Associations Forum National Conference

16-17 July 2018, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland


Please note all session times are subject to change.


Sun 15 July 2018


Registrations Open


An Introduction to Associations

If you are new to associations , or work for a supplier to the associations sector, attend this session to learn more about: 

  • How associations work 
  • Different associations models 
  • Common challenges

Facilitated by Associations Forum


First Timers and Solo Attendees Session

Facilitated by Associations Forum 


Welcome Drinks


Exclusive Tourism New Zealand Dinner

For Gold Members of Associations Forum and VIPs Only 

Sponsored by Tourism New Zealand                                                                                        

Mon 16 July 2018


CEO Breakfast (Exclusive to CEOs)

Sponsored by International Convention Centre Sydney                                                                 



Registration and Arrival Tea and Coffee


Opening Plenary

Welcome to the 13th Associations Forum National Conference

Conference Chair: Natalia Vukolova, CEO, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists

Welcome from Associations Forum

John Peacock, CEO, Associations Forum


Association Resilience and Results

Ever wondered what it would take to start every day working at an association with the excitement like it’s your first day on the job? Troy Williams, CEO of Australian Dental Industry Association which was awarded Association of the Year 2017, will look at how resilience allows you to use sources of stress and traumatic events as constructively as possible. Using real-life examples of success, and some pretty monumental setbacks that all association leaders will experience at some stage in their working career, you’ll find out why one of Australia’s association leaders wakes up every day with enthusiasm after twenty years in the sector.

Troy Williams, CEO, Australian Dental Industry Association, Association of the Year 2017


Trust, Transformation and Career Transition

In a 35+ year-long career which has spanned working as a print, radio and television journalist, including three years in Canberra’s Federal Press Gallery, then nearly a decade working for beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil, Sally Loane then transitioned into running a peak industry organisation.

Sally, who is also a non-executive director on the boards of Venues NSW and Destination NSW, will share her perspectives on a diverse portfolio career which also includes the family-work juggle, writing a book on child care and giving back to the community through charity work.

Sally Loane, CEO, Financial Services Council


Morning Tea

Stream 1


2A Associations Delivering Recognised, Structured Education

Beyond brief short courses, many associations provide training and continuing professional development (CPD) that assists careers and job mobility. This panel will delve into the different aspects of training and CPD within associations, including:

  • For trade-based associations, how RTOs deliver recognised certificate courses
  • For associations with university graduate pathways, keeping members linked to the association with CPD and connected credentials
  • The changing landscape of learning and members’ needs

Chair: Adrian Hart, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Anita Hobson-Powell, CEO, Exercise & Sports Science Australia

Dean Brakell, CEO, Furnishing Industry Association of Australia
Amelia Hodge, CEO, The Australian Property Institute

Stream 2


2B Being an Effective Director or Chair on a Board

Chairs of the Board (often called the President) are an essential link between the Board and the head of staff. Being an effective Chair can influence the achievement of goals and harmony of the association. This experienced panel will cover:

  • Processes that make the Chair/President role easier
  • Analysing how your association, the Board and the Chair can add value
  • Working with the CEO to advance the association through a Plan

Chair: John Peacock, CEO, Associations Forum
Dato’ Dr. Zaliha Omar, President, Malaysian Association of Rehabilitation Physicians
Andrew Leedham, National President, Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management
Julia Mant, President, Australian Society of Archivists

Stream 3


2C Membership Engagement & Retention: Tips and Perspectives

Every association needs to retain as many current members as possible. This experienced panel will illustrate how their association approaches member retention and engagement along with the lessons learnt from applying these strategies and processes.

  • The real reasons members renew – services offered or goodwill?
  • How quality member engagement makes retention easier
  • Member profiling and segmentation: Choosing what to profile and the systems and processes to support it

Chair: Claire Bell, Member Engagement Manager, Associations Forum
Evelyn Balmeo-Salire, Secretary General, Philippine Retailers Association
Sara-Jane Evans, Head of Membership & Commercial Services, Property Council New Zealand
Colin Fruk, General Manager Membership Engagement, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland

Sponsored by Melbourne Convention Bureau



Stream 1


3A Avoiding Fraud in Associations

All associations and charities must guard their finances and ensure robust systems to prevent fraud. Yet recent experiences show that dishonesty can occur.

