The world of work is changing and so are we.

View the NexGen17 Program here!

June 26-28 this year, we’re combining the ACTU Organising & OHS conferences to create NEXGEN17 – a conference for the whole union movement.

Our working lives are being radically transformed. How should unions respond? How can we seize the opportunities & overcome the threats?


At NEXGEN17 we will explore the challenges that confront our movement & motivate each other to find new ways to win for working people.

NexGen17 will bring together the ideas, tools, & stories & the people in our movement who can bring them to life.

This is a conference for everyone: Leaders, Organisers, Campaigners, Online and Digital Experts, Communicators, Educators, WHS and Industrial Officers, and our rank and file leaders.

The conference will include streams for every aspect of work across our movement.

As well as learning from each other NexGen17 participants will hear from an exciting list of speakers from across the globe (find out more below).

Please also join us at the conference dinner where we will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the ACTU.

We thank all our our Partners for supporting NexGen17.

Discounted accommodation options are now available through ozaccom.undefined

Early bookings are highly recommended.


Speakers at NexGen17

The ACTU is excited to welcome speakers from Black Lives Matter, Change to Win, ITF, Canadian Labour Congress, OUR Walmart, NUPGE, Unifor, the Australia Institute, the SEIU and more!

Dan Schaldeman

Dan Schlademan Co-Director, Organization United for Respect (OUR)

Dan Schlademan has been a successful labor organizer for almost 25 years. A pioneer in developing and field-testing new labor organizing strategies, Schlademan has led some of the labor movement’s most successful organizing campaigns of the past decade, helping workers build strong organizations and improving wages and healthcare.

For the last 6 years, Schlademan has been a campaign director at the Organization United for Resect (OUR). OUR is at the front edge of the innovative organization focused on holding Walmart, the largest employer in the world accountable to its workers and communities. Organization United for Respect @ Walmart (OUR Walmart), is the national organization being built by Walmart workers.

Before working to help raise the voices of Walmart employees, Schlademan led organizing and member engagement strategies in several roles at SEIU Local 1, the largest property services union in the Midwest with 50,000+ members. As a Vice President and Organizing Director, Schlademan helped thousands of once low-wage property service workers in suburban Chicago in winning their first union contract after a successful two-week strike in 2000.

As the director of the Houston Justice for Janitors campaign, Schlademan led one of the most successful large-scale union organizing drives in the South in recent years. Confronting a right-to-work environment and establishing rights for immigrant workers, many who are undocumented, Schlademan helped workers win union representation, healthcare and better jobs for more than 5,000 janitors after a successful four-week strike.

At the start of his career, Schlademan worked for the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union (ACTWU).

He was born in New Jersey and now lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He holds a degree in sociology from Rutgers University.

Dawn Modkins Headshot

Dawn Modkins, Black Lives Matter

Dawn Modkins, a longtime union, community, and political organizer in the greater Los Angeles area has been dedicated to fighting for workers’ rights and social, economic, and racial justice for more than two decades.

She began her organizing career with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) as a rank and file shop steward, and later as a Union Summer Trainer with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).  Additionally, she organized the first union of airport security workers throughout California with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and co-led contract negotiations with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFCME).

In her role as a community organizer, Dawn’s executes her commitment to supporting the civic engagement, development and success of her local and faith-based communities by working with organizations like the PICO Network and Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE).  Since 2013, Dawn has led strategic initiatives with Black Lives Matter-Long Beach and played a critical role in helping develop the Black Lives Matter Global Network, an organization working to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people by building power, by far her favorite role.

She lives and plays in Long Beach, California and is the mom of two boys, ages 10 and 22.


Elizabeth Tang, General Secretary, International Domestic Workers Federation

Elizabeth Yin-ngor Tang is currently the first elected General Secretary of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), constituted in 2013 by leaders of domestic workers trade unions and other organizations worldwide. It is the only international trade union federation led by women. It aims to organize a united, international voice for domestic workers and, on a local level, to build collective strength to ensure rights of domestic workers. The federation has 58 affiliates in 47 countries. Domestic workers have now their voice and representation, heralding a new era in the international labour movement and human rights movement.

