NSW.ACT Synod Climate Action Conference


March 20, 2021

Conference Resources

Conference Speakers

Rev. John Brentnall

Uniting Church

John Brentnall is a retired Deacon, living in beautiful Berry, on the NSW south coast.  For three years he was the Minister in placement with the Liverpool Plains Resource Ministry area, based in Gunnedah. During this time he became involved with groups concerned about the proposed Santos gas field near Narrabri and the associated gas pipeline, and the Whitehaven coal mine in the Leard Forest, also near Narrabri.  John took part in many protests with both campaigns and for two years was on a “Good Behaviour Bond” after being arrested for blocking an access road to the coal mine construction site.

Building Bridges to Make Real Change: Stream 1: Workshop 3 @ 10:50am

Lisa Fennis

Chief Engagement and Operations Officer, Sydney Policy Lab, University of Sydney

Having worked at the intersection of academia, civil society and advocacy for a decade, Lisa is passionate about building powerful alliances to tackle the most pressing questions of our time. Previously, Lisa directed the Sydney Peace Foundation, where she elevated voices of some of the world’s most effective changemakers. Before this, Lisa coordinated the Electoral Integrity Project at the University of Sydney and Harvard University. Lisa also worked on transitional justice for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa. Lisa studied peacebuilding and conflict resolution at Gothenburg University and the University of Amsterdam, and public administration at the Hague University.

Remimagining Our World for Climate Action: Stream 2: Workshop 7 @ 1:30pm

Chris Gambian

Chief Executive, Nature Conservation Council NSW

Chris Gambian has over 23 years’ experience as an organiser, campaigner, educator and leader of progressive change. He has dedicated his working life to equality, justice and sustainability through collective action. Chris started out as an organiser with the trade union for workers in banks, insurance companies and credit unions, the Finance Sector Union, and ended up as a National Director of that organisation.  He has been a member of the boards and management committees of a variety of progressive organisations, including Unions NSW, GetUp!, the Evatt Foundation, Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Inner South West Community Development Organisation (now Sydney Community Forum) and Bankstown Youth Development Service. In 2013 Chris established his own consultancy called Grassroots & Co, which worked with numerous unions and NGOs on organising, campaigning, and organisational development.  Chris contested the 2016 and 2019 Federal elections in the southern Sydney seat of Banks. In August 2019 Chris was appointed Chief Executive of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

Keynote Speech: 9:30am

Professor Hahrie Han

Director of the SNF Agora Institute, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science, and Faculty Director of the P3 Research Lab at Johns Hopkins University

Hahrie Han is the Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute, he Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science, and Faculty Director of the P3 Research Lab at Johns Hopkins University. From 2015-2019, she was the Anton Vonk Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 2005-2015, she was on faculty of the Department of Political Science at Wellesley College and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Harvard University from 2009-2011. She specializes in the study of civic and political participation, social movements, collective action, and organizing, particularly as it pertains to democratic revitalization. Her newest book (co-authored with Liz McKenna and Michelle Oyakawa) will be published by the University of Chicago Press in January 2021, entitled Prisms of the People: Power and Organizing in 21st Century America.

Interview: 9:50am

Reverend Simon Hansford

Moderator Uniting Church Synod NSW.ACT

Rev. Simon Hansford is the Moderator of the Synod of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in the Uniting Church in Australia, and was installed as Moderator on 29th September, 2017. Simon has served in ordained ministry for more than twenty-five years, serving in rural and regional communities across New South Wales. The rural church has a significant place in Simon’s heart, informing much of his understanding of service, theology and community and thus, how the gospel is articulated with integrity. Simon sees this time as an opportunity for us to articulate our experience of God, who is deeply committed to our entire creation; it is not simply serving those who need it, but sharing the hope which places us with those in need, living the story of Jesus Christ, in whom we find ourselves made whole.

Opening Prayer and Address: 9:00am

Jane Kelly

Campaign Director, Christians Together For Climate, Common Grace

Jane lives in Western Sydney with her husband Simon and their three children, Elise, Finn and Eamon. Her time is currently shared between serving in her local community and with the Common Grace Creation and Climate Justice Team. Her studies include theology, ministry, ethics and legal studies. Jane is a passionate follower of Jesus and her relationship with Him is inherent in her response to pursuing Kingdom Justice. Her other passions are Australian music, the GWS Giants AFL Team, and listening to (way too many) Australian political podcasts.

