Commissioners and Secretariat

Meet Our Commissioners

The Commissioners are responsible for the NYCA’s public consultations, in particular the public hearings and stakeholder meetings. They are also responsible for signing off on the Commission’s final National Report.


Sophie Johnston is the former President of the National Union of Students and has spent a number of years advocating for students and young people in the higher education sector. In her work with student organisations, Sophie has campaigned around education access, workplace security and wage theft, as well as inadequate social services impacting young peoples participation. In 2017, she worked with the AHRC and AHR Centre in the release of the report into sexual violence prevalence on Australian University campuses.

Sophie Johnston

Finbar Piper

Finbar Piper is a Juris Doctor candidate at Melbourne Law School. He was formerly the Director of Political Engagement at Oaktree, a youth-run aid and development organisation, where he was involved in campaign management and political lobbying on a national scale. Through his work in politics, along with his work in media, with Reuters and Polity, Finbar has become passionate about youth empowerment, political accountability, and access to information. He has a Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Politics & International Studies, and a certificate in English language teaching.

Finbar Piper


Jesse Williams is a qualified secondary teacher, with experience in teaching students from marginalised and low socio-economic backgrounds. He previously worked in higher education working at Edith Cowan University (ECU) where he is also completing his PhD in education – specifically focusing on improving multicultural learning outcomes. He currently works as an Education Officer in the WA Department of Education Disability Support and Services branch and is the Chair of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network Inc (YDAN).

Jesse Williams


Lisa Paul AO PSM has been a Chief Executive in the Australian federal government from 2004 to 2016, most recently as the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Ms. Paul currently serves on the Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board as well as the Boards of Navitas, Advanced Personnel Management (APM), Social Ventures Australia, Australian Schools Plus, High Resolves, the Australia American Educational Leadership Foundation Ltd and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

Lisa Paul AO PSM

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Dr May Lam has worked for the past 35 years in the education, employment and community sectors on policy, research and strategy for employment and social inclusion programs. This included 14 years at the not for profit sector peak body Jobs Australia, where she was Policy Manager and Deputy CEO. Other roles were at Jesuit Social Services, the National Employment Services Association, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and Social Traders. May served as Chair at Writers Victoria from 2013-2016 and is currently a board member for Youth Development Australia and the Victorian Board of Adult Community and Further Education.

Dr. May Lam

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Maj. David Eldridge AM has been a key figure in The Salvation Army both in Australia and the United Kingdom. He has worked for over 30 years, in a variety of senior social policy and programme development roles, including 15 years at the Crossroads Youth Network and 12 years as Director of the Brunswick Community Programme. David has also been a Senior Adviser to the Commonwealth Government on key social policy issues particularly in relation to young people and headed the Prime Ministerial Youth Homelessness Taskforce in 1996-7 and the Youth Pathways Acton Taskforce in 2000-2001.

Major David Eldridge AM


Dr. Wilma Gallet has worked for 20 years in the Commonwealth Employment Service before moving to the community sector in 1996. She established Employment Plus in 1998. She has been a key policy influencer in the area of social reform and employment services and participated on a number of senior government committees and forums, including the Welfare Reform Consultative Forum (2001-2003), established by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Family and Community Services to provide advice to government on welfare reform initiatives.

Dr. Wilma Gallet

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Howard Kelly has a distinguished career in education and training. He was a Principal for 12 years in two inner suburban schools and has been the Curriculum Director in state and national projects for four years, Chair of two statutory authorities for 8 years, overseeing the introduction of the VCE and the P-10 curriculum reform. Howard was the Director of the Kirby Ministerial review into post compulsory education, leading to the development of the LLEN and the introduction of VCAL.

Howard Kelly

Meet Our Secretariat

The NYCA Secretariat is established to resource and support the overall work of the National Youth Commission Australia, including:


  • Activity co-ordination, including public hearings, meetings, and workshops
  • Corporate and technical support to the Commission
  • Data/evidence collection, analysis and drafting the Commissions National Report
  • Preparation of Public Discussion Papers
  • Digital engagement of a wide range of stakeholders
  • Assisting the Commission articulate policy options
  • Public relations and communications


Whilst the NYCA Secretariat will be responsible for ensuring that the analysis of the data/evidence collected during the NYCA and the drafting of the final National Report – final editorial control rests with the NYCA Commissioners.

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Keith Waters has worked in the not for profit sector for over 30 years. He has held Executive positions with Anglicare in NSW and the ACT as well as the Salvation Army in Melbourne, Victoria. He has experience across a wide range of areas including youth, drug and alcohol, housing and homelessness, crisis services, Out of Home, family violence, prisons and courts, disability services, child care, aged care, primary health care and juvenile justice. Keith is currently the Executive Officer of both YDA and the National Youth Commission Australia.

Keith Waters

Executive Officer
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Nina Roxburgh is an Australian-Bulgarian, who is passionate about storytelling, human rights, public health, economics, gender equality, ethics, community development and more. She has a Bachelor of International Relations with Honours and a Master of Bioethics. Nina has held previous roles with the Foundation for Young Australians, The Conversation, and La Trobe University. She is also the Producer of Binge Thinking Podcast showcasing expert perspectives and experiences of young people in Australia and globally.

Nina Roxburgh

Digital Engagement Manager

Marissa Garner completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours at La Trobe University in 2017. During her time at La Trobe she was involved in the Psych Society in the role of committee member, secretary, and events coordinator, where she discovered a passion for creating meaningful events. In 2016 she was a part of a team of three that competed in The Big Idea social business/enterprise competition run by The Big Issue. The team made it to the national grand final and this experience made Marissa want to work in the for-purpose sector.

Marissa Garner

Event Manager
Dev Mukherjee

Dev Mukherjee has worked in social research and policy for 23 years in the areas of education, employment, housing and homelessness, juvenile justice, and youth affairs. Most recently, he worked as a policy advisor at the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), working on issues of employment and community services industry development. Prior to VCOSS, he worked at the NSW Council of Social Service as Deputy Director (Policy) and Senior Policy Officer. In 2007, he was Senior Researcher for the National Youth Commission Inquiry into Youth Homelessness.

Dev Mukherjee

Senior Researcher