Prior to its establishment, between 2009 and 2011, Elizabeth was closely connected with the domestic workers network in Asia including the campaign initiated by domestic workers all over the world towards the adoption of the International Labour Convention 189 at the International Labour Conference, Geneva, 16 June, 2011.

Throughout her working life, Elizabeth has been involved in the organizing of grassroot workers including domestic workers, local and migrants alike. She has worked with trade unions and other labour NGOs such as the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee (CIC) and the International Union of Food Workers- Asia Pacific (IUF AP).

In 1990, she, together with a group of unionists, brought together independent unions in Hong Kong and established the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), the first-ever independent unions centre in Hong Kong that has brought much improvement in labour laws and advancement of labour rights, such as a minimum wage. Elizabeth became the chief executive heading the secretariat of HKCTU in 1995 until 2011 when she joined the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN).

Elizabeth Tang holds a MA in Sociology of Labour of the University of Warwick, UK.


Erich Schlein, National Field Coordinator, Organization United for Respect (OUR)

Eric Schlein started organizing with the Organization United for Respect in 2011. Tasked with building an online to field program, Eric innovated using digital technology to move workers into action, build power and help scale organizing at the world’s largest retailer; Walmart.

Under Eric’s leadership OUR successfully built a robust online to field program that reaches over 100,000 Walmart associates each week and moves thousands into offline action.

Before OUR, Eric worked at the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, Change to Win Federation and National Education Association.

Eric was born in Washington D.C. and now lives in New Orleans, L.A. where he commits himself to organizing the south. He holds a degree in Political Science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.


Hahrie Han, Anton Vonk Associate Professor, University California

Hahrie Han is the Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 2005-2015, she was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Harvard University from 2009-2011.

She specializes in the study of collective action, social change, and democratic revitalization, focusing particularly on the role that civic associations play in mobilizing participation in politics and building power for social and political change. Her research focuses particularly on social justice and environmental issues.

Her recently published book, How Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press 2014) examines the strategies that the most effective civic associations use to engage activists and develop leaders in health and environmental politics. Another book, Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America (co-authored with Elizabeth McKenna, Oxford Univ. Press 2014) describes the strategies the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaign used to engage so many grassroots activists in communities across America. Her first book, Moved to Action: Motivation, Participation, and Inequality in American Politics (Stanford University Press, 2009) examined the ways in which people become motivated to participate in politics, looking particularly at means of engaging underprivileged populations in political action. Hahrie’s work on participation, movement-building, civic associations, primary elections, and congressional polarization has been published in outlets including American Political Science Review, American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Perspectives on Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Behavior, and elsewhere. Her work was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Academic Publication on Membership Organizations Award by the Institute for Nonprofit Research, Education, and Engagement.

Hahrie has also been involved in numerous efforts to make academic work relevant to the world of practice, including (most recently) serving as the Co-founder and Co-Director of the Project on Public Leadership and Action at Wellesley College, the Co-Chair of the Civic Engagement Working Group at the Scholars Strategy Network, the Chair of the Leading Change Research Network, and on the steering committee of the Gettysburg Project. Through her research, she consults and works with a wide range of civic and political organizations interested in organizing, movement-building, questions about building power for social change. These organizations include the Ford Foundation, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Mothers Out Front, the PICO National Network, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative,, Reform Immigration for America Now, the National Korean-American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), ReThink Health, Doctors for America, the Counties Manukau District Health Board in Auckland, New Zealand, the Healthcare Improvement Unit at Cardiff University in Wales, America's HealthTogether, and others. In all of this work, she seeks to develop the leadership of younger scholars and practitioners, especially women and people of color.

She also acted as co-convenor of a Policy Advisory Committee for the 2008 Obama campaign and served as Chair of the Advisory Committee to the EAC Agency Review Team on the Obama-Biden Transition Team and also as National Issues and Policy Advisor to Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 1999-2000.  She received her Ph.D. in American Politics from Stanford University in 2005 and her B.A. in American History and Literature from Harvard University in 1997. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow from 2002-2005 and received Stanford University’s Centennial Teaching Award in 2002 and Wellesley College’s Apgar Award for Innovative Teaching in 2006. She is the daughter of Korean immigrants, grew up in Houston, Texas, and now lives in Santa Barbara, CA.


Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress

Hassan Yussuff was elected president of the Canadian Labour Congress in May 2014, becoming the first person of colour to lead Canada’s labour movement. Delegates voted for change and powerful activism to confront the challenges facing unions across the country.

Since his election, Hassan has led Canada’s unions to a number of significant victories. It was under his leadership, for example, that the CLC launched an unprecedented and innovative digital and community-based campaign that put labour’s issues front and centre in the 2015 federal election, and helped defeat the Conservatives.

At the heart of the CLC’s federal election campaign was the call for a stronger Canada Pension Plan, a struggle that has been Hassan’s passion for almost a decade. After the election, the CLC redoubled its retirement security campaign efforts, while Hassan worked with the new federal government and with provincial and territorial leaders to gain their support. That campaign and lobby work led to victory in November 2016 with the tabling of Bill C-26, legislation that expanded the CPP for the first time in its history.

Making workplaces and public spaces safer has been another key priority for Hassan. He was exposed to asbestos as a mechanic in his early working life, and as a union activist learned that asbestos-related diseases are the number one cause of workplace-related deaths in Canada. As CLC President, Hassan campaigned hard for a comprehensive ban on asbestos, a ban we won in December 2016.

As well as his work in Canada, Hassan is a prominent international activist. In 2016, he was elected for a second term as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, an organization uniting 56 national organizations representing more than 60 million workers in 23 countries.

Determined to build a better world for future generations, Hassan is committed to the fight against climate change and to ensuring a just and fair transition for the workers and communities affected by the evolution to a green economy.

The CLC is the voice of Canada’s labour movement, representing 3.3 million workers.


Jeff Farmer, Director of Organizing, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jeff Farmer is the Director of Organizing for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union representing more than 1.4 million members throughout North America. Farmer attended Hampshire College and the University of Minnesota. As a young man, he gained valuable hands-on experience working a wide variety of jobs, including as a deckhand on the Mississippi River barges and a welder in a manufacturing plant.

A 35-year veteran of the labor movement, Farmer had been a member and worked for several unions before being hired to work as Organizing Coordinator for the Teamsters in Minnesota. In 2002, General President Jim Hoffa asked Farmer to move to Washington, D.C. to create a new Teamsters Organizing Department, with the goal of making the Teamsters Union one of the largest, strongest and fastest-growing unions in North America.

A strong environmentalist, Farmer is a member of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. He is an avid distance runner and cyclist, and enjoys live music and theater.  Farmer is the father of two children—and now a very proud and happy grandfather!


Jim Stanford, Director, Centre for Future Work, The Australia Institute

Dr. Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work, based at the Australia Institute.

Jim recently relocated to Sydney, Australia from Toronto, where he is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union (formerly the Canadian Auto Workers). He still advises the union, and is also the Harold Innis Industry Professor in Economics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada (fractional appointment). He is also an Honorary Professor of Political Economy at the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

Jim received his Ph.D. in Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York. He also holds an M.Phil. from Cambridge University, and a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Calgary.

Jim is the author of Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism (second edition published by Pluto Books in 2015), which has been published in six languages. He has written, edited or co-edited five other books, and dozens of articles and reports in both peer-reviewed and popular outlets. Jim maintains an active presence on social media, with his Twitter (@jimbostanford) and Facebook (Jimbo Stanford) accounts. Jim has designed and taught numerous courses on economics for academic and non-academic audiences, including a unique week-long popular education course in economics for trade union members he has delivered in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. He is recognized for his ability to communicate economic concepts in an accessible and humorous manner.

Jim is excited to serve as the founding Director of the Centre for Future Work, and looks forward to partnering with unions, academics, and other researchers around issues of employment, job quality, skills and training, sector development, and globalisation.


Lana Payne, Atlantic Director, Unifor

Lana Payne brings two decades of dedication to Atlantic workers to her position of Atlantic Director of Unifor.

Lana found her home in the labour movement in 1991 as a member of the CAW/FFAW. Lana is a proud feminist and activist.

