UWA Grand Challenges Summit 2022

UWA Grand Challenges Summit -Tomorrow's World, Better Together

Under the banner of the two UWA Grand Challenges: A more just and equitable world post COVID-19, and Climate Change, UWA is bringing together students, industry representatives, leaders in business and government, thought leaders, academics and the community to explore the solutions for some of society’s most complex problems. 

It is through collaborative conversations, an interdisciplinary mindset and multi-faceted lenses that we can truly begin to find holistic solutions to these problems. The Summit will showcase initiatives underway at the University, create opportunities for collaborative conversations, strengthen and form new partnerships, identify new and emerging trends, explore innovative solutions, and activate grassroots student engagement.

Join us in February to be part of the conversation, be motivated to make a difference and be part of the solution. 

By registering for the Summit, you'll be able to:

  • Hear from and be inspired by our keynote speakers 
  • Participate in a collaborative and meaningful workshop of your choice 
  • Find out more about our Students Making a Difference grants
  • Network and connect with likeminded change-makers over lunch 
  • Hear from and ask questions of our experts in Social Innovation and Enterprise 
  • Explore the Change-maker Village throughout the day

Event details

The University Club of Western Australia
Date and Time:
Wednesday 23 February 2022
9am to 2:30pm (registrations open from 8:15am)
Session times and map
Event Type:
In person
University students, business, government, thought leaders, academics, community members, high school students
Event Fee:
Register here

Grand Challenges Summit format

Opening: 9am -10.15am

Join us at the Summit and gain a better understanding of the UWA Grand Challenges and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). Hear from some of our UWA Grand Challenges Champions, UWA’s plan to be Carbon Neutral by 2025, and our Students Making a Difference grants.

More on our keynote speakers:

1. Dr Ian Li, Tsuha Global Fellows Program

The UWA Tsuha Global Fellows Program supports eight next generation leaders from across the globe, providing opportunities to implement projects in their home country related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ultimately improving the lives of people in their home countries.  

About Ian

Dr Ian Li is an economist focusing on improving wellbeing and socioeconomic outcomes for the public. Some of Ian’s focus areas include, Australian higher education policy and graduate outcomes, Determinants and consequences of mental health and distress, and Health workforce development and planning.  Ian is a chief investigator on grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, WA Health Promotion Foundation Healthway and the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. In 2017, he received a national award for Excellence and Innovation in Public Health Teaching from the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia.

2. Associate Professor Katie Attwell, Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines Relies on Governments

The emphasis on ‘vaccine hesitancy’ has enabled governments worldwide to pin the problem of sub-optimal vaccine uptake on individuals. Popular accounts attribute non-vaccination to misinformation, a lack of education, or selfishness, but there are often problems with access that governments should address alongside acceptance issues. Each generation and social group must be continually socialised into the practice of vaccination, which relies on them feeling supported by their governments and trusting public health and other government-funded systems. Governments need to invest in immunisation and health programs, and be willing to study, partner with and reach out to marginalized groups. 

About Katie

Katie Attwell is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow, and a global expert in vaccine hesitancy and vaccination policies. She leads the interdisciplinary project, “Coronavax: Preparing Community and Government”, which engages in community and government research in readiness for a vaccine roll-out for COVID-19, funded by Wesfarmers and the WA Health Department. A/Prof Attwell frequently shares her research and insights globally with the academic field, governments, technical specialists, and the media.

3. Zoe Bush, The Role of Law in addressing the Climate Crisis

Despite growing evidence that irreversible tipping points may have been triggered in the climate system, the politics of climate change remain marred by delay and confusion. It is in this context that communities and investors are increasingly turning to the law to express demands for climate action – and with increasing success. In this keynote, Zoe will explore the role that law has to play in addressing the climate crisis, particularly in Australia’s unique legal and political landscape.

About Zoe

Zoe is a climate change litigator at the Environmental Defenders Office and Adjunct Lecturer at UWA Law School. Zoe was previously a Fellow at Law for Black Lives in the US and holds a Master of Laws from Columbia University. She started her career as an Associate at the Federal Court of Australia before joining the State Solicitor’s Office. In 2019, she was awarded WA Young Woman Lawyer of the Year.

Collaborative Workshops: 10.45am-12.15pm

These workshops provide an engaging, meaningful and impactful way to achieve either a collaborative conversation or to inform or showcase research or an initiative that addresses climate change or creates a more just and equitable world.

1. Education for Sustainable Development in Western Australia

Together we can do a lot to propagate education for sustainable development. In this workshop, we will showcase five projects that are targeted to provide education for sustainable development in Perth, including lessons learned and discussion about the challenges and how they were overcome.

There will be five speakers presenting at this workshop:

Who should register for this workshop?

