker Series. Nay, heartbroken.  Across two sessions we’ll hear from six speakers plus a panel discussion. Get excited.

12:00pm – 2:45pm  |  Deakin Edge, Fed Square

Robbie Gillies 


Responding to Inequality   

Robbie Gillies | Co-Founder, Homeless of Melbourne & HoMie label and stores

We live in a world with deeply-entrenched social disadvantage and inequality. For those who notice it, it can be difficult finding an appropriate way to respond. In this 15-minute presentation, Robbie talks openly about his time volunteering overseas as a teenager, his social enterprises that address inequality (such as the HoMie Street Store and Charity Tap), and the challenges that he’s faced in getting these initiatives off the ground.

Nipuni Wijewickrema

Nipuni Wijewickrema

The happiness and heartbreak of a sibling with Down Syndrome

Nipuni Wijewickrema | ACT Young Australian of the Year

Having a sister is an honour and a privilege, but when she has a special need and faces great inequality, disadvantage and vulnerability, your life changes. You go from considering helping the world to needing to change the world. So you build a florist that has a pure purpose of providing meaningful employment to your little sister. The florist starts in your bathroom and moves to the garden shed and then things go crazy and s*** hits the fan and hundreds of families come forward seeking meaningful employment in your social enterprise. So you make it your absolute mission to spread a message of inclusion and meaningful employment for all those families out there that have a special loved one.

Michael Johnston

Michael Johnstone

Storytelling for Social Impact


Michael Johnston | Founder and Creative Director, Momentary

We all know that films can make people laugh and cry, but can they change the world? After studying Media and Communications at RMIT University, Michael worked as a freelance filmmaker before starting his own social enterprise. Now, he is the Founder and Creative Director at Momentary – a video production studio that uses storytelling for social impact.

Michael will show you how to use engaging, humanistic storytelling to make the world a better place.

Nayuka Gorrie


Being Uncomfortable is Actually Really Good for You (and Me)

Nayuka Gorrie | Black Activist, Writer and Youth Worker

White Australia has a black history. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land. We’re here, we’re queer. Any of this making you uncomfortable? Good. Nothing changes if we are comfortable.

Nayuka is a Gunai/Kurnai, Gunditmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman living on stolen Wurundjeri land. Nayuka works across the youth sector as a consultant, facilitator and program manager. Nayuka is a feminist and is particularly passionate about black self-determination. She writes about these things. She also hates bios so just come to her thing to find out more.


Speaker Series Panel

Disruption – The Role of Rebellion in Changing the World

The Disruption panel will kick off the second half of the Speaker Series, and focus on young Australians creating positive social change by doing things that fly in the face of convention. Or straight up rebel against authority.

The panel discussion will be hosted FYA’s beloved CEO Jan Owen AM.
An audience Q&A will follow.


Amelia Telford

National Co-Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition

A young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country,  Amelia supports a national network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people building a movement for climate justice to protect country and be a part of creating positive change for our people. Amelia was awarded National NAIDOC Youth of Year in 2014, Bob Brown’s Young Environmentalist for the Year 2015 and Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year 2015.


Abdullahi Alim

Head of Practice at The Lighthouse Strategy

Abdullahi Alim is the Head of Practice at The Lighthouse Strategy; an innovation consultancy that empowers communities and private industry to tackle issues of global concern. Abdullahi is a Blogger for the Huffington Post and is passionate about the intersection between technology, social impact and civic empowerment.


Liam Esler

Co-Director of GX Australia

Liam Esler is a diversity advocate, game developer and event manager. When he is not running events or encouraging the industry to become more diverse, he is a games producer and writer who has worked at companies such as Beamdog, Obsidian Entertainment, Surprise Attack and Australian gaming news outlet and TV show Player Attack. Liam was honoured to be acknowledged as one of MCV Pacific’s 30 Under 30 in Australia and New Zealand this year, as well as Develop Online’s 30 Under 30 worldwide.


Christian Williams

Teacher and healthy living advocate

Christian competed as one of the best athletes in the world across 4 sports whilst suffering severe heart failure and has dedicated his life to teaching and inspiring future generations to live their dreams. He was a finalist for Young Australian of The Year, winner of a National Excellence in Teaching Award, Top 50 Finalist in 2015 for the Global Teacher Prize and was accepted into the PWC 21Century Minds Program for Australia’s top innovators and problem solvers for his expertise in teaching STEM.

Jess Scully


Speaker Series and Pitch Up HOST

Jess Scully is a curator and festival director who uses creativity and the arts to engage communities with each other, our future economy, and with the public realm. Her work also addresses collaboration across the creative industries and the cultural sector.

She is the founding director of Vivid Ideas, curator of TEDxSydney, and instigator of Kids Hack Day Sydney. As a public art curator, her projects include Green Square Library and Plaza (for the City of Sydney), 60 Martin Place and Barrack Place (for Investa), and public realm activations at Quay Quarter Sydney (for AMP Capital). She is a member of the Barangaroo arts and culture panel.