Alissa Phillips – The Foundation for Young Australians
Change It Up, Initiative Lead
*YSP Alumni 2009
Alissa has always been obsessed with how people think, feel and learn. From as far back as she can remember Alissa
shared her home with foster kids. Kids who needed a place to sleep, kids who needed help with their learning, kids whose
parents needed a quiet nights rest. All the young people were unique, but, at the same time had one thing in common –
they all wanted to learn to use their brains differently to get along better with the people in their lives.
Upon graduating high school Alissa went to university with the hope of combining her passions – education, disability and
the creative arts – to build a career in the community. Alissa studied the Creative Industries (QUT) where she learnt about
film and TV, creative writing, music and business and then followed this up with a Masters in Music Therapy (UQ). For
many years Alissa worked in her own business as a Registered Music Therapist using music to help people’s brains work
more productively. Alissa supported people with brain injuries to discover new speech patterns and helped people with
intellectual impairments make and maintain friendships. She taught kids with speech language impairments how to find
their voice and mentored aspiring Music Therapist on how to work innovatively and collaboratively in the disability sector.
In 2007 Alissa broadened her reach within the disability sector to include to include her friends in youth social change
making networks to collaborate and create a community centre with a special interest in social inclusion – s.p.a.c.e. Using
creative engagement and youth enthusiasm as a catalyst for building momentum s.p.a.c.e quickly grew to become an
important and prominent organisation in Brisbane’s not-for-profit landscape. At s.p.a.c.e we believe that inclusion can
be achieved through proving our community with: a strong sense of belonging; emerging leadership; a rich culture and
history; a focus on collective participation and shared experiences; well considered urban design; and innovative social
As CEO of s.p.a.c.e Alissa organised teams of volunteers to get behind innovative and exciting projects showcasing
grassroot mobilisation, resourcefulness and creative engagement. From town hall meetings to TV documentaries; 500
person trivia nights to community discos; Open Days to working bees; corporate cricket matches to youth conferences;
fundraisers to social business ventures. s.p.a.c.e has done it all and continues to operate under a volunteer model.
Alissa’s work has attracted a variety of awards and recognition including Youth of the Year: Brisbane City Council (2007),
Young Alumni of the Year: University of Queensland (2008), Top #1 Emerging Leader in the Category of Society: The
Weekend Australian and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (2009), Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year: QLD Government
(2009), Young Social Pioneer: The Foundation For Young Australians (2009), Madison Inspiration Women: Fairfax
At the beginning of 2011 Alissa was invited to leave her Brisbane home, for Melbourne Victoria, to take up a role working
with The Foundation For Young Australians (FYA). At FYA Alissa sits within the Social Action Domain and is the lead on
a national initiative, Change It Up, working with young people in regional and rural communities right across Australia
exploring and celebrating their curiosity, courage, imagination and will. “Young social change makers are individuals with
innovative solutions to societies most pressing social problems. They are ambitions and persistent in tackling major social
issues by offering new and innovative ideas for change. Through Change It Up young people, as supported by their local
communities, can build optimism for the future of Australian regional and rural youth and expand opportunities for the
broader community to connect and drive grassroots social change.”
In her spare time Alissa loves bad reality TV, painting her nails and is currently planning her wedding
The Foundation for Young Australians
Contributor at Change It Up Macedon Ranges 2012
Anna is a 22 year old who leads a double life, splitting her time between work as an office manager at FYA and being
a performing artist/theatre producer. Anna grew up in Horsham before graduating with a Bachelor of Music from the
Victorian College of the Arts in year 2010. Since moving to Melbourne in 2006, she has worked with arts organisations,
touring theatre productions, student organisations, not for profits and educational programs as an administrator, teacher
and artist (and sometimes all 3!)
Admin, stationery and organisation get Anna excited. She is most happy when using her organisational skills to enable
others to do amazing things. She is a strong believer in quality performing arts education for all and the positive impact
this has on the lives of young people. She is funded this year for the second year in a row by the Australian government to
make music-theatre work, playing drums and acting at the same time!
