AMI Special Advisory Reference Group

Dimity Fifer, Managing Director, Pacific Women’s Network 

Dimity Fifer is currently Managing Director, Pacific Women’s Network and previous CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand; CEO, Australian Volunteers International; CEO, Victorian Council of Social Service and Member, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

During her time at AVI, she significantly expanded the work of Australian Volunteers including increasing the number of international linkages between Australian and international organisations across the globe, particularly in the higher education sector. This period also saw AVI build its program in Myanmar to the point that it is now one of the largest of all AVI’s country programs.  Ms Fifer has overseen the creation of the Pacific Women’s Network and its growth into the largest on-line community in the Pacific region.

She has served as President of FORUM, the International Peak Body for Volunteer Cooperation and served as President or Executive Member of numerous Peak Body Boards and community organisations in Australia including ACOSS, ACFID, The Voice Inc. PNG, Safe Motherhood for All Australia and received an Australian Centenary Medal for her work in Social Policy. She is viewed nationally and internationally as a respected advisor and spokesperson on social justice and social change.

In 2012 Dimity was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Letters honoris causa, by Macquarie University for her career focussed on social justice and development.

Joanna Hayter AO, Consultant, former CEO of International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) 

Joanna Hayter was the CEO of International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) from 2010-2017. Her experience in the international development, foreign affairs, human rights, peace and security and economic empowerment includes long term residency in Myanmar. She is a former Board Director for the Australian Council for International Development.

She was Resident Country Director for the Burnet Institute in Myanmar from 2004-06.  During this period the organisation grew from 5 staff to 40 with a budget expansion from $800,000 to $3m in project contracts.  She guided the expansion of the country program from HIV prevention & care responses to wider public health & education issues including: links with law enforcement in relation to drugs & society; gender-focused sexual health programs; school & workplace education forums, vulnerable youth’s programs; civil society leadership; and human rights training for community leaders.  She was actively engaged with cross border organisations promoting links between women’s organisations and internal peace building initiatives.

As the CEO of IWDA Joanna realigned the agency to focus on systemic change to achieve gender equality for all in collaboration with government, business and not for profit partnerships and secured new investment into 30 program partnerships across the Asia and Pacific regions. She provided policy and leadership advice and analysis relating to women’s rights and gender equality to national and international governments and other international stakeholders including in the UN family, Asia-Pacific entities and networks, global human right’s networks and the global women’s movement and supporting coalitions. IWDA’s partnerships in Myanmar include the Women’s League of Burma, Ta’ang Women’s Organisation, Shan Women’s Action Network and Akhaya Women.

Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University

imageDamien Kingsbury holds a Personal Chair in the School of International and Political Studies.  He teaches Approaches to Political Development, and Conflict, Resolution and Development, takes the International Development Dissertation (minor thesis), and also supervises PhD students.

He is author or editor of more than 20 books and dozens of books chapters and journal articles on political and security issues in South-East Asia, in particular on Indonesia and Timor-Leste.  His recent books include ‘Sri Lanka and the Responsibility to Protect’ (2011), ‘East Timor: The Price of Liberty’ (2009), ‘Political Development’ (2007) and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute booklet ‘Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Indonesia’s Arduous Path of Reform’ (2012).

He was coordinator for Australian volunteer observers to Timor-Leste’s ballot for independence in 1999 and its elections in 2007 and 2012 and was advisor to the Free Aceh Movement for its successful 2005 Helsinki peace talks with the Indonesian government.

Damien is also a frequent commentator for and contributor on regional political affairs to domestic and international media (e.g. Radio Netherlands, Radio Singapore Inetrnational, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Time magazine, AP, Reuters, The Age, SBS Television, ABC Radio, Voice of America, BBC World Service), as well as writing articles and reviews for journals and other publications, notably The Age, the Australian Book Review,,  ABC Unleashed and others. Dr Kingsbury is also a regular contributor on Tuesday mornings on ABC774 Jon Faine program, discussing international affairs.

He served as a member of the Australia Myanmar Institute Board from 2013-16.

Honorary Associate Prof Christopher Lamb, University of Melbourne; former Ambassador to Burma/Myanmar 

Christopher Lamb is one of the founders of the Australia Myanmar Institute and served as its president from 2013-23.  He is a retired Australian diplomat, having worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1968-2000.  In that time he served as Ambassador to Myanmar (Burma) from 1986-89 and to Yugoslavia, Romania, and North Macedonia from 1997-2000.  After that he worked as chief diplomat with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva (2000-2010).  Earlier in his DFAT career, he served in the Burma Embassy from 1972-74.

