In 2023, the ATEND National Committee received and endorsed a record number of ATEND honorary life membership nominations with current ATEND President, Cathy Easte (nominated by Julie Rogan); Jackie Weinman (nominated by the Curtin University AccessAbility Services team); Andrew Downie (nominated by life member Trevor Allan) and Merrin McCracken (nominated by Steve Morgan) receiving life memberships in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the objects of ATEND.
Cathy’s contribution to the development of exemplary inclusive practice is linked to the time when momentum was building to increase the participation and success of people with disabilities in tertiary education and networks identified that attitudinal and systemic barriers needed to be addressed.
Concepts of equity and inclusion were not well understood, but discriminatory policies and practices and a dire lack of resources were being challenged. Cathy’s personal experience of disability and the many barriers to participation in all aspects of life that challenged her daily, her expertise as an educator, and her commitment to inclusion have led her to being the personification of the Gandhi saying: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’
Cathy was one of the first cohort of deaf students admitted to Griffith University to do a teaching degree. The first open competitive entry to support 6 deaf students through the education degree. Cathy and one other from the original group graduated first in 1985 with others following.
Cathy joined the Board of the Tertiary Education Disability Council of Australia – (TEDCA) in 1989/early 1990. Since those early days, in addition to managing the everyday demands of her working life; Cathy has been an advocate for inclusive practices not only in education but also in everyday life. She has been an active member and frequent office bearer in other professional groups since such as the Higher Education Disability Network (Qld), now QDLO, and ATEND. Cathy was the treasurer of TEDCA when it transitioned to ATEND and was instrumental in the setup of ATEND. She has also been on many advisory committees, steering committees, management committees, and working parties. As a member of these committees, Cathy contributed to the preparation of responses to Federal, State, and Local government proposals and policies; the development of organizational policies, procedures, and action plans; funding proposals for resources and events; development and delivery of training resources and workshops and evaluating the impact of all the above.
Cathy has raised awareness of and demonstrated how inclusive practices benefit everyone. One area that has been of particular importance to Cathy is ensuring access to the learning environment and a positive learning experience for all. She has co-authored papers and co-facilitated workshops about implementing Universal Design principles and various forms of assistive technology to improve the learning experience of people with disabilities in general and more specifically for people with disabilities studying and/or teaching online.
Cathy’s exemplary practice has made a wealth of difference contributing to the sector, but more than that she practices inclusion in every aspect of her life.
She provides practical support for her local community by sourcing donated supplies of fresh food and groceries, as well as making significant donations herself. She also coordinates craft sessions and has welcomed students with a disability into her home, who for various reasons were at risk of homelessness.
Cathy is constantly responding to the needs of others in the sector organizing ‘coffee catch-ups’ for colleagues around the State, especially in times of isolation and difficulty including during the pandemic.
One of the most powerful pieces that Cathy has written is her Guest Blog on The Hopkins Centre website - it really encapsulates how Cathy’s work reflects her experience of disability. There is a list of publications and work that Cathy has been involved in on the ADCET website - www.adcet.edu.au
The AccessAbility Team at Curtin University wishes to nominate Jackie Weinman for ATEND Honorary life membership. We believe that Jackie's passionate and enduring dedication to the full inclusion and participation of students with disabilities in education deserves national recognition, just as it has been recognized within Curtin University over the past 20 years.
Throughout her time at Curtin, Jackie personally supported nearly 6000 individual students and dedicated her professional career to making services and facilities better for students, while improving the recognition and visibility of disability practitioners across the University. Her work is highly valued by the many who have directly and indirectly benefited from her advocacy for change of processes, structures, systems, and attitudes. Her energy and commitment to the betterment of students with disability, her colleagues, and her professional networks have been boundless.
Jackie began her employment at Curtin as a Disability Advisor before ultimately leading the AccessAbility team from 2017 to 2022 as the Senior Disability/AccessAbility Advisor. In this role, she provided level-headed expertise, wisdom, mentoring, advocacy, and support for her team and others. Jackie played a pivotal role in the positive name change to the AccessAbility service in 2019. Under her leadership, the service was nominated for two out of seven categories in the 2019 WA Disability Support Awards: "Excellence in Improving Employment Opportunities" and "Advocacy and Rights Promotion" (the latter nomination was made at the direct request of the Awards Committee). This marked the service's first nomination and recognition as a finalist for these prestigious awards.