She worked for CAW/FFAW for 17 years in research, servicing, public policy, campaigns and communications. The CAW, along with CEP, is one of Unifor’s founding unions. In 2008, Lana was elected president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, and was re-elected in 2010.

In her five years with the NLFL, the federation made many gains, including changes to the labour code, stronger health and safety laws, minimum wage increases and investments in childcare. Under her leadership, the federation built strong coalitions and raised the profile and political voice of the labour movement.

In 2014, she was named one of Canada’s 23 Bold Women of Vision. She is a vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, representing Unifor with National President Jerry Dias, Before joining the union in 1991, Lana was a journalist for The Sunday Express and The St. John’s Telegram. She continues to write a bi-weekly column for The Telegram.


Larry Brown, President of NUPGE

With degrees in political science and law, Larry Brown, President of one of Canada's largest unions, has a wide range of experience to draw on, having spent over 3 decades honing skills in government, public administration, labour relations, teaching and legal issues.

Born in southern Saskatchewan and raised on a farm there, Brown began his interest in social issues while at the University of Saskatchewan, where he served as secretary to the student union and president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Students.

While articling with a Saskatchewan law firm, Brown was hired by the provincial Department of Labour as executive secretary to the Task Force on Workers' Compensation. He later became executive assistant to the Deputy Minister of Labour. While working with the government, he drafted precedent-setting Canadian legislation protecting workers against imminent danger — the right to refuse dangerous work. He also contributed his expertise and talents to the first Occupational Health Act in Canada.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour was his next stop. As the chief staff officer, he led the provincial organizing team for the national day of protest against wage controls in 1976 and was labour's representative on both the provincial task force examining Workers' Compensation and the government's Commission reviewing rent controls.

He later became the chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Association, a Component of the National Union of Government and General Employees (NUPGE) and the province's largest union, where he led one of the first public service-wide strikes in Canada. He served for 7 eventful years during which it adopted the union name and demeanour of one of Saskatchewan's most active unions — SGEU.

In 1986, he was elected as Secretary-Treasurer of NUPGE, where he served as chief financial officer and one of the spokespersons for the National Union.

In 2016, Brown was elected as President of the National Union.

Brown is also the President of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada's leading progressive research and policy organization.

For many years, he chaired the Public Sector Working Group of the 10 million strong Public Services International (PSI).  He has also taught as a sessional lecturer at Carleton University, teaching in the Masters of Public Administration program.

He has written and spoken extensively about public finances, debt and deficit issues, the changes in federal-provincial financing, public sector restructuring and the resulting changes in the economic and political structures of Canada that have occurred in the last decade.

Brown chairs the National Union's Pensions Committee where he is leading the push to expand the control by unions of their members' pension funds, and of the use of those funds to better the condition of workers through ethical screening, shareholder activism and social investment.

Brown is married to television journalist Tricia MacDonald. The father of 3 children, he and his family reside in Ottawa.


Nayuka Gorrie

Nayuka Gorrie is a Gunai/Kurnai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman.

In recent years she has emerged as a passionate young Aboriginal activist and writer, primarily concerned with climate justice, the rights of women, and the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  She’s written incisively on topics such as her evolving views about constitutional recognition and performed her work at Women of Letters.

Nayuka is involved in the youth not-for-profit sector as a program manager, facilitator and consultant, currently working with young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people at the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy.

Nayuka says ‘I am lucky enough to work on an initiative that backs young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people across the country. Young black people know what they want, and it’s time we listened.’


Nicole Aro, Director of Digital Strategies, AFL-CIO

Nicole Aro is the Director of Digital Strategies at the AFL-CIO. Before coming to the AFL-CIO, she was the Organizing Director at the Sunlight Foundation, where she worked to build grassroots support for transparency and open government initiatives. She was the Online Organizing Manager at the DNC, coordinating online to offline actions through the health care reform battle (among others), following online and offline work on the Obama campaign, including directing the non-battleground states support work for GOTV. Prior to organizing, she taught middle school in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Chicago.


