Action and Impact: Building paths out of poverty

The 2019 NTCOSS Conference will consider new and emerging challenges for addressing poverty, profile innovative and effective approaches to improve vulnerable people’s wellbeing and revisit some of the persistent questions that make poverty such an entrenched and complex issue.


Day One


Day 1 Open

Welcome to Country by Kayllah Motlop, STARS Foundation

Address from The Honourable  Michael Gunner MLA, Chief Minister


Key Note

Professor Sarah Maddison: Civil Voices, the vital role of the not-for-profit community sector in advocacy

In 2004 The Australia Institute led a survey of the non-government sector and produced the report Silencing Dissent: Non-government organisations and Australian democracy. It concluded that NGOs felt the government was undermining their credibility, shutting them out of civic discourse, defunding (or threatening to defund) organisations that were considered uncooperative, and micromanaging NGO activities by dismantling peak bodies.

The report detailed the growing fears across the NGO sector concerning their right to advocate in the public policy domains of most concern to them, and more broadly about their changing role in the democratic process.

A lot has happened in the 13 years since this report was published including changes to the political and regulatory landscape, the formation of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, the passing of the Charities Act and advances in the digital landscape.

However the threat to advocacy remains a concern.

The Civil Voices project set out to re-examine NGO perceptions about their capacity to participate in public debate and see how public debate and advocacy has changed since the last study.

Download the presentation here.


Setting the Scene: Where are we at in 2019? Is poverty getting worse or better? And for who?

This session will take stock of where we are at on the path out of poverty both nationally and in the Northern Territory.

Jacqui Phillips and Wendy Morton

Download Jacqui’s presentation here.

Download Wendy’s presentation here.



The gross inequity of health: road injury, substance misuse and Aboriginal health needs

While the social determinants of our health are not new, we are continuing to learn about how the conditions in which we grow, live, work and play influence our health and well-being. This session will look at insights in the Northern Territory.

A pre-recorded message for the NT from Sir Michael Marmot followed by an panel discussion with Professor Rebecca Ivers and Professor James Smith

Download James’ presentation here.

Download Rebecca’s presentation here.



Government interventions on disadvantage: institutionalising people in need or building paths out of poverty?

Join Lisa Fowkes, Jacqui Philips, Leeanne Caton and Danyelle Jarvis as they delve into government policies targeting people living in poverty. From town camps to urban areas, how effective are our systems in alleviating poverty?

Download Lisa’s presentation here.

Download Jacqui’s presentation here.

Download Leeanne and Danyelle’s presentation here.



Innovations with impact – profiling the work of local initiatives

Not-for-profits are creating new products, services and ideas to deliver positive social impacts and better outcomes. This session visits local examples of innovation, to gain an insight into how positive social change is being achieved in the Northern Territory. 
  • Take Heart Project – Dr Alice Mitchell 
  • The Central Australian Youth Linkup Service, Menstrual Hygiene Management Program – Thea McDiarmid
  • The Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group – Carmel Simpson and Shirleen Campbell 
  • MIKAN, East Arnhem Child Protection Reference Group –  Djakapurra Munyarryun and Terry Yumbulul


Download Alice’s presentation here.

Download the CAYLS presentation here.

Download Carmel & Shirleen’s presentation here.

Download the MIKAN presentation here.



Day Two



Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Breakfast.

Not-For-Profit Governance and Performance Study – Key findings


2019 marks the tenth edition of this hallmark NFP study and this year’s event will bring to life the key highlights from the findings.  With governance in the spotlight now more than ever before, Phil Butler AICD NFP Sector Leader and panellists will explore the impact of recent Royal Commissions on not-for-profit organisations and their directors. Panellists are:

Di Gipey  – CEO, Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia (WoSSCA)

Dave Pugh – CEO, Anglicare NT

Robert Cooper – CEO, Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation

Download the presentation here.



Day 2 Open

Address from Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for Northern Territory.


Key Note

Emma Dawson: Where to for social security reform following the 2019 election?

Given the outcome of the recent election campaign, the proposed ALP review of Newstart and related payments is off the table, and the government has indicated its intention to undertake a review of retirement incomes. At the same time, the NDIS is under-funded and the government is trialling digital delivery of employment services to make further savings in that privatised system. The “Robodebt” process continues to inflict unwarranted pressure on too many recipients of income support, while employment programs such as Work For The Dole, CDP and ParentsNext require people to engage in often meaningless and damaging obligations in return for inadequate support to find secure and meaningful work.

