The Christian Schools National Business Conference is a biennial gathering of Christian school business leaders from across Australia. For more than two decades those involved in all aspects of the ‘business’ of Christian schools, board members, business managers, those involved in administration, marketing, finance, HR or IT have gathered together for professional learning and fellowship. 

In 2024, the  conference will be held at Southbank in Brisbane.  Come and join with peers from across the whole Christian schools sector. We encourage all school business leaders to come, as well as emerging and aspiring leaders, for a time of inspiration, growth and challenge. 

Please note that this event is being held in QLD time (AEST).

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About the Conference

The Christian Schools National Business Conference is a tailored event for professionals engaged in the business facets of Christian schools. This conference is designed for Business Managers, Treasurers, Finance Managers and personnel responsible for IT, HR, Marketing, and Compliance.

At the event, we will explore crucial topics surrounding school finances and benchmarking considering the dynamics of increasing teacher salaries and the challenges of teacher recruitment, gaining insights into their impact on the operational structures of Christian schools.

Additionally, the conference will provide valuable perspectives on demographic changes and their potential influence on Christian schools. We will explore the implications of school growth, navigating cost pressures, potential fee increases, and the effects of rising living costs.

As usual, there will be opportunity to attend a variety of workshops during the event (learn more about these workshops, below). These technical-style workshops will offer attendees the opportunity to engage in focused sessions aimed at elevating their knowledge and expertise in relevant areas.

Plan to join us for an insightful and professional exploration of key topics affecting Christian schools. The Christian Schools National Business Conference provides a platform for learning, networking, and strategic discussions.

Conference Details


23 to 25 October 2024


From $799 (full details in the registration portal)


Rydges, South Bank, 9 Glenelg St., South Brisbane


A program outline has been prepared to provide you with an overview of the event and to assist you with some approximate timings for your travel planning and preparation.

Please note that this program is subject to change.

Sessions & Speakers

We have an extensive range of keynote and workshop speakers at our 2024 event, presenting on a range of topics. You will find information about the keynote and workshop sessions below and further information about sessions will be added in due course.

Workshops Overview

There will be a range of workshops available to delegates, some of these include:

  • Threats and Opportunities AI presents to Christian Schools
  • Navigating the Maze: Modern Document Management for Schools
  • Charting the Course: Proactive Strategies for Managing Financial Reporting and Compliance Risks in Schools
  • School Fees - Key Trends & Insights
  • A Cybersecurity Incident: Tabletop exercise

Keynote: Leading Up with Integrity and Faith

This keynote is designed to empower people who work in the business aspects of Christian schools to effectively lead up with integrity and faith. Leading up has different challenges than leading others. Sometimes, leading up is even more challenging. As Christians, and as leaders in Christian schools, there is an even higher standard. What does it look like to lead up with integrity? How can we serve the people leading us a little more like Jesus? Jonno will draw on biblical principles and real-life examples to encourage and challenge you to become the person God’s called you to be in your school.

Workshop: Leading Others with Integrity and Faith

This workshop is designed for those who are leading individuals or teams or who would like to learn how to lead individuals and teams. It follows on from Jonno’s keynote about how to lead up by focusing on how to lead others. Participants will explore the essential practices of effective management and leadership within a Christian school environment. Jonno will share key learnings from 225 episodes of his Leadership Conversations Podcast. He will also share best practices for building high-performing teams, how to coach the people you lead and how to turn boring meetings into engaging meetings your whole team will look forward to. Jonno will also recommend authors and other resources for participants who want to explore any specific area covered in the workshop more deeply on their own time.

Speaker: Jonno White, Founder, Clarity Group Global

Jonno is the founder of Clarity Group Global, a consultancy focused on helping school leaders and their teams get healthier and clearer than ever before about their purpose, identity, and strategies to achieve their vision. He specialises in facilitating school leadership team retreats and coaches heads of schools and leadership team members. Having guided numerous executive team retreats in locations around the world, Jonno is highly skilled at creating a safe and productive environment where teams can explore their strengths, challenges, and aspirations. Jonno is also the author of ‘Step Up or Step Out’ read by over 10,000 leaders globally, providing practical guidance on navigating difficult situations with grace and dignity. His Leadership Conversations Podcast has a global reach, with listeners in 100 countries. Jonno has a successful blog with over one million web visitors every year. Jonno lives in Brisbane, Australia with his wife Liz and son, Roma.