Dr Rebecca Huntley, Researcher, Author and Commentator

Dr Rebecca Huntley is one of Australians foremost researchers on social and consumer trends.  For nearly 9 years Rebecca was the Director of The Mind & Mood Report, Australia's longest running social trends report. She is the author of numerous books including Still Lucky: why you should feel optimistic about Australia and its people. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian. She is on the Artistic Advisory Board of the Bell Shakespeare Company, an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at The University of New South Wales and a board member of The Whitlam Institute.  She is head of research at Essential Media.


Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute

Richard Denniss is the Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He is a prominent Australian economist, author and public policy commentator, and a former Adjunct Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Dr Denniss was described by Mark Kenny in the Sydney Morning Herald as "a constant thorn in the side of politicians on both sides due to his habit of skewering dodgy economic justifications for policy"

Prior to his appointment at The Australia Institute, Denniss was Senior Strategic Advisor to Australian Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown and was also Chief of Staff to Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, former Leader of the Australian Democrats. Denniss also worked as a researcher at the H.V. Evatt Memorial Foundation (the 'Evatt Foundation'), a public policy organisation with strong links to the Australian Labor Party.  His academic work has resulted in publications in various peer-reviewed journals, and he has lectured in Economics at the University of Newcastle.

During the 2000s Denniss' research focused on climate change policy and tax policy. He also worked on a number of projects aimed at improving the measurement of government and economic performance including the 'Genuine Progress Indicator' (GPI),[7] the 'Wellbeing Manifesto',[8] and the state of Australian Government.


Scott Courtney, Executive Vice President SEIU

Scott Courtney was elected Executive Vice President of SEIU in May 2016.

For the past 33 years, Courtney has built power with workers from all walks of life and in every corner of the United States: construction workers in California, manufacturing workers in Michigan, neonatal intensive-care unit RNs in Florida, hotel workers in Nevada, and dietary and housekeeping workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

As SEIU’s organizing director over the past six years, Courtney helped lead the Fight for $15, sparking a movement that Slate has called “the most successful progressive political project of the late Obama era, both practically and philosophically.”

Courtney believes in the power of the people; that by sticking together at work, people can win a better life together. Over the course of his career at SEIU, Courtney has been at the forefront of making sure working people have a voice in their own future.

He began his work with SEIU in 1998 as an organizer and went on to lead major healthcare organizing campaigns. As organizing director of SEIU District 1199, he built and led a team of organizers in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky who helped a record number of healthcare workers join our union. As organizing director for SEIU Healthcare, he helped negotiate innovative agreements that made it possible for thousands of healthcare workers at hospitals to join SEIU.

In some ways Scott Courtney was destined to be a union leader. He was raised in a union household in southern Illinois among family members who worked as pipefitters, steelworkers and postal workers. His father was president of a United Steelworkers local union. Before joining the SEIU team, Courtney held various jobs, including one operating a backhoe on a gas pipeline as a member of the Operating Engineers.

Today, when not working, Courtney spends his free time with the “the most amazing granddaughter on the planet” and his three children.


Sue Beitz, Director, Nous Group

Motivated by a good challenge, and the desire to develop solutions that improve people’s lives and contribute to the broader community, Sue brings deep expertise in the development of public policy and strategy.

Throughout her career she has been interested in the effective operation of the labour market and creating opportunities for people to participate in work, as well as the implications of the digital economy on employment and skills needs. Her research on the latter topic has included as contributing author to the Centre for Economic Development’s 2015 report Australia's Future Workforce. Moreover, she has a track record of delivering results.

As a senior commonwealth public servant she advised government and industry in the fields of education, skills, employment and workplace relations policy; and provided policy advice for sectors including resources, defence, food, information and communications technology, manufacturing, education, retail, and aged and child care.

Sue has over 17 years experience working on public policy for the Commonwealth across various agencies. From 2008 to 2014 she was the head of secretariat for the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency where she provided strategic advice on Australia’s skills needs and reform of Australia’s tertiary education sector.

Prior to joining Nous, Sue managed her own consultancy providing change management advice and researching issues related to industry transformation.

Outside of work, Sue’s idea of a good time is to hang out eating, talking and laughing with her (now grown up) kids. She enjoys long walks and for the last ten years has been on an annual hike with two close friends exploring parts of Australia, New Zealand and the Himalayas. She also loves gardening and is slowly creating more productive space in the garden including keeping chickens and bees.


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