swarm 2017

WED 30 & THU 31 AUG, University of Sydney

Australia's Online Community Management Conference

BUY SWARM Tickets now

What is Swarm?

Australia’s only online community management conference connects builders, thinkers, managers and makers for an unforgettable gathering.

No sizzle reels, no sales pitches, self-promotion or things you can Google. Just connection, collaboration and authentic, inspired insights from leaders in the industry and those doing the work of building and managing community. 


Years of Swarm Conf




Online Communities Represented


Coffees Consumed

2017 Program

MC - Matthew Cox

Day 1– Wednesday Aug 30
8:00 am: Registration & Check In


9:00 am Welcome to Country
9:10 am
Matthew Cox Introduction
9:`15 am
Venessa Paech -- State of Online Community Management & Future Trends
9:40 am
Sarah Hawk -- Creating Winning Superuser & Ambassador Programs 

10:15 am -- MORNING TEA

10:40 am Bill Johnston -- Building Modern Communities Using Innovation
11:15 am
Dave Earley -- Building Online Communities in a Fake News World
12:00 pm
Venessa Paech & Alison Michalk - Ethics for Community Managers 

12:15 pm -- LUNCH

1:30 pm Matt Lucas -- Creating a social ecosystem for Australia's largest community
2:15 pm
Leah Williams Veazey -- Lessons from grassroots online communities & the accidental community manager
2:45 pm
Kelsey Gamble & Emma Siu -- Gaming communities in Conversation: Secrets of engagement success

3:15 pm -- AFTERNOON TEA

3:30 pm  Kate Fenerty - Managing at-risk communities
4:15 pm
Jessica Malnik -- Measuring customer communities

5:00 pm: Wrap up, thanks & drinks!

Day 2 - Thursday Aug 31

Host: Fiona Martin
9:00 am: Symposium: Automation, AI & Community Management

Where does the human begin and the machine end?

Panels, research presentation & discussion

12 pm Special presentation:
Behind the social media movement to end male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia, presented by artist, activisit and digital disruptor Ms Saffaa.

12:30 pm: LUNCH


1:00 pm - 2:30pm
Workshop 1: Storytelling & collaborative world building -
Megan Davis
Workshop 2: How to build a movement - Stephen Scott Johnson 

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Workshop 3: Using community to drive innovation
- Bill Johnston
Workshop 4: Legal essentials for online community managers - Paul Gordon

4:00pm: WRAP UP

To secure your space in Keynotes, Workshops and the Symposium you must purchase both a Swarm 2 Day Pass AND register for a Symposium ticket.

See you there!

2017 Speakers

Learn from leading global experts in online community

Sarah Hawk

Sarah Hawk

Community Product & Strategy, Discourse

Formerly a developer in the corporate world, Hawk (who is a Kiwi and is only called Sarah by her mother) is an online community stalwart.

Currently she works in community product and strategy for leading forum software Discourse. Previously she was Head of Community at UK based community consultancy Feverbee, working with organisations to create community solutions and deliver online community training. Other community roles have included Community Manager for UX Mastery and for SitePoint.

Hawk will be keynoting on how to create next generation superuser programs.

Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston

Chief Community Officer

Bill is Chief Community Officer at Structure 3C in California, which helps organisations build, grow and strengthen their communities, creating long-term value for the business and the individual.

A leading global authority in community architecture and the collaborative economy, Bill developed and launched communities for Autodesk and Dell (connecting millions of customers and creating upwards of $100 million in impact). 

Bill will keynote on Building Modern Communities using innovation, integration and experience + host a hands-on workshop on creating an innovation community, ideal for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Leah Williams Veazey

Leah Williams Veazey

Community Manager, Researcher

Leah is a PhD researcher (University of Sydney) exploring the experiences of members and admins of online communities for migrant mothers in Australia. Leah has over a decade’s experience of working in non-profit communications, focusing on women and health.

With a professional qualification in online community management, she specialises in managing online communities and social media for NFPs. 

Leah will share her insights into what branded communities can learn from grassroots online communities and explore the idea of the accidental community manager.