Jackie's work has been underpinned by a commitment to universal design and a desire to create lasting opportunities for everyone beyond individual accommodations. This commitment was exemplified through her work in Curtin’s Universal Design Working Group, and her involvement in improving access to the curriculum, implementing technology changes, advocating for students, and providing staff training through the implementation of Curtin's Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP).
Jackie was a founding member of the WA network of disability practitioners, with its many iterations, PSDEN, to TEDAN PTY LTD, before joining ATEND nationally as a State Chapter representative in 2018. Jackie was a critical part of these transitions in ensuring that appropriate governance was in place with her work on both the WA Constitution and the National ATEND Constitution for both committees.
Jackie provided a significant commitment to ATEND WA, taking on various roles over the years, including Chair/Vice Chair, Professional Development committee member, and ordinary member, although you would never describe her as ordinary! She represented the WA network at the ATEND National Committee for a significant number of years, making numerous valuable contributions to the Executive Committee, engaging in Community of Practice discussions, and preparing responses/briefings on critical education, access, and disability issues. Her influence strongly shaped the tertiary disability landscape at the national level.
Since Jackie’s retirement in mid-2022, her vast knowledge, leadership, advice, and guidance; and on a personal level her kindness, energy, and support of others, have been sorely missed. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Jackie for her unwavering advocacy, profound compassion for students, and generosity in sharing her extensive knowledge both within Curtin University and across the WA and national ATEND network. With this nomination, we express our deep admiration and sincere appreciation for her resolute commitment to supporting students with disabilities and her contributions to state and national disability networks.
I would like to nominate Andrew Downie for the honor of Life membership. Andrew has been the go-to person for all forms of Assistive Technology for decades. The work he did around fostering accessibility of information and websites was critical to the development of much more accessible information for people with a wide range of disabilities, but especially people with vision impairment. His knowledge of Assistive Technology was encyclopedic, he was always up to date on the latest developments and was a passionate and articulate advocate for inclusion and accessibility.
Along with his extensive knowledge and skills, Andrew was generous in sharing that knowledge and skills, both individually and with groups at professional development days, seminars, and conferences. I always knew that if I had a question about AT, a phone call or email to Andrew would yield the answers I needed, along with a range of alternatives, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and what enhancements were coming in the next version that he had been testing in Beta Form. Much of his influence has been in the background, in his quiet, articulate manner, but has been substantial, important, and a key factor in the development of inclusive and accessible education and employment.
I am thrilled to nominate Merrin McCracken for an Honorary Lifetime Membership of ATEND in recognition of her contributions to advancing Disability, Access, Inclusion, and Equity initiatives over a long period at Deakin University and beyond.
Merrin’s dedication to fostering and advancing an inclusive environment at Deakin is remarkable. Her work has not only removed barriers for students with disabilities but has also created a welcoming and equitable campus for countless students and staff. Under her leadership, Deakin continued to be a leader in supporting students with disabilities in Australia, demonstrating how higher education can and should be accessible to everyone.
Merrin’s influence extends beyond the university. She has played a pivotal role in shaping the national conversation related to disability and equity in tertiary education. Her commitment and passion have propelled the field forward, building understanding fostering support, and inspiring others to follow suit. Particularly with building understanding, empathy, and steadies for those with invisible and/or fluctuating disabilities.
Despite Merrin finishing with Deakin at the end of 2021 her impact on the sector has been and continues to be significant. During Merrin’s time as Manager of Access and Inclusion and interim Director of Equity and Inclusion Merrin embodied the inclusive values of our organization and guided us through unprecedented growth and times of uncertainty and change.
In light of Merrin McCracken’s her enduring commitment over a wonderful career, I wholeheartedly support her nomination for an Honorary Lifetime Membership of ATEND. Her leadership, calmness, and warmth will continue to inspire positive change in all areas of Deakin, in the higher education sector, and in the lives of all those she has worked with.
Darlene McLennan has forged herself a national reputation as an outstanding advocate for equity of opportunity for People with Disability. In her advocacy, she has been both creative and tireless, embracing new technologies and opportunities to engage with critical stakeholders. Darlene has sought a fairer system that embraces the principles of Universal Design for Learning and a person-centred approach to support and mitigate barriers.
