The keynote speakers at Nurseforce for the Future will offer new perspectives, provoking reflection and action

Trailblazers, innovators, leaders – be inspired to make some changes, however big or small, to advance yourself professionally and personally.

Keynote Speakers


A trailblazer in the role of women, Jean is a public advocate for education, youth, health, equal opportunity and ageing; making her an ideal MC to lead the charge at Nurseforce for the Future.

Jean Kittson is a performer and scriptwriter for stage, television, radio, magazines and newspapers.

Jean came to national attention on 'The Big Gig'. Followed by Let the Blood Run Free, Kittson Fahey, Good News Week, the Glasshouse, Flat Chat, The Einstein Factor, Media Dimensions, Strictly Speaking, Talking ’Bout Your Generation, Studio Ten, the Today Show and she is also well known for her comedy debates for the ABC, Channel 9 and Channel ten.

She has been a regular columnist with New Weekly, Sunday Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney Magazine, Inspire Magazine, the Readers Digest Health Smart magazine and The Hoopla.

She is the author of Tongue Lashing, published by Penguin.

Her film credits include Hating Alison Ashley and The Nugget.

Theatre includes Mum’s the Word, Calendar Girls, Siren, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She is a regular panellist on ABC 702 radio drive programme, Thank God It’s Friday.

She has conversed on Conversations with Richard Fidler twice.

Jean is an experienced MC, keynote speaker, panellist, debater and facilitator of conventions, conferences, award nights and other after dinner frolics, in corporate, government and community arena.

She was a founding Director of the National Cord Blood Bank, the inaugural Chair of the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF) and a founding Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia. She is currently an Ambassador for The Macular Disease Foundation, Northcott Disability Services, The Raise Foundation, Taldumande Youth Services and the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation. She is the Patron of Junction Works and most recently she has been appointed the Patron of Palliative Care Nurses Australia.

As an advocate for women’s health issues, she was invited to speak about her experiences of menopause at the National Press Club.

This lead to her recently published book, “You’re Still Hot To Me. The Joys of Menopause.” (Pan Macmillan)

“Informative, accurate, funny and just so accessible. I love it and finally have the definitive book to recommend to my patients.” 
Dr Penny Adams, GP and medical media advocate for women’s health

Jean is married to cartoonist and political satirist Patrick Cook.

And is the mother of two daughters, Victoria 25 and Charlie, 18.


It is with great honour that APNA announce one of the most decorated women in Australian Military history, Major Matina Jewell (retired), will be addressing the group of similarly driven, capable nurses at Nurseforce for the Future.

We all walk a tight rope every day, whether it be juggling the competing demands of our workload, home life, work colleagues, management and wanting to meet the needs of patients.  As Matina will illustrate, it is how we handle adversity that will shape our development and ultimately determine our fulfilment, both professionally and personally.

In 15 years of army service, Matina worked alongside US Navy Seals blockading the Persian Gulf, took command positions beyond her years and dodged Israeli bombs while a United Nations peacekeeper in the 2006 Lebanon war, earning herself eight military service medals.

Courageous and bold, yet by no means a grandstander, Matina’s story is one of finding a way forward in high-pressure situations, of authentic leadership lessons learnt over a trailblazing military career, and a story about seeing change as opportunity, taking responsibility and empowering others.

Awe-inspiring, yet relatable: we can’t wait to hear Matina!

“Matina is hands down the best speaker I’ve experienced. Her inconceivable circumstances,raw courage, storytelling and rare ability to package her lessons in risk and leadership into a realm that we could digest and own was a gift to us all. The entire room was transfixed and moved in 45 mins.”

Nicole Hatherly, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Women in Focus

Find out more about Matina Jewell here.

Leading Nurse Practitioner Lesley Salem joins the Nurseforce line-up.

A descendant of the Gringai-Wonnarua Nation in NSW, Lesley's nursing is dedicated to improving the health of those with chronic disease and continuously agitating the state and federal government over nurses and patient rights.

I enjoy mentoring and believe strongly in sharing knowledge. Always through my work is a strong dedication to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, those with socioeconomic disadvantage, and my peers.

In 2015, well-known Coledale Community Centre nurse Lesley Salem was recognised by the industry’s peak body, the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners, when she was named the Australian Nurse Practitioner of the Year.

Lesley splits her time between a number of community clinics across Australia.

She enjoys mentoring and believes strongly in sharing knowledge and the important role for nurse practitioners in rural communities.

“Nurses have success in communities because they see the bigger picture with clients."

Ms Salem said people may come in for one ailment but often she has found other psychological or social factors causing or prolonging illness.

A lack of specialty services, extended waiting times and shoestring budgets were listed as the main challenges faced by community clinics by Ms Salem.

While a nurse practitioner’s primary service is medical help, Ms Salem said communication skills are vital in the industry.

“A lot of cases are about building confidence and making sure they don’t feel like you’re looking down your nose at them.”

Lesley is also an exceptionally gifted artist, following in the footsteps of her father, Les Elvin, an artist and elder of the Wonnarua Nation. Lesley combines knowledge gained from her father with a more contemporary approach.

All work must be telling a story. I love to paint the imagery of the flora and fauna that I see on my travels with rural and remote nursing and tramping (or hiking) I do extensively. I also love to use dotting technique in a modern/contemporary style along with traditional symbolism to paint the life story of an individual or family showing their journey.

View some of Lesley's remarkable work here.​


Be challenged to think about how you can optimise your own potential and that of your team by young leader Holly Ransom.

