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.


The independent Commissioners for the NYCA include: Ms. Sophie Johnston, Mr. Finbar Piper, Mr Tasman Bain and Mr. Jesse Williams, Dr. May Lam, Major David Eldridge AM, Mr. Howard Kelly, Ms. Lisa Paul AO PSM, Dr. Wilma Gallet.

NYCA Commissioners

Sophie Johnston

Sophie Johnston

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.

Fin Piper

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.

Jesse williams Photo

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams is a qualified secondary teacher, with experience in teaching students from marginalised and low socio-economic backgrounds. He spent the last three years in higher education working with the Guild, in student welfare and advocacy, 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. He is the Chair of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network Inc (YDAN), a leading advocacy organisation and the peak representative body for young people with disabilities in Western Australia, which delivers workshops, audits and positive outcomes in disability rights through lobbying and community engagement. Jesse has also participated in advocacy in the LGBTI+ community, particularly for young members of the community. This has been through helping connect stakeholders directly with decision makers, and through the delivery of keynote sessions and lectures in sexual health and program development.
photo of May Lam smiling

Dr May Lam

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. In the UK she had roles at the Department of Work and Pensions and the private employment services provider Ingeus. These diverse roles have typically focused on research and analysis with a practical outcome for policy, program design, procurement and social impact measurement, both from government and not for profit provider perspectives. Her current interests are ways that service design and commissioning by governments might be reformed, along with better ways to collect, share and use data. May served as Chair at Writers Victoria from 2013-2016 and is currently a member of the boards for Youth Development Australia and the Victorian Board of Adult Community and Further Education. She has a Masters degree in education and a PhD from the University of Melbourne.
Photo of David Eldridge

Major David Eldridge AM

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. He has contributed to the delivery of several ground breaking policy reports. Also, David has been influential in the development of employment policy and was a Board Member of the Employment Services Regulatory Authority (ESRA), which oversaw the development of a case management approach in employment services. He has been a board member of the Enterprise and Career Education Foundation and the Foundation for Young Australians.

Lisa Paul

Lisa Paul AO PSM

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.  She is an Australian National University Policy Fellow, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a member of Chief Executive Women and a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand School of Government.  She is also a delegate to the Australian Davos Connection. Ms Paul is an independent non-executive director of Bond University Limited.  She is a former director of the Programmed Group as well as a former member of the Advisory Board to the Melbourne Accelerator Program and Enterprise Professor-Public Policy at the University of Melbourne.


Dr Wilma Gallet

Dr. Wilma Gallet has a breadth of experience in senior management and policy development positions within the public and community services sectors. She worked for 20 years in the Commonwealth Employment Service before moving to the community sector in 1996. She established Employment Plus in 1998 and as the founding CEO, was responsible for creating and building this enterprise from a zero base to the largest community provider of employment services under the Government’s Job Network umbrella. 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. She was also a member of the Centrelink Community Reference Group for many years. She served on the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) as an adviser on workforce participation (2012-2014). Since leaving the employment services sector in 2003, Wilma has worked in various areas of social policy and program implementation including youth homelessness, domestic violence, suicide prevention and trauma informed practice. She has a Masters in Social Science and a PhD from the University of Melbourne.

NYC Commissioner Howard Kelly

Howard Kelly

Howard Kelly has a distinguished career in education and training. Principal for 12 years in two inner suburban schools. He 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 has led projects in school renewal and restructure in 12 different locations across Victoria. Howard was the course leader of the Master’s Degree in School Leadership and is the Strategic Advisor to the Office of the CEO at Melbourne Polytechnic. In 2017, he accepted the position of Patron to the newly formed CEAV Careers Counselling Australia