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Pathways banner. Pathways15 Online. Advancing Inclusion in 2020 and Beyond. Monday 30 November - Friday 4 December



Presenter Bios

Monday 30 November

Stream One

Teach me how to fish please: What’s Reasonable about Reasonable Adjustments - doing with rather than doing for

Julie Kiroluch and Anthony Gartner, La Trobe University.

Julie Kiroluch is a speech pathologist by background, working in the University sector for 8 years. Julie is team leader of the AccessAbility Hub at La Trobe University based at the Bendigo campus and is passionate about student centred best practice.

Anthony Gartner is a social worker by background and recently joined La Trobe as manager of the AccessAbility Hub after 14 years at Swinburne. Anthony is passionate about positive employment outcomes for people living with disability and imagines the day when Australia sits at the top of the OECD list for employment outcomes for people living with disability.

Is this Request Reasonable?

Lee Papworth, University of Melbourne

Lee Papworth is committed to creating connections, and as much as possible resolving barriers, in order to empower staff, and the people they support. Lee is a recent graduate of a Masters of Evaluation, keen to measure the value of what we do as disability practitioners. 

When Peer Notes Fail to Meet the Grade: Using Note Taking Technology to Improve Student Outcomes

Lee Chambers, Sonocent and Jim Sprialis, Sprialis Consulting

With nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the EdTech sector, Lee Chambers works at Sonocent to bring note-taking technology to students with disabilities. Lee provides training and support to students, needs assessors, trainers and disabilities practitioners on how to improve note-taking support and use technology effectively, including Audio Notetaker and Glean. Lee has a passion for technology and innovation, approaching every day with the attitude that there is always a better way to do something, whether that is by improving the quality of what we do or the efficiency in which we do it.

Jim Sprialis is an inclusive education and technology consultant and is a leading influence in the field of inclusion and technology. His consultancy and assistive technology training service is provided to schools, the tertiary sector, and workplaces. With a specialist knowledge base around disability and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, he is passionate about promoting inclusive technologies and universal design approaches. Jim is also the Australian Account Manager for Sonocent and works with Accessibility Advisers across Australian and New Zealand universities to implement Sonocent's note taking technologies. 


Stream Two

Can Making Change Be as Easy as ABC?

Debbie Hindle, University of Tasmania

Debbie Hindle has had a variety of roles in the tertiary disability sector through the University of Tasmania including NDCO and Disability Advisor. She currently coordinates a specialist peer mentor program for students on the Autism spectrum and an ADCET Project Officer. Debbie holds a Masters of Positive Psychology from the University of Melbourne and is part of the dynamic production team for one of the world’s leading workplace wellbeing practitioners. This combination gives Debbie a valuable edge in bringing the latest from the science of wellbeing to grow wellbeing and resilience in ourselves and the students we support. 

Accidental Counsellor: an In-House Developed Workshop for TAFE Queensland

Brandon Taylor, TAFE Queensland

Brandon Taylor is the Manager of Student Support for TAFE Queensland, serving the Brisbane region. He has worked in the VET sector as a teacher, disability officer and Manager for sixteen years and been with TAFE Queensland for twelve years. Prior to his current role, he taught literacy, numeracy and life skills programs with disadvantaged youth, discrete learning programs with adults in the workplace and additional support programs for students struggling to maintain their VET programs. Managing a multidisciplinary team of Counsellors, AccessAbility, Indigenous and International Student Welfare Officers across campuses in the south east of Queensland he also leads the organisational Mental Health & Wellbeing strategy. 

Social Eyes - Autism, Social Interaction and Inclusion in the VET, Higher and Tertiary Education Sectors

Elaine Hatfield-White

Elaine is a person with autism, a trained SocialEyes facilitator, registered Developmental Educator/ Allied Health Professional, graduate of BSc. Autism Studies, University of Kent, UK., SEN Teacher for 10 years and currently has 15 years-experience as a University Disability Officer both in Perth, W.A. and the UK.

Elaine currently works as an AccessAbility Advisor for Curtin University as well as Joint Program Manager of the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program for students with autism. The program currently has 80 students with autism and 56 Mentors. 