Faith and Politics: Faith Based Action on Climate: Stream 1: Workshop 2 @ 10:50am

Annie Kia

National Campaigner, Lock the Gate

Annie co-developed a process of grass-roots democracy which generated hundreds of self-declared Coal Free or Gasfield Free communities around Australia. In the NSW Northern Rivers, this process contributed to mass-movement dynamics, leading to campaign victory against invasive gasfields. In her national role for Lock The Gate Alliance, Annie helped communities build their campaigns. Her work is informed by an understanding of social movements and their network dynamics.  To avert ecological harm and build resilience, we need to tap the power of collective intelligence at scale. The way to do this is through face-to-face groups that take on achievable goals, that commit to learning-as-you-go, and that adopt a commitment to ‘practice’. The vast majority of people who worry about ecological and climate crises do not know how to get started on this kind of collective problem-solving. Annie has ‘midwifed’ many groups into being, observing what helps and what hinders their ability to self-organise. Her framework for Grounded Group Action is a distillation of this learning.

Building Bridges to Make Real Change: Stream 1 – Workshop 3 @ 10:50am


Jeff Kite

Campaigner, Groundswell Glouster

Jeff is a retired water resources engineer.  He worked for 25 years in WA water management agencies. In 2000, he joined what is now UnitingWorld and worked for 5 years as a mission co-worker with the United Church in PNG based in Milne Bay, on the development of village water supplies. In 2003 he was joined in PNG by his wife, Hilary, a registered nurse, who expanded the work to include health and hygiene.  He returned to the Assembly Office in 2005 as project officer for PNG and other Pacific islands, retiring in 2012.  Jeff and Hilary have lived in Gloucester since 2006.  They are both active members of the Gloucester Uniting Church and have a strong interest in social justice (including environmental) issues.

Building Bridges to Make Real Change: Stream 1: Workshop 3 @ 10:50am


Erin Lewis

Christian Students Uniting

Erin Lewis worships on Gadigal land at Leichhardt Uniting Church. Erin has just begun her career as a Speech Pathologist, and has a passion for engaging the power of story sharing in climate action spaces.


Youth Leadership in Climate Action: Stream 2: Workshop 6 @ 1:30pm

Reverend Professor Upolu Luma Vaai

Principal, Pacific Theological College Fiji

Rev Prof. Dr Upolu Lumā Vaai is Professor of Theology & Ethics and Principal of the Pacific Theological College in Suva Fiji. He is an internationally renowned published scholar on Pacific relationality, eco-relational theology, relational hermeneutics, and chief editor of the Pacific relational renaissance series that revives Pacific relational philosophies and ways of knowing and being that offer holistic alternatives to colonial mainstream development narratives. He is the Oceania chair of the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies of the Oxford University, and chair and convenor of the Pacific Philosophy Conference series. He is a member of the expert committee of the Education for Justice (E4J) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and Pacific coordinator for the G20 Interfaith Summit. The World Council of Churches (WCC) recently endorsed his initiative for eco-relational theology as a way forward for the global church to effectively address issues of climate change and ecological destruction.


Pacific Perspectives on What it Takes to Address the Climate Crisis: Stream 1: Workshop 4 @ 10.50am

Reverend Tim Matton-Johnson


Rev. Tim Matton-Johnson is a proud Panninher man living on the ancestral country of the Moomairremener people. Now retired, Tim was ordained in 1985 and served in 3 rural ministry placements in VicTas, 2 urban placements and 2 UAICC placements. He served 2 terms as Chairperson of UAICC Tas and one term as Deputy Chairperson of UAICC National. Tim reflects on what he’s doing now: “For some years I have reflected on the question, ‘How might one live on Country in a 21st century way?’ This has involved much learning about the 60,000 plus years civilisation on this continent before ‘Captain Cook’. The last 250 years has changed the context enormously. How then, in a practical sense, can millennia of learning guide life in the present context, particularly in the light of climate change? Married to Lynne, 3 children, Elanor Ross & Barnaby. 3 grandchildren, Harry, Charlie and Lucy. Lifetime interest in environmental issues – Franklin River Blockader Summer of 1982-3 Tasmania

First Nations’ Perspective and Climate Justice: Stream 2: Workshop 5 @ 1:30pm

Katie Moore

 Project Manager, Strategic Collaborations, University of Sydney

Katie is passionate about creating meaningful change that improves the lives of people.  Katie is proud to identify as a Wiradjuri woman with family connections to Central NSW but has lived most of her life on Darug country in Western Sydney. She currently is employed at the University of Sydney where she manages strategic research collaborations between the University and external partners, focusing on health and medical research. Katie has recently completed a MBA degree after receiving a UN Women National Committee Australia Scholarship through the University of Sydney Business School.  She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a member of an advisory panel for Opal HealthCare, an industry leader in residential aged care.  Previously Katie has also worked with Aboriginal communities across Australia to deliver economic development through tourism co-investment opportunities.