Through her 7 year tenure as the Manager of the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and 15 years in the role of National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) for Northern Tasmania, Darlene has been innovative in her provision of vital information to the sector through delivery of webinars, podcasts, and guidelines. Through facilitation of information exchange, she has deepened sector knowledge; identified and addressed key issues affecting the participation of People with Disability in tertiary education; and informed good practice and policy by ensuring research and other knowledge is readily available and accessible. She has also been instrumental in initiating key training for the sector, including Disability in VET, and undertaking the redevelopment of the Introduction to Disability Awareness eLearning training that is widely used within numerous organisations throughout Australia.
During her role as ATEND President Darlene was involved in the implementation of the Professional Standards and Code of Ethics, as well as establishing a membership model for the Tertiary Education sector. She continues her strong association with ATEND as the current ADCET Representative on the National ATEND Committee and as Tasmanian State Chapter Convenor. Darlene is an active contributor to ATEND advocacy submissions, for example the 2020 Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005.
Darlene’s involvement with the local community is substantial, having been a Board Member of New Horizons for a number of years, and working tirelessly within the University of Tasmania to increase the awareness of students with disability within the University. She has played a key role in developing an Inclusive toolkit for staff which aims to enhance the understanding of disability amongst UTAS staff; provide UTAS staff with resources to support students with disability; improve the understanding and application of Learning Access Plans at UTAS; and, provide a resource that is UTAS-context specific aligned with current processes, policies and procedures.
The attributes that Darlene is valued for locally, transcend her national and international stakeholder relationships. She brings people together to work collaboratively in a strengths-based and complementary way.. She leads by example, encouraging and supporting information-sharing which allows people with common interests and purposes to share information, knowledge and experience. All who know her value Darlene as a strong networker and collaborator, and acknowledge her as a passionate and tireless mentor,
advocate, supporter, leader, facilitator, connector, strategic and conceptual thinker, friend, role model, champion for inclusion, and driver of change.
The far-reaching impact of her words, acts and deeds, in driving opportunities for People with Disability throughout Australia and beyond, make her indeed a worthy recipient of the award of Life Membership with ATEND.
Kay Dean has been a shining beacon and has had a substantial impact on disability and education for well over 40 years.
Kay started her career in the disability sector with the University of Newcastle in 1980 as an equity officer and eventually going on to manage the assistive technology team back in the time when computers and technology were in their infancy. In 2003 Kay ran the first ever assistive technology expo and had 652 attendees on the day. This was before there were any online booking systems and the only help she received was from students helping at the registration desk on the day. In 1993 Kay, with other fellow equity colleagues from the University of Newcastle, established NATEA to help support fellow practitioners in the Higher Education sector which was the forefront to today’s EPHEA.
As one of the original 11 RDLOs, Kay was instrumental in the extension of the program and was invited by Canberra to be a part of the select committee to from DCO’s (Disability Coordination Officers) for the TAFE sector. Kay was part of the consultative group to bring these two groups together to its eventual evolution into the current NDCO program in 2005.
Kay has also been very actively involved in the development of practitioner associations. She was a member of the steering committee to establish DEAN Inc., a professional association in NSW and the ACT, and served on the Management Committee for many years holding a number of executive positions. She was integral to the establishment and implementation of the DEAN Professional Development Program and administered the NSW Disability List for many years. Later Kay assisted DEAN to become ATEND NSW a state chapter of ATEND National.
Kay has also been involved with the following:
- Executive member of the Australian Association of Special Education
- Was a student equity officer when equity became a ‘thing’ and made changes for students with disability, piloted strategies and led working parties with NSW ACT universities
- Executive member of UDAN (University Disability Alliance Network) and helped form TEDCA (Tertiary Education Disability Consultants Alliance) all of which were pre cursers to todays ATEND.
- Led the roll out of the Educational Access Scheme
- Member of the University Admission Centre (UAC) advisory on disabilities
- Establishment of DEAG Hunter and Central Coast
- Developed support the supporters, supporting business who employed students and people with disability
- Apart of the NDIS trial rollout in the Newcastle region
- Piloted strategies in disadvantaged high schools
Kay has presented papers at many Pathways and conferences and has always been a very strong advocate for students to attain accessibility to higher education and graduate employment. Kay has also been a strong advocate for the professional development for disability practitioners and the importance of a professional association such as ATEND and has attended every Pathways since she assisted with its inception.
Kay’s contribution to people with disability and the educational sector has been very significant and has been a champion for substantial change, growth, and development over many years. Kay has influenced professional practice and training and has been an agent for the acceptance of access and inclusion for people with disabilities among academics, Government Departments and the wider community and has commanded respect and admiration from her peers.
The video of the presentations can be found here.
