Office bearers

  • Peter Derbyshire
    Peter Derbyshire National President

    Peter Derbyshire

    I am the 2017 CAPA National President and am looking forward to an amazing year working hard to make the lives of postgraduates just that much better. I got involved in CAPA when someone once said to me that the Postgraduate voice is one of the quietest in the sector and I aim to prove them wrong.

    I was a student representative in the UWA Postgraduate Student Association for 3 years first as an Ordinary Committee member (and temporary Science Faculty Representative) then as Vice President of Research Students, then as the PSA President. My history with CAPA entails being the Policy and Research Advisor in 2015 and the Western Region President in 2016. Altogether I have been involved in postgraduate student representation as long as I have been a postgraduate student.

    I am a PhD candidate and when not procrastinating from my thesis I study the cardiac innervation patterns in reptiles at the University of Western Australia. This research involves figuring out what control mechanisms allow a reptile to undergo rapid internal temperature changes without resulting in tachycardia.

    During semester I also enjoy my time as a lab demonstrator, and I consider the practical components of teaching to be the most important aspect of education.


  • Natasha Abrahams
    Natasha Abrahams General Secretary

    Natasha Abrahams – General Secretary

    I am a third year PhD student in sociology at Monash University, at which I also completed my undergraduate education. I have been a student representative since 2015, and currently hold the position of Vice President of Monash Postgraduate Association. This is my second year as a CAPA office bearer.


  • Oluwadamilola Ayeni (Lola
    Oluwadamilola Ayeni (Lola Media Officer


    I am currently studying a Masters in Media and Communications at Monash University. I am also the elected Education officer (coursework) of Monash Postgraduate Association. I also seat as a post graduate member on Learning and Teaching Committees at Monash. With a background Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations, my education and professional experience has enhanced and shaped my leadership, communication, and organisational skills. I have also developed a strong passion for broadcasting. This informed my decision to take up a volunteering role to co-host “The Cool-off Zone”, an on-going sessional radio programme on Radio Monash.

    I see my role as the Media Officer as an opportunity to improve the platform that will facilitate ongoing communication between CAPA, the affiliate organisations/bodies, policy makers, and the media. I also strive to drive this experience in other to extend the image of CAPA as a brand and also a force to reckon with.

  • Simon Burnett
    Simon Burnett PRA Officer

    Hi comrades, I’m Simon and I’m your Policy and Research Advisor for 2017.  I previously served on the Tasmanian Postgraduate Council, first as the southern regional representative then as statewide postgrad president in 2016.  I’m in the final year of a Master of Teaching, having previously studied a Bachelor of Arts.


    I’m passionate about CAPA not just participating in but leading the discussion on policy which impacts on higher education, research and students in this county.  This is a crucial time for both domestic and international postgraduate students and a strong peak body to stand up for them is a requirement now more than ever before.  I am also a strong believer in working together with other organisations with similar coverage and priorities for us, particularly the NTEU and where possible the NUS, to achieve outcomes for everyone involved in research and higher education and to provide a united front against students and workers at Australian universities.  Finally, I see it as vital that small and regional campuses are engaged, and that we do not fall into the all-too-easy trap of simply viewing what happens at campuses in the major capitals as being the entire story for Australian postgraduate students, and that we do not write off students at such campuses or take them for granted.

    I look forward to working with you over the course of 2017!


  • Vibol Hy
    Vibol Hy VP-Equity Officer

    Vibol Hy – VP-Equity
    I am studying a Masters of International Relations by coursework. I completed my BA at the University of Melbourne with a double major in Political Science and Media and Communications. During my undergraduate degree I developed a keen interest in international affairs and relations, which is why I am now doing a masters in this area.

    I am a vocal advocate of the rights of people that have been marginalised within society. I will be working on a platform to help and give voice to people that do face discrimination within postgraduate education. Education should be a level playing field that everyone should be able access free from prejudice.


  • Sharlene Leroy-Dyer
    Sharlene Leroy-Dyer NATSIPA Liaison officer Officer

    Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

    I am an Aboriginal woman, from the Guringai, Gadigal, Wiradjuri and Dhurag peoples of NSW.  I have a PhD in the Management at the University of Newcastle, a Bachelor of Business (Hons) from University of Newcastle and a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Research and Leadership from University of Melbourne. I am currently enrolled in a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language at Charles Sturt University.