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Tuesday 1 December

Main Session

Panel Session: How to Drive Change through Disability Action Plans

Panel Facilitator: Dr Paul Harpur, University of Queensland

Dr Paul Harpur is an Associate Professor with the University of Queensland Law School, chair’s their Disability Inclusion Group and is a former Fulbright scholar and former Paralympian. He is an academic Fellow with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, a Non-Executive Director with Help Enterprises Ltd and guide dog user.

Dr Harpur was recognised to receive a 2019 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) program. Dr Harpur’s citation is “for outstanding leadership in translating disability strategy into a vision of ability equality and core university business.”. He believes in ability equality strongly and works for a world where we no longer talk about us and them, and instead just about us. 


Stream One

TAFE Specialist Employment Partnerships (TSEP)

Pam Anderson, NDCO Program

Pam Anderson is the National Disability Coordination Officer for Western Victoria. In this role over the past 7 years Pam has been working to raise aspirations and participation of students with disability to access further tertiary education and subsequent employment. 

A Right to Learn... A Right to Earn! Inclusion of People with an Intellectual Disability in Higher Education and Employment

David Pech, Centre for Disability Studies

David Pech is the uni 2 beyond Career Advisor. He is passionate about empowering people with disability to successfully transition to employment and education. David has worked in inclusive education for more than seven years, with experience in both secondary and tertiary institutions.

David will present collaboratively with students from the uni 2 beyond program. 

Removing Barriers to Opportunity: How to Set Graduates with Disability on the Path to Employment Success

Daniel Valiente-Riedl, WorkFocus Australia

Daniel Valiente-Riedl has over 15 years’ experience in the disability sector. During this time, he has worked in ar0eas of mental health, intellectual, acquired and physical disability.

As General Manager for JobAccess, Daniel delivers an award-winning service on behalf of the Australian Government. JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers.

Daniel has a passion for working with people and has occupied senior management positions in several organisations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Master of Business Administration, and is currently completing the Master of Science in Organisational Psychology. 

Making Meaningful Work Business as Usual. Strategies, Issues and Choices That Support Graduate Employment Outcomes for Students with Disability

David Eckstein, Equity Fellow - NCSEHE; Friederike Gadow, Australian National University; and, Jane Andersen, University of the Sunshine Coast

David Eckstein is 2020 Equity Fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. His research into careers support for students with disability will result in open-access tools and guidelines for all universities to use. David is a university careers practitioner and established Swinburne University's AccessAbility Careers Hub - a disability initiative that received the 2019 NAGCAS best practice award and Honorable Mention from the United States National Association of Colleges and Employers. His interests include notions of professional self, industry disability confidence, and using narrative methods to help people develop and implement meaningful workforce participation plans.

Friederike Gadow, Senior Project Officer, Accessibility and Employability, Office of PVC (Education), Australian National University | PhD candidate, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. Friederike leads accessibility and employability projects at ANU, using a wide range of university and industry stakeholders to create meaningful and sustainable initiatives for the benefit of students. With over 15 years’ experience in the disability sector across service provision, higher education and research, Friederike is passionate about harnessing the power of collaboration for collective and individual benefit. Friederike’s dedication to furthering inclusion of people with disability is also realised through her PhD study on social inclusion of people with intellectual disability who live in a home of their choice.

Jane Anderson is the Manager of AccessAbility and Learning Advisers at USC. Prior to joining USC 6 years ago, she worked in specialist occupational therapy practice areas including youth mental health, early intervention for psychosis, neurology and pain management. She’s also held academic and clinical education positions, as well as Occupational Therapy Professional Director. Being a passionate occupational therapist, Jane knows the innate value of engagement in purposeful occupation, and loves the link between her clinical and higher education practice enabling occupation and the right to access education. Developing inherent academic requirements, and introducing USEP to USC are two recent career highlights. 


Stream Two

Moving from On-Campus to Online

Melissa Wortel, Griffith University

Melissa Wortel, has worked at Griffith University since 1998 and as the Assistive Technology Officer (Digital Solutions) since 2009. Her position entails obtaining and managing assistive technology for Griffith University’s multi-campus labs as well as providing strategic advice for the University on assistive technology for students and staff. Melissa is passionate about assistive technology and is always keen to research and trial new devices entering the market.

