The People OF Burn Bright



General Manager







Matt Searle

Head of camps and conferences






Head of community









hannah darlington








Chiaara de silva


Jorja Affleck

Accounts Support

Maddie boyd

Programs manager







Cath Healy


Andrew Lawrence


Ed Swayne


Andy skidmore



volunteer with us!

Burn Bright’s community are a part of everything we do, from school programs to camps to hanging out in the office.

Being a part of our community connects you with over 300 like-minded people and can help you to support and develop the potential of young people across Australia and New Zealand.

Want to learn more? Click the link below.

Layton Fraser is the Chief Operating Officer and program facilitator at Burn Bright Australia. Layton was born in Cape Town South Africa, moved to New Zealand when he was young and eventually moved to Australia to be part of the Burn Bright journey.

Having a strong background in the sporting industry and sports coaching, Layton approaches Burn Bright’s experience creation from a unique perspective – allowing him to constantly challenge and push boundaries to create the best and most impactful experience for all involved.

Upon leaving school Layton studied a sports degree and had the opportunity of working for New Zealand Cricket and the BLACKCAPS for over 6 years, with the 2015 Cricket World Cup being a highlight. Working alongside a professional sporting team provided not only many incredible opportunities, but also gave an insight to how athletes handle and use their inherited influence.

Throughout his younger years, Layton also developed a keen interest in leadership and the opportunities that came with it. This started with Layton being one of the founding members of the Hauraki District Youth Council and flowed on to him attending many leadership forums and events around the globe.

While not working, you may find Layton enjoying a round of golf with his friends, 4wding and camping or enjoying a lazy weekend on the couch watching whatever sport is on offer.

Melanie recently graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Social Justice and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.

She believes leadership and a strong understanding of self and others is the key to positive change, and is passionate about serving others, mentoring, and striving for excellence.

She has been inspired by international leaders and attending leadership events such as the Global Young Diplomats Forum.

She leads several volunteer teams and is a local youth leader.
In her spare time, Melanie loves reading every thing she can get her hands on, cooking and writing.

Michaela is a lover of people and all things that allow individuals to live full and well lives.

Michaela grew up in Sydney and completed her high schooling and university there, too. In 2014 Michaela completed a Bachelor of Events and Leisure Management at UTS. Whilst studying she worked for the YMCA for 3 years in Before and After School Care. Soon after graduating, Michaela serendipitously learnt of Burn Bright through a friend, emailed Andy, volunteered for a few weeks, and then joined the team soon after.

After almost 4 wonderful years with Burn Bright, Michaela embarked on a belated ‘gap year’ that led her to teach English overseas in Thailand. Not wanting to leave Burn Bright for too long, she returned to Australia in September of 2019 with the hope of joining the Burn Bright team for round two. 2020 saw Michaela in a new role as Camps, Programs and Community Manager.

Michaela is her best self when investing in the people and communities around her, both in her personal and professional life. Life’s’ golden moments for Michaela include anything to do with connecting with others, adventure, good food and taking in a pretty view.

Hannah recently relocated from Melbourne to join Burn Bright team.

Hannah has a strong background in relationship management roles and loves all aspects of the role and thrives under pressure.

Hannah is a self confessed Choc-A-Holic and in her down time she enjoys running and eating Arnotts shapes, especially the Cheddar Cheese flavor. 

Matt has been helping make camps a memorable experience for students since 2014 and is always excited for the next one to run! 
Matt believes that camps are a great place to step outside your comfort zone and build connections to last a lifetime.

Matt completed his facilitation training at Stanford University and San Marcos University over in the USA in 2017. Building upon his skills, Matt had the opportunity to facilitate programs and camps with students, teachers and parents from all over Australia and internationally including, Myanmar, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Even with all the travel, he’s always pumped when it comes to running programs in his home state, Victoria.

When he’s not on a camp you can find Matt taking time to be with his family, riding his skateboard or enjoying the sunshine!

Mack is a casual facilitator for Burn Bright and has a strong passion for meaningful leadership and the creation of genuine relationships through authenticity.

Mack was first exposed to Burn Bright when he went to the National Leadership Camp in 2018. He quickly realised there was much more to the concept of leadership than what he realised, and it is a very multi-dimensional idea. The importance of leading yourself before being able to lead others is a lesson that was learnt that has stuck with him to do this day. Mack returned in 2019 as an Agent and has been volunteering with the organisation ever since, officially joining the team in 2022.

Mack’s fondest leadership memory is from when he was in kindergarten, his teacher gave him the extremely important role of being in charge of the back of the line. Known as the ‘Caboose’ of the class, he was in charge of making sure nobody was left behind and everyone was moving together.

When he isn’t working with Burn Bright, Mack will spend time with his alpacas or his dog, Matilda. He has a strong belief that he could be a successful comedian but has always been too scared to try it.

Elle was born and raised in Sydney, attending both high school and university there. In 2020, she completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney. She majored in philosophy and wrote her honours thesis in animal ethics. After a year of full-time work, Elle decided that she wanted to go back to university to study education and she is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies.

