2022 Business Managers Meeting Program


Thursday May 5, 2022

9am – 4pm NSW time

9:00 am: Welcome

9:05am: Wellbeing Exercise – Vanessa Snaith, Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School

9:45 – 11:15am: Workshop: Financial Sustainability for schools: key levers for Business Managers – Jack Stevens, Edstart

Learn about the key levers that Business Managers can use to achieve financial sustainability and improved cash flow, including critical metrics to drive decision making.

With focus on enrolment retentions and growth, we’ll explore the following key metrics and tools:

    • Enrolment Lifetime Value and Acquisition Cost
    • Scholarships and Bursaries
    • Billing Cycles
    • On-time Payment Discounts
    • Instalment Options
    • And more

Jack Stevens – Biography
Jack Stevens is the Co-Founder and CEO of Edstart, a technology and financial services company providing funding and payment services for education. He has extensive experience across the finance and education sectors, holding senior consulting and corporate finance roles at KPMG prior to founding Edstart in 2016.

Having grown up with parents as school teachers, Jack is passionate about advocating and building solutions to help support access to education, as well as championing the critical role that schools and teachers play in developing our next generation.  He currently serves as a Board Director at the Australian Industry Trade College, has supported several social enterprises in a voluntary capacity and been awarded Australian Young Businessperson of the Year.

He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Business from Bond University.

11:30am – 1:00pm: Workshop: Sustaining wellbeing for Business Managers in tough times – Cath Lanigan, Dandenong Ranges Steiner School

How do we sustain our wellbeing at the best of times in the role of Business Manager and even more so in challenging times? Cath will give one perspective and lead a discussion on strategies to help maintain wellbeing, especially in challenging times.

Cath Lanigan – Biography
After a career in journalism and publishing, Cath led the establishment of Wild Cherry School and Kindergarten in Victoria and was the Administration Leader at the school for five years. She has been Business Manager at Dandenong Ranges Steiner School for the past three years. Cath also operates a business as a homeopath and has been studying anthroposophical medicine for the past seven years.

1:30 – 3pm: Workshop: How personal sentiment influences demand for dynamics for the economy and the sustainability of schools – Dean Pearson, Biljana Nikolova, Damien Hoffman, NAB

  • What can human behaviour, big data and how people “feel” tell us about the economy, consumers and our schools?
  • Findings from the NAB Independent School Survey.
  • Best practice for efficient schools operations.

Dean Pearson – Head of Behavioural Economics, NAB
As a behavioural economist and commentator with almost 30 years’ experience, Dean has worked to debunk the view that humans are rational, clear-thinking beings. Instead, we behave and make choices that are often illogical and based on emotion.  And, if we are to truly understand the economy, it is important that we know the underlying emotional state and motives of the people who work and live within it. Dean is a sought-after key note speaker at major business forums, with the ability to present complex information in a readily digestible and  entertaining manner.

Biljana Nikolova – General Manager (Executive), Government, Education and Community Business, NAB
Biljana is a highly qualified banking and finance professional of over 20 years. She is the General Manager (Executive) of NAB’s specialised Government, Education and Community business and feels very passionate about championing thought leadership and innovation in these sectors to help build better communities. Prior to this role, Biljana held roles in corporate finance advisory, private equity, strategy and other leadership. Biljana holds a PhD in Finance from UNSW, she is an honorary fellow at Macquarie University and her academic work has been published in reputable international finance journals and presented at domestic and international finance and economics conferences.

Damien Hoffman – Director, Government, Education and Community Business, NAB
Damien is responsible for servicing the specialised banking needs and assisting with strategic developments of independent schools in Queensland. He has been employed with NAB 20 years and has held a number of management positions within NAB’s Business and Corporate teams.  Damien maintains contact with a variety of advisors and suppliers within the education sector to ensure he is fully aware of changes within the industry impacting his clients. His previous position on the Board of a community housing organisation provided Damien practical insight into the governance and operational responsibilities and challenges faced by not-for-profit businesses.

3:00 – 3:30pm: Panel Discussion: Facilitated by Steve Klipin


2022 Governance, Leadership and Management Conference Program


Friday May 6 – Saturday May 7, 2022

9:45am – 3:30pm NSW time


Day 1: Friday May 6

9:45 – 10:00am: Welcome

10:00  – 11:00am: Keynote Address: Tom Brunzell

Trauma-Informed Integral Leadership: Supporting and sustaining Steiner schools through times of great need

The impacts of childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences can have devastating consequences on students’ learning and wellbeing. Pairing this alongside the negative and vicarious impacts of secondary traumatic stress on teachers,  Colleges, staff and positional leaders, efforts towards whole school change are complex endeavours. The extant literature from trauma-informed practice for school leadership provides useful frameworks for leaders, no matter how leadership manifests in Steiner schools, to understand their guiding roles within trauma-affected communities. However, trauma-informed practices require further enquiry and better integration with systems-aware perspectives. A systems-aware approach to school leadership positions leaders within the dynamic systems in which their schools are embedded. It helps leaders to navigate the networked patterns of relationships within their communities.