How can advocates for social security reform engage with government over the next three years? What are the best avenues by which to lobby for improvements in the social security and employment services systems? Who are our allies, and where are our energies best expended to achieve real change and a better outcome for those living in poverty and material disadvantage?

Download Emma’s presentation here.



What works? Addressing the structural barriers to employment

Structural barriers to employment, such as access to transport and stable accommodation, may impact on the length of unemployment experienced by Australian job seekers. Understanding and addressing these barriers, as well as their social impact, is vital for future policy development and for providing a deeper understanding of the complementary role that government and non-government sectors can play in supporting job seekers into employment.

Debra Cerasa

Download Debra’s presentation here.



Serving Justice: Addressing systemic racism within the Northern Territory Justice System

Aboriginal people continue to be over-represented in the Northern Territory justice system. This session will unpack the structural barriers to reducing Aboriginal people’s contact with the justice system and how the Aboriginal Justice Agreement seeks to address this.

Leanne Liddle

Download Leanne’s presentation here.



The Call to Action: Media, messaging and advocacy  

Public advocacy and the media provide a powerful tool for groups to tell their own story, in their own words to promote social change. Join us as we explore the role of the media and public advocacy to challenge the status quo and influence public policy.

This session will be faciliated by Vicki Kerrigan and panellists include:

 Shannan Dodson Why representation and media diversity matters, particularly around Indigenous people? Shannan will discuss the power of Indigenous media in story telling and social change as well as problems with misrepresentation of Indigenous people in mainstream media.  Shannon will also highlight the “better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues” handbook that can show how we can all do better

Maya Newell What is ‘impact producing? Why use feature documentary storytelling as an advocacy tool? Maya will discuss community collaboration, agency in filmmaking and campaigning, and partnering with NGOs to use films for change, using case studies of films that have affected change: Invisible War, Gayby Baby, Ngapardji Ngapardji. Maya will also discuss her latest film, In My Blood It Runs, ‘A wholly original and impactful look at growing up Indigenous in Australia today… one of the standout world premieres at this year’s festival’ (The Gate Entertainment Magazine)

Download Maya’s presentation here.


Nick Turner Hearing what children and young people have to say isn’t just a token gesture, it’s a right. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) is on a mission to change the narrative around kids in the Northern Territory. The OCC hopes to share a range of positive stories from young people and children from around the Northern Territory, each with a unique personal experience or perspective worth hearing about.

Download Nick’s presentation here.


During the breaks make sure to visit the poster presenters who will be set up in the foyer, discover the back story to the:


Thamarrurr Development Corporation, Wadeye – Wadeye Men’s Shed

The Thamarurr Men’s Shed Program has been chosen by community leaders as a means of improving the health and wellbeing of men in the community, and thereby the health and wellbeing of children, women and families whom are interconnected.


Purple House, Alice Springs – Supporting People on Dialysis

When a person’s kidneys stop working, they can require haemodialysis treatment three times a week indefinitely. Purple House runs 14 remote dialysis clinics enabling people to get back to their country and family. It also offers respite and support while dialysing in Alice Springs or Darwin.


Women’s Space, Galiwin’ku  – Galiwin’ku Women’s Project

We are a Yolŋu led organisation, established in 2015 and run by a dedicated group of Yolŋu women who are passionate about finding a solution to the ongoing domestic family violence being experienced within the Galiwin’ku community.


Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment, Katherine – Our Wellbeing Network, Suicide Prevention and Intervention

The Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Group (KYJR) is based in the town of Katherine NT. Formed in 2015 and comprising representatives from the community, elders, education, health, police, law, youth groups, academia and government.  KYJR draws on existing community knowledge and strengths to implement strategies to reduce rates of youth offending and incarceration.   Our projects are focused on mental health and well-being, education, housing, restorative justice and diversion.


Headspace, Darwin – LGBTQI Support Group

The LGBTQI Support Group is a regular social group for LGBTQI young people which offers a relaxed, safe place to hang out with like-minded people, and we do different activities, games, workshops each time.  


Melaleuca Refugee Centre, Darwin – Side by Side Project

Side by Side is a new initiative involving the collaboration of community agencies and government departments, who are committed to supporting individuals and communities from diverse cultural backgrounds, to promote respectful relationships that keep everyone safe.