Courage through Change: Best and brightest gather to 'future proof' Australia

15 Mar 2021

Courage through Change: Best and brightest gather to 'future proof' Australia featured image
From L-R Trent Nelson, Chair Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Katherine Webber CF2018, Katrina Marson CF2018, Scott Falconer CF2017, Jennifer Bowles CF2014, Claire Seppings CF2015, Natalia Krysiak CF2018, Taryn Lane CF2016, Jessica Cocks CF2016, Steve Harrison CF2015, Megan Gilmour CF2016

A select group of the nation’s leading Churchill Fellows have been invited to pool their creative minds, share their expertise and help lead Australia towards a fair, just and inclusive society and guide the nation’s COVID recovery.


As members of the inaugural Churchill Policy Room at Federal Parliament, and as recognised experts in their chosen field, the Fellows will spend their time in Canberra advising Federal Government Ministers and members of the Opposition parties, senior bureaucrats and departmental officials.

CEO of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Adam Davey has created the Churchill Policy Room, with the help of the University of Queensland, based on the concept of the Churchill War Rooms during the Second World War.

“Churchill selected the brightest minds from all political parties and created a special War Cabinet to fight for his nation’s future. In the wake of the world’s most devastating pandemic in more than a century, this type of unity and strength of purpose is exactly what Australia needs,” Mr Davey said.

Mr Davey said that he was also honoured the Churchill Policy Room inaugural event coincided with the inaugural Women’s March 4 Justice, being held just outside.

“Churchill knew that for society to move forward, regular people had to take a stand for what their conscience told them was right… And the fight being held just outside today is a fight worth having.”

The Fellows in attendance have expertise in justice, sustainable cities and communities, education, health and wellbeing, science, technology and society, with the debate outside shaping talks today, the Fellows can examine how they can use their knowledge to lead change in their industries.

“Churchill knew that society was not static, that things must change and evolve. As a nation we have to learn to embrace change, be humble and acknowledge when the system is broken, and strive to achieve a solution in line with contemporary standards and expectations,” Mr Davey said.

“The worst thing that could happen now is for the debate happening right outside these halls to flounder by getting stuck in the quagmire of politics. It is not a political issue, it’s a people issue.”

“We have the knowledge, talent, expertise and the will to change. Like Churchill, it is up to us to answer the questions of our time. We hold this solemn responsibility to do our duty and strive to end injustice.”

“For more than 50 years, the Churchill Trust has been supporting approximately 100 Australians each year who are the recognised leaders of their chosen fields to investigate their industry’s leading practices abroad and return home to implement any breakthrough ideas for the benefit of Australian society.”

The Churchill Policy Room will bring a focus to the topics of their Fellowships at this critical time for our country and the world.

From L-R Trent Nelson, Chair Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Katherine Webber CF2018, Katrina Marson CF2018, Scott Falconer CF2017, Jennifer Bowles CF2014, Claire Seppings CF2015, Natalia Krysiak CF2018, Taryn Lane CF2016, Jessica Cocks CF2016, Steve Harrison CF2015, Megan Gilmour CF2016

A snapshot of some of the Fellows in attendance:

Scott Falconer (VIC) – Victoria’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer / Director Forest and Fire Operations for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Scott is a 2017 Churchill Fellow who travelled to the USA and Canada to investigate how to create partnerships with Traditional Owners with a focus on enabling the reintroduction of cultural burning practices.  He is advocating for national partnerships with Indigenous communities to support self-determination and reintroduce cultural burning practices to help the large bushfires associated with climate change.

Claire Seppings (VIC) – A Social Worker, Chair of the Victorian Custody Reference Group and a Member of the Women’s Correctional Services Advisory Committee. Claire is a 2015 Churchill Fellow who travelled to UK, Sweden and the USA to examine international programs which utilise ex-offenders to mentor prisoners so they are less likely to reoffend.  Claire’s perspective is that more than half the current prison population has reoffended and there is a need to look at different approaches to rehabilitation – with ex-offenders being a potentially successful option.

Katherine Webber (QLD) – A Queensland specialist in social planning and community development working in local government. Katherine was the recipient of the 2018 Rodney Warmington Churchill Fellowship to travel to the USA, Canada, the UK, The Netherlands and Germany to investigate increasing accessibility and inclusion in public toilets by researching taboos, design, policy and legal barriers.  She will advocate for a national approach to public toilets to increase accessibility and participation in community.

Natalia Krysiak (NSW) – Associate at Hayball Architects and Founder of ‘Cities for Play’, specialises in the design of child-oriented environments. Natalia is a 2019 Churchill Fellow who travelled to the most child-friendly cities in the world – Vancouver, Toronto and London.  Conscious of the rescoping of the Australian dream to apartment living, she is calling for a national approach to the design of family friendly high-density housing.

Churchill Fellows are from all walks of life, levels of education and fields of endeavour.  The beauty of a Churchill Fellowship is that you design your own project to learn from international colleagues and return to make Australia and even better place to live and work. Find more information here.

The Churchill Policy Room will also see the launch of Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda, the flagship publication of the Policy Impact Program, a partnership between the Churchill Trust and the University of Queensland to identify, curate and advocate a selection of ideas from Churchill Fellows that have the potential to shape best practice and policy reform on a variety of relevant and contemporary issues facing Australia.


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