In Geneva, he helped develop IFRC’s policy on Humanitarian Diplomacy.  This policy describes the role of humanitarian diplomats as persuading decision-makers and opinion leaders to act, at all times, in the interests of vulnerable people, and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles.

He is now an adviser to IFRC and to the Australian Red Cross as well as several other National Societies (including the Myanmar Red Cross), concentrating on the resolution of political questions and the skills required for humanitarian diplomacy.  He is also an associate professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. 

As president of AMI he worked actively with a wide variety of counterparts in Myanmar from government, business, civil society, academia and – a high priority – youth.  Until the military coup in 2021 AMI conducted major conferences in Myanmar about every 2 ½ years, concentrating on Myanmar’s progress towards its development objectives.  This includes examining the importance of achieving human rights and peace as platforms from which development can proceed.

He is a graduate of the Australian National University, with degrees in Law and Arts (Political Science), and lives in Melbourne.

Janelle Saffin, Director of AustCham Myanmar


Janelle Saffin is a Lawyer, Teacher and Governance Expert with extensive experience in policy development, legal reform, legislative process, and the machinery of government.  She has been a member of both State (NSW) and Federal Parliaments and held positions including Special Adviser to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Principal Political (Policy and Legal) Advisor to President of Timor-Leste Jose Ramos Horta. 

Janelle has a long and deep engagement in Burma (Myanmar) and has undertaken many activities and firsts.  She has visited the country many times.  As Patron of the Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, she secured the support of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw to conduct the first public constitutional workshop in Yangon,.  She was the Convenor of the first Human Rights Programme in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and Co-Convenor of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw MPs Induction programme.  She wrote and conducted MPs’ professional development programmes for Shan and Rakhine MPs respectively.  Janelle is a Director of AustCham Myanmar, and served as Secretary of the Burma Lawyers Council 1995-2005. She is presently a Partner in the law firm Gallagher and Saffin and is a registered Migration Agent.  She has worked on the Timor Sea matter between Australia and Timor-Leste, seeking a fair outcome for both countries. 

Professor Dr. Aung Tun Thet, The President’s Economic Advisor

Prof Dr Aung Tun Thet is currently the President’s Economic Advisor and also a member of the President’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council. He is also a Member of Myanmar Investment Commission, Advisor of Union of Myanmar Federation of Commerce and Industries. Added to that, he serves as a Member of Myanmar Press Council. He holds the position of Senior Advisor of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Yangon, Myanmar and is a visiting Professor, to Yangon Institute of Economics; Yangon University; National Defence College.

Prof Aung Tun Thet is also a member of the Government’s Peace Commission, Chairman of the UN Global Compact Myanmar Network, National Contact Point for OECD Responsible Business Conduct and a Governing Board Member of the UNESCO-India Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.

Previously, he held various positions including Principal Officer of the UN System Staff College, Turin, Italy (2000-2008), Senior Policy Advisor of UNICEF in New York, Dhaka and Bangkok (1992-2000). He was Director-General, Ministry of Health (1989-1992) and Faculty Member, Institute of Economics, Yangon (1966-1989).

Prof Aung Tun Thet has a Bachelor of Commerce (Yangon) & a Post-graduate Diploma in Management Studies (Brighton), M.Sc. Operations Research from University of Warwick and a Ph.D. in Management Sciences from University of Manchester. He has a doctorate of Letters (D.Litt) from Yangon University, and is a Post-doctoral Fellow from University of Marburg.

Professor John Webb OAM, Swinburne University



John Webb is a scientist and educator with diplomatic experience from postings at UNESCO Paris and the Australian High Commission New Delhi.  He came to Melbourne from Murdoch University in Perth in 2008 to establish the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne where he was an Honorary Professorial Fellow in chemistry. He is now Research Professor (India Engagement), part-time, at Swinburne University of Technology. In 1996 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for establishing research networks in Asia, including in Myanmar. He worked on an AusAID project in Myanmar in 1988 to establish a joint PhD program. He visited Myanmar in March 2013 as a member of the delegation of the Australian Institute for International Affairs.

He served as a member of the Australia Myanmar Institute Board from 2013-16.