Keynote Speakers

Below are the confirmed Speakers for the Farmsafe Virtual Conference 2020. 


As more speakers are confirmed their details will be added below.


Ms Diane Smith-Gander AO

Chair, Safe Work Australia

Diane Smith-Gander AO was appointed Chair of Safe Work Australia in February 2016 and immediately embraced the role of spokesperson and advocate for WHS. Diane was reappointed Chair in February 2019 for a further three years.

Diane has played a vocal role in supporting our vision of creating healthy, safe and productive working lives for all Australians. Diane has inspired audiences with her keynote presentations at a number of WHS conferences, including those hosted by the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) and the National Safety Council of Australia in 2017, Comcare in 2018 and the Australian Trucking Association in 2019.

Diane brings a wealth of experience to her position as Chair, with multiple non-executive roles spanning a range of industries.  Diane is National Chairman of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, a director of AGL Energy, Wesfarmers Limited and HBF Health Limited. Diane is also a board member of the WA government-owned Keystart group of companies and the North Queensland Airports group of companies, and Past President of Chief Executive Women. 

In June 2018, Diane received the Western Australian of the Year Business Award for her contribution to gender equality and female representation in corporate leadership roles.

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Dr Tristan Casey

Lecturer, Griffith University

Dr Tristan Casey is a Lecturer at Griffith University’s Safety Science Innovation Lab and co-founder of ‘The Culture Effect’—a collaboration between Griffith and QUT that provides commercial research services to industry. Tristan is an experienced and endorsed Organisational Psychologist with extensive experience in work health and safety. He has an interest in team work, leadership and organizational culture. Tristan teaches into the Graduate Certificate of Safety Leadership and Bachelor of Social Science at Griffith University. Recently, he completed his second doctorate, this time in safety leadership. Tristan is currently working on research around the management of safety amid COVID19, psychological safety, and safety climate.

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Mr Lachlan Drummond

Managing Director, Redhanded Creative

Lachlan Drummond is a communications expert and social researcher, specialising in regional and rural audiences and brands. He is Managing Director of Redhanded Communications. For nearly 20 years, Redhanded has been Australia’s number one regional and rural focussed creative agency. Employing 20 staff from its Melbourne office, Redhanded has clients including: Transport Accident Commission, WorkSafe, Regional Australia Institute, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Bayer Cropscience, Kubota Tractors, Virbac Animal Health as well as numerous regional local councils. Lachlan lives in Birreugrra, in south West Victoria.

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Associate Professor Lyn Fragar AO

Chair, Rural Safety and Health Alliance

Lyn Fragar is a Public Health Physician whose professional career has focussed on rural health - on provision of rural health services and on improving farm health and safety.

Lyn played an active part in the initiation of the Farmsafe nmovement, including the institution of Farmsafe Australia.

She received the award of the Order of Australia for her work in farm injury prevention  across Australia.

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Mr Matt Linnegar

Chief Executive, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation

Matt Linnegar is the Chief Executive of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. He has over 25 years of experience in for-purpose, representative and commercial roles focused on leadership, agriculture, water, natural resource management, trade, marketing, and rural Australia more broadly.

Matt is a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) and the first fellow to lead the organisation.

Matt is a director of the Telstra Foundation, Agribusiness Australia, and The Leadership Network. Matt is President of the Carwoola Community Association and serves on the Charles Sturt University Strategic Advisory Committee, Bush Summit Advisory Panel, and Investing in Rural Communities Reference Panel.

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Ms Fiona Simson

President, National Farmers’ Federation

Fiona Simson believes that agriculture is an industry of the future.  Collaborative and passionate, she has been an agricultural industry leader at both a state and federal level since 2008.  Elected in 2016 as the first female President of National Farmers Federation in its 40 year history, she is now leading industry through an exciting period of change.  A farmer herself with her husband Ed and family from the Liverpool Plains in NSW, she hopes to create opportunities for more women and young people to become involved in industry, and was instrumental in the launch of the NFF’s first Diversity in Ag Leadership Programme in 2018.  She has also spearheaded NFF’s 2030 $100bn Vision, is leading new approaches to the stewardship of natural capital and biodiversity and is passionate about the need to grow connections between farmers and urban consumers.

Growing up on a property near Armidale, NSW, she is passionate about the growth and sustainability of rural and regional Australia and Agriculture’s role in its future.  She is a skilled and experienced Board Director, with particular experience in policy development, communication and governance.  As well as a number of government advisory committees, she also Chairs the recently established Future Food Systems CRC, is a Commissioner and Chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, sits as a Director on the Boards of Australian Made Australian Grown, and NRMA (NSW), and is Patron of National Rural Press Club and Gunnedah Gatepost Community Support Centre.