The panel will discuss:

  • How fraud was detected at RSL NSW
  • The process and findings of the NSW Government Public Inquiry
  • Systems, processes and attitudes to avoid fraud in associations

Chair: Denys Correll, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Glenn Kolomeitz, Principal, Glenn Kolomeitz Lawyers
Michelle Rabsch, Barrister, 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers

Vishal Modi, Director - Audit & Assurance, Hill Rogers

Sponsored by Hill Rogers 

Stream 2


3B Digital Transformation

Chair: Christian Capper, Operations Manager, Associations Forum

Best-Fit IT on an Association's Limited Budget

The ever-increasing pace of technological change can be overwhelming and yet presents associations with valuable opportunities. Leah Boucher offers practical advice learnt through ATEM’s digital journey, to assist in maximising your association's website and database potential, including:

  • Roadmapping for success
  • Scoping needs and selecting best-fit options
  • Managing change and stakeholder inclusion
  • Using disruption to your advantage
  • Forecasting your association’s digital demands

Leah Boucher, Web & IT Manager, Association for Tertiary Education Management

RANZCR's Journey of Digital Transformation

Digital transformations require a lot of planning, time, effort and money to succeed. Craig Horton will share some key lessons from the recent and successful digital and CRM transformation at RANZCR.

  • How strong relationships between CEO, Board of Directors and Senior Management help drive success 
  • How the digital transformation of an 83-year-old medical college took only 3.5 years 
  • Why the transformation provided the opportunity to reflect on the organisation's IT, executive relations and possible areas of improvement

Craig Horton, Head of Information Technology, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists

Sponsored by Clade Solutions


Stream 3


3C Business Development Techniques for Associations

Members and sponsors deliver multiple benefits to associations. In this highly practical session, Richard Woodward will discuss critical business development techniques including:

  • The three pillars of effective business development
  • How to create real value for sponsors and members
  • Strategies for effective servicing and retention

Chair: Carol James, Member Services Manager, Associations Forum
Richard Woodward, Business Development Strategist, Richard Woodward & Associates

Sponsored by Dixon Advisory  


Afternoon Tea

Stream 1


4A Addressing Governance Challenges for Associations

How Donors Make Sense of the Charity Market
Hon. Dr Gary Johns, Commissioner, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission 

Governance Workshop

This facilitated workshop will examine five hypothetical situations involving governance challenges and issues for associations. These are based on real life cases we have encountered through our work with members and clients over the past few years.

Denys Correll, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Kathy Nguyen, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum

Stream 2


4B Transforming and Rebuilding Associations

Associations have life cycles, including times when they need to reassess purpose, structure or services. When looking towards the future, an association must ask whether it is stagnant or is continually moving forward with the times.

This panel will address:

  • Analysing if an association has lost its way, and if so in what way
  • Groundwork to convince the Board or members that there is a problem to be fixed
  • Personal characteristics: when to push forward (or not) and staying focussed

Chair: Natalia Vukolova, CEO, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists
Gillian Stapleton, Executive Director, Direct Selling Association of Australia
Mark Fraser, CEO, Pet Industry Association of Australia Ltd
Chris Whitehead, CEO & Managing Director, Financial Services Institute of Australasia

Stream 3


4C Social Media and its Place in Association Communications

Whilst social media is becoming established in the associations' communications arena, it is still a challenge ensuring there is continual engagement between the association and their members. Speakers will discuss:

  • Importance of social media in association member engagement
  • Using social media as a primary form of communication
  • Tips and techniques for successful implementation

Chair: Philippa Shelley Jones, Editor, Associations Forum
Rebecca Shaw,
General Manager of Marketing, Events & Communications, Netball NSW
Katie Bell, Social Media Manager, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand

Rachelle Gibson, Director of Marketing & Industry Partnerships, Ausfilm



Close of Day 1


Conference Dinner

Sea World Resort & Conference Centre, Seaworld Drive, Main Beach QLD 4217

Sponsored by Destination Gold Coast Business Events and Sea World Resort & Conference Centre


After Party

Cherry Cocktail Bar, The Star Gold Coast, Main Gaming Floor, 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach QLD 4218

Tue 17 July 2018


SIG Workshops

Associations Forum’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will meet for facilitated discussion workshops covering key challenges and as an opportunity to network. The four SIGs are:

  • Advocacy - Topic: Setting up an advocacy policy
  • Communications - Topic: Communication trends: Where are we headed and are we prepared?
  • Events - Topic: Event attendance and profitability
  • Membership - Topic: How to improve member engagement

Breakfast is included.