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Yad Jadoo

2. Conversations about Ethical, Just and Healthy Workplaces

The effects of work on well-being are well established and documented by a growing body of research. Healthy and productive workplaces are of paramount importance to supporting employee engagement, voice and equity. We also know that work affects active citizenship within organisational life, and externally in communities. We need ethical, just and healthy workplaces to maintain and strengthen the economy and the general wellbeing of society. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these concerns to the forefront of public debate inclusive of media commentary on the possibility of a ‘great resignation’ from workplaces that do not support equitable and healthy employment. Importantly, the challenges of climate change will accelerate the need for ethical, just and healthy workplaces going forward. 

In this workshop, featuring participation from UWA Business School researchers, we will canvas the question of what are the attributes of ethical, just and healthy workplaces? Our research highlights the following as being of significance:

  • Responsible Leadership and Shared Principles
  • Meaningful Voice
  • Safety and Well Being
  • Transparency and Accountability for Impact
  • Inclusion and Diversity

We invite you to attend our Grand Challenges Workshop to both clarify and expand this list and identify key strategies that can put   these into action. Our workshop is hosted by the Management and Organisations discipline at the UWA Business School.

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Donella Caspersz 

3. UWA’s Plan to be Carbon Neutral

UWA has an ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 (and include its supply chain emissions by no later than 2040). We would like your help to get there. In this 90 minute workshop we will explore collaborative strategies and actions we could be taking to reduce our emissions.

Who should register for this workshop?  

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Geraldine Tan

4. Design Jam: Social and Environmental Impact Projects

This workshop will provide you with invaluable insight into how to design social and environmental impact projects. You will leave this workshop feeling, inspired, equipped and empowered to make a difference in your community. 

If you are considering applying for the Making a Difference Next Gen or Impact grants, then this workshop is highly recommended.

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students

Workshop contact: [email protected]

5. The New Wave of Climate Change Litigation

The New Wave of Climate Change Litigation

Chair: Professor Alex Gardner, UWA Law School, with presentations by three lawyers from the Environmental Defenders Office, Perth office: Ruby Hamilton, Tim Macknay and Zoe Bush. 

This workshop will inform you about four important climate change cases currently running in Australian courts that could greatly affect the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian fossil fuel projects. You will hear highly informed short presentations on the cases and have the opportunity to discuss the key issues and legal significance of these cases.

10.45 – 11.30: The Conservation Council of WA v Woodside litigation – two cases in the Supreme Court of WA under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) regarding:

  • the lack of full environmental impact assessment for the Burrup Hub gas processing facilities  
    - Ruby Hamilton, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office, Perth
  • the grant of a works approval for the development of Pluto Gas Plant Train 2
    - Tim Macknay, Managing Lawyer, Environmental Defenders Office, Perth;

11.30 – 12.15: Two cases in the Federal Court of Australia under Commonwealth legislation regarding:

  • A duty of care of the Commonwealth Minister for Environment – the Sharma Case, heard on appeal by the Federal Court in October 2021, and
    Corporate law liabilities and duties to be open and truthful about climate change risk – the Santos ‘clean energy’ case,
    - Zoe Bush, Senior Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office, Perth.

Who should register for this workshop?

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Alex Gardner

6. Gender equality, empowerment, and well-being: identifying gaps and strategic opportunities for teaching, research and action in women’s health

Globally, a gender gap exists in health. While women tend to live longer than men in most countries, a number of biological and social factors combine to create a lower quality of life for women and girls. As a global leader in the university sector, UWA can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for gender equality, empowerment and well-being, thus reducing this gender gap. 

This workshop will focus on tangible ideas for how we can strategically contribute, drawing on UWA’s excellence in teaching, research and action. We will begin with short showcase presentations on collaborative and interdisciplinary projects already underway at UWA. Facilitators will then open the floor for collaborative discussion and ideas generation: what can we do together to create a more just and equitable world post COVID-19?

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs
  • Current UWA staff - research, teaching, professional, adjunct and their collaborators

Workshop contacts: Demelza Ireland, Caitlin Wyrwoll and Dani Barrington

7. COVID-19 vaccination – sharing stories, building strength

This workshop will be run by social science researchers from Coronavax, a project that investigates Western Australians’ concerns, motivations and information needs regarding COVID-19 vaccination. Attendees will be invited to share their experiences regarding how they feel coming out of high school in the current COVID-19 climate, discuss what kinds of conversations they’ve had with friends and family about vaccination, and (if they want to) consider strategies for vaccine advocacy.

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs
  • Current UWA staff - research, teaching, professional, adjunct and their collaborator

Workshop contact: Katie Attwell

8. Language Diversity and Inclusion

This workshop will discuss linguistic diversity and how to make the world a more inclusive place. We will work collaboratively to identify the top five barriers to linguistic diversity and inclusion, and we will develop a plan to tackle these in turn. What can we do every day to overcome these obstacles? Overarching change starts small. This workshop will set you on your path to a better world.

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Celeste Rodriguez Louro

9. Innovation – Equitable solutions to unmet health needs

This workshop will focus on how to use the Biodesign process to identify and characterise unmet clinical needs in underserved populations and develop solutions to these problems. The session will begin with a case study of EarBuddy, a WA start-up company that is developing a non-surgical solution to chronic ear infections, a problem that disproportionately affects Australian Indigenous children. Afterwards, participants will have hands-on experience extracting and characterising unmet clinical needs from a real-life patient scenario and learn how to go through the steps of the Biodesign process of identify, invent and implement.