This year's ATEND honorary life membership nominations, Sondra Wibberley and Anna Mungovan were made by Trevor Allan (2014 ATEND Life Member). Both nominations were unanimously endorsed by the ATEND National Committee. The honorary life membership is reserved as an honor to be bestowed by ATEND in recognition of an individual’s outstanding contribution to the objects of ATEND.
Sondra is one of the pioneers of disability services in higher education. She has spent over 25 years as a Disability Adviser at Macquarie University and has been actively involved in various Disability Practitioner Organisations such as UDAN, TEDCA, DEAN, and ATEND. She helped establish TEDCA and its successor ATEND and her contributions to these organisations were consistent and substantial, often taking executive roles and other responsibilities. She has been actively involved in the Roundtable for People with Vision Impairments and Print Disabilities for many years and has maintained her involvement post-retirement.
Sondra's commitment to the cause of inclusion and access for people with disabilities has been strong, consistent, and unwavering. She has been a strong advocate for individuals, but also for inclusive practice, improved policy and procedures, and professional development for practitioners. She has never been reluctant to speak out on the cause of inclusion and access, being prepared to ruffle as many feathers as necessary to achieve her goals on behalf of all people with disability, but especially those with a vision impairment or print disability.
A passionate believer in the rights of all people with disabilities to be able to pursue their goals and aspirations, without unnecessary disadvantage, especially in education, has been the hallmark of her long career. At times she could appear demanding and uncompromising, but this was the result of her determination to foster change and awareness so that accessibility and inclusion became a fundamental part of the way universities think and function.
She started working in the field at a time when every adjustment was a battle to be fought, every system and process was a minefield of inaccessibility and barriers and disability access was a grudging afterthought at best. Sondra has been an agent of changing those attitudes, systems, processes, and policies to where we are today. Even though the journey to universal accessibility is not yet complete, we have come a long way, largely due to the drive, passion, commitment, determination, and sheer hard work of people like Sondra Wibberley.
Anna Mungovan has had a substantial impact on disability and education for well over 20 years. As one of the original RDLOs, Anna was instrumental in the extension of the program from its original three-year concept to its eventual evolution into the current NDCO program. She was the Program Coordinator and lead author for the original Opening All Options Learning Disability Resource, the original Education to Employment Package, and the Disclosure: It's Your Choice disclosure resource. All of these were so significant and successful that they have been updated over the years and are still being used today. They would not have happened without Anna and it is a mark of the quality of her work and her commitment to the sustainability of these resources that they are still being used today.
Anna was also very actively involved in the development of practitioner resources and associations. She was a member of the steering committee to establish the DEAN Inc. Professional Association in NSW and the ACT and served on the Management Committee for many years, holding a number of executive positions. She was integral to the establishment and implementation of the DEAN Professional Development Program and administered the NSW Disability List for many years.
She was a member of the Advisory Committee to establish the Australian Learning Disability Association. She initiated and ran the Setting Directions Seminars to assist school students with a disability successfully transitioning from school to further education or employment. She wrote a highly regarded resource on mental illness for the Australian Human Rights Commission and has been a passionate and tireless advocate for people with disabilities for over 25 years.
Anna has presented papers at many Pathways and other conferences and has always been a very strong advocate for the value of professional development for disability practitioners and the importance of a professional association such as ATEND.
Anna has been working recently as a Disability Teacher Consultant with New South Wales TAFE and has continued to be a determined, passionate, and hard-working advocate for access and inclusion for people with a disability.
Anna's contribution to our sector has been very significant and has been an agent for substantial change, growth, and development over many years. The impact of her work cannot be underestimated and is still being felt today. Many of the resources relied on by so many people today began with Anna and would not exist without her. She has influenced professional practice and training and has been an agent for the acceptance of access and inclusion for people with disabilities among academics, administrators, and the wider community.
I would like to nominate Jenny Shaw as a life member of ATEND. Jenny had an illustrious career in disability and higher education and made a tremendous contribution to the field. Her work through the 80’s 90’s and 2000s has had a profound impact at an individual, institutional, sector, policy, and practitioner level. Jenny, together with colleagues Rita Jennings and Terri Patterson, ran the first Pathways Conference at Deakin University in Geelong in 1991, which has now emerged as the biennial centerpiece for professional development and networking for Australian tertiary education disability practitioners.