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Mr Derek Schoen

Director, Beyond Blue

Derek is a farmer located at Corowa southern NSW where he runs a family farm. Derek is married with 3 adult children and 3 grand children.

Derek was president of NSW Farmers Association for 3 years and is currently  on the board of Beyond Blue, Chair of Murray Local Land Services and also on the board of the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

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Mr Ben Brooksby

Founder, The Naked Farmer

The Naked Farmer is a social media movement aiming to break down the difficult conversational barriers that often lay in front of people struggling to speak up on what’s going on inside. By using the liberating combination of nudity and farm work, the Naked Farmer is starting conversations about mental health across Australia and even the world.

Founded by Ben Brooksby a farmer from Penola, South Australia in May the 12th 2017, what started as a cheeky Instagram post exploded into a worldwide phenomenon that has captured the hearts and eyes around Australia and the world. If you are wondering how the Naked Farmer starts conversations, head to our Instagram and show a friend who hasn’t heard of us, one of the cheeky yet tasteful photos from the page. After 10 minutes …. what are you talking about?

Now Ben travels the country capturing images and stories of farmers from around this beautiful country for Calendars he publishes each year and raises money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service Rural Mental Health.

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Professor Stewart Lockie

Director, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Stewart Lockie studied agricultural systems at Hawkesbury Agricultural College before undertaking a PhD in rural sociology at Charles Sturt University. Over time, his research has extended from its original focus on community-based natural resource management to include studies of biodiversity conservation, assisted ecosystem evolution, environmental policy, food security, social impact assessment and the management of natural and industrial hazards. He is lead author of a recent report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies on the implementation of advanced technologies in agriculture and sole author of Failure or Reform? Market-Based Policy Instruments for Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Management, published by Routledge. Stewart is currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and an Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University.

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Mr John Harvey

Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia

Mr John Harvey joined AgriFutures Australia (formally RIRDC) in May 2016 as Managing Director. He accepted the challenge to set a new, more commercial direction for the organisation.

Mr Harvey aims to make AgriFutures Australia a change agent for transforming existing industries with new technologies and seeding new, high value industries that ensure Australian agriculture continues to grow.

Prior to this appointment, Mr Harvey held various positions at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) spanning 18 years, including five years as Managing Director.

A graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Mr Harvey was a Director of Australian Crop Accreditation System Limited and a Director of the Value Added Wheat Cooperative Research Centre.

He has served on the boards of Pulse Breeding Australia, Barley Breeding Australia and the National Soybean Breeding Program. He was also a member of the Australian Winter Cereals Pre-Breeding Alliance and the CRC for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity.

BSc (Rural) Hons (University of New England), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons

Commissioner, Resilience NSW

Shane Fitzsimmons was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1 May 2020.


This appointment followed a distinguished career with the NSW Rural Fire Service of over 35 years.


In 1998 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner with the RFS and has held portfolio responsibilities for Operations, Strategic Development and Regional Management. In 2004, he was appointed the inaugural Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) Visiting Fellow to the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) for a period of 12 months.


September 2007 - April 2020 he was Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service and was also the Chair of the NSW RFS Bushfire Coordinating Committee and the Rural Fire Service Advisory Council. He was also a member of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee and the NSW State Rescue Board (SRB) and was Chair of

SRB from 2008 to November 2015. In July 2012, he was appointed a Board Member of the NSW Government Telecommunications Authority.


He was appointed a Director of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) in March 2008 and was the Chair of the NAFC Board from 2009 to 2013. He was a Director on the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre from 2009 to 2014.


He was a member of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council from 2007 and was a member of its Board from November 2016 to November 2019 and held the position of Deputy President upon retirement from the Board.


In January 2016 he was appointed as a Councillor of the Royal Humane Society of NSW Inc.


Commissioner Fitzsimmons was awarded the National Medal in 1999 and the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in 2001.

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Mr Mick Keogh

Deputy Chair, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Mick Keogh was appointed to the ACCC in February 2016, and then as Deputy Chair of the ACCC in 2018, with responsibility for Small Business and Agriculture.

Mick has a long and diverse history of involvement with the small business and agriculture sector, including periods of employment as a business consultant, and in advocacy and advisory roles to policymakers and governments. He is also currently a member of a number of Government and private sector boards.

Mick was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2015. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science, both obtained at the University of New South Wales, and a Doctor of Applied Science (honoris causa) from Charles Sturt University.