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2024 Young Women to Watch in International Affairs


In celebration of International Women's Day, Young Australians in International Affairs is delighted to announce our list of Young Women to Watch in International Affairs for 2024.


Every year, the list recognises, celebrates and promotes the next generation of women achieving success and making an impact in international affairs - whether that be in government, academia, think tanks, the private sector or civil society.


Despite great strides in gender equality, the international affairs field remains male-dominated. In an increasingly complex and challenging world, YAIA seeks to represent and uplift a diversity of voices that not only reflects the next generation of Australian women, but empowers them.

After a competitive shortlisting process and having received nominations from so many outstanding women in the field, we are delighted to announce this year's list of Young Women to Watch in International Affairs.



Afeeya Akhand

Afeeya Akhand is a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) where she focuses on topics including South Korea, Bangladesh, climate change and racial equity. Her work has been featured in outlets including The Strategist, The Mandarin and SBS Australia.


Afeeya has worked in the Department of Defence and a Canberra-based consultancy for government and defence industry clients. She has also interned at the United States Studies Centre and KPMG Sydney.


As a young Bangladeshi-Australian woman, Afeeya is a keen advocate for elevating traditionally marginalised perspectives in foreign policy and national security, including with respect to cultural diversity, youth inclusion and intersectionality. She sits on the National Security College Youth Council and attended the 2022 IMF and World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Washington DC as a Global Voices scholar. She was also a co-author of Australia’s first youth-led national security strategy.


Afeeya graduated with a Masters in International Security specialising in Korean language from the University of Sydney and holds Bachelors in Laws with Honours and Finance from the Australian National University.



Rayana Ajam

Rayana is a dynamic professional currently serving as a Media Advocacy Officer and Casework Administration Officer at Amnesty International Australia. With a fervent dedication to human rights, social justice, and equality, her work focuses on advocating for individuals at risk, and those from Indigenous, refugee, and asylum-seeker backgrounds.


At aged 21, she has dedicated two and a half years to Amnesty International Australia, where she has been armed with expertise in human rights advocacy, media relations, media engagement, primary assessment and complex casework. Her impact has involved successful refugee resettlement and contributing to key reports and research for the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, DFAT’s Joint Standing Committee’s Human Rights Inquiry into the rights of Women and Children and the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture as well as Amnesty Australia’s campaigns.


Alongside her work with Amnesty International Australia, Rayana has also represented UN Youth at a Middle East delegation in 2020, volunteered for Mahboba's promise in assisting refugee girls resettle in Australia, and fundraised for the education of girls in Uganda and Sierra Leone at One Girl as an ambassador as well as contributed her research to notable policy projects including the Australian Human Rights Commission's Anti-Racism Framework's initiatives. 


She is in her first year of her Juris Doctor at the University of New South Wales, and has recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, International Relations and Sociology from the University of Sydney.




Sadaf Azimi

Sadaf is a Legal Officer in the Office of International Law at the Attorney-General’s Department. She advises government on a range of international law issues, including international criminal law, international humanitarian law and immunities, and supports Australia’s engagement in UNGA 6th Committee processes on a potential crimes against humanity treaty. Formerly a Visiting Professional to three judges of the International Criminal Court, she has worked at the International Bar Association’s Legal Policy & Research Unit in London, the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit in Geneva and Australian Government Solicitor.


Passionate about whistleblower rights, Sadaf dedicated several years and publications to its discourse, including authoring two publications while at the IBA and UN. Her undergraduate thesis examined whistleblower allegations of sexual exploitation in UNMIBH and MINUSCA, and she was awarded the International Bar Association Educational Trust Scholarship. Her volunteer work focusses on grassroots community-building, which included a year with the Ruhi Institute as a Program Officer in Kosovo and Italy.


She has a Bachelor of Laws from UTS and a Bachelor of International and Global Studies majoring in International Relations from USYD. Fluent in five languages, Sadaf studied Political Science in France, where she also received her B2+ advanced French diploma.




Izabela Barakovska

Izabela Barakovska, an Australian-Macedonian woman, is driven by a passion for culture, communication, innovation, and global affairs. Currently serving as Chair of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council for Multiculturalism, she actively represents the ACT multicultural community in public forums, notably addressing ABC Radio Canberra and presenting to the ACT Select Committee for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. Simultaneously, Izabela works as a Projects Officer for the ACT Government Education Directorate.