Dave Earley

Dave Earley

Audience Development Editor, Guardian Australia

Dave is Audience Editor for Guardian Australia. Dave has held senior roles as digital editor at Seven News Brisbane and Quest Community Newspapers. He was engagement editor for the Courier-Mail before joining Guardian Australia in 2014.

As well as developing digital and social media strategies at these news organisations in senior leadership roles, Dave has been an innovator in digital news distribution, citizen and mobile journalism.

Dave will be keynoting on building community in an era of fake news.

Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik

Community Manager, The DC

Jessica is Community Manager of "the DC", aka Dynamite Circle, a community of 1100+ location-independent entrepreneurs, she manages a mix of online forums and offline events. At Bigcommerce, she scaled the community team and tripled ideal member participation in the customer support forum within 10 months.

Her writing on community been featured on: The Next Web, Buffer, Convince and Convert, Feverbee, CMX, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, SocialFresh and MSN UK, among others. Jessica will be keynoting on building thriving online customer communities.

Matthew Cox

Matthew Cox

Community Marketing Manager, Envato

Matthew is the Community Marketing Manager at Envato, a Melbourne-based, Community-Driven tech company that in 10 years has paid out over half a billion dollars to it’s creative community. He has a degree in Professional Communications from the University of RMIT, where he guest lectures on communications challenges surrounding social media and online communities. 

Matthew also frequently provides public commentary, insight and analysis on the movement of the digital communications sector. He has appeared on panels for Sky News and has written for Mumbrella, Marketing Magazine and B&T. 

He will be hosting proceedings at Swarm 2017.

Paul Gordon

Paul Gordon

Senior Associate, NDA Law

Paul is a Senior Associate at NDA Law and one of Australia’s leading experts in social media and privacy law, and intellectual property. Paul also advises on corporate governance, competition and consumer law, inter-jurisdictional disputes and corporate and commercial law. He is the managing director of an online ticketing company and teaches Intellectual Property Law at Flinders University

Paul has won numerous awards, including the 2015 national Lawyers' Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards (in Intellectual Property Law). He will be running a workshop on legal essentials for online community professionals not to miss.

Matt Lucas

Matt Lucas

Head of Content, Social & Search, Australia Post

Matt has overseen social media at iconic Aussie brand Australia Post since 2014, where his constituents are the entire country. Matt manages a centre of excellence around social media, social customer care, influencer engagement and more, collaborating with community engagement teams to build a vibrant community ecosystem for the organisation.

Previously, Matt led social strategies (including campaign and risk management) at Online Circle Digital for clients including Kraft Foods, Schweppes and Mercedes-Benz.

Stephen Scott Johnson

Stephen Scott Johnson

Community builder, Author

Stephen is an expert in change management who helps organisations catalyse engagement and innovation. An industry veteran with two decades experience in global business, he is a sought after international mentor and keynote speaker in customer engagement, co-creation and movements. Stephen is the author of Emergent —Ignite purpose, transform culture and make change stick (Wiley 2017). His accolades including Cannes Lion, AIMIA and webby.

Stephen will be conducting a workshop masterclass on how to build a movement - the perfect tool for catalysing a community.

Kelsey Gamble

Kelsey Gamble

Community Manager, Bethesda Games

Kelsey has specialised in Community Management for the better part of a decade, with her experience spanning across multiple industries. She currently heads up the A/NZ community for Bethesda Softworks - a global publisher known for games such as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout Series; DOOM, Quake Champions and Wolfenstein. She has also worked for Zomato (Urbanspoon), Catch of the Day, EB Games, Origin Energy and more.

Kate Fenerty

Kate Fenerty

Online Community Manager, Cancer Council NSW

Kate is the online community manager for Cancer Council NSW's peer-to-peer support platform, Cancer Council Online Community.

Kate's previous community roles include community and social lead for NRMA's Living Well Navigator, and community manager for Yahoo!7's forums, Answers and Flickr. She has consulted and worked remotely for many organisations, building and developing online communities.

Kate has recently completed both levels of Lithium's Community Management training, is certified in UNIX, and is a very proud mum. She will be sharing unique lessons from the front-line of a critical peer support community, and how to craft the conditions for safe community cultures.