Who should register for this workshop? 

  • High school students
  • Current university students
  • Community members
  • Academics
  • Representatives from Government, Business, Industry and NGOs

Workshop contact: Kevin Pfleger

Network Lunch: 12.15pm-1.30pm

This will be an opportunity to informally network with other attendees and allows time to interact with the Change-maker Village.

Social Innovation and Enterprise Showcase and Panel Q&R: 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Are you a budding social entrepreneur or social innovator? Do you want to make this world a better place?

This showcase demonstrates how UWA students, staff and alumni are leading the way through social innovation and enterprise. Discover how they are using social innovations to help solve some of the world's most complex problems. 

If you are considering applying for the Making a Difference, Social Innovation and Enterprise grants, then this session is highly recommended.
Keynote speakers and panel members for this session include: 

1. Professor Kevin Pfleger – Speaker and panel member

Professor Kevin Pfleger is Director of Biomedical Innovation at UWA and the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub. He is also Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, President of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists, Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies, Chief Scientific Advisor to ASX-listed Dimerix and co-Founder of RAGE Biotech. 

Professor Pfleger co-founded the UWA BioZone initiative and works with colleagues to drive the Biodesign portfolio of offerings, including bootcamps and iPREP Biodesign industry placements, as well as Medtech and Digital Health courses.

2. Dr Julia Reisser – Speaker and panel member

Julia is the Co-Founder of ULUU and is a highly regarded marine scientist and adjunct fellow at UWA. She holds a doctorate in plastic pollution with more than 15 years of experience leading R&D for universities, technology companies and foundations, including The Ocean Cleanup, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and, most recently, with Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation. Julia is also completing her MBA at UWA and has a PHD, Masters and Honours in Oceanography.

ULUU is replacing plastic, fighting climate change and improving our health. ULUU is an ocean material to mitigate plastic pollution at scale, while also regenerating our oceans and climate. The company produces a versatile range of natural polymers, PHAs (polyhydroxalkanoates), with the potential to replace all kinds of plastics, combined with a clean production process using ocean resources – seaweed, seawater and saltwater microbes.

3. Alexander van Hoek – Speaker and panel member
Alexander van Hoek is the creator of “sySTEMatic”, an initiative focussed on fostering a passion and interest in STEM. The aim is to change the stereotype that only "smart" children should be involved with STEM. sySTEMatic focuses on encouraging children in Year 1 to Year 3 to be curious about STEM. This is achieved by giving children from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds the opportunity to engage with STEM through structured play and exploratory experiences. sySTEMatic will deliver a "kit" of STEM toys and experiments, along with appropriate instructions. The intention is that this kit contains sustainable components, is cost-effective and can be adapted for different teaching scenarios and formats.

Alex is a Biomedical Engineering and Genetics student studying at UWA and attending St Georges College. He became a Fogarty Scholar in 2020 and received the Jeremy Cheang award in 2021 for the sySTEMatic initiative. Alex is passionate about STEM and believes it is vital that all children should have access to inspiring STEM education.
4. Dr Antoine Musu – Panel member

Dr Antoine Musu is the Co-Founder and Director of the Commercialisation Studies Centre and an educator in entrepreneurial thinking and learning and strategically managing a business. Dr Musu teaches at UWA Business School where he assists students to learn how to evaluate, analyse, share, and apply what they’ve learned in their peer setting. His ambition is to support individuals and organizations to do well in the spaces they chose to be in and how to sustain this practice.

Before his academic role, Dr Musu had a career as a professional hotelier and in the development and management of private membership clubs. He has also worked with owner-operated companies and with international corporations in many countries. 

5. Ashleigh Small – Panel member
Ashleigh Small is the Co-Founder and CEO at Hello Initiative, a not-for-profit start-up that seeks to improve the social and judicial outcomes for young people involved in the WA criminal justice system. Hello Initiative is driving innovative interventions in the youth justice sector to improve outcomes for young people, their families and the WA community. Examples of their current projects include the Mobile Support Project to address digital inequities in vulnerable communities, and the Court Breakfast Program to deliver food relief to families engaged in the justice system. 

Ashleigh has been recognised locally and nationally for her work in youth innovation and social justice and was a finalist in the 2021 Young Australian of the Year WA Awards. 

In addition to her volunteer role at Hello Initiative, Ashleigh is the Innovation Officer at East Metropolitan Health Service and holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Social Work from UWA.

Change-maker Village: 10am -1:30pm

Come and discover the inspiring work our students, graduates and staff are doing at the Change-maker Village. This interactive space provides learning experiences, activities and information connected to causes and initiatives actively addressing the UWA Grand Challenges and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

You can even donate your old phone through Hello Initiative, purchase a second-hand bike at Bikes for Humanity or pick up a plant or two while you're there.