As Director of the storytelling firm, Culture & Conversation, she elevates and champions the voices of young, diverse innovators and creatives, earning recognition, including the Blackbird Protostar’s Grant. With a keen interest in international relations, Izabela invests in the Australia-U.S. Alliance, collaborating with the U.S. Consulate Perth, the American Chamber of Commerce, and presently, the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Advisory Council. In 2023, she was selected for the ASEAN-Australian Young Leaders Forum in Kuala Lumpur, acknowledged by Australia’s Foreign Minister and Prime Minister for its impact.


Deepening her connection with heritage, Izabela served as the W.A. Regional Representative with the United Macedonian Diaspora, earning recognition through Former Macedonian President Dr. Gjorge Ivanov’s School for Young Leaders forum and the John L.N. Bitove C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Science & International Relations, and Management from the University of Western Australia.




Phoebe Britten

Phoebe is an internationally-recognised youth policy advisor with a passion for advancing gender equality and educational equity. At 19, she is the youngest member of the Youthwise Advisory Board at the OECD and a member of the Global Youth Committee at the Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL). Passionate about youth governance, she recently joined the Summit of the Future Working group at the UN Major Group for Children and Young People to advise on the meaningful engagement of young people in spaces of power. In 2024, Phoebe was recently named as the youngest Top 100 Future Leader for 2024 by the Australian Financial Review. 


In addition to studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney with an interest in international human rights law, she is the Founder of Inspire Tomorrow Education - a social enterprise that provides free tutoring and scholarship application support to help disadvantaged students across Australia access tertiary education. As the Founder of The Modern Democracy Podcast, her goal is to democratise Australian politics by making complex issues accessible to youth voters, particularly from rural and regional Australia.




Matilda Byrne

Matilda is the National Coordinator of the Australia Stop Killer Robots campaign based at SafeGround, an Australian non-for-profit that seeks to reduce impacts of legacy and emerging weapons. She is currently completing her PhD on the evolving application of the responsibility to protect at RMIT University's Social Equity Research Centre, where she is also a sessional lecturer in international relations. Matilda focuses on disarmament and global governance responses to international and human security issues.


Over the last five years, Matilda has led civil society efforts in Australia to generate political and societal discussion concerning new law and policy on autonomous weapons (known as LAWS), by engaging government, academia, industry and the public through a variety of seminars/panels, briefings, publications and media interviews. Matilda has participated in the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS in Geneva and the UN75 Global Governance Forum multi-stakeholder partnership on the regulation of LAWS. 


Matilda brings her experiences from civil society within the security domain into university teaching, highlighting this perspective and opportunities. She has a Masters in International Relations specialising in international security from the University of Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) / Diploma of Languages (French) from RMIT University. She continues to be driven by human-centred approaches to security issues, global governance, defence, and foreign policy.




Kate Clayton

Kate Clayton is a Senior Coordinator (Programs & Research) at La Trobe Asia. Her research focuses on security and climate change in the Indo-Pacific. At La Trobe Asia, Kate supports the university's Asia engagement, the Blue Security program and researchers the Asia-Pacific. For Blue Security, Kate coordinates regional dialogues, publications and early career researcher programs. She was formerly a sessional academic at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, where she was awarded the 2023 Humanities and Social Sciences Learning & Teaching Award with colleagues. 


Kate has published in The Conversation, Lowy Institute, UWA Defence & Security Institute, Pacific Forum, Crikey, Canberra Times and more. She has been interviewed by Australian and international media and presented at regional think tanks. In 2023, Kate participated in the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program. Kate's passion for fostering diversity in international relations has seen her serve as former Chief Operations Officer at Young Australians in International Affairs and lead youth engagement programs with the U.S. Embassy Canberra and the U.K. High Commission Canberra. 


Kate holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of International Relations from La Trobe University and studied at Chongqing University.



Asha Clementi

Asha Clementi is the Founder and CEO of Girls Run the World. She is an award-winning gender equality activist creating opportunities for young women in leadership and diplomacy. She graduated from the Australian National University with a Master of Diplomacy in 2022 and a Bachelor of International Security Studies in 2021.