During her undergraduate degree, Elle was also volunteering as a youth educator with an organisation in her community. Her time with this organisation established her passion for working with young people and working towards bettering society. Once Elle found Burn Bright, the shared values meant an easy partnership and she joined as a casual facilitator in 2022.

In her spare time, Elle likes going to dance classes, bouldering, going to the beach and listening to music. 

Sarah was born and raised in a small country town in Northern NSW. She moved to Sydney Independently at the age of 16 to pursue her studies for year 11 and 12, and talents as a dancer at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. After graduating Sarah struggled with Anxiety and Depression and was referred to KYDS, an organisation that provides easy access to mental health and well-being support to young people within the community. Because of the help Sarah received at KYDS she gained the confidence to pursue a 6 month Bollywood contract in India.

Upon returning to Australia Sarah studied a Bachelor of Media and Communications at Macquarie University and then went on to pursue her passion for the Film and TV industry at the International Screen Academy. Along with her studies Sarah was appointed the role of Youth Ambassador for KYDS where she used her own experiences to benefit others, encouraging other young people to seek help, reduce stigma amongst the broader community, as well as raise awareness and funds for the organisation.
Her work with KYDS led her to Burn Bright and cemented her passion for positively influencing the youth of today.

In Sarah’s down time she loves chasing adventures and raising her two girls with her hubby on their farm.

Erin was born and raised in Sydney where she also completed high school and is currently studying a Bachelor of Primary Education, majoring in Special Education at the Australian Catholic University.

She was first introduced to Burn Bright through a school program in 2018 as a year 10 student and absolutely loved it. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about herself and her peers, with the influence of being a better leader and learning leadership skills. She has then completed 4 Burn Bright school programs since then. She was encouraged to join the Burn Bright team in 2022 as a casual facilitator after the joy of completing the programs.

Erin loves to perform, sing, dance and act and is a musical theatre lover, with one of her favourite musicals being Come From Away. Erin hopes that she will make a positive influence on young children as she becomes a teacher.

Moving from Western Australia, Noah came to Sydney after graduating high school. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies at the University of Sydney, majoring in Sociology and International Relations.

Passionate about leadership, personal development, and public speaking, Burn Bright felt like a perfect fit for Noah who joined the team at the beginning of 2022. Noah has always loved helping young people develop and grow as individuals and feels that confidence and self-love are some of the most important qualities that young people should have.

In his free time, Noah loves the beach, playing soccer and cricket, and going to watch live music!

Jackson is a full time program facilitator and has a drive for positive influence and social justice.

Jackson was first introduced to Burn Bright in 2017 as a year 10 student at the National Leadership Camp where he learned about himself and others in ways he did not realise were possible. After being selected to return the following year as an Agent, Jackson realised he wanted to influence others in the same way he had been helped – and so joined the team in 2021 after finishing year 12 and having a gap year.

Jackson’s leadership journey started in 2014 when he joined the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) at 14 in his home state of Tasmania – where he spent the subsequent 6 years coming out of his shell and learning about positive and negative leadership in a variety of forms. Jackson climbed the ranks to finish his time as the Regional Cadet Under Officer – the highest ranking cadet in the state and Tasmania’s representative to the rest of the country.

Jackson loves cooking, dancing terribly and believing he can make it as a voice actor. Jackson has hopes to one day begin his own non-profit and live on a boat.

Growing up in Avoca, NSW, Jess fell in love with surfing, sport and music. Passionate about people, you’ll often find Jess spending time with close friends and family.

If you’re lucky enough to have Jess on a program, make sure to ask her to perform one of her original songs for you. Otherwise, you can listen to her music here:

Jess believes in helping people discover more about themselves and strives to connect, inspire and brighten wherever she goes by being herself.

Peter grew up in Perth and moved to Sydney in his early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker.  After many years he began a career in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 he searched for an organisation that was aligned with his values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space.

This search led to Burn Bright where he now volunteers one day a week and mentors at the National Leadership Camp.  Volunteering with Burn Bright provides a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders.  It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

He has been married to Denise for 42 years and they both feel very much a part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright he may be found running along Manly beach, riding his mountain bike or indulging his passion for photography.

Ammy is impassioned by two things: leadership and the law – and she considers her positions on the Burn Bright Board and as a solicitor to be a perfect marriage of the two. Ammy holds a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International Studies and has worked for the Vice President of the Fair Work Commission and as a solicitor in the world’s largest specialist employment law practice.

Ammy attended her first National Leadership Camp in 2009 and has made it her mission to change the lives of young people ever since. Ammy believes in the power of education and is a champion for mental health awareness in the law and breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

Julie recently retired after a lifetime as a teacher and School principal. Her educational leadership was characterised by the embedding of a culture that represented aspirational levels of the core values of service, integrity, and servant leadership.

As a CEO, Julie championed the Burn Bright experience amongst schools as transformational – speaking to the heart of young people and inspiring positive action.