Upholding the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ the first Pathways ensured the active participation of students with disability, an organizing principle that has been retained for all other Pathways conferences. At this Pathways event, the Australian Tertiary Education Disability Council was formed, and this served as the precursor to ATEND. Jenny worked at disability services of Deakin University, RMIT University, and La Trobe University, and for a time was a Regional Disability Liaison Officer. Jenny combined a strong commitment to the success of individual students, grounded in a philosophy of independence and academic excellence, with an international outlook.
Her strategic commitments and influence on disability in higher education were aligned with strong international connections. In 1989 Jenny was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study the facilities and support services for tertiary students with disabilities in the United States of America and United Kingdom USA, UK. The contacts and relationships formed through this study informed the program of the first Pathway conference. Jenny’s study brought an international reference point to the event and her practice and catalyzed a longer-term transfer of ideas, policies, practices, and objectives that have supported the uninterrupted growth in the numbers and proportion of students with disabilities in higher education since data was first collected.
When the Pathways conference returned to Melbourne in 2008, following its national tour, Jenny was again part of the organizing committee and was instrumental in securing the participation of internationally renowned scholars and graduates with disability in the event. Jenny undertook a reciprocal exchange with the manager of disability services at McGill University, Canada, aimed at sharing international experience and gaining a better understanding of North American experiences with learning disabilities. These experiences influenced Jenny’s role in progressing policy and practice around dyslexia and learning disabilities.
Jenny served as President of the Australian Learning Disabilities Association, which led to her representation on the Dyslexia Working Group which provided commissioned advice to the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services in 2010. The Australian higher education sector and students and graduates with disabilities owe Jenny a debt of gratitude for her longstanding and most effective of contributions, and she would be a worthy recipient of ATEND life membership.
I would like to nominate Judy Hartley for life membership of ATEND. Awards of this type are often bestowed at or following retirement in recognition of a career of service and impact. Judy’s career and contribution to disability and higher education warrant recognition at a time in her career when there is much more that can and will be achieved.
Judy has been a stalwart of disability in higher education since it can be considered a legitimate field in its own right. She has attended 10 of the 12 Pathways conferences, and been involved in the organization of the two Brisbane-based events. Judy has been at the forefront of innovation in service delivery for many years, with Griffiths's continued leadership in disability service provision a function of her leadership, dedication, and impact.
Perhaps most relevant to her nomination is her focus on sustainable structures, systems, and processes that underpin and facilitate the participation of students with disabilities in higher education. Judy was involved in the development of a Code of Practice for Australian Tertiary Institutions (1998) which articulates the principles and guidelines for planning and delivery of services to students with disabilities across the tertiary education sector. This influential work highlights Judy’s strategic capacity to set high-level objectives and cultivate mechanisms (such as documenting exemplars of institutional good practice) that facilitate progress towards these objectives.
Perhaps as important, Judy was responsible for assisting the transition of the Tertiary Education Disability Council of Australia (Inc) (TEDCA) to the Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND). This transition provided a more sustainable organizational structure to progress objectives around the successful participation of students with disabilities in Australian tertiary education, and the challenges of orchestrating this transition cannot be overstated.
Judy’s work with ATEND, as with her career, has been pragmatically focused on getting the best structures in place to facilitate progress toward improved participation for students with disabilities without calling attention to herself or her influence. It’s time to call Judy out on this and recognize the outstanding contributions she has made to Australian higher education and the participation of students with disabilities through life membership in the organization for which she was instrumental in establishing
ATEND took the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge one of our great leaders and our dear friend, Trevor Allan at this Pathways 12 conference held in Fremantle WA, in 2014. The presentation of the Honorary Life Member was awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sector.
Julie Harrison, Manager of Access and Participation at ANU presented the award on behalf of the sector and highlighted many of Trevor’s great achievements. Julie finished with the above quote which she felt summed up Trevor's work.
Julie was also able to contact a couple of past students, ANU Alumni to seek feedback on the work and support Trevor gave to them as students.
“Trevor is a true Australian legend, because he made it possible for me and many others to have a “fair go”, that very Aussie of concepts, without which my life wouldn’t have been the same…. I'm sure I speak on behalf of many other ANU students, Trevor, you made a difference to our lives.”
Rishi Gulati – ANU Alumni
“Trevor was one of these key individuals, he had the ability to make me feel comfortable with who I am and understand the challenges that I faced, as well as provide practical solutions to these challenges… I am now in a position to have a role in society, and globally on the issue of disability. I am comfortable with who I am and the impact I can make.”
Huy Nguyen ANU Alumni