Melissa's role works collaboratively with the Student Disability & Accessibility Team and the People and Wellbeing Team to enhance the support for students and staff. 

The COVID Attitude - an Exciting New Normal for Assistive Technology at Western Sydney University

Sally Leggo and Natalie McLaughlin, Western Sydney University

Sally is an Assistive Technology Specialist for Western Sydney University. She has a firm belief in the power of technology to create a more inclusive, engaging and efficient education, working and social environment. Sally has a background in web management, digital accessibility and training development and delivery with over 10 years’ experience delivering technology training and support. At present, Sally is focusing on the strategic positioning of AT and the development of inclusive and accessible practices across the University. With a deep love of Auslan and Deaf culture, Sally is also an active member of her local deaf community.

With over 20 years’ experience in higher education, Natalie’s primary focus continues to be the enhancement of the student experience, which she now supports through her work as an Assistive Technology Specialist at Western Sydney University. An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Natalie provides personalised programs to support students and staff with their assistive technology requirements. A strong advocate of equity and accessibility, Natalie works within the Assistive Technology team to consistently prioritise the development and support of their clients and work to develop initiatives to excel in inclusion through technology.

Successfully Embracing the Unknown: the TAFE NSW 2020 Student Support Journey

Greg O'Connor, Texthelp and Anita Raftery, TAFE NSW

For over 30 years Greg has been actively involved in all levels of education, supporting the learning of ALL students as a classroom teacher, school executive, education department manager and technology consultant. He is currently a member of the Asia Pacific Texthelp Team, supporting technology innovation and implementation across the region.

Anita is a teacher who has worked in the area of education for over 25 years. Anita currently works as Teacher Consultant- Disability with TAFE NSW. Anita’s expertise in inclusive technology has seen her facilitate professional learning activities, recently coordinate the procurement for Read & Write software at TAFE NSW and support the allocation and implementation of assistive technologies for students in TAFE NSW North Region.

Using Covid-19 as an Opportunity to Change Practice and Promote a New Perspective on Assistive Technologies

Fiona Thomas, Texthelp; Sally Leggo, and Natalie McLaughlin, Western Sydney University

Fiona is a member of the AsiaPAC Texthelp team, formerly an Assistant Principal and Assistive Technology Advisor for the Department of Education in New South Wales. She holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education and has worked across primary and secondary settings in NSW and Victoria for more than 30 years. Over that time, Fiona has been an avid user of technology to support the teaching and learning needs of the diverse range of students in her classrooms. Extending that role further by guiding and supporting other educators embarking on their own technology adventures.

Sally is an Assistive Technology Specialist for Western Sydney University. She has a firm belief in the power of technology to create a more inclusive, engaging and efficient education, working and social environment. Sally has a background in web management, digital accessibility and training development and delivery with over 10 years’ experience delivering technology training and support. At present, Sally is focusing on the strategic positioning of AT and the development of inclusive and accessible practices across the University. With a deep love of Auslan and Deaf culture, Sally is also an active member of her local deaf community.

With over 20 years’ experience in higher education Natalie’s primary focus continues to be the enhancement of the student experience, which she now supports through her work as an Assistive Technology Specialist at Western Sydney University. An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Natalie provides personalised programs to support students and staff with their assistive technology requirements. A strong advocate of equity and accessibility, Natalie works within the Assistive Technology team to consistently prioritise the development and support of their clients and work to develop initiatives to excel in inclusion through technology.

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Wednesday 2 December - Vocational Education and Training Stream

Strengthening and promoting opportunities in VET: Australian Government perspective

Katerina Lawler, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Regulation Branch, VET Quality and Policy Division

Katerina Lawler, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Regulation Branch, VET Quality and Policy Division
Ms Katerina Lawler is currently Assistant Secretary of the VET Policy and Regulation Branch in the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The Branch is responsible for VET strategic policy, VET student and regulatory policy and development and implementation of quality reforms.

Ms Lawler has worked in higher education policy and program roles for fifteen years, and has worked on a range of major policy initiatives including higher education policy and funding reviews and reforms.

