1st Australian Customer Vulnerability Symposium


Keynote Speaker 1

Amanda Forster
Executive Manager for the Customer Advocate Office, Suncorp

Bio: Amanda will talk to the role of the Customer Advocate Office in Suncorp and the way her team works with Consumer Advocates to bring the voice of those with lived experience into the organisation.  She will also share some insights on how Suncorp’s strategy and roadmap galvanised the organisation to create better customer outcomes in vulnerable circumstances.

Amanda is a passionate customer experience executive with a 15-year track record of designing and delivering large-scale, highly successful cultural transformation strategies. In her roles, she has operationalised corporate visions and strategies to create employee cultural change programs that emphasise accountability, empowerment and customer obsession. In her role Amanda designs and embeds the Group’s vulnerability, hardship and accessibility strategy and raises the voice of the customers through Board and Executive Leadership Team Customer Committees. Amanda’s unique insights and perspectives deliver better employee experience, balanced decision-making and fairer outcomes for customers.

Keynote Speaker 2

Prof Rebekah Russell-Bennett Co-Director, Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology (BEST).

Bio: Rebekah is a professor in marketing and co-director of the Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology (BEST) with a specific interest in customer vulnerability. She has an international reputation for research and industry relevance in the field of Social Marketing (using commercial marketing to address social problems such as alcohol consumption, chronic disease, water usage, electricity use, public transport and diet).  Rebekah uses theories and frameworks from services marketing and social marketing to co-create innovative services and products that support people in their life, protect the planet and enable organisational success. Rebekah has attracted more than $20m in funding from the ARC, industry and government organisations which is evidence of the high impact of her research. Rebekah was also the first elected President of the Australian Association of Social Marketing. In her keynote she will present ‘The case for a Strengths-Based Approach to Customer Vulnerability – Why Reframing Our Perspective is so Important’

Sponsor Keynotes

Liz Duniec
Founding Director, ORIMA Research

Bio: Liz established ORIMA Research in 1997.  She specialises in attitude and behaviour change through social marketing campaigns, government communications, and government policies, programs and initiatives.  She has a background in psychology and her particular area of focus is on how positive psychology and behavioural economics principles can be utilised in social marketing campaigns to enhance their effectiveness and impact.






Lucy Marshall
Senior Research Manager, ORIMA Research

Bio: Lucy has over 11 years’ experience in conducting research for government information and social marketing campaigns, particularly those that relate to health topics. She has managed research projects to inform social marketing campaigns for the Australian Government Department of Health, Cancer Institute  NSW, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Australian Electoral Commission, the eSafety Commissioner, Cancer Council Australia, Cancer Council NSW, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, ACT Health, WorkSafe Victoria, Safe Work Australia, VicRoads and the Victorian Department of Transport. Join Liz and Lucy to hear their views on ‘Vulnerability from a Social Research Perspective’

Panel 1: Voice of Practitioners in Reframing and Rethinking Customer Vulnerability

Dr Jozica Kutin
Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

Bio: Jozica has a PhD from RMIT’s School of Economics, Finance and Marketing and a Masters in Forensic Psychology from Monash University. With more than twenty years’ experience in forensic psychology, including research and program work across forensic psychiatry, prisons, drug and alcohol, and epidemiology. Jozica’s recent research has focused on strategies to prevent economic abuse in young adult relationships. She has wide experience developing and evaluating financial abuse and financial capability resources across industry and community organisations. Her relationship-based financial capabilities website for young adults won multiple design awards. She has recently joined Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand as the Senior Research and Policy Analyst where she continues her research and advocacy for women and girls focusing on financial wellbeing and financial abuse.


Tristan Saltnes
National Program Manager for the Financial Independence Hub, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

Bio: With a background in journalism, Tristan was always interested in human stories.  A very quick foray into family violence was where her passion for social justice and equality led her onto many varied roles within the family violence sector. A postgraduate qualification in developmental and complex trauma then led to many leadership and advisory roles within family violence, youth services, out of home care and youth justice sectors. Tristan is currently the National Program Manager for the Financial Independence Hub and is passionate about putting an end to family violence and gender inequality.





Caroline Sheehan
Board Director VINC & MCM. Director Strategy, Planning and Performance, Royal Women’s Hospital

Bio: Caroline has worked across the for-purpose sector for over three decades. Over this time she has led numerous strategy, innovation, organisational transformation processes. Caroline is currently Director of Strategy at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Chair of VINC (a nursery that propagates local indigenous plants for bushland revegetation), and a Board Director with MCM (Melbourne City Mission).  Caroline’s previous roles include Interim CEO at Natural Carbon, New Business Specialist at WDEA (a disability provider) and Director of Transformation at Australian Red Cross where she led a whole-organisation complex change process addressing everything from program focus, digital acceleration to organisational culture. Caroline has also held senior roles at Northern Melbourne Medicare Local, Department of Human Services, VicHealth, and run her own strategy consulting service. Caroline has qualifications in disability, business administration and is a graduate of the AICD Company Directors course.