Holly Ransom is CEO and founder of Emergent, a consultancy that helps businesses and leaders adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. She is also a polished keynote speaker of global repute, renowned for distilling her insights into presentations that provoke, challenge and inspire. Her speaking topics include leadership, peak performance, communicating for influence, intergenerational issues, social media and change strategy.

Rapid change is not only Holly Ransom’s area of professional expertise, it describes her meteoric career. Holly has compressed what would be a sparkling 25-year career into less than a decade, achieving more before her 30th birthday than most do in a lifetime. The youngest person to be named among Australia’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’, she is the former Chief of Staff to National Australia Bank’s Wealth CEO Andrew Hagger and a personally appointed business analyst to Rio Tinto Chief Executive, Sam Walsh. These roles taught her complex change strategy, public affairs and risk management, government and stakeholder engagement, as well as performance improvement through innovation and technology. She brings these skills and more to her work at Emergent, where she counts Microsoft, KPMG and the Australian Institute of Sport among her valued clients. 

Holly has also held many non-executive directorships, across not-for-profit and the public and private sectors. In 2012, she became the world’s youngest ever Rotary Club President and in 2014, she was appointed by the Australian Prime Minister to Chair the G20 Youth Summit. In 2016 she was honoured to become the youngest ever female director of an AFL Club, joining the board of the Port Adelaide Crows (though she remains a West Coast Eagles girl at heart!)

A popular contributor to publications such as The Australian Financial Review and The Huffington Post, Holly is a regular guest on television shows like ABC’s Q&A, Channel 7 News and Channel 10’s ‘The Project’. Outside of work, she had the honour of presenting a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama and being named one of Richard Branson’s dream dinner guests, and has recently completed her first Ironman. 

Holly is uniquely positioned to challenge the way you lead, communicate and do business. She brings a rare combination of acumen and experience, mixed with the creativity and fearlessness of youth. Her insights are bold and game-changing and her presentation style informs and inspires. Holly represents the voice of a new generation with the wisdom of the one before, and her presentations can be tailored to meet your individual needs.       

Find out more about this remarkable young leader here.


A leader in quality and safety in practice, APNA are thrilled to have Debora Picone complementing the Nurseforce line up, providing practical tips on bringing about meaningful change in the workplace and beyond.

Adjunct Professor Picone is the CEO of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care CEO and a nurse leader in public administration and the provision of health care services.

Debora is a highly respected Chief Executive and leader in public administration, with extensive operating and leadership responsibility in the provision of healthcare services extending from clinical, academic, hospital, area health service, Deputy-Director General and Director-General positions.

Through a quality led governance approach and applying the value systems of learning organisations, Professor Picone has been privileged to make the lives of people better by consistently delivering high performing organisations, within a balanced budget, that have improved the health of people, patient safety and access to health care.

“Nurses hold a very special position in the hearts of the community."

Debora Picone worked in the public health system for 36 years and was the first nurse to be appointed Director-General of NSW Health, a position she served with distinction from 2007 to 2011.

"For all of us, exercising leadership gives meaning to our lives, it allows us to contribute to the lives of others and in many small and sometimes large ways, we get to make the lives of other people better."

“What unites us is something that is greater than all of us; we are a part of a profession that every year makes the lives of millions of people better."

“We teach and research and these traditions and services are carried on."

Robbie Bedbrook is a Registered Nurse with a passion for health promotion and social justice.

Robbie works predominantly in Primary Health Care (PHC) with a special interest in sexual health, mental health and managing chronic illness.

In 2016 he founded the health promotion channel Hot on Health, which seeks to use video content to improve rates of health literacy and promote the under-developed and under-represented field of PHC nursing.

In 2017 Robbie was named a finalist for Recently Graduated Nurse of the Year by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA).

Since then he has expanded his role in the field of PHC through various consulting roles with local government bodies and universities.

Robbie is also a member of the Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum to engage young people to improve the state of the world.

Janet Quigley is the Assistant Secretary, Primary Care, Dental and Palliative Care Branch in the Commonwealth Department of Health. 

The Branch’s priorities include:

- Primary health care reform and the delivery of the stage one trial of Health Care Homes;
- Bilateral agreements with states and territories on coordinated care;
- Supporting the provision of high quality palliative care; and
- Dental health policy and implementation.

Janet has been with the Department of Health since 2000 and has worked in various policy and program areas during this time.  Prior to working in the Department of Health Janet worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for 9 years.

Professor Ross Andrews is an epidemiologist with major research interests in vaccine-preventable diseases and skin infections. Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, Prof Andrews is currently the Chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Australia's peak ministerial immunisation advisory committee.

In a world first, he led a randomised controlled trial of pneumococcal vaccine in pregnancy, called PneuMum, which found evidence suggestive of an impact against ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants, and now leads a multi-centre cohort study called FluMum, which is assessing impact of influenza vaccination in pregnancy amongst 10,000 mother-infant pairs. Learn more here.

His work on skin infections has demonstrated that: a short course oral antibiotic is an effective alternative to penicillin injections for treatment of skin sores (The Lancet 2014); and the virtually elimination of scabies ‑ 94 per cent reduction in prevalence – following introduction an oral ivermectin-based drug administration program in Fiji.

Underpinning his research approach has been his demonstrated commitment to community engagement and capacity building.

Ross has $22.1m in research funding; 93 peer-reviewed publications; supervised ten higher degree by research (HDR) students to completion and currently supervises three HDR students.

It is a great honour to have Professor Andrews joining Nurseforce for the Future to share his knowledge.




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