Registration and Arrival Tea and Coffee

Stream 1


5A Association Events: From Strong to Must-Attend

Successful meetings and events can directly assist the success of an association. They satisfy the need of members for knowledge and also make a surplus.

This panel will discuss:

  • Modern program development and presentation methodology
  • Boosting delegate numbers and increasing attendee satisfaction
  • Utilising technology for smooth logistics and larger surpluses
  • Considerations for running international congresses and conferences overseas

Chair: John Peacock, CEO, Associations Forum
Kylie Clarke, Conferences & Events Manager, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists
Vicki Mayo, Executive Manager, Local Government Professionals Australia NSW
Julie Hood, Director of Events & Member Relations, Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association

Sponsored by Tourism New Zealand

Stream 2


5B Being a Boutique Must-Join Association

Smaller associations of professional members have the advantage of being specifically targeted to the needs of a finite group, yet they lack advantages of scale. In this practical session, three associations will address:

  • Why prospective members join: reputation, member services or overall value proposition?
  • Members offerings, including aspirational professional credentials
  • The balance between management by staff and governance by the Board

Chair: Kathy Nguyen, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Kerry Davies, IPEd Chair and Councillor, Institute of Professional Editors Ltd.
Paige McNeil, Managing Director, Western Australian Primary Principals’ Association
Leanne Stevens, National Vice President and Queensland State President, Migration Institute of Australia

Stream 3


5C Financial Issues for Alert Associations

Associations are not-for-dividend membership mutuals that must raise income, control expenditure and guard retained earnings. Along with honesty and good financial judgement, association CEOs, Finance Managers and Treasurers need to consider:

  • Defining who-does-what in regards to financial management and payments
  • What are appropriate levels of financial equity – and can associations have too much?
  • Practical tips for financial growth and security of accumulated funds

Chair: Ron Switzer, Consultant, Associations Forum
David Buley,Chief Financial Officer, Association of Independent Schools NSW
Amanda Jamieson, Finance & Administration Manager, Venue Management Association (Asia Pacific)
Susanne Behrendt, General Manager Finance & Operations, Institute of Managers and Leaders


Morning Tea

Stream 1


6A Making Your Association Appealing to Young Members

In times of rapid technological and social change, recruiting, engaging and retaining young members is increasingly a focus for associations.

This panel will consider:

  • Whether new generations have always been a challenge or especially now
  • Will your Mission and core services appeal in times of disruption
  • Practical ways to attract young members: modern and traditional ideas
  • Embedding youth into the thinking of an association

Chair: Natalia Vukolova, CEO, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists
Carina Trinh, Vice President, Optometry NSW/ACT
Elly Phelan, Vice-President, Queensland Young Lawyers

Annick Ah Lan, Operations & Membership Manager, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors


Stream 2


6B How to Merge Associations – and is it Worth the Effort?

Associations sometimes need to merge for greater efficiency, reduction of member fees, or survival. As restructures or mergers are a challenging task, this session will cover fundamentals like:

  • Reasons why associations and federations consider merging
  • Stages of the merger, from negotiations to member votes
  • Settling in the merger over the subsequent five years

Chair: Adrian Hart, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Jeremy Irvine, CEO, Australian Dental Prosthetists Association

Anne Buck, Executive Officer, Wounds Australia
Adj. Prof. John Kelly, CEO, National Heart Foundation

Stream 3


6C Being the Voice for Your Members

Chair: Denys Correll, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum

Advocacy: The good, the bad and the ugly

Advocacy can be a fabulously useful tool to build support, to galvanize and to influence change. But what does it take to be effective, and how can you avoid it all going horribly wrong. Chief Executive of the Victorian Healthcare Association, Tom Symondson, will share his insights drawing on real-life examples from a public healthcare policy perspective.