Anna’s career highlights include organising a regional tour for a comedy show about a cow, playing drums in IKEA on a
Saturday morning and getting paid to do it, working at FYA and getting meet the amazing bunch of people that she shares
an office with, making theatre with people with disabilities for the first time, and getting disadvantaged young people
excited about Beethoven whilst tutoring a VCE summer school.
Anne lives with her wonderfully geeky boyfriend and enjoys homemade pizza and pub trivia.
The Foundation for Young Australians
Head of Partnerships
Contributor at Change It Up Macedon Ranges 2012
Neil Pharaoh is the Head of Partnerships for the Foundation for Young Australian’s. Through his role at FYA Neil drives
the “partner powered” agenda of FYA. FYA believes that all young people have the courage, imagination and will
to shape their education and create social change, in achieving this FYA is reliant on partners – including trusts and
foundations – corporate, business and government across a number of levels. Prior to FYA Neil has worked in a number of
roles in Social Purpose organisations, and within political communications and the private sector.
Neil has a personal and professional interest in where marketing, government relations and public policy combine. Having
worked on a number of high profile policy change campaigns, most recently the 2011/12 marriage equality campaign, he
brings an intense passion and energy to government & stakeholder relations in the change maker space.
In his social purpose sector roles he has been involved in marketing strategy and brand, external communications and
website, public, media & government relations as well as fundraising, donor and corporate engagement. In his private
sector roles he has worked on a number of successful business to business (B2B) marketing campaigns, with a strong
focus on relationship and stakeholder management. He has also worked in political marketing and communications at
both at Federal & State level.
Neil was responsible for the implementation of Australia’s largest corporate & community blood donation program while
working for the Red Cross Blood Service, and has developed extensive media and relationships management experience,
including with some of Australia’s largest companies, politicians and the federal public service.
Educated at the Australian National University, Canberra, Neil holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Majors in Marketing &
Accounting), and a Bachelor of Law Degree. Neil is an Associate Member of the Australian Marketing Institute, Certified
Practising Marketer and associate tutor of Marketing at the University of Melbourne. Neil also serves on the Victorian
State Council for the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).
During high school Neil was a swimming teacher, where he quickly learned that spending 20 hours in the pool resulted in
his leg hairs being bleached. During this time he started his other hobby, which is kayaking, so far Neil has kayaked the
Murray River Marathon (404km), numerous Greek Islands, Ilha Grande near Rio de Janeiro in South America and would
much rather prefer being on a kayak than at work.
His favourite colour is orange, and this obsession has extended to two walls in the house, a number of vases, as well as
random kitchen wear, while subtly annoying his partner, who much rather prefers the softer hues of grey, white and
Dan Hirst – ABC Heywire
Contributor at Change It Up Rockhampton 2011 / Macedon Ranges 2012
Dan Hirst has been a journalist and producer since 1999. Dan believes that effective storytelling can change the world —
whether it’s investigative journalism uncovering corruption, or young people from regional areas speaking up about what
would make their communities a better place to live.
Dan is currently executive producer of the ABC’s Heywire project – an annual storytelling competition for young people
from regional Australia. Each year, 40 stories that have been uploaded to the Heywire website are chosen to be broadcast
across the ABC on Triple J, Local Radio and ABC TV. And winners get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Heywire Regional
Youth Summit, held in each February at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, where they develop outstanding
project proposals to make regional Australia a better place for young people. The Heywire Summit has inspired major
campaigns, research and policy changes at a national level.
Prior to Heywire Dan was an investigative documentary producer for PBS Television, based in Berkeley, California. While
working on documentaries that uncover corporate corruption and deception might seem a far cry from his current work
at Heywire, they are united by the belief that a story told well can spark change.