At the age of 17, she co-founded The Girls Leadership Network. The program holds a series of free leadership workshops for young women aged 16 to 21, inspiring participants to create and run their own initiatives – from school clubs to social impact start-ups. In 2018, Asha founded Girls Run The World – a program that encourages young women to consider careers in diplomacy. It has given 250 participants the opportunity to spend a day in 50 participating Embassies and High Commissions, meeting with ambassadors and making tangible contributions to the embassy’s work.


She was named the 2022 ACT Young Woman of the Year and one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians. Her work has been recognised internationally, as she received a Commonwealth Points of Light award from Queen Elizabeth II and a Hän Honour from the Government of Finland.




Victoria Cooper

Victoria Cooper is the Research Editor at the United States Studies Centre where she specialises in US domestic politics and elections, as well as political trends and public opinion in both the United States and Australia. She is a regular commentator on US politics on Australian television news and radio outlets, co-host of the Briefing Room podcast, and author of the weekly '46th' newsletter. Her research and analysis have been published across a range of Australian and international mastheads.


Victoria is a co-director and founding member of Women in the Alliance, an initiative seeking to improve the representation of women's expertise on matters relating to the Australia-US bilateral relationship. She is also an Australian Fellow in the Rising Think Tank Opinion Leaders Quad exchange, where she travelled to the United States and Japan to advance Quad cooperation and dialogue between the four countries in 2023. 


Recently, Victoria was Research and Editorial Assistant to Bruce Wolpe on his fourth book project, Trump's Australia (Allen and Unwin, 2023), analysing Australia's relationship with the United States during the Trump administration and the implications for a second Trump presidential term. It was longlisted for the Australian Political Book of the Year in 2023. 


Before joining the Centre in 2021, Victoria was Editor-in-Chief of the Young Diplomats Society (2020-22), and worked as a policy reform analyst for numerous government and non-government projects. Victoria holds a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, where she was a Dalyell Scholar and a recipient of a Dean's List for Academic Excellence award.




Christina Cushen

Christina is an emerging neurodiverse autistic business and legal professional with a passion for gender, social justice, as well as human rights issues.


She is currently a Legal Intern at the International Tribunal of Justice and a Young Expert at the Girls Human Rights Hub. Previously, she has worked in various roles across law and international affairs, including at the Victorian Bar, the Disability Discrimination Legal Service, and the United Nations Association of Australia.


Christina has also served as a Board Member at the Juhudi Africa Programme and Youthlaw, and as a Youth Ambassador at People Against Poverty. In 2022, she was also a participant of Plan International Australia’s Youth Activist Series and is now a member of the organisation’s Youth Activist Alumni Network. Her experience in disability and human rights advocacy has enhanced her confidence and has taught her the importance of advocating for other people’s rights and needs, especially for those who do not have a voice.


Through her studies and work, she has developed a range of professional communication and collaborative skills enabling her to connect with others. Christina is eager to learn and seeks to continue building on her knowledge and experiences through undertaking meaningful employment with the aim of working at the United Nations. Christina is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Laws at the Australian Catholic University.




Zhanae Dodd

Zhanae Dodd, a proud Ghungalu, Wadja, Birri, Widi/Wiri, and Kaanju woman from the Gurubil skin group, stands as a visionary leader at the crossroads of cross-cultural competency and carbon capture solutions. As the founder of Groove Co., she actively bridges understanding among diverse communities, with a focus on elevating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation across Australia, the Pacific Region and North America while teaching, revitalising and preserving culture. 


Leading new start-up, Burri Energy, Zhanae pioneers direct air capture technology, integrating Indigenous knowledge and resources for sustainable solutions. Internationally, she shapes discussions on international relations through roles such as the 2023 Young Australians in International Affairs Future Leaders Series participant, Young Pacific Leaders Alumni, Pacific Australia Youth Association Ambassador and East West Center Fellow.


Zhanae's plans to widen her impact through her role as Regional Australia Partner for Cultural Vista's. Recognised for her contributions, Zhanae was a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Youth Medal in 2022 and a recipient of the QATSICPP Youth Advocacy Award.


Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavours, Zhanae is a versatile leader with a diverse professional background spanning journalism, marketing, community engagement, government, and Youth Justice-focused case management. 


