NOEC 2024 Keynotes and Brian Nettleton Memorial Lecture

NOEC 2024 Memorial Lecture


NOEC 2024 will continue the cherished tradition of featuring the Brian Nettleton Lecture. Introduced by Outdoors Victoria in 2018 at the “Your Future in the Outdoors” Conference, this lecture honours Dr Brian Nettleton, who passed away in 2017. Dr. Nettleton was a pioneer of Outdoor Education and place-based experiences in Australia. His influential work profoundly shaped the field of Outdoor Education in Victoria and inspired many professionals. The inaugural lecture, delivered by John Quay from Melbourne University and Brian’s daughter, Lisa O’Leary, was a heartfelt tribute and marked the beginning of the “Brian Nettleton Keynote Lecture.”

This year, NOEC 2024 will feature a keynote speech by two outstanding individuals who embody Brian’s values and commitment to outdoor and environmental education in Australia: Val Nichols and Sandy-Allen Craig.

Read more about past Brian Nettleton Memorial Lectures here.

Val Nichols

Dr. Val Nicholson exemplifies lifelong growth and adventure, seamlessly blending her personal and professional journeys. At 72, she continues to challenge herself, emphasizing the importance of daily reflection and the journey over the destination. With over 30 years in Nature-Based Adventure Therapy, Val’s diverse career includes roles as a Speech and Language Pathologist, leading international ceramicist, and outdoor educator. Her PhD explores the therapeutic potential of peaceful solitude within adventure. Val is a Life and Founder member of the Australian Association of Bush Adventure Therapy and facilitates the CYCT’s Women on Boats program. Her insights on resilience and risk-taking inspire continuous personal and professional growth.

Sandy-Allen Craig

Sandy has worked as a freelancer, in corporate outdoor training, as a PE teacher and as an Outdoor Education Director in schools before moving into the tertiary sector where she has spent the past 3 decades developing and implementing Outdoor Education courses for Deakin University and Australian Catholic University.

Sandy has published in a range of areas including wages and conditions in the outdoor profession, outdoor education program outcomes, risk management, bush adventure therapy, leadership programs in developing nations and gender equity in outdoor and environmental education. Sandy has played an active role with the Victorian Outdoor Education Association (VOEA) the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) and Bushwalking Mountain Craft Training Advisory Board (BMTAB), in a variety of roles across many years. She is presently the National Coordinator for the Outdoor Leadership and Outdoor Education units across the multiple campuses of Australian Catholic University.

Sandy has also been awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council citation, for outstanding contribution to student learning.

NOEC 2024 Keynotes

Dr. Benny Wilson


Dr. Benny Wilson is a Jagera man who has strong relationships with Country in Meanjin/Brisbane, Karulkiyalu Country around Brewarrina, and Darkinjung Country along the Central Coast of New South Wales.

His research mainly concerns story and its intersection with place-based pedagogies. The work that he has become mainly known for is Country as Teacher, which is an approach based on the wisdom of his old people and was formed in partnership with his brother David Spillman. This work, which was the central focus of his doctoral thesis, largely concerns how to develop a pedagogical approach that centralises the importance of Australian teachers exploring personal and shared stories to develop strong and reciprocal relationships with the places they inhabit.

In 2022, Benny won the AAUT Neville Bonner Award for University Teaching and the ACT NAIDOC Indigenous Scholar of the Year for this work.   

Benny is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra working primarily in initial teacher education.

Dr. Jeff Jackson


Dr. Jeff Jackson has an impressive history of mistakes and failures. Going way back to his early days of river guiding, more could be expected to go wrong than right; this includes one canoe expedition in northern Canada that altogether failed to locate the destination river. This is not an advisable path to follow. What a track record like this does do is create a curiosity and career track focussed on the factors that make things go right or wrong.

Jeff studies how organizational structure influences performance, ranging from safety culture measures to training and data tracking, finding that what we do right has a greater predictive value on safety performance than does the things we do wrong. He has worked with provincial governments on recreation policy development, insurance providers on rating systems, and over one hundred outdoor organizations and tourism operators with risk planning. He is also an award-winning Professor and the Coordinator of Canada’s skills intensive Outdoor Adventure Diploma Programme and still river guides in the summer.

He still makes mistakes but is much better equipped to explain them now than when he started out in this gig.

Manjul Prateeti


Graduate of Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh. Adventure enthusiast and passionate outdoor learning facilitator, Manjul Prateeti has spent the last fourteen years working internationally from India to America and now Australia helping to develop and facilitate quality outdoor education programs.