    I am appointed by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) to sit on CAPA as a liaison officer advising CAPA on all Indigenous postgraduate representation. I am also a fulltime academic in at the University of Newcastle.  I serve on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) as a National Councillor and as Deputy Chair, the NTEU Women’s Action Committee as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative and I am also the NTEU Aboriginal representative on campus.

    I am passionate about improving the standard of postgraduate education at Universities, for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students.



  • Alexandra Nixon
    Alexandra Nixon Disabilities Officer

    I am the Disabilities Officer for this CAPA term and am very excited to be working with my constituents, the other equity groups and the office bearers on improving visibility, advocacy and access to support services for postgraduate students across the country.

    Over my past 6 long years at the University of Sydney I have been involved in activism and advocacy for women, First Nations people, refugees, the Education movement and workers which has been a rewarding and fierce fight.

    In 2015 I became a general councillor at SUPRA (Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association) and have since filled the roles of Vice-President and Education Officer.

    I am a Masters of Music (Performance) student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with hopes to enter the musical world as an operatic performer and am hellbent on proving wrong all the naysayers who insist that epileptics do not belong on stage.
    I look forward to building the Disabilities portfolio with the constituents of this equity group in 2017.


  • (Alex) Zhengyuan Yao
    (Alex) Zhengyuan Yao International Officer

    Greetings, I’m the new international officer from Shanghai, and currently in my second year of Master of Nursing practice at Monash University, graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Science degree. During my term as an executive committee in the Monash postgraduate Association, I have developed an interest in advocating for international students.

    My role as the international officer will be coordinating amongst each affiliated Universities regarding to any major international students issues. Strengthen the cooperation with CISA (Council of International Student Australian) to raise a stronger voice for international students in Australia. I intend to dedicate myself in some of the major concerns for international students such as work fair and travel concession for postgraduate students in Victoria. Please contact me via email if you have any issues.


  • Oliver Moore
    Oliver Moore Queer Officer

    I am a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Sydney. My research looks at poetry and other art forms as a form of political engagement for marginalised and disenfranchised communities in the United States.

    I’ve been involved in queer student organising through Queer Collaborations, the USYD Queer Action Collective as an undergrad and SUPRA as a postgrad, and as convenor and secretary of the Australian Queer Student Network (AQSN).

    I also write the comedy pages of the USYD student newspaper, Honi Soit, have been editor of far too many literary journals to count, and am an internationally published poet.


  • Alyssa Shaw
    Alyssa Shaw Women's Officer

    Alyssa is the President of the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) for 2017. Prior to this, Alyssa was elected as the inaugural Women’s Officer for PARSA in 2015, and served as Acting Vice President for PARSA in 2016. She was also elected as the Vice President (Equity) for the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) for 2016. In these roles Alyssa advocates for inclusive policy and outcomes for postgraduate students, and works to ensure postgraduate rights and welfare both locally and nationally.

    Alyssa completed her Bachelor of Commerce at the Australian National University, majoring in management and marketing. Currently she is studying an interdisciplinary Masters by coursework and research, focusing on feminist theory and gender.

    Alyssa has worked for the Australian Public Service and for the community sector with a focus on women’s rights. She has also interned with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the World YWCA. Currently she serves as a board member for the Women’s Centre for Health Matters and continues to volunteer for women’s and community organisations. Alyssa was recognised for her work at PARSA at in the community as a finalist for the ACT Young Woman of the Year 2016.


  • Dylan Styles
    Dylan Styles VP-NOC Officer

    Hello my name is Dylan Styles, I’m the CAPA Vice President (Chair of National Operations Committee) for 2017.

    I am studying a Masters of Teaching (By coursework) at Victoria University. I am very excited to hold this role in CAPA as I see endless possibilities for the NOC committee and am excited to be able to create a clear guideline of operations to make this committee beneficial and functional.
    I am a passionate a out advocating for postgraduate issues and this role enables me to create campaigns around student issues and raise awareness of student priorities.

    In my past experience I have also held numerous roles these include
    – Disabilities Officer of VUPA 2017
    – CAPA South East Branch President 2016
    – VUPA President 2016

    Contact me to organise or participate in any campaigns, to arrange a campus visit, to have national support for national issues, to Connect with other campuses across the regions. You can also contact me regarding any regional concerns or issues at your university, or questions you have regarding CAPA’s National Operations Committee.


