Program and speakers

The final program is available here.

All sessions in the Molonglo Theatre were livestreamed:
- Day 1 morning session
- Day 1 afternoon session
- Day 2 morning session
- Day 2 morning session continued
- Day 2 afternoon session

Conference app

The 2019 AAC has a free, official app through Whova, which you can download and use to view the program, plan your schedule, network with other attendees, and more.

After downloading the app, use the email address you used to register for the conference to sign up, or use the event invitation code: AAC2019.

Opening address

Frances Adamson
Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Frances Adamson has led the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as Secretary since 2016. Prior to this, she was International Adviser to the Prime Minister. She has also acted as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, and twice served in the Australian High Commission in London. Ms Adamson is President of the Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT Division, a member of the Efic Board, the Advisory Board of the ANU National Security College and the Asia Society Australia Advisory Council, as well as a Special Adviser to the Male Champions of Change and a member of Chief Executive Women.

Keynote addresses

Donald Kaberuka
Former President, African Development Bank and Rwanda’s Minister of Finance

Dr Donald Kaberuka served two five-year terms as President of the African Development Bank, from 2005 to 2015. During his tenure, the Bank’s capital tripled and its portfolio doubled. He also served as Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning from 1997 to 2005, and oversaw Rwanda’s economic reconstruction after the end of the civil war. He is a currently Senior Adviser at The Boston Consulting Group. He holds a PhD in Economics from Glasgow University. Dr Kaberuka will deliver a keynote speech on “Africa and the global landscape - emerging trends and the way forward”.

Masood Ahmed
President, Center for Global Development

Masood Ahmed is President of the Center for Global Development. Prior to this, he worked at the IMF as Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, overseeing the Fund’s operations in 32 countries and managing relationships with key national and regional policymakers and stakeholders. He has also served as IMF’s Director of External Relations and Deputy Director of the Policy Development and Review Department, Director General of Policy and International Development at the UK Department for International Development, and in various managerial and economist positions, including Vice President of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, at the World Bank. Mr Ahmed will deliver a keynote speech on contemporary challenges in development finance, including whether we are heading for another debt crisis.

Keynote panels

China’s development cooperation in focus: opportunities and challenges

Chinese development cooperation in Asia and the Pacific is growing rapidly. The Belt and Road Initiative, China’s massive connectivity and infrastructure program, is complemented by expanding partnerships with civil society, increased multilateral efforts through the United Nations and international financial institutions (such as AIIB), and the establishment of a dedicated development cooperation agency in 2018. In this session Chinese experts will share their insights on the rationale, aspirations, and challenges of Chinese development cooperation, particularly in relation to the BRI, responsible investment, the new development cooperation agency, and China’s engagement in the Pacific.

Chair: Anthea Mulakala, Director, International Development Cooperation, The Asia Foundation

Anthea Mulakala is the Director for International Development Cooperation at The Asia Foundation. In this capacity she leads the Foundation’s work on Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation. She served as Country Representative in Malaysia from 2007 to 2014. Since 2010 she has concurrently led the Foundation’s engagement on development effectiveness and aid policy as the Senior Advisor, International Development Cooperation. She has been overseeing programs in Asia since 1991. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for the World Bank, South Asia Partnership, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Hongbo Ji, Country Representative - China, The Asia Foundation

Hongbo Ji is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative for China. Prior to this she has worked as a consultant to the World Bank, as well as a number of Chinese and international corporations and governmental agencies, and has five years diplomatic experience with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University, a Master’s degree in international relations from Yale University, and a PhD in administrative law from the China University of Political Science and Law.

Yujia Shen, Research Fellow, National Centre for Oceania Studies, Sun Yat-sen University

Yujia Shen is a Research Fellow at the Sun Yat-sen University’s National Centre for Oceania Studies, and also works at the University’s School of International Relations. Her current research interests are relations between China and PNG, and comparative and descriptive studies of Chinese aid to PNG. Yujia Shen holds a PhD from the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and her recent publications explore the development of China’s South Pacific policy and how PNG has been positioned between China and Pacific island countries since 2012.

Jinghang Jia, Research Fellow, International Economics and Finance Institute, Ministry of Finance, China

Jinghang Jia is a Research Fellow at the International Economics and Finance Institute in China’s Ministry of Finance. The think tank provides strategic and overarching policy advice on global and domestic economic issues, including the Belt and Road Initiative. Since joining the Institute, her research has focused on the US economy, global development cooperation, and global economic governance, and she has published several articles on the international economy. Jinghang Jia holds a Masters in Economics from Boston University.