A storyteller at heart, Zhanae's internationally published poetry in Talanoa reflects her creative pursuits to connect with ancestors and amplify her people's experiences. In 2024, she continues impactful work, engaging in a three-country Indigenous youth tourism exchange, international Indigenous storytelling and intellectual property rights, alongside Indigenous and Pacific diaspora think-tank style workshops.




Fibha Frameen

Fibha Frameen is a dynamic professional currently making waves at the federal level, serving as a crucial link between the community and government to drive enhanced outcomes. She has been honoured with several prestigious titles and awards, including being named NSW Rotary Inspirational Woman of the Year and a recipient of the Diana Award.


Fibha received a scholarship to study International and Global Studies at the University of Sydney. With a Master's degree in Law with double specialisations including International Law, Human Rights Law, and Policy from the University of New South Wales, she has represented Australia at prestigious events, including the Global Peace Summit in Dubai, Change The World Model United Nations in New York, One Young World Forum in Manchester, and Nasser Fellowship for International Leadership in Cairo. Fibha received a Peace Scholars Scholarship to attend the One Young World Forum which brought together 2,000+ of the brightest young leaders from every country and sector, working to accelerate social impact.


Fibha is a Global Peace Ambassador and works closely with the United Nations Association of Australia to promote and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Her impactful contributions have been recognized as Fibha received the 7NEWS Young Achievers 2023 Leadership Award as a Semi-Finalist. 


As a first-generation migrant from Pakistan and a Western Sydney local, Fibha serves as an inspiring role model, mentoring and encouraging others from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to actively engage in international affairs and pursue their aspirations. 




Lisa Gittos

For over a decade Lisa has worked in some of the most demanding and complex policy spaces including climate change, human rights and emerging technologies.


Lisa is currently Head of Strategy for the COP28 Presidency where she was a core member of the team that delivered the COP28 Climate Conference and its outcomes.


A multilateral specialist, Lisa has represented Australia at various forums including the

Human Rights Council, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

UNESCO, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).


Lisa was a senior climate negotiator on the Australian delegation from the Paris

Agreement at COP21 through to COP26.


A former Australian diplomat, Lisa was posted to the Australian Permanent Mission in

Geneva where she was a negotiator and adviser for Australia’s inaugural term on the

Human Rights Council. In 2021, Lisa became the Mission’s first dedicated cyber and

digital diplomat where she examined the impact of emerging technologies on human

rights and bridging the digital divide.


Throughout her career Lisa has sought out opportunities to advance gender equality

and inclusion. In response to the underrepresentation of women in climate decision-

making, she pioneered a program to strengthen the capacity of Pacific women to

engage in climate negotiations. Its alumni have reached senior positions across the

Globe.


In Geneva, Lisa served as Vice-Chair of the ITU’s Network of Women Development

board. She also co-chaired a major donor group which aimed to advance gender

equality across UN agencies.


Lisa holds a Bachelor of Mass Communication and Masters in International Relations.​




Lanni Hamblin

Lanni is a Policy and Advocacy Advisor at the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) working across a range of development and humanitarian issues. Alongside partners in the sector, Lanni has worked closely on advocating for disability equity within Australia's development program, increasing Australia's engagement on protracted crises and strengthening civil society in the region. Outside of her role at ACFID, Lanni is completing an internship with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, a global network of humanitarian non-governmental organisations.


Lanni's commitment to youth involvement in international affairs has involved volunteering and engaging with a number of organisations including the Young Diplomats Society, Amnesty International and Global Shapers. Following her strong interest in forced displacement and resettlement policy, Lanni has volunteered with the Helping Hands Project, providing mentorship for newly arrived refugees, tutored English through the Australian Migrant English Program and supported community-based resettlement with Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia.


Lanni is currently undertaking a Juris Doctor at the Australian National University and plans to specialise in international refugee law. Raised in a small farming community in rural NSW and one of the few in her class to attend university, Lanni holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Languages from Monash University.




