2021 VATE State Conference

Conference program
Download and read the full conference program here. The 2021 State Conference will be presented online via Zoom and the conference program is split over half-days on the following dates: Day One: Monday 20 September and Tuesday 21 September | Day Two: Thursday 30 September and Friday 1 October

VATE members can now register for FREE for any/all session/s across all four days of the State Conference: Monday 20 September, Tuesday 21 September, Thursday 30 September and Friday 1 October. Your conference registration will also include access to over 25 pre-recorded workshops available until 30 January 2022. You can find more information about registering on the State Conference event page.

Keynote speakers

Antero Garcia    
  Antero Garcia is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Prior to completing his Ph.D., Antero was an English teacher at a public high school in South Central Los Angeles. His work explores how technology and gaming shape learning, literacy practices, and civic identities. Read more here.
Nicole Mirra    
  Nicole is an assistant professor of urban teacher education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her teaching and research focuses on the intersections between critical literacy and civic engagement across multiple contexts, including urban secondary English classrooms, grassroots youth organisations, and digital learning communities. Read more here.
Kate Manne    
  Kate Manne has been teaching at the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University since 2013. Before that, she was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (2011–2013). Nowadays, her research is primarily in moral, feminist, and social philosophy. Read more here.

Guest speakers

Rick Morton    
  Rick Morton is an award-winning journalist and the author of three non-fiction books. His latest My Year of Living Vulnerably released in March this year. Morton is also the author of One Hundred Years of Dirt (MUP, 2018) and the extended essay On Money (Hachette, 2020). Read more here.
Cara Shipp    
  Cara Shipp, a Wiradjuri/Welsh woman (descending from the Lamb and Shipp families in Central Western NSW) who currently leads Years 9-12 at Silkwood School, Mount Nathan, in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Read more here.
Lucinda McKnight    
  As a senior lecturer in pedagogy and curriculum at Deakin University, Lucinda conducts award-winning research into curriculum design’s role in teacher identity, autonomy and professionalism, especially in English. Read more here.

Panels and Forums

Student voice: ‘Zooming’ truth to power
Monday 20 September, 11.00am - 11.45am. Read more about this panel here.

Josef Arpula


Mairead Spark

Josef Arpula (he/him) is a 16-year-old student at Swinburne Senior Secondary College. He lives with his parents and sibling in Seddon. He is studying Units 3 and 4 Music Performance, playing trumpet and following up on his interest in jazz, and 3 and 4 VET Furniture Making.  He is also doing Units 1 and 2 English Language, Art, Fashion Design and VET Sound Production. Outside of school he enjoys socialising with friends, playing music, reading, gardening, cooking, painting and being in the bush. He is unsure yet of what he wants to do after school but would possibly like to study fine art, music, linguistics, journalism or media at university.


Mairead Spark (she/her) is a 17-year-old student at the University High School. She lives with her parents and siblings in Footscray. She currently studies Units 3 and 4 Psychology and Units 1and 2 English, Literature, Studio Arts, Health and Human Development and Biology. She has a great interest in novels, and loves fiction. Her favourite text, however, is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. She also enjoys poetry and music. In her spare time she enjoys designing and making clothes, drawing and painting, running and baking. She is currently employed at Coles as a cashier, and has previously worked at McDonald's and a local cafe as a barista.

Eva Rodgers


Flynn Wilkinson

Eva Rodgers (she/her) is a 17 year old studying at a private school in Ivanhoe. She lives with her parents and brother in Ivanhoe. She is a year 11 student undertaking VCE studying 1/2 Economics. 1/2 English, 1/2 20th century History, 1/2 Geography, 1/2 studio arts and 3/4 business management. I will also be studying 3/4 global politics next year! She is very passionate about sustainability, and climate action. Eva is a volunteer at School Strike for Climate, and works actively in her schools co-curricular activities. After school Eva looks to study International Relation or History at Melbourne University preferably. 



Flynn Wilkinson is a Year 12 student and school captain of Aquinas College, Ringwood. Flynn does his best to keep up with ongoing global affairs and enjoys playing piano and the vibraphone, Irish dancing and going for walks along the beach. 


Holding the school captain position at Aquinas College has taught Flynn that he must be aware of the current issues facing young people. Flynns tries to respect and understand each and every person's beliefs and values no matter the size and endeavours to place fairness above all else.

Opening a wound: Confronting trauma through writing
Tuesday 21 September, 9.00am - 9.45am. Read more about this panel here.

Amani Haydar


Lech Blaine


Amani Haydar is an artist, lawyer, mum and advocate for women's health and safety based in Western Sydney. Amani's writing and illustrations have been published in ABC News Online and SBS Voices and her self-portrait Insert Headline Here was a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize. Amani uses visual art and writing to explore the personal and political dimensions of abuse, loss, identity and resilience. Her memoir, The Mother Wound was published by Pan Macmillan in July 2021.