Keynote Speaker: Belinda Allen, Senior Economist, Commonwealth Bank

Belinda is a Senior Economist at the Commonwealth Bank. She has extensive experience as a financial markets economist. Belinda joined the Commonwealth Bank in 2017. Her work primarily involves developing and communicating views on the Australian and international economies. Prior to joining the Bank, Belinda spent over 10 years at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, the Bank’s asset management arm as a Senior Analyst in the Economic and Market Research team. Here Belinda developed extensive experience in analysing both the Australian and global economies as well as the various investment markets. Belinda works in the Institutional Banking & Markets division of the Commonwealth Bank. This division is responsible for managing the Group’s relationships with major corporate, institutional and government clients and providing a full range of capital raising, transactional and risk management products and services. Belinda holds a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Applied Finance from Macquarie University and has been awarded the CFA designation. Belinda is also a Committee Member on the NSW Women in Economics Network.

Keynote: Faith at Work and Wisdom in Education

In this presentation the Commissioner will outline the recent work that the NSW Productivity Commission has undertaken to enhance educational outcomes in schools. The work focuses on “Teacher Quality”. Peter will also discuss the practical ways he has attempted to display his Christian values in his previous roles as NSW Auditor-General and President of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (NSW Division).

Speaker: Peter Achterstraat, AM, NSW Productivity Commissioner

Peter Achterstraat AM, was appointed as the inaugural NSW Productivity Commissioner in May 2018. Peter was the Auditor-General of NSW from 2006 to 2013. He holds an honours degree in Economics as well as degrees in Law and Commerce from the ANU. Peter was admitted to the Bar of the NSW Supreme Court in 1983 and in 2006 was admitted into the ANU College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame. Peter served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney’s Graduate School of Government (2013 -2017). He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2014 for his Financial Management and Governance roles. He was the President of the NSW Division of the Australian Institute of Company Directors from 2015 -2020. Peter is the Chairman of Bankstown Airport Ltd. Peter is currently the Chair of the ASIC Audit Committee and the Australian Taxation Office Audit Committee.

Keynote: School Finances & Benchmarking

This keynote presentation will cover the attributes of a financially sustainable school looking at recent research and school case studies. We will also explore key ratios and benchmarks that schools should including in their budgeting and reporting. Another key attribute of a financially sustainable school is timely financial forecasting to predict the effect of changes in variables like enrolments, staffing, income and expenses on financial results and key ratios and to then re-assess risk. John will demonstrate an easy to use tool that does the hard work for you. Finally, we will look at an important attribute: the Board/Principal/Business Manager relationship – open and transparent information and shared responsibility for school performance and therefore adapting to changed circumstances.

Workshop: Analyse your school’s financial sustainability

Please bring your latest financial results and Financial Survey for Schools reports if you have them. We will work on your figures to help assess your school’s financial strengths and weaknesses, set targets for financial sustainability and identify the best areas to improve performance if required. You should leave this workshop with a clear financial understanding, for your school, of where you are now, where you need to be, and how to get there. Crucial useful information for your next strategic planning day.

Speaker: John Somerset, Director, Somerset Education

John’s passion is financial viability and sustainability of non-government schools. He has 38 years Chartered Accounting experience, with 28 years’ specialising in schools, including past President of Independent Schools Queensland and a past board member of the Independent Schools Australia. John's experience in school governance and training includes financial viability/sustainability assessment and improvement, capital expenditure and borrowing analysis, budgeting, board reporting, and using key performance indicators (KPI's) to inform decisions and manage financial risk. John’s recent Master's research identified various financial and non-financial attributes essential for the sustainability of non-government schools. He is currently extending this research with a PhD to predict financial sustainability.