Mandy Griffiths
Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation, Public Engagement Branch, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

Bio: With a background in strategic communication, social media, content creation and issues management within a PR agency environment, Mandy joined Multicultural Affairs at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (now Department of Families, Fairness and Housing) in 2018. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Mandy was a founding member of the DPC COVID Communications team, before leading the communications response for multicultural communities when the CALD Communities Taskforce was formed in August 2020. In that time, the CALD communications team has created new channels of communication and new ways of working to improve access to information for all Victorians


Zanye D’Crus
Strategic and creative communications leader,Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance

Bio: Zayne helps not-for-profit organisations to better serve their communities through targeted and compelling communications. At Australian Red Cross, heled an internal creative agency that crafted multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns, while driving a shift towards strength-based storytelling. He has supported bushfire survivors, people seeking asylum, young people facing homelessness, and parents of children with rare diseases to tell their stories and be heard. Zayne is now Communications Manager at the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, where storytelling is an important tool to change practice in healthcare.



Breakout 1: Cost of Living and Customer Vulnerability - Issues, Challenges, Solutions

Dr Janneke Blijlevens
Senior Research, RMIT Behavioural Business Lab, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University.

Bio: Dr Janneke Blijlevens is a star researcher in, and former chair of, the RMIT Behavioural Business Lab and a member of the Consumer Well-being Group within the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing. With a background in behavioural science and design, Blijlevens is an interdisciplinary, mixed-method academic, who uses design thinking to uncover the behavioural drivers that guide people’s behaviours and then utilises these insights to design interventions that help people make better decisions for themselves and the society. Blijlevens has been lead CI on multiple projects delivering on behavioural insights and interventions, with many having gained world-wide attention and generated impactful outcomes including evidence-based, socially responsible recommendations implemented in sectors such as energy, investment, and community service. She is a regular contributor of media commenting on behavioural insights, which have had direct positive social impact on policy strategy and the wider community.



Associate Prof Ashton DeSilva
Applied Economics, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University

Bio: Dr de Silva, an Associate Professor of Economics, is an applied econometrician with a keen interest in policy and well-being.  His interests include financial well-being, household/individual decision-making as well as local economies/communities.  These interests have recently been augmented with a web3 perspective. He has a successful track record of working with various government and non-government organisations and has forged a strong reputation within the academic community through his publications, grants, and supervision of PhD candidates.




Dr Torgeir Aleti
Co-founder & Deputy Director, Shaping Connections, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University

Bio: Torgeir is a senior lecturer in marketing at the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University. Torgeir focuses on how people learn and negotiate consumer roles in close relationships and how this relates to adaptability to marketplace changes and market offerings. He co-founded Shaping Connections, a research program that investigates seniors and technology. Torgeir works with senior organisations such as the University of the Third Age (U3A) Network Victoria and the Life Activities Clubs of Victoria. Recently, Torgeir received over a $120,000 grant from Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation, ACCAN (The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network), to investigate seniors’ perceived level of risk involved with using information and communications technology (ICT).



Prof Lisa Farrell
Director of the Societal Economics Research Group (SERG), School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University

Bio: Lisa is passionate about the application of economics to societal well-being. She is a health economist with expertise in economic psychology. She has specialist knowledge of behavioural addictions and risky lifestyle choices focusing on vulnerable groups in society. She is Chair of the Healthcare Core Research Team in the Fight Food Waste Competitive Research Centre (CRC) working on sector engaged projects to reduce food waste and improve patient food satisfaction across the healthcare sector. Her work is based on addressing important societal issues that impact upon, happy, healthy, inclusive communities. Lisa has an established track record of publications in high-ranked international journals including the American Economics Review (the number 1 ranked journal in Economics). Lisa is an Editorial Board Member for the Economic Record, 2018 onwards (this is the highest-ranked Australian economics journal) and for the Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, 2001 onwards. Lisa is currently Director of the Societal Economics Research Group (SERG) and Chair of the College Human Ethics Advisory Network (CHEAN).

Breakout 2: Demographic and Life Stage Customer Vulnerabilities - Issues, Challenges, Solutions



Associate Prof Joy Parkinson
Principal Research Scientist, Australian eHealth Research Centre, CSIRO

Bio: Associate Professor Joy Parkinson (PhD) is the Health Systems Analytics science lead and principal research scientist, with the Australian eHealth Research Centre at CSIRO. Joy is a leading implementation scientist working to create impact through translating research into evidence-informed practice in health service systems. Driven by a desire to see people living their best life, Joy takes a people-in-context approach, working with transdisciplinary and multisectoral teams to design, implement, and evaluate innovative health services and behaviour change programs that have real social impact. Joy’s research is improving peoples’ lives across Australia and internationally.