Emma Siu

Emma Siu

Community Engagement Manager, EA/Firemonkeys

Emma is a scientist turned game developer/community manager. She is skilled in social media and community management, campaign planning, development and execution, influencer recruitment and engagement and crisis management. Emma is an in demand speaker and writer, and has been featured in MCV Pacific's 30 under 30 for 2016, Develop's 30 under 30 as a honorable mention and was named as one of the 100 most Influential Women in Games by MCV Pacific. 

Megan Davis

Megan Davis


Megan, the Lead Storyteller of Spendlove and Lamb, has been crafting narratives in Melbourne and around the world since 2012. Spendlove and Lamb specialise in storytelling, narrative strategy, content production and management. 

Spendlove and Lamb have shepherded the craft of narrative development for a multitude of industries since 2015. Carving a niche as a market leader in this area has impacted the growth and stability for the future of narrative as modern marketing cornerstone.

Megan will be conducting a unique workshop on collaborative storytelling geared for community builders.




  • * Access to Conference Day 1 ONLY



  • * Includes Day 1 + Choice of 2 x Workshops on Day 2
  • * Symposium registration is separate

swarm Symposium

Automation, AI & Community Management

  • * Access is free, requires registration and spaces are limited.
  • * Presentations, Panel & Discussion
  • * Does not include access to Day 1 or Workshops
Register your spot


Experience speaks for itself

"Expert keynotes, networking opportunities and grounded insights make Swarm the premium event for experienced community managers to stay on top of their game."

Amber Robinson

Acting Head of Digital, Microsoft

"Swarm is the must-attend event of the year for Australian community managers. The speakers always inform, challenge and inspire."

Jason hill

Community Manager, Bunnings

"Without a doubt Swarm is the best community gathering I have attended, and I have attended a lot in my 30 year career. Every detail is designed to facilitate relationship building - and it is wildly successful. I urge anyone to make the effort to go. I want very much to go again."

John Coate

Community Manager, The WELL

"You can't put a price on the value of connecting with community managers from different sectors. As a community for mental health and suicide prevention with specific needs and risks, we learn from everyone and see what fits for us. Swarm is an awesome opportunity to meet others and hear from the best."

Sophie Potter

Parents Program Manager, Reach Out

"Swarm has a signal-to-noise ratio that puts other conferences to shame. Whether you're listening to Justin Isaf wax philosophic on the infrastructure of moderation or watching Dr Michael Wu present his Good-Will-Hunting formula for Community Health, Swarm has a stunning track record of delivering the goods. Just register."

Matthew Cox

Community Manager, Envato

Leaving Swarm is like going home after school camp – you feel like you’ve been separated from your people. The atmosphere is nurturing, challenging and inspirational. If you work in the community space you’d be crazy to miss it.

Sarah Hawk

Head of Community, Feverbee

Learn, Collaborate, Build, Launch, grow & manage your community


Venessa Paech

Venessa Paech


Venessa is a global authority on community management. Previous roles include leading community marketplace Envato, Senior Manager of Community & Content Strategy at REA Group (realestate.com.au) and Head of Community at Lonely Planet, where she managed iconic travel community, the Thorn Tree. Currently she is Community Manager at Australia Post.

In 2015 she co-sponsored the inaugural Australian Community Manager career survey and in 2016 launched the first Code of Ethics for Australian Community Managers with Alison. Venessa is a prolific writer, speaker and published academic.

Alison Michalk

Alison Michalk


Alison is CEO of Australia’s leading specialist community management company Quiip, with a global team of Community Managers and Strategists.

She is the former Community Manager of Australia’s largest online parenting forums (Essential Baby/Fairfax).

In 2015 she co-sponsored the inaugural Australian Community Manager career survey, and in 2016 launched the first Code of Ethics for Australian Community Managers with Venessa.

Get in touch

Swarm gives you the chance to connect with colleagues, enhance your skills and build your practice. It is *the* professional development conference for community managers.

Lvl 6, 69 Reservoir St
Surry Hills Sydney
NSW 2010 Australia