  • Richard Matthews
    Richard Matthews Central Officer

    I received the BElec degree in electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Adelaide, South Australia in 2014 and am currently finishing a PhD in Electronic Engineering concerning applications of sensor pattern noise for forensic applications.

    I’ve served Royal Australian Air Force as an Officer before working in industry for over five years. Like other postgrads, I now tutor first year engineering students and conduct research in my interests areas including digital forensics and cyber security.

    I’m the Postgraduate officer on my Universities student association and am working to rebuild the Postgraduate Student Association.  I also serve on the University of Adelaide Council.

    I enjoy a good beer or a cup of coffee so feel free to get in contact with me if you want to have a chat regarding research interests, issues or just general postgrad stuff.

    Contact me:

    To organise, participate or host any events in the Central region.


  • Anish Saini
    Anish Saini Eastern Officer

    Hello, my name is Anish Saini. I am an international student from India and am pursuing my PhD in Environmental Remediation at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan. I completed my Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in India, and carried out my internship for my Master’s degree at NUS Singapore.

    I have previously represented my class, house (in school) and even my department in the university and been their voice to interact with the staff / university board. The exposure I received by carrying out my research in Singapore helped me understand what varying problems an international student faces and how one comes around to cope with them. Before coming to Newcastle, I worked as Operations Manager for an international airline operating in India. That not only taught me how to manage and work efficiently with a team, but also how to interact with customers with differing backgrounds and mother tongues. All that experience shall help me greatly in my role at CAPA not only to interact with the current affiliates but any future affiliates.

    I am currently the International Representative at NUPSA (Newcastle University Postgraduate Student Association) and being working with NUPSA peaked my interest to work at a more regional and national level. Being an international postgraduate student myself, I not only understand the major problems a postgraduate student faces / may face but also what difficulties an international postgraduate student faces. I also know from experience that most of us are so engrossed in our degrees that we are not able to voice our problems with the same intensity as undergraduate students do, hence I would love to be your voice and raise your issues at the regional and national levels and help find solutions for them. Drop me a mail regarding any issues that you may be having and I will do my best to help you with them.


  • Brittany McCormack
    Brittany McCormack Northern Officer

    Hi everyone! I’m Brittany and I’m CAPA’s Northern Branch President for 2017. I’m currently in the final few months of my PhD in Education at Griffith University on the Gold Coast campus.

    I have been on the Board of the Gold Coast Association of Postgraduates (GCAP) for the past three years in the following roles:
    Director of Academic Services;
    Vice-President; and

    Please feel free to contact me in regards to issues relating to the Northern Branch, wanting further CAPA support, and/or if you want us to be involved in any campaigns.

    Contact me:
    To Organise or Participate in an Event in the northern region; to Connect with Other Campuses in the northern region; to be put in touch with Affiliate Organisations in the northern region.


  • Swathi Shiva
    Swathi Shiva South-Eastern Officer

    Hello, I’m Swathi, the elected South East Branch president for 2017. I am to finish my Masters degree in Accounting at Swinburne University by the end of the year. Prior to this I was working at a Big 4 auditing firm as an Audit Associate.
    This year I have been re-elected as President of the Swinburne University Postgraduate Association (SUPA) and apart from this I am a Rotaractor with the District 9800.

    I am excited to hold this position at CAPA as I am now able to push for campaigns that could benefit the lives and experiences of the students at the South East. Some issues that the branch continues to support are: Transport concession cards, better postgraduate representation on campuses and also being able develop further engagement with CAPA.

    Contact me for:
    To Organise or Participate in an Event in the south eastern region; To Connect with Other Campuses in the south eastern region; To be put in touch with Affiliate Organisations in the eastern region.


  • Diane Smith
    Diane Smith Western Officer

    I’m currently in second year of a Masters of Public Health by research at Edith Cowan University examining the impact of participation in community service activities on secondary school students. I completed a BSc in Health Promotion at Curtin University and worked in the area of youth volunteering at Volunteering WA on the School Volunteer program as a senior consultant at Community Services in the Western Australian Department of Education.

    In 2016 I was on the Public Health Engagement and Advocacy Team (PHEAT), which offers weekly workshops to assist students to build employability skills and was asked to apply for the position of postgraduate officer on the ECU Student Guild.

    My commitment to CAPA is to ensure our activities are relevant to affiliate organisations and that maximum engagement between affiliates, the university sectors and industry representative.