Board Member from 2021, Julie brings broad skills in governance, and special interest in strategy in relation to research and professional growth. An experienced Director on NFP Boards including AISNSW, Thyne Reid Foundation and Ngununggula Regional Gallery, Julie’s post-graduate qualifications include M Ed Admin (Deakin) and leadership studies at Harvard and London Business Schools. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Julie grew up in Bendigo, Victoria and worked in the public education sector before moving to Sydney and joining Redlands. She was Deputy Head of Queenwood before her appointment as Head of Frensham Schools in 2000, till retirement in 2020. A passionate Masters netballer, she and her husband Guy live in the beautiful Southern Highlands with their twin Burmese cats, Louis and Charles.

Paul is passionate about authentic, genuine leadership and the personal growth of individuals, particularly the future leaders of our industries and society.

He recently joined the board after working closely with Andy in 2020, a time where he was able to see the positive impact of the Burn Bright team on the students with whom they work with daily. This left a strong desire for him to help support Burn Brights continued growth with students in Australia and New Zealand.

Paul has been in banking for the past 20+ years, working in both Australia and Europe at HPS, Commonwealth Bank, GE Capital and Morgan Stanley after starting his career at KPMG in Sydney. He has a B.Bus (Acc/ Finance) from UTS and is a Chartered Accountant.

Paul is married to the amazing Holly and has 3 children, Joe, Ava and Oliver who are fast becoming young adults and continue to challenge, inspire and drive him on a daily basis. Away from work, Paul spends most of his spare time with family and friends, watching or coaching kids sport or escaping on long trail runs into the amazing bushland surrounding Sydney.

Cath believes investing in the mental health and wellbeing of young people is investing in our future. She’s a passionate supporter of Burn Bright and the positive impact that their programs and camps have on the young people in Australia and New Zealand.

Cath has a double degree in Social Work and Arts majoring in Psychology & Sociology and a Graduate Diploma Mental Health Science majoring in Children & Adolescents.  She has extensive experience working with children, young people, their families and schools as a Wellbeing Practitioner in NSW and as a Student Support Services Officer in VIC.

Cath lives in Rural NSW with her husband and two sons and works in Private Practice, providing online and face-to-face therapeutic counselling.

Andrew brings broad business experience to the Burn Bright Board! Through a 30 year career he has driven growth and profitability at Visy Industries, Dairy Farmers, Mars, Colgate and Nestle after commencing as a Graduate Trainee at Unilever.

He holds a BE and BSc from Sydney Uni and a MComm from UNSW. He has led or been on leadership teams and boards in his key roles for over 20 years and brings a wealth of experience to the BB team.

Beyond this business career he had been a life mentor to many over the past 10 years and has a passion for young people to be transformed into the leaders of the future in whatever they do. He built a number of high performing teams through his business career and loves seeing people reach their full potential and making a mark on this planet.

In recent years he has completed coaching certifications and a range of other courses in the personal transformation space and is also a Personal Trainer with Vision PT and trains a number of professional clients most mornings. He is married to the beautiful Jess and has 3 early 20’s children who are awesome and are exploring their passions in this world with amazing success. They have taught Andrew plenty over the years and they share awesome relationships these days despite having to take a tough road at times to get to here.

He grew up in Adelaide then Sydney from the age of 13 and has lived in Melbourne and Albury but now resides back in Sydney.

Ed is the numbers man on the Burn Bright Board! Throughout his career, he’s worked with top-tier investment banks. Ed has significant experience with capital raising projects and has worked across major Merger and Acquisition deals.

He studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Economics at Macquarie University majoring in Actuarial Studies & Finance. He’s the proud Dad of Ethan & Anna and is a stock market guru.

Andy is a life long social entrepreneur and is passionate about equipping young people to grow as leaders by taking a wellbeing approach and fostering positive and meaningful relationships. 

When he was 21 he founded the Not For Profit organisation Burn Bright, a social enterprise with the mission of growing the next generation of young Australians through student leadership, wellbeing programs and national camps.  Over the past 5 years Burn Bright has worked with over 50,000, 12-17 year olds, from all corners of Australia through school based programs and hosting the Australian National Leadership Camp.

Burn Bright are student leadership and wellbeing specialists who work with students in a collaborative, fun and inclusive team culture. This brings about positive behavioural change, a shift in mindset and personal wellbeing, allowing students to make informed choices and decisions. Burn Bright’s programs are focused on demonstrating how students can turn theory into action by practicing and road testing skills learnt before applying them in their own lives. Burn Bright has a team of 10 staff and over 100 volunteers. Burn Bright’s programs are based on embedding and living out the concepts of positive psychology and are informed by the science of wellbeing. 

In 2018 Burn Bright was named Australia’s Most Innovative Charity by Westpac and UNSW, due to their company culture and their social enterprise business structure. Burn Bright has also won awards for their outstanding use of data and have been recognised by Anthill as one of 100 ‘Cool Australian Companies’ in 2018.  Andy is regarded as one of Australia’s leading social entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to solve some of Australia’s most complex social issues. 

Andy graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts – Media. He has studied Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University in the USA and is currently studying his Masters in Coaching Psychology at Sydney University.

I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.

Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.

I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we” 

I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’. 

The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.

I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.

Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.

Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.



Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.

When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.

I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.

From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.

Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.

My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.

Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.

I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.

Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.

Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?

I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.











Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.

I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.

I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.

The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.