Nadeshda Jayakody

Nadeshda Jayakody is a lawyer specialising in international human rights law, humanitarian law (IHL) and criminal law. Most recently, she was the Legal Advocacy Coordinator at Yazda, an NGO pursuing accountability for ISIL crimes. Based in Northern Iraq, Nadeshda investigated war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; supported accountability efforts, including universal jurisdiction cases; and worked with courageous survivors of these crimes to advocate for survivor-centred transitional justice measures in Iraq. Before this, Nadeshda was a Senior Legal Officer at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Sydney and a Senior Researcher at an NGO based in Sri Lanka. In both these roles, Nadeshda worked on accountability for grave human rights and IHL violations committed during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. She has also worked on sanctions and human rights at the United Nations in New York.

 

Nadeshda has published widely on international law related topics. One report she authored has been admitted as evidence by a state investigating ISIL crimes. She holds an LLB (Hons) and BA from the University of Technology, Sydney and an Advanced Master in European and International Human Rights Law from Leiden University. She graduated first in the class and with Cum Laude from the LLM.  




Imogen Kane

Imogen Kane is the 2023 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. Imogen designed and facilitated consultations in a national listening tour and delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee 78th session, conveying the key issues affecting youth in Australia. She participated in the UN Youth Delegate program on behalf of Australia, providing insights on the Youth

Resolution and participating in Summit of the Future preparatory sessions.


Imogen is currently a project officer at UNICEF Australia and was previously the

Impact Coordinator at the Cotton On Foundation. She has worked across education, mental health, environment, and digital engagement projects targeting youth across Australia and internationally. She spoke at the 2023 SDG Media Zone during high level week at the United Nations, discussing youth mental health in Australia and the need for youth co-designed solutions in youth dominated spaces.


Imogen has a life membership at the Monash International Affairs Society for her

excellence in the Model UN portfolio and is the current Chief International Operations

Officer at UN Youth Australia. She is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

Imogen has a Bachelor of Global Studies (specialising in International Relations) and

is completing a Master of International Relations (specialising in Gender, Peace and

Security) at Monash University.




Kate Langley

Kate is currently a Policy Analyst at the Commonwealth Government's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water. She is part of a dynamic Taskforce implementing Australia's commitments to the UN Global Biodiversity Framework. With a background in migration policy, Kate was previously a Research Manager and Migration Analyst, managing a global team of researchers across 6 countries in Asia and the Middle East.


Kate is a Senior Editor at Young Diplomats Society and an Australian Global Shaper, amplifying young leaders' voices. Passionate about social impact, she serves as the sole SA/NT youth advisor representative and on the SA/NT Activism Leadership Committee for Amnesty International Australia, leading human rights activism in her region. Kate is dedicated to advocating for those not often heard, and is on the Board for intellectual disability organisation Citizens Advocacy South Australia, and youth empowerment/human rights organisation Voices of Influence. She is also a proud member of the neurodivergent and LGBTQIA+ communities.


Kate, a New Colombo Plan Fellow, worked on female participation in elections in Indonesia and human rights and youth justice in the Philippines. Recognized as an ASEAN-Australian Young Leader, Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations delegate, United Nations Young Leader’s Program participant, and Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program delegate. She holds a Masters of International Relations with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Studies from the University of Melbourne.




Alice Langton

Through her studies and experiences to date, Alice has learned that the path to advancing human rights and the interests of Australians internationally requires both hearts and minds. Having recently relocated back to Australia from being based in Geneva, Switzerland, Alice is proud to have helped lead several impactful pilot programs engaging with UN Bodies and HRC Committee members to the Asia Pacific region. Now based in Northern Territory as the Law and Justice Coordinator at NAAJA, Alice is excited to embark on the next challenge in advancing and protecting the rights and freedoms of First Nations communities across Australia.


Furthermore, as a recent graduate from the Geneva Academy and young professional with diverse background in international affairs, one of Alice’s proudest achievements has been in her role as Founder and Chairperson of Voices of Influence Australia. Voices of Influence Australia is a youth-led human rights organisation that functions to reconceptualise young people as solutions to existing human rights problems; and creating spaces and opportunities to enable young people's advocacy, participation and leadership in public discussion and decision-making concerning the protection, promotion, and attainment human rights.


2024 will mark the most exciting year yet for Alice and Voices of Influence Australia with the launch of their flagship leadership program which will run parallel to the organisations Future Leaders Incubator Fund – a program designed to mobilise young Australians to agitate social change and transformative justice that promotes the interests of all Australians internationally. 




