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Leading together

The 2019 QCOSS State Conference

Leading together

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We know that it takes more than one person in a community to lead change.

To build on this movement and celebrate our 60th year of service to Queenslanders, we ventured to the beautiful lands of the Gubbi Gubbi people – at The Events Centre at Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast - for Leading change together, QCOSS’ State Conference. 

Held on 12 and 13 September 2019, the event brought together more than 270 participants at different stages of their ‘change’ journey to contribute, share their stories, and inspire others to change the world. 

Author, co-founder of Resilient Aspiring Women, and keynote speaker Mariam Issa set the scene for the two days when she shared her journey of trauma, loss, and transition with participants.

After arriving in Australia as a Somalian refugee with her husband and four children, with one more on the way, Mariam passionately believes that overcoming adversity simply requires a stretch of imagination.

“Within each and every one of us lives an incredible story - a story that comes from our lived experience, from the trials of our adversities and from the daily joys of our lives,” she said.

“The gifts of our memory and imagination are interwoven in this powerful tool of language and rhythm and when we share stories, in platforms like this, we spice and infuse our experiences with meaning and insight.”

Mariam Issa

Co-founder of Resilient Aspiring Women

Cofounder of Resilient Aspiring Women, Mariam Issa

During nine engaging workshops over the two days, participants heard from a range of guest speakers, including Chris Sarra, Eddie Synot, Mick Gooda, Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall, TASCOSS’ Kym Goodes, Professor Tim Reddel, For Purpose’s Caterina Giorgi, and Lindsay Wegener from PeakCare Queensland – amongst many others. 

While participants spent the two days considering social change and plotting a path forward, for QCOSS it was an important year to look back as well.

To help us celebrate our 60th anniversary, Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO joined MC Kim Skubris at a special anniversary dinner held on the first night of the conference to talk about her distinguished career of public service as a pioneer in contemporary Australian society. 

She touched on more than 45 years of experience in reform, community building and leadership, telling the audience that she was sitting amongst people whom she admires and enormously respects.

MC Kim Skubris is on the stage with Dame Quentin Bryce and an Auslan interpreter.

People who for me, stand and signify service and selflessness, accomplishment, and very fine values and principles.

Dame Quentin Bryce


During our 60th year of advocating for Queenslanders, QCOSS held many conversations across the state with an emphasis on learning what it will take to create thriving communities.

On day two of the event, our focus shifted toward future steps with a question –

How do we re-imagine the future and make that a reality? 

To help answer the question, we were joined by the inspirational Ronni Kahn AO, founder of food rescue organisation OzHarvest, whose determination to find purpose in life has changed the world and helped countless Australians in need.

Ronni’s ability to inspire and motivate everyone she meets has seen OzHarvest grow from humble beginnings to become Australia’s leading food rescue organisation.

“You know, every single day when we wake up, we have a choice,” she said.


Founder of OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn speaking at a podium

We have a choice to be happy. We have a choice to be sad. We have a choice to be grumpy. We have a choice to take umbrage when somebody says something.


And I have decided that every single day I control myself - and I have chosen to be filled with gratitude, and to be positive around every single day that I live.

Ronni Kahn AO

Founder of OzHarvest

Surplus food from the conference was donated to the local Sunshine Coast chapter of OzHarvest, along with proceeds from merchandise sales at the event. As a result, more than 1,800 meals were delivered to local community members.

By the end of the event, delegates were filled with hope, positively inspired, and ready to lead change together.

 Pictured below: The QCOSS 60th Anniversary Dinner Event

QCOSS staff are standing in a room of guests at the QCOSS 60th Anniversary Dinner event holding sparklers. Geed Up are peforming on stage.

Thanks to our partners and supporters who made this event possible.

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