Keynote Session 3

Community Engagement, Lessons learnt & strategic approaches from First Nations to multicultural communities 

Time: 2:35pm – 3:05pm
Location: Governors Ballroom
Facilitator: Michelle Chen, SBS Mandarin News team
Co-facilitator: Tamkin Essa, Settlement Services International

About the presenters

Brendan Thomas

Brendan Thomas, proud Wiradjuri man, father of four, is the Deputy Secretary, Transforming Aboriginal Outcomes in the Department of Communities and Justice. Brendan is leading the Department’s response to NSW’s commitments to Closing the Gap – specifically overrepresentation of Aboriginal people and young people in the criminal justice system and the out of home care system, and women and children’s safety from domestic and family violence, within a newly created division.

Prior to this, Brendan was the CEO of Legal Aid NSW, one of Australia’s largest law practices, for half a decade. Brendan led work to ensure clients were at the heart of the important work it does, increased the number and quality of services provided to Aboriginal clients, and secured future funding for Legal Aid NSW and community legal centres across NSW.

As Deputy Secretary of the Department of Justice, Brendan led major criminal and civil justice reforms including reforms to sentencing, the introduction of circle sentencing, major reforms in the field of domestic violence, services to victims of crime and to Aboriginal communities, including Aboriginal Sentencing courts, the Safer Pathway Scheme and Youth on Track. He founded the Design Out Crime Research Centre and served among other things on the Australian Criminology Research Council, the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, and the Board of the NSW Crime Commission.

Brendan is the Executive Sponsor of Local Decision Making and the Multicultural Network, and the founding Chair of the DCJ Racism Taskforce.

Joseph La Posta

As the CEO of Multicultural NSW, Joseph La Posta is driven to improve access and services for our newest Australians. He is also passionate about supporting established communities to preserve and nourish their cultures and language.Since joining as CEO in January 2019, Joseph has overseen the delivery of Multicultural NSW’s strategic plan for 2021 to 2025 and the implementation of a new award for the language services business. In addition, our Multicultural NSW team has grown to 85 full-time staff and 1,300 interpreters and translators. Joseph is a strong advocate for gender equality, increasing the number of women in the Senior Leadership team from 25% to 60% and has worked towards equal representation of men and women on the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board.

Prior to becoming CEO, he was a member of the Advisory Board at Multicultural NSW and the Chair of Sport NSW. Professionally, Joseph was previously a General Manager in a private leadership and development consultancy and former State Manager for the AFL (Australian Football League) in NSW/ACT.

Joseph loves sport – namely AFL, touch footy, surfing, swimming and running – and enjoys fishing and camping. He was also an accomplished pianist when he was younger.

Dr James Cockayne

The Anti-slavery Commissioner for New South Wales is Dr James Cockayne. NSW was the first state or territory in Australia to introduce standalone legislation to address modern slavery, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW)- external sitelaunch. Dr Cockayne is the first commissioner appointed to the role on a full-time basis. His 5-year term commenced on 1 August 2022.

Prior to his appointment Dr Cockayne was an international lawyer, professor of global politics and anti-slavery leader. A former member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council for Equity and Social Justice, Dr Cockayne was a founder of Code 8.7, Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) and the United Nations’ anti-slavery knowledge platform, Delta 8.7. Dr Cockayne has previously led the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, the US Council on Foreign Relations Study Group on Human Trafficking, the Center for Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, and the Transnational Crime Unit of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.

Last updated:

05 Oct 2022

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

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