Sarah Leary

Sarah Leary is a Palawa woman from Tommeginne country in North-West Tasmania. She is an experienced diplomat and former journalist with 14 years’ experience representing Australia abroad across foreign policy, international development, trade, public diplomacy and gender equality.

 

On postings to Vietnam, Cambodia, Solomon Islands and the United States, Sarah has been a strong advocate for supporting the meaningful involvement of First Nations people in diplomacy. Sarah currently leads the Perth USAsia Centre’s suite of policy advocacy, research and partnership activities focused on Western Australia’s engagement with Australia’s First Nations Foreign Policy agenda.

 

One of Sarah’s top career achievements was establishing the successful $52m Pacific Step-up initiative – PacificAus Sports – culminating in the stronger inclusion of Pacific athletes in Australia’s Super W and Super Rugby Pacific franchise, and the Tokyo Olympic Games.

 

As Director at the Attorney-General’s Department, Sarah led a team to design deliver an $100 million investment in Justice Reinvestment across 30 First Nations communities in Australia to reduce the overrepresentation of First Nations young people and adults in the criminal justice system. As advisor to Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls in 2017, Sarah supported successful Australia’s UN Human Rights Council campaign.

 

Sarah holds undergraduate degrees in International Relations from UTAS and is currently completing an MSc in International Strategy and Diplomacy at the London School of Economics. She is a Board Member of the Tasmanian Women's Council and enjoys snorkelling, running and tennis. She was named UTAS Young Alumni of the Year in 2022.




Bethany-Kate Lewis

Bethany-Kate is an international human rights lawyer, multilateralist, and a person with disability. With over a decade of Australian Government and United Nations experience, she specializes in human rights mainstreaming and fostering strategic linkages across multilateral agendas- including, health, humanitarian, development, human rights, and peace and security.


Bethany-Kate represented government at the UN as a policy advisor and negotiator during Australia’s Human Rights Council membership. Notably, she was subject-matter lead on intersectionality, gender, and civil society engagement. In 2021 she coordinated Australia's Universal Periodic Review Appearance. She has also worked across Australia’s multilateral agenda as a senior advisor for the Departments of Health, Foreign Affairs, and the Australian Permanent Mission in Geneva.


Now at WHO, Bethany-Kate works on progress towards universal health coverage as a technical officer for UHC2030. Previously she focused on emergency preparedness, integrating lessons from Covid-19 into the international system and designing and piloting a new multilateral peer-review mechanism- The Universal Health and Preparedness Review.


A neurodivergent individual, Bethany-Kate is uniquely aware of obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities engaging with UN and government processes. Her disability advocacy work challenges systematic barriers and has influenced updates in recruitment policies. She also champions multilateral women with disabilities through mentorship initiatives.


Bethany-Kate holds a Masters of Laws specializing in human rights law and policy and international law from University of New South Wales; Bachelor of Laws from University of Newcastle and the University of Oxford; and Bachelor of Communications. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW.



Alina Malyk

Alina is the Government Partnerships Advisor at Australian Red Cross, working on the strategic funding and humanitarian diplomacy initiatives in forced migration and disaster preparedness.


Originally from Ukraine, Alina has worked across education, healthcare, and not-for-profit sectors in Poland, Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia. She has over a decade of experience in programs, partnerships, and community engagement.


At Australian Red Cross, Alina was instrumental in mobilising over $5 million for the Ukraine Crisis appeal. She also volunteered to support the newly arrived Ukrainians in Australia through the design and delivery of culturally appropriate settlement services. Alina’s exceptional contribution to the Ukraine humanitarian response was recognised by the Meritorious Service Award.


Alina is currently pursuing her last term in the Master of Development Studies with the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Recently, the UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute selected her for the competitive Global Student Fellowship. Through this program, she worked at the United Nations Migration Agency, IOM, in Bangkok where she tackled the impacts of forced migration through the provision of humanitarian assistance to people from Myanmar.


Alina also holds a Bachelor of Translation from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and she is fluent in four languages.



April McElligott

April is an accomplished professional in the Food and Agribusiness sector who holds the title of Strategy Lead at Enserv. In this role, she leads innovative strategies to elevate agricultural practices throughout the ASEAN region and Australia, leveraging her expertise in ESG, strategy, and sustainable agriculture. April is also the Chief Community Officer (CCO) of the ASEAN Australia Strategic Youth Partnership. As CCO, April leads the development and execution of strategy, community management and public relations to support future leaders in ASEAN and Australia. April has demonstrated a commitment to fostering international relations as part of this role, particularly in hosting events with High Commissioners from ASEAN for young professionals.


