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The Elsie Conference is chaired by Professor Anne Summers AO, Professor of Domestic and Family Violence, at UTS Business School.

Please note the conference program is subject to change and this page will be updated as sessions and speakers are finalised. This is the program as of 14 February 2024, please check back regularly for updates.





9:00am - 9:30am

Welcome to Country & Conference Opening

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

9:30am - 10:00am

The Elsie Story

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

10:00am - 10:45am

Opening Address: Journey to Justice with Christine Robinson, CEO Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

10:45am - 11:00am

Morning Tea

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

11:00am - 12:00pm

The History of Multicultural Services for Women in Need


Convenor: Maha Abdo OAM, CEO Muslim Women Australia. 


Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

12:00pm - 1:00pm

The First Ten Years: Memory, Myth and Milestones

What were the goals and the important issues for the first feminist refuges? A group of women active in the first years of three refuges discuss what mattered to them and if these same goals and issues are relevant today. This discussion will be continued in an open discussion workshop on Saturday.

Convenor: Ludo McFerran


Vivien Johnson, Marrickville Womens Refuge NSW

Di Otto, Half Way House, Victoria

Bobbie Townsend, Elsie Women’s Refuge NSW

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

1:00pm - 1:15pm

Musical Interlude

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

1:15pm - 2:15pm

Lunch Break

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

2:15pm - 3:15pm

Running a Refuge Today

Panel discussion among today's generation of refuge managers, with audience Q&A. Lessons learnt from the past and challenges for the future.

Convenor: Delia Donovan, CEO Domestic Violence NSW


  • Janet Jukes OAM, Refuge Victoria

  • Julie Oberin AM, Annie North Women's Refuge

  • Leanne Barron, Starick

  • Sunila Kotwal, Immigrant Women’s SpeakOut Association 

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

3:15pm - 3:45pm

Interlude - Commemoration of women killed by domestic violence

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

3:45pm - 4:00pm


Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

4:00pm - 5:30pm

Keynote event: Expert Panel with audience Q&A

How has violence changed since 1974? Is it better or worse? How are we responding to coercive control and the newer, non-physical forms of violence such as financial abuse and technology-enabled abuse? 

Moderator: Virginia Haussegger 

Expert Panel: 

Great Hall, Building 1 (Tower), UTS

5:30pm - 7:00pm


7:00pm - 10:00pm

Conference Dinner- with special guest Ray Martin

Aerial Function Centre


On Saturday (including a lunch break), there will be smaller sessions, workshops, and presentations run throughout the day.

9:00am - 10:00am: Session one

10:15am - 11:15am: Session two

11:30am - 12:30pm: Session three

12:30pm - 1:15pm: Lunch break

1:15pm - 2:15pm: Session four

2:30 - 4pm: Closing Ceremony (UTS Great Hall), including Elsie Award PresentationHosted by The Hon. Virginia Bell AC SC

A list of current sessions is presented below, with more topics and more presenters to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

First Nations Regional and Remote Refuges

Panel members include:

Refuge Presentation

Presented by Annabelle Daniel, CEO Women's Community Shelters

Refuge Presentation

Presented by

  • Cat Gander, CEO DV West

  • Terrieanne Hughes, Aboriginal Manager DV West

Refuge Presentation

Presented by Natasha Davies, Aboriginal Women & Children's Crisis Service (Marrickville Women's Refuge)

Current Legal Issues and Reforms

Panel members include:

Chair: Delia Donovan, CEO DV NSW

Children and Young People

Panel members include:

  • Kate Alexander (DCJ NSW)

  • Fiona Buchanan (UniSA)

  • Elena Campbell (RMIT)

  • Rae Kaspiew (Australian Institute of Family Studies)

Action taken against financial abuse

Presentation by Commonwealth Bank on their work.

Support for Trafficked People

Presentation by Monique BolusRed Cross Australia

Looking For Silver: Why Older Women Should Be Seen Too

Presented by Yumi Lee, Older Women's Network (OWN)

Financial and Economic Abuse

Panel members include:

Chair: Hannah Tonkin, NSW Women's Safety Commissioner

Building Access - creating safer services for people with disability 

Presented by Karina Noble, People With Disability Australia

Safe Families: Pet Inclusive Refuges

Presented by 

  • Suzy Pace, St Vincent de Paul Society

  • Sandra Ma, RSPCA

Follow-Up Discussion: Changing Nature of Violence

Ongoing discussion of issues raised in Friday keynote panel.

Finding Employment After Violence

Presentation by 

  • Melanie GrebloCEO Banksia Academy

  • Fariha Chowdhury, Arise Foundation

Breaking Down Barriers: How to Support Women Who Use Substances in Refuges

Presentation by:

Engaging with survivors and lived experience

Panel members:

  • Dr Lisa Wheildon (Monash)

  • Dr Sara Ailwood (Wollongong)

  • Lula Dembele

Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community and Refuge Responses

Presented by

Heart to Heart

An ongoing cycle of conversations between conference attendees.

A South Australian Healthcare Response to Domestic and Family Violence

Presented by Kristina Birchmore, Cedar Health Service

Safe and Respectful Workplaces

Panel members include:


Chair: Mihajla Gavin (UTS)

Follow-Up Discussion: First Ten Years

Discussion hosted by Ludo McFerran AM

Tech-Facilitated Abuse

Discussion of how to best address this increasing form of violence.

Preventing and responding to vicarious trauma and burnout

Session run by Tara Hunter, Full Stop Australia

Women's Specialist Services

Presentation by Karen Bentley, WESNET

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