Keynote: Demographic Changes and Challenges - Impact on Christian Schools

Let's explore how the demographic landscape in Australia has shifted, particularly since the pandemic. With nearly 20 years of senior private education experience, I'll delve into the implications for governance, risk management, and operational strategies in schools. I'll also share insights from EGS's vast enrolment database and demographic platform (covering over 800 indices across hundreds of non-government schools since 2016) to shed light on recent student enrolment trends, churn rates, and how schools can position themselves ahead of the curve of the changes already in play within Australia’s population.

Speaker: Stephen Cooke, Business Director, Education Geographics

Starting his career as a corporate finance specialist across four QLD Universities, Department of State Development (Export Trade) and the Police Service. He returned to the education sector as the Business Manager of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School and St Andrews Lutheran College, and the Director of Corporate Services at A.B. Paterson College. Leading Finance, HR, Master Planning, Compliance, Risk, Governance, and ICT, he oversaw $50M in capital development, managed the largest insurance claim in the history of the Lutheran Church, and navigated schools through the GFC and Covid economic upheavals. Stephen served on the Board of ASBAQ as the association’s secretary and vice-president. He currently holds positions on two independent school boards, as well as providing guidance to several other schools. He is also the Business Director of Education Geographics – an advisory company specialising in demographic and economic profiling, aiding schools in retaining and attracting enrolments.

Workshop: Navigating the Maze: Modern Document Management for Schools

In this presentation, we delve into the multifaceted challenges of document management faced by educational institutions, particularly in the context of small and growing schools. Drawing from a compelling case study at Meriden, we will explore pragmatic solutions that address budget constraints, the preservation of documents against environmental challenges, and the long-term benefits of digital transformation. This workshop aims to equip school administrators and educators with the knowledge to navigate the complex landscape of document management, ensuring the protection and accessibility of vital records.

Presenter, David Harrison, Essential Solutions Australia

Dave Harrison is a dynamic business advisor whose career has spanned roles as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and a commercial pilot, before he soared to notable success in the sales industry. With over 30 years of diverse professional experience, Dave is known for his engaging and often humorous approach to advising, which endears him to clients and enriches their learning experiences. While he enjoys using humour to lighten the mood, he also possesses the ability to be remarkably direct, ensuring that clear, actionable outcomes are achieved efficiently.

Keynote: Navigating the Financial Landscape: Insights into changes coming from the AASB, ACNC and ATO

This keynote presentation will offer valuable insight into the future directions of key financial regulators. We will explore the focal points for regulatory bodies such as the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB), including the transition away from special purpose reporting and the emergence of sustainability reporting. Dive into the priorities of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), including good governance and navigating related party transactions. Additionally, gain clarity on the Australian Taxation Office's emphasis of compliance regarding Deductible Gift Recipients (DGRs) funds and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Stay ahead of regulatory changes and arm yourself with the knowledge and strategies necessary to effectively navigate these critical compliance areas for your school. Join us to ensure your organisation remains adaptable and compliant amidst the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.

Workshop: Charting the Course: Proactive Strategies for Managing Financial Reporting and Compliance Risks in Schools

This workshop will highlight some of the key financial risk areas within schools and providing strategic approaches to mitigate exposure. We will explore the concept of related parties, understand when disclosure is necessary and when it needs to be disclosed and how to develop processes to ensure thorough capture and adequate management. We will explore the evolving landscape of financial controls from adapting to paperless environments to mitigating fraud risks and maintain robust controls within distributed systems. We will address the critical issue of data security in the education sector, including how to mitigate data security exposures through policies, robust processes, and appropriate insurance coverage, with real-world examples from schools. Additionally, we will also explore management reporting best practices, including development of management reports that meet stakeholders' needs, incorporation of key performance indicators (KPIs), and leveraging data analysis tools for informed decision-making.