Tom Symondson, CEO, Victorian Healthcare Association Limited

Achieving our policy priority - luck or strategy?

The business events industry was recently successful in achieving its number one policy priority of a national bid fund to assist in attracting international business events to Australia. Find out if this was the result of a decade of strategic lobbying, pure luck, or other forces.

Andrew Hiebl, CEO, Associations of Australian Convention Bureaux



Stream 1


7A A Practical Guide to Sponsorship

Chair: Ron Switzer, Consultant, Associations Forum

Best Practice Sponsorship for Associations

As one of Australasia's leading corporate partnership advisors to the sector, Abby Clemence has more than 25 years' experience in marketing, sales, adult education, communications, event management and corporate and cause-related sponsorship. Join Abby as she guides you through the steps involved in best practice sponsorship for associations and learn:

  • The framework you need to implement a successful sponsorship strategy
  • Your Board and their role in sponsorship
  • The true power in your sponsorship approach
  • How to plan, find, connect with and keep your sponsors

Abby Clemence, Managing Director, Infinity Sponsorship

Sponsorship Practitioners: Tips and Tricks

Sponsorship is an integral source of revenue for an association. This session will provide you with practical tips and advice on gaining sponsorship and retaining partnerships. Some points of discussion include:

  • Examples of successful partnerships and comments on why some are less successful
  • Key factors in the success of attaining and retaining sponsors
  • Who should sell and manage sponsorship and partnerships: in-house managers or outsourced providers?

Michael Berdon, Event Sponsorship Manager, Financial Planning Association of Australia
Tom Dunsmore, General Manager, Australian Boarding Schools Association


Stream 2


7B Running a Major Peak Body

Large and influential associations play crucial roles in representing their industry, profession or cause. The scale of major bodies means that capable and confident CEOs are required to lead the organisation and achieve significant outcomes, often of national importance. This panel will discuss:

  • Smooth and seamless relationships between CEO and Board
  • CEO as the spokesperson and thought-leader
  • Advantages of delegation of operational matters to a Chief Operating Officer
  • Being prepared for a crisis

Chair: Adrian Hart, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Greg Hallam, CEO, Local Government Association of Queensland
Lesley Clarke, CEO, New Zealand Medical Association
Megan Motto,CEO, Consult Australia

Stream 3


7C Associations, Charitable Foundations and Research

More established associations may be able to advance the art and science of their cause through research. However, research needs funding and experience regarding how to properly fund valuable research. As well as looking at these issues, this session will look at the structural interrelationship and entity connection between membership associations and their related adjunct charitable foundations.

  • Why membership associations established charitable foundations
  • How charitable foundations raise money – and how much should they accumulate?
  • Spending on research – how to do this wisely

Chair: Kathy Nguyen, Manager - Client Services, Associations Forum
Peter ParnellCEO, Angus Australia
Emeritus Prof. Dorothy Bruck, Chair, Sleep Health Foundation
George Wilson, Business Development Manager, Australian Podiatry Association


Afternoon Tea


Closing Plenary: Anna Meares: Ingredients for Success, Staying on Top and Overcoming Adversity

Anna Meares OAM is Australia’s greatest ever Olympic cyclist and the most decorated female track cyclist of all time.

During the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Anna won a Gold Medal and set a new world record in the Women's 500-metre time trial of 33.952 seconds. Seven months out from the 2008 Olympics, she broke her neck at the World Cup. Anna made an astonishing comeback and was back on her bike only 10 days after this terrible cycling accident. Following intensive rehabilitation, she was able to fight her way back and won a Silver Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Anna Meares is proudly and exclusively represented by ICMI Speakers and Entertainers


Close of Conference

Major Sponsor

Destination Gold Coast Business Events

Supporting Sponsors

Melbourne Convention Bureau Destination NSW Clade Solutions International Convention Centre Sydney Dixon Advisory Hill Rogers Tourism New Zealand ICMI Speakers & Entertainers Debitsuccess Australia Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre Ozaccom + Cvent Paul Neil Photography micenet Biz Events Asia



    Download this form to find out the 18 benefits of joining Associations Forum and apply for membership