Given the impacts of adverse childhood experiences, devastating natural events, and ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many complex factors that now require systems-aware perspectives to address compounding systemic concerns. In order to contribute to the advancement of both trauma-informed school leadership and systems-aware school leadership, this session introduces Berry Street Victoria’s research with school leaders and a new practice framework for a trauma-informed integral response to benefit whole communities.

Biography – Dr Tom Brunzell

Dr Tom Brunzell (MST, EdM, PhD) has experience as a teacher, school leader, researcher and education advisor in New York City and Melbourne. Currently he is the Director of Education at Berry Street. Tom presents internationally on topics of transforming school cultures, high expectations for differentiated instruction, trauma-informed practice, wellbeing and the application of positive psychology, and effective school leadership. His research at the University of Melbourne Centre of Positive Psychology investigates trauma-aware pedagogy, positive psychology, positive education and their impacts on workplace meaning.

Workshops Day 1

11:15am – 12:45pm and 1:15pm – 2:45pm: Tom Brunzell: Strategies to Shift Staff from a Reactive to Proactive Mindset: Trauma-informed strategies in action

In our research and practice, a key horizon point when implementing and sustaining trauma-informed education is when all staff in a school are able to shift their mindset from reactive to proactive when it comes to managing student behaviour towards engagement with learning. We often hear initial educator concerns such as: “Some students have so many off-task moments, we have to save our energy for the big moments...” However well intentioned, teachers who make these kinds of statements may still find themselves struggling to empower students and fortify classroom cultures of reverence, kindness and belonging. Grounded in Berry Street’s original trauma-informed and wellbeing research in Australian schools, including our experience working with SEA member schools, this workshop will equip you with practical and adaptable examples of ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ regulation strategies to support young people to thrive in learning and life, both inside and outside of the classroom.

11:15am – 12:45pm: Dom Melli: Ethical decision making in an unscrupulous world – how leaders can still make ethical decisions

  • What does it mean to make ethical decisions today and is it even possible
  • Why ethical frameworks fail
  • How can leaders use guiding principles to make sustainable choices
  • Ethical decision making frameworks that are still relevant
  • The way ahead – Ethical choices, purpose and justice

Biography – Dom Meli
Dom holds a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University along with certifications in EI, personality assessment, coaching, CBT, ACT, and whole brain thinking. Dom has also studied stress management, wellbeing and resilience at Nature Care College and is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association and alumni of Mt Eliza Business College. Dom is the principal of People At Their Best and is primarily responsible for publication, interviews and thought leadership in organisational culture, engagement, communication, employee experience and leadership. Dom Meli / 0415 927 898 / dom@peopleattheirbest.com.au / www.peopleattheirbest.com.au 

11:15am – 12:45pm: Barbara Fisher: The Special Relationship – Building strong and effective relationships between School Boards and School Administrative and Educational Leaders

In this session we will investigate how to build productive and mutually respectful relationships between school boards/governance groups and school educational and administrative leaders in contemporary Australian Steiner/Waldorf schools.

It will include small and large group discussions of:

    • the roles and responsibilities of school governance and leadership positions including their limitations;
    • building an appreciation of the strengths and weakness of each— why they need each other, that is, why the school needs both to thrive;
    • what you identify as strong and weak points in your school leadership and governance;
    • what constitutes strong and effective relationships between the governance and leadership groups/positions in Steiner/Waldorf schools;
    • what barriers exist to working together in your school;
    • and what can be done to build good relationships: let’s consider examples from your school –and even what you yourself could do– as well as in general.

Biography – Barbara Fisher
I am a registered teacher with over 30 years’ experience in Steiner schools in Australia and Great Britain. I have worked as a Professional Partner with Steiner schools in ACT, NSW, WA and Victoria, and am one of the foundation coaches with the SEA Leadership Development Program in 2020. I have also worked in schools for young adults with special needs. 

I have worked in Steiner/Waldorf and Curative Education as an Interim or Acting Head of School/Principal; High School Humanities Teacher; Class Teacher; Teacher Educator; Assistant Principal; administrative consultant.