Lech Blaine is an award-winning writer from Toowoomba, Queensland. His work appears widely, including in The Best Australian Essays, Meanjin, The Guardian, Griffith Review and The Monthly. An inaugural Griffith Review Queensland Writing Fellow, he won the 2017 Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award and the 2019 Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Emerging Artist Fellowship. Car Crash is his first book.


‘This is the use of memory’: Diaries, blogs, memoirs…and autofiction
Thursday 30 September, 12.00pm - 12.45am. Read more about this panel here.

Darcy Moore


David Homer


Emma Batchelor

Darcy Moore likes to think of himself as a reader who loves writing. He commenced his career as an English teacher, last century, in an effort to have a job that allowed him to read. He was (and continues to be) pleasantly surprised at how much he enjoys teaching. Darcy has blogged for nearly 20 years (https://www.darcymoore.net/) and publicised this writing via Twitter since 2008 (https://twitter.com/Darcy1968). If a soapbox was handy, he would suggest that English teachers have a special role in ensuring young people are critically literate if we are to renew democracy in Australia and prevent environmental catastrophe. The time has come for any ‘mind-forged manacles’ to be cast away if we are to develop students with powerful voices for this endeavour. Darcy works as a deputy principal in NSW and is currently writing a book, Orwell in Paris.


David Homer has been keeping a diary for 65 years. They interweave his personal and professional lives. Recently he bequeathed ten of them (1994-2004) to the archives of the national English teaching association (AATE). This bequest covers the years when he served, successively, as president of the South Australian, national and international English teaching associations. During that period, David’s 'day job' was in teacher education in South Australia before a career change to teaching communication and media at the University of South Australia, including units on professional writing. He saw the latter grow from a Cinderella subject speculating about the role of creative writing in the academy to a discipline with a whole range of specialisations. Autobiography was big. David’s own unit on 'Writing the City’, an annual excursion-based ’tour' of Adelaide in the heat of an Australian summer achieved a sort of legendary status. One such excursion involved hearing Gough Whitlam deliver the eulogy for Don Dunstan before a vast crowd in Elder Park: 'One great self-publicist speaking about another.’


Emma Batchelor is a writer and author from Canberra. She holds a Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) from the Australian National University. From 2016-2019 she edited and wrote for online publication Leiden, and in 2017 published Building a Conscious Wardrobe (and other fun things) a book championing conscious consumerism. In May 2021, her first novel Now that I see you won the Australian/Vogel Literary Award. As well as writing, Emma works at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility supporting shareholders in Australian listed companies to make use of their rights to improve corporate behaviour on issues such as climate change, worker’s rights, human rights and cultural heritage. To stay in touch with Emma and her work, visit www.emmabatchelor.com.au

Beware of ‘performative watchdoggery’: Journalism in the time of plague
Friday 1 October, 11.00am - 11.45am. Read more about this panel here.

Margaret Simons


Russell Marks






 Sumeyya Ilanbey

Margaret Simons is an award-winning freelance journalist and the author of many books and numerous articles and essays. She is also a journalism academic and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne. She has won the Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism, a Foreign Press Association Award and a number of Quill Awards, including for her reporting from the Philippines with photojournalist Dave Tacon. As well as writing books Simons is a freelance investigative journalist. Her long-form journalism has been published in The Monthly, Inside Story, The Age and other publications. Simons has also written extensively about the media for numerous publications.


Russell Marks has worked as a bookseller, a cricket coach, a lecturer in Australian politics, a lawyer, an online magazine editor, a political staffer and a union rights officer. He is the author of Crime and Punishment: Offenders and Victims in a Broken Justice System (Black Inc, 2015) and an almost-finished book about Australia's record of locking up Indigenous people (hopefully 2021). He writes for The Monthly, where his recent column - On the Politicisation of Lockdowns - examines the ways conservative commentators in the Murdoch media use 'inflammatory words that clearly don’t fit any reasonable assessment of the situation' to undermine the work of governments responding to COVID through lockdowns and border closures.


Sumeyya Ilanbey is an award-winning journalist and currently a state political reporter at The Age. After graduating from the Bachelor of Professional Communication degree at RMIT, she worked at community newspaper Melton and Moorabool Star Weekly where she won an award for her
year-long investigation into police resources in Melbourne’s western suburbs. With colleagues at The Age she won a Quill award for an
investigation into toxic waste in Victoria, and a Walkley award for an expose of branch stacking inside the Labor Party. Her by-line, sometimes in
collaboration with fellow journalists, has become a familiar one in The Age on an almost daily basis in reporting on all aspects of the pandemic. Her reporting has been characterised by detailed and
judicious research and what Denis Muller calls ‘the telling of a truthful account’ as exemplified in this article.