Reimagining Our World for Climate Action: Stream 2: Workshop 7 @ 1:30pm

Thea Ormerod

President, Australian Relgious Response to Climate Change


Thea is a Catholic Christian, a semi-retired social worker, grandmother and an advocate for action to curb global warming. She has long been involved in a range of social justice issues, mainly concerning global poverty. For the last thirteen years Thea has been involved in the multi-faith climate action organisation, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC, pronounced “ark”) and is currently the President. ARRCC is a Founding Partner of GreenFaith International.

Faith and Politics – Faith Based Action on Climate: Stream 1: Workshop 2 @ 10:50am

Living the Change and Extending Our Role: Stream 2: Workshop 8 @ 1:30pm

Hannah Smith

National Campaign Organiser, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union


 Hannah Smith is the National Campaigns Organiser for The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. Hannah has worked with union members on industrial, social and political campaigns across Australia. She is a founding member of the Hunter Jobs Alliance.

Leave No-one Behind – Workers and Climate: Stream 1: Workshop 1 @ 10:50am

Raúl Sugunannanthan

Christian Students Uniting


Raúl Sugunananthan is a council member at Leichhardt Uniting Church and the President of Christian Students Uniting, a club at the University of Sydney. He is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Arts/Laws and strives to take up Jesus’ call for justice through community organising.

Youth Leadership in Climate Action: Stream 2: Workshop 6 @ 1:30pm

Maina Talia

PhD Candidate, Charles Sturt University


Mr. Maina Talia was born and raised in Vaitupu, Tuvalu. Because of his strong link to his community and his people, Mr Talia continues to be the voice for his community and his beloved country on the issue of climate justice and indigenous issues at the United Nations and at the Regional level. Mr Talia was amongst the very few Pacific brothers and sisters who were highly involved in the UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform from its infancy stage, adoption and its operationalization. He is currently a full-time PhD candidate at the Charles Sturt University, researching on the issue of climate justice and tuakoi (neighbour) from three trajectories, muna o te fale (Indigenous Knowledge), biblical and the geopolitics of climate change.

Pacific Perspectives on What it Takes to Address the Climate Crisis: Stream 1: Workshop 4 @ 10:50am

Nathan Tyson

NSW.ACT Synod Uniting Church


 Nathan is an Aboriginal man of Anaiwon heritage. Nathan has university qualifications in Law and Management, and is currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Theology. Prior to working with the Synod, Nathan has worked for the NSW Ombusdman’s Office, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the National Australia Bank, Western Sydney University and Uniting NSW/ACT. Nathan has over 20 years of experience in Aboriginal community engagement and advocacy, and has previously held a number of Board/Committee roles, including being a member of the SNW Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, President of Ngalaya Aboriginal Lawyers and Law Students Association, and Deputy Chairperson and Treasurer of Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation.

. Maina Talia was born and raised in Vaitupu, Tuvalu. Because of his strong link to his community and his people, Mr Talia continues to be the voice for his community and his 

First Nations Perspectives and Climate Justice: Stream 2: Workshop 5 @ 1:30pm

Felicity Wade

National Co-Convenor, Labor Environment Action Network


Felicity has spent 20 years as an environmental advocate in Australia. For over a decade she led the work of the Wilderness Society in NSW, working to protect forests and end land clearing, including the protection of over 1 million hectares of wilderness in her home state. She has worked as environment and climate change advisor to the Australian Labor Party and the Leader of the Opposition. She has been the National Convenor of the environment and climate change lobby (LEAN) within the Australian Labor Party, successfully campaigning for public ownership of renewable energy infrastructure, commitments to ambitious emission reduction targets and broad-ranging environmental law reform. One of her proudest recent achievements is working with blue collar unions to establish an alliance between worker and environmental interests in the Hunter Valley – home to the world’s largest coal port – building momentum for economic diversification in the public interest. She has a Masters of Political Economy, focusing on environment and public policy from the University of Sydney. She lives with her partner and two kids in Sydney and likes to be in the Australian bush as much as she can.

Leave No-One Behind – Workers and Climate Justice: Stream 1: Workshop 1 @ 10:50am

NSW.ACT Synod Climate Action Conference


March 20, 2021

Conference Resources