Xiuli Xu, Vice Dean, China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture

Xiuli Xu is a Professor and a key member of the China International Development Research Network, as well as Vice Dean of the China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture, and a Professor at China Agricultural University. She has been a visiting scholar to the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, and has collaborated with international partners including the World Bank, UNDP, IDRC and DFID. She is the initiator of the public knowledge platform International Development Times, which disseminates frontier debates about development studies in China.

Evaluation knowledge for development effectiveness

In this keynote panel, panellists will share their insights on the use of evaluation as a key tool in improving the quality and effectiveness of development support. They will discuss and debate evaluation feedback for effective accountability and learning, and highlight insights and experiences from multilateral development banks.

Chair: Véronique N. Salze-Lozac’h, Deputy Director General, Independent Evaluation Department, Asian Development Bank


Robert Christie, Assistant Secretary, Office of Development Effectiveness, DFAT
Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation
Syurkani Ishak Kasim, Executive Director and Chair of the Development Effectiveness Committee, Board of Directors, Asian Development Bank

Neglected in health and development: mental health and psychosocial disability

This keynote panel will highlight the need for an increased focus on mental health and psychosocial disability within the disability-inclusive development agenda, and provide some best-practice examples and learnings for development practitioners.


Helen Fernandes, Principal Investigator – Effectiveness Team, TEAR Australia

Helen is an Occupational Therapist and a public health and development specialist with TEAR Australia. She has over ten years’ experience in health, disability and development programs, including community-based rehabilitation and social inclusion projects across Africa, South Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific. Helen is the principal investigator for participatory research in India and Nepal which explores the lived experience of psychosocial disability in low and middle income countries.

Aleisha Carroll, Disability Inclusion Advisor, CBM Australia

Aleisha Carroll is a Disability Inclusion Advisor with CBM Australia. She has worked as an advisor on a number of development programs and research projects in Africa, Asia and the Pacific with government and NGOs towards inclusion of people with disability. Aleisha is an Occupational Therapist with a Master in Public Health, and worked for ten years as a mental health practitioner in cross-cultural settings.

Bhargavi Davar, TCI Asia Pacific Representative

Bhargavi Davar is a leader of disability inclusion and human rights approaches to mental health in the Asia Pacific region. Bhargavi has published and co-edited several books, including Psychoanalysis as a Human Science, Mental Health of Indian Women, and Gendering Mental Health. She is an international trainer in the UNCRPD and founder of the Bapu Trust for Research on Mind & Discourse. She works with TCI Asia Pacific (Transforming Communities for Inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities, Asia).

Becca Allchin, FaPMI Coordinator, Monash University

Becca is an Occupational Therapist and international development consultant. Her clinical specialty is in the area of families where a parent has a mental illness. Becca provides technical advice to TEAR Australia on a voluntary basis and has evaluated and provided ongoing technical support for community mental health projects in Afghanistan and India.

Teresa Hall, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

Tess is an experienced public health and policy researcher. Tess has experience in the design, implementation, analysis and reporting of mixed-methods monitoring and evaluation systems for health and social programs and strategies throughout the Asia Pacific (Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka, Indonesia), South America (Colombia), Australia and the UK. Her PhD investigates ‘people-centred’ and human rights-based approaches to mental health care in Timor-Leste to build the evidence-base to assist the country’s mental health system strengthening efforts.

Debating Australian aid

Launch of the 2018 Australian aid stakeholder survey

The aid stakeholder survey is a tool designed to obtain feedback on the effectiveness of the Australian aid program and provide suggestions for its improvement. The survey targets NGOs and development contractors that are familiar with and involved in the delivery of Australian aid, as well as being made available online for other interested aid stakeholders to complete. In this session, Devpolicy Research Fellow Terence Wood will present the results of the 2018 survey and discuss trends over the 2013, 2015 and 2018 surveys.

Terence Wood, Research Fellow, Development Policy Centre

Dr Terence Wood is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre. Terence’s research focuses on the domestic political economy of aid in donor countries, public opinion about aid, NGOs, aid effectiveness in poorly-governed states, and Melanesian electoral politics. Prior to commencing PhD study Terence worked for the New Zealand Government Aid Program.

From grants to loans

The Australian Government has recently announced the creation of an Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP). This session will launch a new policy brief from the Development Policy Centre on the issues and options that this announcement raises.

Stephen Howes, Director, Development Policy Centre

Professor Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre. He has a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics. He served in various positions for a decade at the World Bank before becoming AusAID’s first Chief Economist in 2005. He is now Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU.

Matthew Dornan, Deputy Director, Development Centre

Dr Matthew Dornan has worked at the Development Policy Centre since 2011, and in January 2016 became Deputy Director. He received his PhD from Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, and has a background in public policy and economics. Matthew previously worked across the Pacific Islands as part of an Australian technical assistance program, and later worked on climate change adaptation for AusAID. Matthew leads our research on Pacific growth and regional integration.

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