Embracing the ‘fluffy’ future? Media’s role in the English curriculum
Curriculum Committee Forum: Friday 1 October, 12.00pm - 1.00pm
Read more about the Forum here.

Michael Dezuanni


Sam Koslowski


Maskit Mati

Michael Dezuanni is a professor in Digital Media and Learning in the School of Communication at Queensland University of Technology. He is a program leader within the Digital Media Research Centre and a Chief investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child. Michael undertakes research about digital media, literacies and learning in home, school and community contexts. He has been a chief investigator on six ARC Linkage projects with a focus on digital literacy and learning at school, the use of digital games in the classroom, digital inclusion in regional and rural Australia, and the use of screen content in formal and informal learning. Michael is the author of ‘Peer Pedagogies on Digital Platforms – Learning with Minecraft Let’s Play videos’ (MIT Press 2020), he has edited three academic books, and is the author of over 50 journal articles and book chapters. Michael’s most recent projects focus on digital inclusion in low income Australian families; adult Australian’s media literacy abilities; and teen’s use of digital media to discover books to read, which includes digital platforms such as TikTok (particularly #booktok), Instagram and YouTube.



Sam Koslowski, 26, is the co-founder of The Daily Aus, Australia's leading social-first news organisation targeted at young Australians. Before being a full-time founder, he was a corporate lawyer at one of Australia's top law firms. He's worked in social media innovation, as a refugee advocate, and is a Movember Community Ambassador. The Daily Aus present news recaps and explainers that are read by over 160,000 Australians daily (85% of whom are under 34). They also have a daily podcast (it’s currently the only Australian daily news podcast that specifically targets a Gen Z and Millennial cohort) and newsletter. The Daily Aus has been featured as an innovative news organisation in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, B&T Magazine and by Canva in their 2020 Year in Review. Visit their website here and their Instagram here, and listen to their podcast here.


Maskit Mati is an 18-year-old media content creator and full-time Film and Television student at Swinburne University. She is a 2020 McKinnon Secondary College graduate. To her audience, Maskit provides a unique experience that involves weekly lifestyle videos on her YouTube channel and other social media platforms. Her videos reach audiences with interests in topics such as school, uni, travel, productivity, motivation, singing, veganism and fashion. Maskit inspires many young people from her own local community as well as many international subscribers, especially young people currently suffering through the pandemic and lockdowns worldwide. Maskit has a growing community of 120,000 subscribers and has accumulated over 7,000,000 views across her channel. Maskit’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/StyleMeMaskit/featured

Layth Al-Artoufi


Jade-Amanda Falzon-Tabone


Layth Al-Artoufi is a VCE student from Staughton College, Melton, Victoria, at which he is undertaking English Language as a subject for the certificate. He finds himself a frequent user of social media and incorporates its usage within his studies for research and gaining varying perspectives of arguments. He took part in the debating team at his school and learnt that social media is a valuable tool for education. He strongly believes that schools should utilize such technology to ensure creativity and inspiration is provided to students from all social groups. As a member of the student leadership program at his school, his role is to be aware of student concerns and express them to a higher body/find any resolutions for issues. The role requires him to survey students from different year levels, which would be a time-consuming task if social media didn’t exist. It proved a means of communicating with peers outside of school. Layth is also passionate about news and tries his best to be educated about timely and popular issues.


Jade-Amanda Falzon-Tabone is a Year 11 student at Staughton College. She is part of the student leadership program, with many roles including VCE Leader, Student Voice Leader and Radio Captain. Jade-Amanda enjoys utilising creative outlets such as creative writing and drawing. In the future she aspires to further her studies in psychology as the human mind is something she finds interest in. She has a passion for radio and has been pursuing it for about 7 years now. She hosts her own show as well as a show with the school where she trains the junior students. As part of radio, she has learnt to use social media to advertise and inform. As any teenager would, Jade-Amanda regularly uses social media. Other than using social media to communicate with friends and content creating, she also uses her platform to spread awareness and educated others on topics she is passionate about as well as global issues that others may not be aware of. Some of these topics include climate change, stopping animal cruelty, feminism, equality, and human rights.


