2015 QCOSS State Conference - Individuals building thriving communities

13 and 14 October 2015

Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Visit the conference website to learn more about the conference.

Register here to be part of this exciting two-day event


This year our speakers will explore the theme in many different ways.  Join us to hear:


Plenary - Keynote 
Jessica Venegas, Community Solutions, United States  

Jessica Venegas is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the organisation whose mission is to work towards a future without homelessness, in which poverty never follows families beyond a single generation. They do it by helping communities become better problem solvers, so they can fix the expensive, badly designed systems that low income people must rely on every day.  In order to make that mission a reality, Community Solutions has implemented many initiatives that are built from the community.  Together they engage residents, local non-profits, businesses and government agencies to help once-thriving communities stage a comeback.  They’re coordinating a roster of partners to help residents improve local health, safety and economic prosperity; and they are working through Zero: 2016 to bring about a national change effort designed to help a committed group of US communities end chronic and veteran homelessness outright by December 2016.   Jessica will talk to us about how, through community solutions, they mobilise their partners to change lives.


Plenary - In the round
Facilitated by Jenny Brockie, Journalist and host of SBS’ Insight

As the environment in which we deliver social services becomes more ‘market driven’, the potential for the most highly marginalised members of our community to be left behind is increasing. Journalist and host of SBS’ Insight, Jenny Brockie, will host the session and be joined by Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks; Director-General of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services Michael Hogan; National Mental Health Commissioner and founder of The Rogue & Rouge Foundation Nicole Gibson; CEO of Brisbane Housing Company David Cant; Emerging Voices participant Bryony Walters;  Regional Director Central Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services Mick Shearer; General Manager Consumer Enforcement Queensland, ACCC Melinda McDonald; Senior Lawyer Consumer Protection Unit, Legal Aid Queensland Loretta Kreet; and others to explore the safeguards and protections that are in place to ensure their safety. Members of the audience will also be invited to give their perspective.  With more guests to be confirmed, this is sure to be a debate that will interest everyone working in the community service sector in Queensland

SESSION 3: Concurrent sessions

Concurrent sessions will cover a range of topics.  Choose from:

3.1 Technology changing how we deliver community services

Infoxchange introduces us to Ask Izzy.  People experiencing homelessness are faced with barriers to accessing services, especially if they’re new to the system. Often information on services can be outdated, waiting lists long and service criteria complex. A recent Australian study showed 95 percent of this group have a mobile phone and of those, 77 percent have a smartphone. For people who are homeless, a mobile phone is a lifeline. Even if they don’t have any credit, they can still call emergency services and use free Wi-Fi to connect. Ask Izzy is an app that will help them do this.  Learn about how this came about and how you can be involved.

3.2 Next Step After Care

Life Without Barriers has worked in a consortium to develop Next Step After Care. The service is the first of its kind and is all about helping young people who have left foster care to lay the foundations for healthy and fulfilling adult lives.

3.3 Changing direction: how organisations have changed direction in different ways and made a success of it!

Successful organisations both respond to and learn from change. They stay committed to mission by maintaining a clear understanding of core purpose whilst maintaining flexibility to respond to both planned and unanticipated change. Attend this session to hear insights on the difficult, yet crucial work of leading an organisation through a period of change. Karen Hale Robertson, Chief Operating Officer Health Services, CheckUP Australia, will take us through this amazing transformation.

3.4 Creative responses to identifying need

Merrilyn Strohfeldt, Regional Executive Director Brisbane, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability will discuss the steps being taken by the Brisbane region to obtain data to better assess need.


Plenary - Social benefit bonds: the whole story 
Christine Crain, Queensland Treasury
Professor Gary Sturgess, The Australian and New Zealand School of Government
Adam Allan, Director Social Impact Investing Queensland

Social benefit bonds are certainly making an impact in Queensland. How do they really work? Why is Queensland looking at this option? What does it mean for community services?  Our panel will answer all of these questions as they talk to us about social benefit bonds generally and in the Queensland context and answer any questions you may have.


Deep dive into a topic of your choice.

MASTERCLASS 1: Courageous leadership: ending homelessness through systems change

Spend a day with Jessica Venegas from Community Solutions, Micah Projects, and QCOSS to look at the leadership that is needed to end homeless through systems change. Leave the day with the ideas, tools and inspiration to be one of those leaders! If you want to end homelessness this masterclass should not be missed.

MASTERCLASS 2: The Science of Storytelling: A workshop for non-profits

In an environment where raising funds and building your profile is becoming more critical, being able to tell your story well is essential. Juanita Wheeler is the Managing Director and founder of Full & Frank, a boutique agency that is committed to helping you achieve your mission.  In this masterclass, Juanita invites us to understand the very essence of storytelling. This presentation will take you through the scientific reasons we all love a story, explains, in an enthralling way, why it needs to be an essential part of your brand, and how you can make sure it is. By the end of the day you will be driven to tell your organisation’s story and benefit from doing so. Read more about the masterclass here.

MASTERCLASS 3: Financially fair: finding alternatives to discriminatory financial practices and debt causing poverty

Relationships Australia, Good Shepherd Microfinance, Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House and other key players in this area will explore the systemic issues associated with the rise in financial hardship. Workshop the policy and practice alternatives for people needing financial assistance, listen to case studies and participate in a panel discussion. If you work with people experiencing debt related issues, you cannot miss this masterclass.

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