Dan’s work has appeared on the ABC, BBC and in the New York Times. Dan has received several major awards including a
US Press Club Award, but the one he’s most proud of is the people’s choice award at the Australian Chili Cookoff 2004.
*HEYWIRE is an annual competition for young people from regional Australia. It’s also a place to share your stories and
opinions about the news that affects you. Each year, the best stories that have been uploaded to the Heywrie website
are chosen to be broadcast across the ABC on Triple J, Radio National and Local Radio. Every year 40 winners get an all-
expenses-paid trip to the Heywire Youth Issues Forum, held in February at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Soften the F*ck Up and The Melbourne Hub
Founder / Connections Officer
Contributor at Change It Up Macedon Ranges 2012
Ehon Chan has been known as a social entrepreneur, innovator, “digital branding professional” (news.com.au), “Top 100
Most Influential People in Melbourne” (The Age) and one of the “world’s most inspiring young achievers and innovator
under 30” (Sandbox Network).
He has passion for entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to social change that is both equitable and sustainable. His
work has focused on harnessing the social impact of digital technology and new media for the greater good. Ehon also has
extensive experience working with the government, corporate and social sector as a consultant, educator, and advisor on
projects related to engagement, community development, digital technology, new media and campaigning.
Having grown up in a developing country, Ehon’s motivations are simple and compelling. He has seen first hand the
inequalities life and society can bring. He has experienced loss and grief at a personal and community level. It is these life
experiences that drive him to make the world a better place to live in.
Ehon has led numerous community development and literacy projects throughout South East Asia before the age of 18. In
2009, Ehon co-founded News Unlimited, Brisbane’s leading digital entertainment magazine, and in 2010, he co-founded
Youth Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation (YES) Brisbane, Brisbane’s first incubator program for young entrepreneurs
and changemakers. In 2011, Ehon created the campaign, “Soften the Fck Up” with a group of young men and co-founded
TeacherTime (formerly GetClassmate), an educator-to-educator marketplace for educators to share teaching resources.
In 2009 and 2010, Ehon also worked as a strategist with Inspire USA Foundation in collaboration with the Federal
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Ad Council (USA) to launch the multi-million
dollar “We Can Help Us” campaign – generating hope for millions of young teens going through difficult times in the US.
He also worked with Epic Change to launch To Mama With Love and Epic Thanks, raising over $100,000 to invest into
several outstanding impactful changemakers in some of the world’s most remote areas. Both campaigns have also been
nominated and won several international awards.
Ehon won the Bronze Award and was awarded the national Certificate of Merit (Youth) in 2002. In 2003, he was
conferred the Meritorious Service Medal and in 2007, the Merdeka Award by the Australia-Malaysia Business Council
for contribution to the social, economic and professional growth of both countries. In 2009, he was named “one of the
world’s most inspiring young achiever and innovator under 30” by the Sandbox Network. In 2011, he was awarded the
Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Award, named one of the three finalists in the Queensland Mental Health Achievement
Award, named “Young and Influential” by Shoe String Launch Magazine and the “Top 100 most influential, inspirational,
provocative and creative people” in Melbourne by The Age’s Melbourne Magazine.
Ehon currently serves as an Advisory Board member for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s PlanBig and Exec Board Member for
The following contributors are current/alumni of The Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneers program.
The Young Social Pioneers program brings 14 change makers together each year to develop their leadership skills and
support their vision for social change. Jonathan and Katherine are excited to be involved in a project that inspires young
change makers and are contributing their time to the project voluntarily.
Jonathan Brown – SYN Media
Education and Training Manager
*YSP Alumni 2010
Contributor at Change It Up Macedon Ranges 2012
Jonathan Brown, affectionately known as JB, has been involved in community media for over six years as a broadcaster,
producer and educator. JB is passionate about making sure all Australians have a chance to be heard and that the media
is a positive influence in Australian lives.
JB believes an ‘active commitment to diversity and understanding strengthens us as a community’. He also thinks that by
challenging ourselves to confront perspectives that are different to our own we can make for a stronger society. At the
core of these beliefs are the ways we communicate and the people we enable to communicate.