April's recent accolades include speaking at the Australia-ASEAN Business Forum on Food Sustainability, being a delegate at the 2023 Australia China Emerging Leaders Summit, and recognition as an ESG Expert by the EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht. These achievements, coupled with her committee roles in national industry associations including the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia and Ag Institute Australia, showcase April's substantial contributions to the industry, highlighting her dedication to advancing agribusinesses, sustainability, and promoting women in leadership.


Having previously worked overseas in Indonesia and Laos, and collaborating with environmental organisations and government bodies, April has also contributed to improving agricultural practices in regions with limited technology access. The impact of her work has been substantial, as evidenced by her graduating with a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney, and her work’s publication in journals and presentation at conferences across Asia.





Hayley Payne

Hayley Payne is an International Humanitarian Programs Advisor at Australian Red Cross, co-delivering local, strategic and collaborative humanitarian partnerships with Red Cross partners in Asia and Africa. She is also an IFRC contact point for the UNFCCC Global Goal on Adaptation process and represented the IFRC at COP27. As a passionate climate justice and youth inclusion advocate, she currently serves as an advisor to UNDP's Asia Pacific Climate and Environment Justice Youth Panel. 


Hayley has also served in advisory roles for the Global Center on Adaptation, and the Red Cross Climate Centre. Previously, she was also part of YOUNGO's Adaptation Working Group as the policy submission taskforce lead. 


Hayley holds a master’s degree in development studies with specialisations in climate change and disaster management and an undergraduate degree in communication and international studies. She has published peer-reviewed research on the nexus of youth inclusion and conflict, with a focus on peacebuilding in Myanmar, as well as papers exploring educational equity through student partnerships in university settings. 




Satara Uthayakumaran

Satara is a Policy Advisor at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, also studying a Bachelor of Law/Arts degree at the Australian National University. She is a National Youth Advisor for Amnesty International and sits on the Youth Advisory Council of the United States Embassy in Canberra.


Satara has been a Youth Ambassador for Anti-Slavery Australia and was co-founder of the ANU Women in Law Association. She is the youngest person to have ever served on the board of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (ACT), and has worked with the ACT Human Rights Commission.


As President of the ANU Society for the United Nations, Satara works with and facilitates discussions between diplomatic missions, academics and experts including  the US, Irish, Spanish, Argentinian and Ecuadorian Embassies, the British High Commission, Delegation for the European Union  and General Delegation of Palestine.  


Satara has appeared on national television, including on ABC’s The Drum and QandA – where she engaged in a dialogue on female leadership with former Prime Minister Gillard. She has also appeared on ABC Radio, speaking on legal reform, disability discrimination and the cost of living. Satara regularly writes for the ABC, SBS, Sydney Morning Herald, Age and Canberra Times. She has also written for and guest edited publications by the Young Diplomats Society.


Satara was selected as a delegate for the United Nations Youth Aotearoa Leadership tour, meeting with political leaders, constitutional lawyers and communities across New Zealand and Australia on advancing First Nations self-determination across the Tasman. 





Jessie Whyman

Jessica holds Bachelors in Laws, Justice and Creative Industries. She will complete her honours year in 2024 before moving onto her PhD in 2025. She graduated from University of Sunshine Coast with a grade point average of 7 out of 7 earning an academic accolade. She completed her studies, including nineteen months overseas as a New Colombo Plan Scholar, while being a full-time mother to two children under six. 


Throughout her university career, and while overseas, Jessica was a active student at her university holding various presidential positions in student organisations and bodies. Such groups included the formation of a parent support group on campus which advocated for better resources for studying parents. She has since become a mentor to several mothers applying for the New Colombo Plan Scholarship to encourage more mothers to become involved in international affairs. She strongly believes mothers have something special to add to the area and should not underestimate their abilities and worth. 


Prior to her involvement with international Arts, Jessica worked in the criminal law sector for eleven years, including as a government lawyer for the Department of Public Prosecutions in Queensland. She now works for the federal government in International Arts within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

 





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