Ms Lawler previously held positions in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and in the arts portfolio. Ms Lawler worked for five years in the housing portfolios in the ACT, New South Wales and Australian Governments.

Ms Lawler holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the Flinders University of South Australia.

The VET Disability Practitioner: Then, now and what the future holds

Brandon Taylor, TAFE Queensland

Brandon Taylor is the Manager of Student Support for TAFE Queensland, serving the Brisbane region. He has worked in the VET sector as a teacher, disability officer and manager for sixteen years and worked for TAFE Queensland for twelve years. Prior to his current role, he taught literacy, numeracy and life skills programs with disadvantaged youth, delivered discrete learning programs with adults in the workplace and additional support programs for students struggling to maintain their VET programs.

Managing a multidisciplinary team of Counsellors, AccessAbility, Indigenous and International Student Welfare Officers across campuses in the south east of Queensland he also leads the organisational Mental Health & Wellbeing strategy.

Access Plans for VET Educators: A Call to Arms

Jen Cousins, TAFE SA and Meredith Jackson, TAFE Queensland

Jen Cousins has extensive experience and qualifications as a developmental educator, disability advocate, and VET practitioner. Within TAFE SA Jen has worked as Senior Consultant Educator Practice, Principal/Lecturer in Community Services and Health, National Disability Coordination Officer, and currently the Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Jen holds a Masters of Adult, Vocational and Workplace Education, Bachelor of Laws, and Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability Studies-Honours) and participated in a range of national projects that endeavour to increase awareness of the rights of students with disability in VET and to build educator capability.

Meredith Jackson is highly regarded as an inclusive practitioner, having spent more than two decades teaching and managing in the VET sector. Meredith manages Disability Services for TAFE Queensland (TQ) Skillstech. Meredith is the TQ ATEND representative and an organiser of Brisbane’s NDCO Fresh Futures Expo. Meredith has worked for TAFE since 1994 in Coober Pedy (SA), Normanton, the Fraser Coast, the North Burnett and Brisbane (Qld). Meredith has facilitated and supported priority learners including those with a disability; disengaged youth; migrants, refugees and people in regional and rural sectors. Meredith continues to be involved in VET teacher education and mentoring and is excited to be undertaking this national project.

2020 a Space Odyssey: Exploring Unchartered Territories in the VET Sector

Penny McCulloch and Sheena Cranwell, TAFE Queensland

Penny McCulloch is an AccessAbility Officer with TAFE Queensland. Penny has worked extensively in Australia and overseas in a number of roles in education and the private sector including educator P-12 supporting the needs of students with disabilities, advisory teacher, and education consultant. Participation in specialist projects has seen her involved in exploring state of the art assistive technology for students with disabilities as well as in the development and provision of professional development resources for educators, support staff as well as parents. She is continuing to follow her passion for inclusivity in education, this time in the adult space.

Sheena Cranwell BSW [Hon] has worked with TAFE Queensland, as an AccessAbility Officer for over four years, working with students with additional challenges in their studies. Additional professional experience includes Student Support at the University of Queensland, Research into the lived experience of Disability in several projects with Griffith University and the Health/Child Safety Sector. Her passion for Equitable Accessibility for all students comes from the background of being a parent and an individual who faced similar challenges, those impacted by disability may experience within an educational environment.

Findings from the NSW Disability, Disadvantage and VET study

Jennifer Smith-Merry, University of Sydney

Dr Jennifer Smith-Merry is Associate Professor in the Sydney School of Health Sciences within the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. Jen is lead Chief Investigator on multiple grants which aim to evaluate or develop policy and services in disability and mental health. She has skills in evaluation and qualitative methods and works closely with people with lived experience of disability. She has a strong interest in the value of lived experience in informing policy and service design.

Dr Smith-Merry has strong connections to academic, policy and service audiences in Australia and internationally. She has published over 65 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters alongside a large number of reports for national and international governments. Jen led the development of the Mind the Gap report into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and psychosocial disability which drew attention to the significant problems faced in delivering NDIS in the context of mental health.

