Advocacy, Disability, Employment, Families, Health, Housing, Youth

Social Futures welcomes inaugural LEAP members

Written byAmanda Shoebridge
Published on09 May, 2024
Linda Hayes and Dr Gregory Smith stand beside each other smiling in front of a magenta Social Futures sign

Learning from lived experience, Social Futures is pleased to welcome our inaugural Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) members.

Expressions of interest poured in from all corners of Australia for our panel, which we know as LEAP. Five sitting members, one general member, and our inaugural Chair, Dr. Gregory P Smith have been appointed to the panel which will help to strengthen our understanding of the people we work to support and guide and shape our approach to customer experience.

What is LEAP all about?

Social Futures LEAP has been created to engage and amplify the voices of people with lived experience to ensure they are represented, heard and respected in our Social Futures work.

Welcome to our new Chair, Dr Gregory P Smith, OAM

 Our inaugural Chair, Dr Gregory Smith, has lived experience of abandonment, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and disengagement and is well known through his books ‘Out of the Forest’ (2018) and ‘Better than Happiness’ (2023). His story has featured in national media including Conversations with Richard Fidler, Sunrise Today and Australian Story.

Today, Dr Smith works as a senior lecturer at Southern Cross University and advises a number of government and NGO organisations on matters pertaining to homelessness, vulnerability, and social disadvantage. He is an ambassador for Australia’s ‘forgotten children’ and is Director for the End Street Sleeping Collaboration which is a New South Wales Premiers Priority Project to halve street sleeping by 2025. (source:

Dr Smith’s belief in the work of Social Futures, and his enduring relationship with CEO, Tony Davies led him to accept the offer of Chair.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be asked to fill such an important role and I’m humbled by the opportunity. I’m looking forward to engaging a working relationship with each of the members and learning from their experiences”.

Getting down to business

  • Sitting Members: Meet four times a year either in person or virtually and actively contribute to working groups.
  • General Members: Participate in surveys, provide feedback, and join focus groups at various times throughout the year.

The first sitting will be Wednesday 24 April, where we’ll delve into the panel’s terms of reference and Social Futures’ customer contact strategy.

You can still add your voice to LEAP

If you are passionate about sharing your insights, you can join LEAP as a general member. It is a fantastic way to get involved and, while our current sitting members have been selected, general membership is still open.

Your experience is invaluable. Please visit to express your interest.