JB started broadcasting on community radio, Radio Adelaide, at the age of seventeen and earned a Bachelor of Media
with the University of Adelaide in 2010. He has been heavily involved in community media as a producer, broadcaster,
educator and advocate on a national level. In 2011 JB began working as the Education and Training Manager at SYN
Media – a youth organisation entirely dedicated to giving young people opportunities on radio, television and online.
Since becoming a community broadcaster JB has interacted with thousands of aspiring young people all of whom strive
to have a voice in the Australian media landscape. “As a broadcaster I’ve covered politics, technology, indigenous
issues, workplace relations, queer issues and more. I have also had the opportunity to interview some of Australia’s best
musicians, artists and performers.”
As a media educator JB has worked with people from a diverse range of ages, cultures and backgrounds to enable them to
have a voice in the Australian media. JB says, “it is vital to not just give people a platform, but to also actively support and
encourage the people who need to have their voices heard most. “I ran the inaugural “CBloggers Project” – teaching a
group of 20 young community broadcasters how to bring community broadcasting values onto online mediums. I’ve been
involved in a number of digital media projects and continue to teach skills across a number of platforms.”
Like many other young people pursuing careers in their 20’s JB is grateful for the opportunity to blend his passion with his
profession. When asked about his work at SYN JB enthusiastically replied, “working for SYN Media is a once in a lifetime
opportunity and I am so privileged to work with, support and develop some of Australia’s most talented young people.”
On a less profound note: JB’s first radio experience was playing farting sound effects on air with his Grandpa.
Freelance, YSP Alumni 2010
Katherine views her “line of work” as non-linear, multidisciplinary and interwoven. Whatever it is she does, she’s been
doing her whole life. But to be specifically current, you could say she’s a budding Interior Designer or as her mum likes
to say, Director and Producer of “The Katherine Wills Show”. Katherine is passionate about utilising art and design to
explore, communicate, create and make change.
Art has always been the medium in which she experiences the world. Katherine believes that all things in life should be
carried out well, designed thoughtfully, with purpose, care, and to our best knowledge of what is right. Through this
process along with self-enquiry we can create meaningful, fulfilling lives by becoming the best version of ourselves.
With great clarity at the age of 4, Katherine decided she would become an artist. She went about her paintings with
great sense of mission and built up her skills at a very early age. By the end of school she exhibited in the prestigious
Top Arts Awards and went on to study Fine Art at University followed by several exhibitions. However she soon became
disillusioned with her chosen pursuit.
An opportunity was presented to teach art at an orphanage in Burma (Myanmar). On a whim she agreed to go. This
experience fundamentally changed her life and opened her up to a world of possibility. She fell in love with the children,
listened to their stories of hardship and hope and taught them self-expression through art.
Back in Australia she then began teaching at a Modern School of Art, founded a business as an Interior Colour Consultant,
and planned her next trip to Burma. Most recent was her natural move into the Design industry having consulted on an
Architecture Book for Geoffrey London, The Victorian Architect and just recently completed her studies in Interior Design.
The dot-to-dot in her body work is by theme. Themes like helping and teaching people, creating change either socially or
physically, and all the while making things look beautiful. Her approach is kinaesthetic, visual and intuitive.
The Arts program in Burma uses art as a medium for foreign aid by giving the children the tools for self-expression. By
exploring concepts about beauty, values, perspectives, visual stories the children have been able to apply a new language
in their life.
The program has been beneficial to the mental wellbeing of the children and some have even begun working in creative
fields like photography, graphic design and interior design.
Katherine has a Pug x Chihuahua called Sooty; the most awesome dog in the world. Ok, so she can’t skateboard like some
youtube dog but she is ridiculously loveable. Sooty believes in social change by barking at people who have bad attitudes,
chasing pesky cats and eating tasty litter.