Commencing 2018 the NSW Disability, Disadvantage and VET Study focussed on looking at interventions that might improve the completion and employment outcomes for disadvantaged students, in particular those with a disability in order to develop effective policy responses in this area. The intention is to support these student groups through to completion and good post-training outcomes by providing additional resources to help overcome problems arising from being disadvantaged in general, and disability in particular. Jen will be discussing findings from the NSW Disability, Disadvantage and VET study at the Pathways15 Online Conference.


Wednesday 2 December - Higher Education Stream

Department of Education, Skills and Employment – Higher Education

Rajan Martin, Assistant Secretary, Governance, Quality and Access Branch, Higher Education Division

Rajan Martin is the Assistant Secretary of the Governance, Quality and Access Branch within the Department of Education. As part of this role he is responsible for quality, equity, infrastructure and regional, rural and remote initiatives in higher education.

He has worked in the public sector in senior policy and program implementation roles for over 20 years including in areas of aged care, Indigenous health and hearing and disability care.

Universal Design for Learning, Inclusion and Accessible Assessment

Professor Carol Evans, Griffith University

Carol is Pro Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at Griffith University. Carol is a global leader in research-informed assessment practices and pedagogy. She has previously held positions in the UK at a number of prestigious institutions including Durham University, UCL: Institute of Education, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex Deanery, University of London, University of Birmingham, and University of Exeter. She is a visiting Professor at the University of Southampton where she was chair in higher education she led two highly successful interdisciplinary research projects within and across universities funded by the UK Government's Office for Students; this work was recognised nationally in Advance HE Collaborative and Spotlight Awards for Teaching Excellence. Carol is a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of Advance HE, UK; a member of the Committee of National Teaching Fellows, a member of AHE Australasian Strategic Advisory Board (ASAB) and served as the first UK Vice President of the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows (IFNTF).

Carol is passionate about promoting inclusive approaches to education. Her seminal work on Making Sense of Assessment Feedback in HE has been translated into the pragmatic EAT Framework that promotes equity, agency and, transparency in assessment. Carol’s recent work on what constitutes high quality pedagogical research was developed to support integration between quality research and practice within the HE sector.

NCSEHE research findings: supporting mental health, academic success and employability of students with disability in Australian universities

Nicole Crawford, David Eckstein and Tim Pitman, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

Nicole Crawford is a Senior Research Fellow in the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE). She was a 2019/20 NCSEHE Equity Fellow and investigated proactive approaches to support the mental wellbeing of mature-aged university students in regional and remote Australia. Prior to the Fellowship, she was a Lecturer in Pre-degree Programs at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) for nearly a decade. Her research focuses on equity and inclusion in higher education. She initiated UTAS’s Social Inclusion Community of Practice, and the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (NAEEA) Special Interest Group on Mental Health.

David Eckstein is 2020 Equity Fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. His research into careers support for students with disability will result in open-access tools and guidelines for all universities to use. David is a university careers practitioner and established Swinburne University’s AccessAbility Careers Hub – a disability initiative that received the 2019 NAGCAS best practice award and Honorable Mention from the United States’ National Association of Colleges and Employers. His interests include notions of professional self, industry disability confidence, and using narrative methods to help people develop and implement meaningful workforce participation plans.

Associate Professor Tim Pitman is a researcher of higher education policy at Curtin University. His specific interest is in how universities can widen access, participation and success for groups of students historically underrepresented in higher education. This includes persons from low socioeconomic status backgrounds; Indigenous persons; people with disability; people from non-English speaking backgrounds; and people from regional and remote parts of Australia. He is currently undertaking a NCSEHE Equity Fellowship investigating how universities can best support people with disability; particularly those who come from regional, rural and remote Australia, in their higher education studies.

From Practice to Evidence: Inclusive Assessment Design - What Can We Learn from Assessment Adjustments?

Merrin McCracken (presenter and Author) Joanna Tai, (lead Author), Mary Dracup, Yasmin Mobayad (co-Authors), Deakin University

Merrin has worked with and learnt from people with disability for nearly 40 years. She has a strong commitment to inclusive practice and is interested in building the evidence base to support this work.