Conference Day 1

Monday 20 September

9.00am - 10.00am:
Keynote: Antero Garcia and Nicole Mirra

10.05am - 10.50am Workshops

11.00am - 11.45am
Guest speaker: Cara Shipp
Panel: Student voice: ‘Zooming’ truth to power

11.55am-12.40pm Workshops

Tuesday 21 September

Guest speaker: Lucinda McKnight
Panel: Opening a wound: Confronting trauma through writing 

10.00am-10.45am Workshops

11.00am-11.45am Workshops

Conference Day 2

Thursday 30 September

Guest speaker: Rick Morton

Panel: ‘This is the use of memory’: Diaries, blogs, memoirs … and autofiction 

1.00pm-1.45pm Workshops

2.00pm-2.45pm Workshops

Friday 1 October

Keynote: Kate Manne

10.05am-10.50am Workshops

11.00am-11.45am Workshops
Panel: Beware of ‘performative watchdoggery’: Journalism in the time
of plague

Pre-recorded workshops

Delegates of the conference will also receive access to over 25 pre-recorded workshops. Read more.

VATE gratefully acknowledges the following organisations for their support of the 2021 State Conference.

Gold sponsor

Since 2006 Poetry In Action’s humble Sydney origins, founders Hazem Shammas and Bryce Youngman have spearheaded PIA’s staggering growth into one of Australia’s premier touring theatre companies. We bring poetry to life to students through the art of theatre and we have inspired over 600,000 students to date throughout Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the UAE! We bring our curriculum-supporting performances to both high schools and primary schools, and we are offering our comprehensive Professional Learning program to teachers across Australia.
Whilst Covid-19 has certainly been a challenge for many arts organisations, Poetry In Action has bounced back to support your students with both Live and Digital Performances for 2022!

Silver sponsor

Allen & Unwin is Australia's leading independent publisher and was the 2020 Publisher of the Year. We have been voted "Publisher of the Year" fourteen times including in the inaugural award in 1992 and eleven times since 2000.
We publish around 250 new titles each year including literary and commercial fiction, a broad range of general non-fiction and lifestyle titles and books for children and young adults. Our imprints include Allen & Unwin, Albert Street Books, Crows Nest, House of Books, Inspired Living (MBS), Murdoch Books and Pier 9.

While we are Australian owned and operated, we are international in our thinking, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and London, a global network of connected partners, and local lists that are unrivalled in scope and quality.

Silver sponsor

Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the world’s great comedy festivals –showcasing and supporting the professional development of hundreds of Australian and international comedians.

For over 25 years the Festival has delivered Class Clowns–a national development program for teens. Comprising a competition, workshop and mentoring program, Class Clowns plays a valuable role in supporting the confidence and creativity of young Australians –providing a channel for self-expression, a platformfor amplifying the voices and perspectives of young people and a pathway for emerging Australian talent.

Silver sponsor


UQP is one of Australia’s leading publishing houses. Established in 1948 as a wholly owned subsidiary of The University of Queensland, UQP has consistently produced culturally significant works across genres such as fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as children's and young adult books.

Silver sponsor

Jacaranda is your trusted partner in the English classroom – providing totally re-imaginedand modern resources with everything you want and need.
The brand-new Jacaranda English 7 & 8 series gives students every opportunity to engage and succeed with a concept-based approach and rich, multimodal learning experience. Written by a talented teacher-author team, it is built to ensure students of all abilities can develop their essential English skills. See it for yourself at www.jacaranda.com.au/english 



Bronze sponsor

Complete Works is an arts education company specialising in theatre-in-education programs for secondary schools, both live and online. For more than 20 years, Complete Works has been an important creative component of the Victorian English and Arts curriculum, developing text-based works for secondary students across the state.

Bronze sponsor

Flohh is a new online essay marking platform built to address the nitty gritty of essay marking. Flohh reduces essay marking time by 40%. Some of the custom-built features include: drag and drop annotations, colour coded annotation and comment banks, self-tallying developmental rubrics, student learning goal reflections, and ability to upload a whole class set of hand written work as a single PDF. Flohh is totally new and the combination of features don’t exist together on any other platform worldwide. Flohh is specifically built to reduce teacher workload associated with marking. Try Flohh for free

Bronze sponsor

Fremantle Press is a proudly not-for-profit team of publishers, authors and artists who bring uniquely Australian stories to the world. Established in 1976, Fremantle Press is renowned for producing quality works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Our core purpose is to identify talented new and emerging Western Australian writers and artists, and to publish and distribute their work to the widest possible audience.

Bronze sponsor

The Wheeler Centre exists to support writers, readers and thinkers. Through live and digital conversations, debates, readings, performances and discussions, it deepens public engagement with the most pressing topics of the day, without fear or favour. It is dedicated to creative collaboration, community engagement, diversity and innovation.
Wheeler Education is here to bring the world to teens – and teens to the world – exploring the challenges facing young people right now, and the bold ways they’re envisioning their own futures. Hear from teens, writers and educators about their passions, plans, survival tips and more.