Governance and Board of Directors

Youth Development Australia (YDA) is the auspice of the National Youth Commission Australia. It is responsible for appointing the Executive Officer of the National Youth Commission Australia (NYCA) who in turn establishes the NYCA Secretariat. Youth Development Australia is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, which has been operating since 2005. The purpose of YDA is to be a ‘platform for change’ for young people in Australia.


YDA is responsible for the financial management and administration of the National Youth Commission Australia and its Inquiry into Youth Employment and Transitions. YDA has no editorial control over the reports prepared by NYCA this responsibility rests solely with the independent Commissioners and the Executive Officer.

Meet Our Board


Emily Smith is a lawyer with experience working at both a young people’s legal rights centre and in a large commercial law firm. Emily is passionate about using legal tools to afford better protections to those that need it, and using her experience to advocate for those who struggle to do so themselves. Emily is interested in engaging in policy work within the legal system to ensure that the opportunities available to young people are not limited by arbitrary attributes like race, gender, socio-economic status or sexuality. Emily hopes to work towards empowering young people through education to avoid encounters with the justice system, and to achieve a more politically engaged Australia.

Emily Smith

Alex young

Alex Young is the Head of Innovation at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. He works with business units to apply techniques from strategy, customer experience and Agile to accelerate their ability to achieve organisational strategic goals. Prior to Lifeblood, Alex held roles across Strategy and Innovation, Digital, and Marketing at Medibank, initiating digital health innovations and delivering on member experiences.

Alex Young has been active in the digital space for the past 20 years designing and launching digital products in start-ups and corporates throughout Asia-Pacific including Nokia, Telstra and StarHub. His passion to solve problems in healthcare as well as inspire youth leadership fuels his work.

Alex Young

Evrim Sen

Evrim Sen is currently SYN Media’s General Manager, a youth community broadcaster and non-profit which trains and empowers young people to be media makers. She has a focus on buisness and strategic organisational development, which she utilised whilst working with the Community Media Training’s Organisation’s as the course developer and coordinator of ‘Think Big’, their national social enterprise training program. She has designed and produced accessible media training programs for young people in conjunction with numerous partners, including Regional Arts Victoria, The Victorian Office for Youth, The Wheeler Centre, Arts Access Victoria, RMIT Creative and numerous schools and community groups.

Evrim Sen

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David MacKenzie is an Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Swinburne University. He has a strong record of research and development on youth issues and youth policy and is internationally recognised for his work on homelessness and youth. He is the author and co-author of a number of significant reports on Youth Homelessness. David was the original founder of Youth Development Australia and he is the current Chair of the YDA Board. Over the past 10 years, David has served on a number of government advisory committees and taskforces including the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness, the National SAAP Data and Research Advisory Committee, and many more.

Associate Prof. David MacKenzie

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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

Michael Coffey

Michael Coffey is the Senior Manager Strategic Directions and Planning at Catholic Care (Diocese of Broken Bay). Prior to taking up this position he was the Chief Executive Officer at YFoundations for 15 years. He began work with YFoundations in 1988, and over 30 years has positioned himself as a leading national voice on the issue of youth homelessness. Michael holds a doctorate from the University of Technology, Sydney. Under Michael’s leadership, YFoundations developed into a great force promoting discussion and action on the issue of youth homelessness within New South Wales and Australia.

Dr. Michael Coffey

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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