My professional interests are in coaching and mentoring of school leaders and teachers in Steiner schools now and into the future; personal and professional development of all staff working in Steiner schools; and building healthy and vibrant school communities through education and engagement.

11:15am – 12:45pm: Shelley Davidow – Leading for restorative practice

In this presentation/workshop Shelley will introduce the main elements of Restorative Practice and discuss how they offer a three-fold paradigm for consciously navigating challenging relationships and behaviour in schools and classrooms, and the transformative opportunities that can arise as a result.

Biography – Shelley Davidow
Shelley Davidow PhD is an award-winning international author and former Waldorf student and teacher. She is also a HeartMath Coach and Mentor and a Facilitator in Restorative Practice. Shelley is currently a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast in QLD where she co-ordinates the Graduate Certificate in Steiner Education. Her recent book titles include the memoirs Runaways (Ultimo, 2022), Shadow Sisters (UQP, 2018), Whisperings in the Blood (UQP, 2016), the creative writing textbook Playing with Words: An Introduction to Creative Writing Craft (Palgrave, UK, 2016), and Raising Stressproof Kids (Familius, 2016).

1:15pm – 2:45pm: Libbi Turner – Beyond HR… considerations for the effective recruitment and sustainability of school leaders

Good or great schools are highly dependent on effective and successful leadership. Recruiting and appointing the ‘right’ person or persons to leadership position(s) is a professional challenge that is accompanied by progressive development and positive rewards for the whole school! The impact of less than successful recruitment processes and appointments can have a serious impact on the quality of the education delivery, culture and school reputation and sustainability that can take years to rectify.  Ultimately the responsibility of the school Governing body, there are many factors to identify, consider and address in collaboration with the Leadership Team that may improve the success of a leadership recruitment process. In this workshop, these will be identified and some explored further: eg.

    • having a shared and living whole school vision for leadership
    • having a culture of shared responsibility and collaboration that underpins leadership and governance and the working relationship between the two
    • supporting emergent leaders and effective succession planning with adequate training, mentoring and coaching
    • ensuring that Position Statements give clear focus to the responsibilities and leadership style that fits with  the school leadership vision and specific school culture
    • facilitating and implementing a ‘professional’ recruitment and appointment process and
    • successfully avoiding the common pitfalls
    • commitment of the Board to follow through with regular appraisals and reviews
    • supporting appointed leaders with sufficient, available, relevant and specialised resources

This workshop targets Chairpersons and members of Governance Groups, Leadership / Leadership Teams including Business Managers and HR, and emergent leaders. 

Biography – Libbi Turner
Libbi has actively contributed and committed to Steiner school leadership positions for 20 years including Principalships, emergency interim roles, restorative community building, change management, leadership consultancy and supporting schools with leadership recruitment needs and processes. Shared and collaborative leadership is her leadership model. For the past 5 years, Libbi has been a SEA Professional Partner – supporting School Leadership. In 2018, Libbi completed  training and certification for the Leadership Circle’s Profile Assessment and the Collective Leadership Assessment – the Leadership Circle being a dynamic and innovative global program, promoting, coaching and developing Leadership. She has co-facilitated the SEA Leadership Development Program since November 2019. The program includes a Leadership Circle 360 Leadership Profile, individual profile debriefs, goal setting support, and a  series of Peer Coaching sessions.

1:15pm – 2:45pm: John Forman – Playing the long game (A Board game)

What does a sustainable school organism look like and how does it behave?

This is a critical wide lens governance responsibility.

The corporate management classic “Built to Last” by J. Collins & J.I. Porras is a study of the factors which have enabled some highly successful corporations founded prior to 1950 to remain industry leaders through multiple product life cycles, multiple leadership generations etc.

What are our schools’ life expectancies? Are we adept at stimulating progress whilst preserving the core? Do we behave as adaptive, evolving, living entities?

In this interactive workshop Board members will identify and explore factors which contribute to the ongoing and long-term, sustainable health of Steiner schools.

Biography – John Forman
John Forman is an experienced business consultant (currently: Forman Baxendale Consulting P/L works primarily with Steiner schools), business trainer and manager in the NFP and for-profit sectors. His early career was with the Commonwealth government in income tax and corporate fraud investigations & prosecutions (DPP).

This was followed by time as a Certified Practicing Accountant and certified biodynamic farmer. He was a school founding parent and board member plus business manager / company secretary of three Steiner schools.

John was Chairman of Steiner education’s national peak body for four years, he holds a Master’s Degree in Business Law plus Grad Dip Project Management, Bach Commerce, Dip Bus Studies, Cert Corporate Governance, Trainer & Workplace Assessor qualifications. He is a member of the Institute of Managers and Leaders and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Meanwhile he remains in the infant classes of higher learning.