Presenter, Matthew Crouch, Saward Dawson

Matthew Crouch is a Partner at Saward Dawson and is a Chartered Accountant and Registered Company Auditor. Saward Dawson is a full scope accounting firm, specialising in services for not-for-profits. Matthew has over 15 years’ experience in the oversight and conduct of not-for-profit audit engagements, both large and small. Matthew has been the team leader on a many independent schools and College engagements. He leads the Saward Dawson Education Sector Team which undertakes many services for Independent Schools including, external and internal audits, grant acquittals, VRQA forecast reviews, payroll reviews, fringe benefit reviews, taxation advice, including NFP structures, GST, PAYG, government pandemic incentives, superannuation and salary packaging, technical seminars and updates.

Workshop: Design, Construction and Master Planning – What a Business Manager really needs to know

This presentation is specifically designed for Business Managers to understand your responsibilities when it comes to capital works, and the current risks in the construction sector. It will be presented by exploring the latest education design trends and will focus on what is important within a Master Plan from a Business Manager’s perspective.

Presenter: Matthew Greene, Paynter Dixon

Matthew Greene views architecture as a medium for creative problem solving. The award-winning Design Architect has over three decades of industry experience and is an authority on design in the education sector. Matthew collaborates strategically with school clients and their communities, ensuring solutions respond wholly to objectives – from master planning to cater for long-term school growth, through to customising facilities for specific modes of learning. He is one of only 16 accredited Learning Environment Planners with the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) based outside north America. Mathew is also Executive General Manager of the 110-year-old design and construction company, Paynter Dixon.

Workshop: From surviving to thriving - Harnessing growth and balancing budget pressures during a cost-of-living crisis

How are schools balancing fee increases with supporting families through a cost of living crisis? Join Edstart’s CEO Jack Stevens in this interactive workshop to answer this important question and more. Together with your peers, you will collaborate to define the core strengths of Christian schools and discover opportunities to share this value through fee communication. Participants will explore ways to lead a positive payment culture and strategies to set and manage parents’ expectations around fee increases. In the context of rising costs and government funding changes, many schools are still thriving. You will examine key characteristics of successful high-growth schools and strategies that school leaders can apply to navigate growing pains. Drawing on insights from Edstart’s research and expertise in looking after tens of thousands of families at independent schools, you will discover what parents really value.

Presenter: Jack Stevens, Edstart

Jack is the CEO of Edstart, a fee management company helping schools improve the payment experience with family care and technology. He has extensive experience across the finance and education sectors, holding senior consulting and corporate finance roles at KPMG prior to founding Edstart in 2016. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a Board Director at the Australian Industry Trade College. Having grown up with parents as school teachers, Jack is passionate about advocating and building solutions to help support access to education, as well as championing the critical role that schools and teachers play in developing our next generation.

Workshop: Riding the Wave of Employment Changes

Adam will take you through the key employment changes that are impacting school workplaces over the last 12 months and provide some practical tips and tricks on how to manage those changes.

Workshop Presenter: Adam Foster, Colin Biggers & Paisley Lawyers

Adam, a partner in the employment and safety team since 2023, is an expert in employment and industrial relations law. He provides his clients with best practice workplace policies and frameworks, ensuring regulatory compliance and navigating the evolving landscape of employment law.Adam frequently presents on employment matters for the Television Education Network at their NFP and Religious Institution Conferences. Adam is dedicated to improving workplace relationships, benefiting both businesses and their employees. His expertise spans policy and contract development, unfair dismissals, terminations, workplace investigations, general protections disputes, enterprise bargaining, modern slavery compliance, and underpayment reviews. Adam works with a diverse range of clients from industries such as education, health, construction, manufacturing, professional services, and the not-for-profit sector. Admitted to practice in 2012, Adam holds a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours in employment law) and a Bachelor of Arts. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, embracing the outdoors, savouring Melbourne's coffee culture, and volunteering for a local NFP.

Workshop Presenter: Shayne Evans, Stanton Dahl Architects

Shayne Evans is the CEO and Lead Architect of Stanton Dahl, with deep expertise spanning across the key service areas of education, purposeful living, churches and community, and commercial. Shayne is passionate about client centred service and design, and he has worked on several projects achieving national design awards.  With an interest in assisting socially diverse communities to achieve high quality built environments, Shayne approaches complex challenges with creativity and the belief that all people matter. This aligns with Stanton Dahl’s purpose and values of bringing about honour, wellbeing and dignity through the design, creation, research and interpretation of space in the service of people. Recent projects include the full design, documentation and delivery of the Years 7-12 multi-storey specialist facility at Arden Anglican School; and the full design, documentation and delivery of the multi-storey theological education facility at Morling Theological College.