Associate Prof Amanda Beatson
Associate Professor in Marketing, QUT Business School

Bio: Amanda is the Program Lead for Behavioural Change and Social Marketing in the Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology Centre (BEST Centre) at QUT. By providing a voice to vulnerable groups, her goal is to create a better society in terms of inclusivity. Underpinning this is a transformative service research (TSR) lens, whereby she ensures the well-being of individuals is focal in these improvements. She has secured over $4.1 million in research funding. Current and past projects include ARC, CRC and ARC Linkage-funded projects for the improvement of disability employment in communities.




Dr Laura McVey
Women’s Program Manager – Research, Policy & Strategy, esafety Commissioner’s office

Bio: Laura is an interdisciplinary researcher concerned with the intersection of marketing, consumer culture, inequality and violence against women, with a particular specialisation in digital platforms and online forms of violence against women. She has been published in journals such as the Journal of Marketing Management, Women Studies International Forum, Gender Work and Organization, Labour and Industry, and Marketing Letters, in addition to contributing to multiple book chapters. Since completing her PhD which focussed on the evolving online pornography market, Laura has been able to apply her expertise through her work at the eSafety Commissioner, where she develops research, policy, and strategic partnerships in the prevention of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.



Prof Mike Reid
Director, Consumer Wellbeing Research Group, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University

Bio: Mike is a Professor of Marketing and Director of the Consumer Wellbeing Research Group. Mike has commercial and academic research experience employing mixed methods designs for a range of lifestyle, social marketing, and consumer decision-making problems. Mike is noted for his research into consumer food-related lifestyles, healthy eating and behaviour change in young adults, health and wellbeing at midlife, and ICT engagement and exclusion by older adults.  Mike has been recognised for translating research into the public sphere and, along with passionate teams of researchers, has been awarded over $1.7m in competitive grants including NHMRC, VicHealth, ARC Discovery, Sustainability CRC, ECSTRA Foundation, and ACCAN.  As an older, first-time, dad Mike has had his eyes opened to many challenges facing parents, families, and men.



Workshop Sessions

Prof Maria Raciti
Co-Director UniSC Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre, University of Sunshine Coast

Bio: Professor Maria Raciti (Kalkadoon-Thaniquith/Bwgcolman) is a passionate social marketer whose research interests are at the intersection of educational equality and Indigenous peoples. Maria is Co-Director of the UniSC Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre and Co-Leader of the Education and Economies Theme in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Futures.





Dr Meg Elkins
Senior Researcher, RMIT Behavioural Business Lab, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMT University

Bio: Meg is a behavioural and applied economist with research interests in societal and cultural economics.  Her work focuses on those on the fringes to support sustainable livelihoods. She is equally interested applying behavioural insights to societal issues particularly around behavioural messaging. She has worked on projects with City of Melbourne, the Busking Project and UK Behavioural Insights Unit Canva8. Meg is a member of the Behavioural Business Lab and the Centre for International Development. She is a regular TV, radio and print commentator on behavioural issues and decision-making processes.




Dr Kate Letheren
Consumer Psychology Researcher, QUT Business School

Bio: Dr Kate Letheren is deputy co-director of the Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology at QUT. She is an active researcher in the areas of consumer psychology and service interactions, with a specific focus on how consumers engage with humanised technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics. Her work has been published in journals such as the European Journal of Marketing and Tourism Management. Dr Letheren also holds a research interest in marketing education and sits on the editorial board for the Journal for the Advancement of Marketing Education and the Marketing Education Review. Dr Letheren is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Panel 2: Reflections on Rethinking and Reshaping Customer Vulnerability

Ms Amanda Forster – As Above

Assoc. Prof. Joy Parkinson – As Above

Prof Maria Raciti – As Above

Prof Linda Brennan

Bio: Linda Brennan is the Inaugural Professor of Advertising at RMIT University. In the lead up to becoming a full-time academic Professor Brennan had an active consulting practice in marketing and strategic research, working with a variety of markets, projects, and industries. She has expertise on both qualitative and quantitative research methods, and she has taught research strategies, research methods and ‘market’ research for over 15 years. Her industry projects have included government, not for profit and educational marketers. Her research interests are social and government marketing and especially the influence of marketing communications and advertising on behaviour, especially among older people and within linguistically and culturally diverse contexts. She has published widely in social marketing, with a focus on communication and public health.




Dr Rowan Bedggood

Bio: Dr Rowan Bedggood is a social marketer and behaviour change scientist. She has extensive experience in Marketing with over 30 years teaching and researching in the field. She has won university and national teaching awards. As a researcher, Rowan enjoys applying her knowledge to find innovative solutions to real-world problems. Her passion is to find ways to bring about improved outcomes for people and planet. In particular, she is concerned about environmental and cultural sustainability, and people’s wellbeing. Rowan has worked on numerous projects with people experiencing vulnerability, particularly low-income households and their lived experiences of energy inequity. She has also worked with Indigenous households, communities and corporations for many years, supporting governance and economic development. Rowan also worked on the development of an innovative way of building the social resilience of marginalised groups.


Symposium Organising Committee

Symposium Organising Committee


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