1:15pm – 2:45pm: Cathie Burgess: Leading by listening: why Aboriginal voices matter

This workshop discusses contextual factors that influence Aboriginal students, families and communities engagement with educational institutions. We will discuss how school leaders who understand and acknowledge these factors can mobilise leading practices based on listening to Aboriginal voices to implement strength-based relationships between schools and communities. Participants will consider the roles of Country & Culture, Community Collaboration, Relationships, Relevant & engaging curriculum and Understanding student backgrounds in shaping their leading practices in Aboriginal contexts.

Biography – Assoc. Prof Cathie Burgess
Associate Professor Cathie Burgess is a lecturer & researcher in Aboriginal Studies, Learning from Country and Leadership in Aboriginal Education programs at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney. Her research involves community-led initiatives positioning Country, Aboriginal voices and Aboriginal community-based educators as leaders and collaborators in curriculum, pedagogy, teacher professional learning, and research. Current projects include Learning from Country in the City, the Aboriginal Voices Culturally Nourishing Schooling Project and Sparking Imagination Education: Transforming Inequality in Schools.

2:45 – 3:30pm: Forum with Lisa Devine: What does College Look like?

Panel – Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School; Samford Valley Steiner School, Dandenong Ranges Steiner School, Perth Waldorf School

Day 2: saturday May 7

9:45 – 10:00am: Welcome

10:00 – 11:00am: Keynote Address: Jennifer Gidley

Beyond Sustainability to Regeneration: Meeting Global Challenges with Love, Life, Wisdom and Voice

We are at a critical point today in human history as we face the Grand Global Futures Challenges. We are called to empower our young people to imagine, design and create regenerative, equitable, and wise futures for all. In my Keynote I reveal that the time for sustainability is past. Why sustain a broken system? Now is the time when no less is required of us than to redesign all our systems on a pathway to regeneration. We need to regenerate our ecological systems, our socio-cultural systems and our geo-political systems.

Biography – Jennifer Gidley
Jennifer M. Gidley, PhD, is an internationally renowned psychologist, educator, and futures researcher, and Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, Sydney. She is a global thought leader and advocate for human-centred futures in an era of hi-tech hype and hubris.

Jennifer founded and pioneered a Rudolf Steiner school in rural NSW (1984-94), was Consultant Research Advisor to the Australian Steiner Curriculum Project, and an academic researcher at four Australian Universities (1995-2012). She now speaks and consults in Europe/UK, Middle East, SE Asia, and USA. Former President of the World Futures Studies Federation (2009-2017), UNESCO and UN partner and global peak body for futures studies, Jennifer led a network of world leading futures researchers from over 60 countries.

Jennifer has published over fifty academic papers and three books: The Future: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2017), Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures (Springer, 2016), and The Secret to Growing Brilliant Children: Steiner Education for the 21st Century (Bear Books, 2020). All her research and writing is deeply inspired by Anthroposophy.

Workshops Day 2

11:15am – 12:45pm: Jennifer Gidley: Understanding Grand Global Futures Challenges

We are at a critical point today in human history as we face the Grand Global Futures Challenges. We are called to empower our young people to imagine, design and create regenerative, equitable, and wise futures for all. In my Keynote I reveal that the time for sustainability is past. Why sustain a broken system? Now is the time when no less is required of us than to redesign all our systems on a pathway to regeneration. We need to regenerate our ecological systems, our socio-cultural systems and our geo-political systems. 

In the first workshop I will invite you to explore the ways these grand global futures challenges impact our children and young people in our schools. 

In the second workshop I will challenge you to draw on your creative thinking to identify practical ways to turn around these challenges by educating with the four core pedagogical values of Postformal Education: Love, Life, Wisdom and Voice.

11:15am – 12:45pm and 1:15 – 2:45pm: : Neil Boland: Diversity and inclusion in Steiner settings: part of the problem or part of the solution?

Steiner education has entered its second century, and around it many traditions (and some myths) have accumulated. How true to its roots has Steiner education been? How effective is it at meeting the needs of contemporary children and educating them all to meet their potential? To what extent do inherited practices and mindsets hold us (and some of our students) back as we strive towards diversity, equity and inclusion? 

Biography – Neil Boland
Dr Neil Boland (MusB, MMus, PhD) has taught at all levels from early childhood to postgraduate. He is senior lecturer in the School of Education at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and Adjunct Professor at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. His research interests include the contextualisation of Steiner education in non-European cultural and geographic settings, education for social justice, teacher education for the 21st century and educational futures. His work involves promoting the conversation between Waldorf education and other educational philosophies.

