About Thenu.

Meet Thenu

The question of ‘where are you from?’ was never a simple one for Thenu. She was born in New Zealand to parents who left their homeland of Sri Lanka. Growing up in South Australia, she listened to Jimmy Barnes anthems alongside the stories of conflict from her motherland. Her multicultural upbringing fuelled her belief in the idea that everyone should have an equitable chance to reach their potential, no matter where they are born.

Thenu’s bold and intersectional approach to global justice, human rights and foreign policy and building kinder communities has led to varied speaking engagements. She has appeared alongside figures like former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and spoken in front of numerous foreign and domestic delegates. However, her biggest passion is connecting with young people. She frequently speaks at schools and university conferences around Australia about her experiences and approach to values-based leadership.

From 2021-2023, Thenu was the CEO of Oaktree, a non-profit that supports young people in the Asia-Pacific region to lead sustainable development initiatives in their communities. Recently, her team pioneered a new development approach that focuses on solidarity, decolonisation and collaboration. In 2021, she was invited to share this approach with the Australian international Development Sector, alongside representatives from DFAT and other leading Development NGOs. 

Alongside her advocacy, Thenu is Board Director of the leading Melbourne-based social enterprise, Green Collect and the Australian Council for International Development. She is also a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and the co-author of Australia’s first youth national security strategy, which identified climate, health and social factors as the key threats to Australia’s current and future generations.

In 2022, she was awarded the Faculty of Arts ‘Rising Star’ Alumni award by the University of Melbourne and named one of Australia’s Young Women to Watch in International Affairs. 

“I envision a world where governments, civil society and the private sector can come together to provide innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time.”



Media & Writing







board director

steering group - westminister bridge network

global shaper