Workshop: A Cybersecurity incident tabletop exercise

Data breaches, like those at Medibank, Optus, and HBL Ebsworth, are well-known. Schools, despite their smaller ICT teams, are prime targets due to their sensitive data. AON warns that school breaches are inevitable. A cyber security tabletop exercise is a valuable tool schools can use to ensure preparedness and bolster incident response capabilities. It is a discussion-based exercise, in which your incident response team respond to a scenario led by a facilitator. This tests your team’s ability to implement the strategies in the Cyber Incident Response Plan. A debrief of lessons learnt is then conducted afterwards. An external facilitator helps provide an independent perspective, keep the activity on track, throws additional challenges, and records lessons learnt. This workshop will be an abbreviated exercise that will help you to experience a tabletop exercise in action. It will provide you with the skills to run this critical exercise with your own school leadership and technology teams. Attendees will receive a handout with scenario notes that they can use at their own school.

Presenter: Toby Kerison, NetStrategy

Toby brings over two decades of experience in Independent Schools to his role as CTO at NetStrategy, where he has been since 2015. As CTO, Toby sets the strategic technology direction for the company, ensuring that technological resources align with the company's business goals. He leads the development of new tech initiatives and oversees the integration of cutting-edge technologies across numerous leading Independent Schools served by NetStrategy. Previously, Toby led the ICT function at Swan Christian Education Association in Perth and Oxford Falls Grammar in Sydney, advising leadership and ICT teams across Australia. Toby is passionate about enabling schools to maximise the benefits from their technology investments, enhancing outcomes for staff, students, and parents.

Workshop: Threats and Opportunities AI presents to Christian Schools

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting our daily lives. Schools in particular are the heart of this transformation. AI offers enormous benefits for schools to transform student learning, optimise school operations, and free up overburdened teachers from admin work allowing them to focus on students. Like all new technologies schools must manage potential risks. Issues for Christian school to navigate include ethical use, data governance, privacy, and Cyber Security. Christian Schools are in a unique position to prepare students for the GenAI revolution, and model best practice from a Christian worldview. This presentation provides an overview of the current AI landscape as it applies to school along with actionable strategies to leverage the opportunities while addressing the threats.

Presenter: James Boyle, NetStrategy

James is one of Australia's most experienced IT consultants and entrepreneurs, with a career spanning over three decades. He has founded several successful ICT companies and has held various consulting and editorial roles in technology media. Recognised as a technology expert, he provides high-level strategic consulting and infrastructure advice to industry and government. In the education sector, James and his company, NetStrategy, are well-known nationally for their market presence and expertise. His unique ability to blend commercial and technical skills aids in managing risk, realising value, and achieving superior outcomes. Currently, James serves on multiple boards, including in the education sector, remains active in several companies including NetStrategy, and is deeply involved in community service. He contributes to groups such as the Rural Fire Service and various other not-for-profits, leveraging his extensive experience to benefit the community.

About the Venue

Delegates are provided a special accommodation rate to stay at the Rydges, South Bank Brisbane. The hotel is located in the heart of Brisbane’s arts and entertainment precinct with plenty of things to do and only minutes away from South Bank Parklands.

Find out more about Rydges, South Bank Brisbane here


Qualify for CPD Hours

Attendees may qualify for up to 15 hours of structured CPD depending upon the requirement of your applicable professional body. A certificate of professional learning will be issued to all attendees shortly after the conclusion of the event.

Cancellation Policy

Please refer to the cancellation policy included in the registration process.

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Thank you to our sponsors

This event is sponsored by a range of sponsors to whom we are very grateful:

Platinum Sponsors

Dinner Sponsor

Premium Sponsors

Major Sponsors