11:15am – 12:45pm: Lisa Devine: The Wellsprings of the Healing in Mind and Heart and Body

This workshop will focus on wellbeing at its source with simple touchstones for reclaiming  enthusiasm and confidence in life after the experiences of the pandemic. Re-enlivening imaginative capacities, freeing the breath, and remembering to play will be themes. The different contexts of community, groups, individuals will be addressed as well as differentiating work for children, adolescents and adults.

11:15am – 12:45pm: Tracey Taylor: Parent Engagement Workshop

In this 1.5 hour workshop we will be exploring together the difference between parent involvement and parent engagement. Participants will explore and share what they already do to enhance parent engagement and gain wisdom from others in the group. Tracey will share some of the research from a parent engagement project Samford Valley Steiner School was involved in last year with Griffith University, Independent Schools Queensland and the Qld Independent Schools Parent Network. It went so well they have invited the school to participate again this year. 

Steiner schools are not community schools run by parents. They are independent schools governed by an elected board with structures in place to ensure the school is sustainable into the future. This workshop will explore how we can sustainably harness parent energy so their efforts are to improve their child’s learning and be engaged in ways that support the school ethos and principles. Do we have it right yet at Samford Valley Steiner School? Not at all, but the conversations will be rich and hopefully we all leave the workshop with new ideas to try.

Biography – Tracey Taylor
Tracey Taylor has 14 years’ experience as a Steiner Class Teacher, taking two primary classes through from Class 1 to 7 at Casuarina Steiner School, Coffs Harbour, being on the Executive group, College and the Board. She was a board member of Steiner Education Australia (SEA) for six years, the national peak body, representing all Steiner schools, new initiatives and teacher training centres and then took on the role of CEO of SEA for almost seven years. 

During that time, for four years Tracey represented Australia at the International Forum for Waldorf Education, visiting Steiner/Waldorf schools in Europe, Israel, USA and Ukraine. Tracey was Principal of Michael Park School in Auckland for a year, taught at the International School of Florence and then returned to Australia and has been at Samford Valley Steiner School since February 2019. Tracey has presented at many Steiner conferences and professional development courses, giving talks on Steiner education, child development, governance and leadership and has visited most Steiner schools in Australia. She is currently a member of the Independent Schools of Queensland Advisory Group, the Steiner Education Australia Advisory Group and the USC Graduate Certificate of Steiner Education Advisory Group. She is a parent of two and grandmother of three and passionate about parent engagement in Steiner schools. 

1:15 – 2:45pm: Jennifer Gidley: Meeting challenges with Love, Life, Wisdom and Voice

We are at a critical point today in human history as we face the Grand Global Futures Challenges. We are called to empower our young people to imagine, design and create regenerative, equitable, and wise futures for all. In my Keynote I reveal that the time for sustainability is past. Why sustain a broken system? Now is the time when no less is required of us than to redesign all our systems on a pathway to regeneration. We need to regenerate our ecological systems, our socio-cultural systems and our geo-political systems. 

In the first workshop I will invite you to explore the ways these grand global futures challenges impact our children and young people in our schools. 

In the second workshop I will challenge you to draw on your creative thinking to identify practical ways to turn around these challenges by educating with the four core pedagogical values of Postformal Education: Love, Life, Wisdom and Voice.

1:15 – 2:45pm: Joan Weir and Mercedes Logan: Anthroposophy within a Board context

Core Principle 7 for Australian Steiner Schools talks about the importance for schools to “cultivate a shared anthroposophical understanding of organisational principles for guiding the school. What does this mean for Boards? How can we work with Anthroposophy in our guardianship role? How does this look in our decision making? 

In this workshop, Joan and Mercedes will bring examples of how the Boards at Birali Steiner School and Samford Valley Steiner School work with anthroposophy, as well as opening up discussion on how this might look for your school.

1:15 – 2:45pm: Mark Baxter – Master planning for sustainability

Mark Baxter and David Jacobson, as directors of Baxter Jacobson Architects, have been designing Steiner schools around Australia for over 40 years. The diversity of climatic regions led to different building types whilst changes in legislation mandating more sustainable design has led to more sophisticated masterplanning and building design.

Using examples, the workshop will explore how sustainability begins with building siting and orientation as well as the more obvious passive building fabric and active systems such as PV cells. Beyond this however we can look at the educational context and value of introducing sustainable practices in the school culture. Composting, re-wilding, water management, and bio-philic design are just a few areas for consideration. Are Steiner schools leading or lagging in these changes?