The Team behind the Australian International Olive Awards

The nuts and bolts of the International Olive Awards Australia. Without these people, the event could never exist.

Michael Southan

AOA Cheif Executive Officer

Michael Southan joined the Australian Olive Association as CEO in April 2021. Michael brings over 20 years’ experience in the grains industry, with both a high level of technical ability and proven leadership ability. He has a sound, measured approach to advocacy and lobbying and solid financial experience.

Michael has a PhD in Agricultural Chemistry and has spent the past 2 decades involved in agriculture and working on crop quality in grain. His focus is quality in relation to suitability and functionality for various food products in both domestic and export markets, looking at the Asian market in particular.

He has practical experience in agriculture as the owner of a mixed farm in New South Wales where he grazes beef cattle and sheep as well as growing crops and nut trees.

Michael has watched the olive industry grow tremendously in a fairly short space of time and is thrilled at what can be done when you have great quality products across the industry. He is excited to be a part of the olive industry and is looking forward to further expansion and growth across the sector.

Trudie Michels

Trudie Michels

Event Convenor and Chief Steward

Trudie is an accomplished olive oil, food and wine specialist with an extensive background in marketing, hospitality and education.

She has completed her Masters in Business and published a research thesis focusing on consumer behaviour and olive oil consumption in Western Australia.

Trudie is a board member of Olives South Australia and a member of the Australian Olive Association. She has been an assessor of extra virgin olive oil since 2003 and judged at numerous competitions including Olives Japan 2017 and Olives New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards 2014. Trudie has chaired the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards since 2014, been a panel leader in the Australian National Olive Competition since 2012 and judged at the Royal Melbourne Show Olive Oil Competition.

Trudie was Head Steward of the Australian National Olive Competition in 2012 and has been engaged by the Australian Olive Association to take this competition to the global stage with the creation of the Australian International Olive Awards in 2017.

Trudie was a co-founder of Redisland Australia in 2003. Redisland was the first Australian extra virgin olive oil on Australian supermarket  shelves. Her roles included Technical Manager, Research & Development Manager and Master Blender.

Trudie has run numerous olive oil master classes and educational seminars in Australia and abroad including the UK, Turkey, Germany, Holland and the USA. These have concentrated on organoleptic and sensory education, olive oil quality and production, health and olive oil use.

Kent Hallett

Kent Hallett

Event Steward

Kent was an inaugural member of Olives SA and has been an active member of the industry ever since. He was a member of the board of Olives SA for over 20 years and is a current board member of the AOA.

He was a member of the original committee that set up the Olives SA EVOO and Table Olives Competition. He is still involved in running that competition, and has judged on a number of occasions.

Kent also set up the olive education program in the Taste SA pavilion at the Royal Adelaide Show. These sessions attract close to 1000 members of the public over the course of the Adelaide Royal Show and have proven to be an excellent vehicle for converting people to the delights of South Australian olive oil and olives.

A few years ago Kent was concerned about the lack of new people coming through to the ranks of olive oil judges, so he set up the Olive Oil Young Judges Program. In this program, high school students are invited to demonstrate their judging skill. The task for the students is to achieve the same ranking for the oils as was done by the senior judges. This program has been a great success and has seen high school students giving up their lunch time to practice at “Olive Oil Club”. Of course, as the students develop an appreciation of good Australian olive oil, they in turn become increasingly insistent that their parents also use only the best olive oil at home.

Kent joined the AIOA team, when it was first set up, as the senior steward for Olive Oil. Having judged olive oil in the past Kent says that he much prefers the challenges of stewarding and maintaining the integrity of the competition. A number of the winners of the Olive Oil Young Judges competition have continued to develop their interest in the industry by assisting as stewards at the AIOA competition, and Kent enjoys helping them learn and develop to the point where some are now entering the role of judging.

Kent is keenly interested in the promotion of EVOO and Table Olives and sees the competition as a vital ingredient in this process.

Michelle Freeman

Michelle Freeman

Event Steward

Michelle comes from a background in Hospitality management and administration, both front and back of house. Her journey within the olive industry really took off in 2017 when she began packing olive oil into cask with Olive Oil Packaging Service. This ignited a curiosity to further explore the olive and the industry associated with it.

Michelle was an active Board Member of Olives South Australia up until November 2023. She co-ordinates the volunteers with consumer awareness and EVOO appreciation presentations at the Royal Adelaide Show. Along with assisting the operation of The Olive Oil Young Judges competition.

Michelle was a valued Steward of EVOO at the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards, and has Stewarded EVOO, Flavoured Oil and Table Olives for the Australian International Olive Awards since its inception.

Elizabeth Bouzoudis

Elizabeth Bouzoudis

AOA Administration Manager

Liz currently holds the role of Australian Olive Association, Administration Manager. She has over 25 years experience in various administrative and management roles as both an employee and employer. Her knowledge of the olive industry extends to managing the Olivegrower & Processor magazine for over 10 years as part of the Ryan Media stable of magazines.
Gerri Nelligan

Gerri Nelligan


Since February 2009 Gerri has been the Editor of Australian & New Zealand Olivegrower & Processor (OG&P). Gerri is also a presenter of the SA Motor Accident Commission Bicycle Be Safe Be Seen Education Program and a freelance Journalist, Photographer and Communications Consultant based at Tanunda and Adelaide. Gerri is an ex-officio member of the AOA Board.