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award-winning Australian social entrepreneur and researcher.

Communities need leaders as diverse as they are

Elise is a creator, characterised by her love of hands-on projects and atypical projects. She has travelled by road over 60,000kms over the past three years chasing her passion for empowering women and driving change through social enterprise, resulting in her being at the forefront of many ‘first of their kind’ initiatives across Australia – from gender-based violence prevention work, to social enterprise and youth collaborations.

Working from the heart of the Western Desert in the Northern Territory, to the Sydney foreshore and all across the Asia Pacific, she continues to bring her strength in communication, leadership, practical foresight, and the ability to be empathetic and connect with others to help wildly varying projects that are making the most social impact across Australia and Asia.



BAsIntSt (Asian Studies),

BComn (Intercultural Communication), BGovIntRelHons(I)

PhD Candidate

Researching women’s leadership in Australian international affairs.

Based at Griffith University, Australia, this research is focused on women’s pathways to and experiences of leadership within the context of international deployment and representation across foreign and defence affairs.

Project Duration: 2017 -2020

More on this research and research profile can be found here.


Recent Publications include:

Domestic Challenges and International Leadership: A Case Study of Women Leaders in Australian International Affairs, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 2019 



Co-Founder & Director

Using her experience in the community sector, Elise brings social impact to design.

The Social Good Outpost is a national creative design agency. Using a feminist approach to design, the Social Good Outpost works with startups, non-profits, social enterprises and change-makers across Australia. For every 10 hours of full-cost design services provided, the Social Good Outpost supports 1 hour of sponsored support for women’s-led and community organisations.

– Websites and digital experiences

– Graphic design: branding, promotional materials, business cards

– Service and communication design

– Extra-ordinary festivals and events

More on this work and design profile can be found here.

Emerging Leader

Capturing her research and practical experience across community, business and government in Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Elise is a recognised as a Young Woman to Watch in International Affairs, and is an emerging voice on women’s leadership, gender equality, intersectionality and inclusion, and social enterprise.

Elise currently sits on the following boards:

    • Queensland State Government LGBTI+ Roundtable
    • LGBTI Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific – Roundtable


Designing and curating a public diplomacy youth speaker series throughout Southeast Asia for 2019-2020.

Working with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to run a series of events, panels, workshops, festivals and Q&A’s across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Malaysia as part of Australia now.

The aim is to engage and celebrate the vitality, diversity and capability of youth across Southeast Asia, and foster relationships and collaborations across the Australia-ASEAN region.

For more information on the program, or to get involved, visit the Youth Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series website.


Awards & Recognition

Elevate+ Social Entrepreneur 2018

Community Award 2016

University Medal 2016

New Colombo Plan Scholar 2014

30 Under 30 LGBTI+ Role Model Awardee 2019

Young Achiever of the Year Finalist 2015

Australian Representative 2018/2019

Politics, Asian Studies & International Relations Medal 2014

Associate Fellow 2015

Role Model of the Year Finalist 2015

'Young Woman to Watch' in International Affairs 2019

Shanghai Regional Finalist 2015

Publications & Appearances


Australian Journal of International Affairs: Domestic Challenges and International Leadership: A Case Study of Women in Australian International Affairs, 2019

Australian Strategic Policy Institute: Women in Security and Defence Network Profile of Elise Stephenson, 2019

Lowy Interpreter: As Julie Bishop Exits, How Far Have Women Come in World Affairs? 2019

Lowy Interpreter: A Slap in the Face for Diverse Diplomacy, 2018

BroadAgenda: Breaking the Barriers: Women in Diplomatic Leadership, 2018

BroadAgendaWomen of the World: The Power of Stories, 2018

Machinery of Government Blog: Foreign Policy in an Uncertain World, 2018

Machinery of Government Blog: What’s Missing From Australia’s Foreign Policy? 2018

Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity: Climbing the ‘Staircase’: Do EEO Policies Contribute to Women Achieving Senior Leadership Positions in Universities in Australia and Hong Kong? Elise Stephenson, Kaye Broadbent, Glenda Strachan, 2017

National Council of Women of QLD: Young Women’s Thoughts on Gender Equality and Increasing Participation Rates, 2015

Griffith News: Women’s Leadership in Universities in the Australia and Hong Kong, SAR, 2015

Keep your 👀on @SocialGoodAus next week in #Vietnam for the next amazing leg of our hugely popular Youth Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series - Read more on our website @dfat #Australianow @AusAmbVN

Highly recommend this event which will strengthen Australia’s partnership with Vietnam on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

For more information, see our press release: @PerthUSAsia @Asialink_au or visit our website: @Australianow @GAIGriffith Thank you as always to the Australian Government @DFAT for funding & support!

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Young Australians in International Affairs: Young Women to Watch in International Affairs, 2019

Impact Boom: Brisbane’s Top Emerging Social Entrepreneurs Join Impact Boom’s Elevate+ Program to Grow & Scale Impact, 2018

The Legal Forecast: Interview with Elise Stephenson (Social Good Outpost), 2017

Australian Ally Conference: LGBTIQ Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention and Education (Presenter), 2016

Griffith News: Griffith team into $1m Hult Prize regional final, 2015

Griffith News: Students striving for socially inclusive change in the Asia-Pacific, 2015

The Pie News: International internships: how is this sector evolving?, 2014

The Australian: New Colombo Scholars Favour Hong Kong for Study and Internship, 2014

Griffith News: A Course of Action to Prevent Violence, 2013


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