2023 National Congress

Previous NGAA guest speakers

Previous NGAA guest speakers include Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP and Minister for Local Government, Kristy McBain MP.

Congress Highlights

  • Keynote Speakers on climate policy and community-led change 
  • Political speakers
  • NGAA Awards Dinner
  • Panel discussions on climate-adapted sustainable suburbs and designing for resilience
  • Networking opportunities with:
    • Mayors, CEOs and specialists from Australia’s fast growing local government areas
    • Politicians
    • and business partners in development, planning and infrastructure industries.


Photos from 2023 National Congress and awards

Presentations and Videos

Keynote: Policy for a climate crisis – what needs to change now and in the future

Aaron Hill, economic and public policy expert, will set the scene for our deliberations, outlining Australia's economic position and prospects, incorporating the role of climate change, carbon reductions, housing affordability, supply chains and pandemic recovery.  Presentation     Video


Keynote: Sustainable suburbs - the view from the outdoors

Sophie Thomson, ABC Gardening Australia presenter and Mount Barker local, will share her insights into the importance of connecting to nature in our backyards and community open spaces.     Video


Address by The Hon Catherine King MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Local Government  Video


Panel session 1: Designing Suburbia 3.0 - What do we change to deliver climate-adapted communities?

We need to change the way Australia's new suburbs are designed and built: to adapt to our climate, to respect our landscape, and to provide safe, amenable communities for generations to come. With decades of rapid growth to catch up with, does the answer lie in simply updating planning regulations?  Panel session video

Gavin Cotterill presentation

Sangeetha Charndrashekaran presentation


Jen Michelmore - Stepchange Cities Partnership    Jen Michelmore presentation    Video


Panel session 2: Resilience in Suburbia 3.0 - Changing outcomes for growth area communities

A new suburb built rapidly, filled with new residents in a new landscape, is inherently vulnerable, especially as the frequency and intensity of natural disasters increases. But what could a community achieve if it was built with resilience in mind? 

Jen St Jack presentation

Peter Rathjen presentation


Forum: Local Government leading the way to Suburbia 3.0

Hearing from the subject experts within NGAA membership, this session kick starts NGAA's advocacy for a focus on outer urban growth areas in the Albanese Government's promised National Urban Policy Framework. 

Forum Video

Featuring members of the NGAA Strategic Advisory Committee with examples of challenges and solutions for Suburbia 3.0 in their municipality:

  • Cr Matt Deeth, Wollondilly Shire Council and Chair, NGAA
  • Cr Brett Treby, Deputy Mayor, City of Wanneroo and Deputy Chair, NGAA
  • Mayor Glenn Docherty, Playford City Council
  • Mayor David Leach, Mount Barker District Council 
  • Mayor Terresa Lynes, City of Gosnells
  • Cr Todd Carney, Penrith City Council
  • Cr Joseph Haweil, Hume City Council




Aaron Hill

ANZ Economic Insights Lead and Managing Director, Accenture Strategy

As a Managing Director with Accenture, Aaron leads the Australian and New Zealand Economic Insights team. He works on economics and public policy with a focus on interaction between policy reform and economic growth. Previously, Aaron was a partner at Deloitte Access Economics, adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan, and economic adviser to the SA Premier, the Hon Jay Weatherill.

Jennifer Michelmore

CEO, Studio THI

Jennifer is the CEO at Studio THI, a not-for-profit urban change studio who focus on amplifying the positive impacts of urban development to create a more equitable and resilient future for all. She is an urban strategist with over 15 years experience.

Gavin Cotterill

Founder & Managing Principal, GC3 Digital

Gavin is an acclaimed Digital Twin expert trusted by public and private executives to develop world-leading Digital Twin strategies and programs. With a career spanning three decades across the built and natural environment he demonstrates a unique blend of policy, strategy, and business case experience.

Samantha Rich

Adjunct Lecturer, Yuwaya Ngarra-Li Institute of Global Development

Samantha is a Wiradjuri Designer, and housing researcher dedicated to embedding First Nations worldview into the built environment. Her experience across diverse typologies of health, housing, urban design, and Designing for Country has developed her skills in culturally sensitive design and engaging authentically with First Nations Communities.

Jen St Jack

Principal, St Jack and Co

Jen St Jack is a climate change consultant and coordinator of the Resilient Hills & Coasts climate partnership. She works with state and local governments to connect people, ideas and policy, with the aim of accelerating action towards a liveable, safe and resilient world, now and into the future.

Kathryn Seirlis

City of Casey

With 20 years experience in planning, infrastructure and economic development of growth areas in south-east Melbourne, Kathryn is the Manager of the Growth and Investment Department, which drives the delivery of connected and resilient communities by planning and facilitating innovative development and investment outcomes.

Sophie Thomson

Author and ABC Gardening Australia presenter

Sophie’s passion for the environment and gardening has led to a media career in talkback radio, television and writing. Her bestselling book ‘Sophies Patch’ is about transforming a dry paddock in Mount Barker into a lush garden. Sophie’s community engagement includes the Native Bee BNB Project with native bee hotels installed in eight councils. She is patron of the Beekeepers' Society of South Australia and Ambassador for Horticultural Therapy SA.

Dr Sangeetha Chandrashekeran

Senior Research Fellow, Life Course Centre

Sangeetha is an economic geographer who focuses on the political economic dimensions of environmental change. She has researched the energy transition in Australia with a focus on social equity and environmental outcomes. Sangeetha is a Senior Research Fellow on the Places Program in Life Course Centre where she is leading research into the relationship between place, inequality and the life course.

Venue and accommodation

Congress and the Awards Dinner will be held at the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre in beautiful Hahndorf. Less than half an hour from the Adelaide CBD, the Centre includes 32 acres of manicured grounds and stunning on-site accommodation. The Convention Centre is located within the Discovery Hahndorf Resort.

Please email NGAA Congress with any questions about the event. 


The NGAA Awards 2023 will celebrate excellence and innovation from projects and initiatives that support the development of growth areas across Australia. Winners will be announced on Wednesday 4 May at the NGAA Awards Dinner.

awards information
Host Council and Presenting Partner

Mount Barker District Council is situated in the Mount Lofty Ranges, a 30 minute drive from Adelaide. It is among the fastest growing municipalities in Australia with Mount Barker destined to become the second biggest city in South Australia. The district is a mix of urban, peri urban and rural with many people attracted by the scenic hills environment and lifestyle.



Event Partner
Award Partner

See the 2023 Partnership Proposal for details about the benefits and investment required for the different partnership categories. For more information, please contact NGAA Chief Executive Officer, Bronwen Clark, on 0448 401 257 or at bronwen.clark@ngaa.org.au.

Looking back at Congress in previous years
Congress 2019 Congress 2022