At Deakin, Merrin leads the Access and Inclusion team who provide individual service to over 3500 students, build the capacity of staff, and contribute to strategic direction for an inclusive University.

Embedding Wellbeing and Inclusion at Griffith University

Lisa Chiang, Griffith University

Lisa Chiang is a Senior Disability Advisor with Student Disability and Accessibility and is also a Counsellor with Counselling and Wellbeing both at Griffith University. This year as part of both her roles she has been working towards Embedding Wellbeing and Inclusion. She has experience and education in disability support, counselling, nutrition, lifestyle medicine and training and is passionate about inclusion and wellbeing.

Equitable learning spaces and deep consultation with students and staff, low impact sensory spaces for optimal design and functionality

Gemma Dodevska, University of Melbourne

Gemma Dodevska is an early-career researcher with an interest in supporting the independence and quality of life of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Gemma has over 10 experience working in the Disability sector in Australia, in direct support work, management and project co-ordination roles. Gemma is currently a research assistant in partnership with the Melbourne Faculty of Arts, Disability and Social Inclusion team. Gemma’s current projects relate to autism inclusion at the University of Melbourne, the experiences of support and conflict within families of autistic children and young adults and; the Individualised Supported Living online professional development training program.

Inclusion in Higher Education? The changing terrain of disability advocacy and scholarship

Ben Whitburn, Deakin University

Dr Ben Whitburn is Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Education and director of the Masters of Specialist Inclusive Education at Deakin University. Dr Whitburn seeks to heighten equity across educational sectors by building the capacity of educators to address breaches between theory and practice. To this end, Dr Whitburn draws on innovative and critical methodologies to develop programs in both research and teaching that are centred on the voices of those affected by disability and other intersectional diversities who are subject to ongoing inequities. These contributions to the field highlight the sociocultural role of education to inclusive development, and they also offer theoretically supported and practical redress of marginalisation based on insiders’ perspectives.

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Thursday 3 December

Main Session

National Disability Strategy and Tertiary Education

Anthony Gartner, La Trobe University and Dr Lisa Stafford, Queensland University of Technology

Anthony Gartner is a social worker by background and recently joined La Trobe as manager of the AccessAbility Hub after 14 years at Swinburne. Anthony is passionate about positive employment outcomes for people living with disability and imagines the day when Australia sits at the top of the OECD list for employment outcomes for people living with disability.

Dr Lisa Stafford is a passionate social scientist, community planner and human geographer who specialises in inclusive communities, social-spatial justice for people with disabilities; and participation and transitions journeys of children and young people with disabilities. Lisa specialises in inclusive participatory research and community engagements methods. Lisa is a Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow in School of Public Health and Social Work, a Program Lead of Ecologies of Justice Centre for Justice and Co-Chair Disability Inclusion Action Plan working group at QUT. Lisa has over 20 years of involvement in in the field across government, non-government and academia and in various practitioner, management and executive level roles. Lisa identifies as a disabled-chronically ill person and is a full member of Planning Institute of Australia (MPIA), Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) and Disability Leadership Institute (DLI).

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Mary Hawkins, National Disability Insurance Agency

Mary Hawkins is currently the Director Engagement, Employment Outcomes in the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Mary is a qualified Rehabilitation Counsellor who has occupied senior management positions in WorkCover NSW, the Motor Accident Authority of NSW and with CRS, a large national provider of vocational rehabilitation services.

Mary has held a number of roles with the NDIA, including setting up arrangements for providers for the commencement of the Trials of the Scheme in 2013, assisting with the roll out of the early transition of the NDIS in Nepean/Blue Mountains in NSW. With the commencement of the transition to full scheme in NSW Mary worked as Director Stakeholder Engagement for the NSW Central region. More recently as Director Strategic Initiatives, Provider & Market Engagement, Mary has assisted with transition in Western Australia and with the introduction of the Disability-related Health Supports in accordance with the decision of the Disability Reform Council in 2019.

Professionally, Mary received the inaugural Award for Outstanding Contribution to Injury Management by an Individual from the Personal Injury Education Foundation in 2008 and for many years was a significant contributor to their education and events subcommittees. Mary was made a fellow of the Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors, having been one of the founding members of that Society. Her work in Rehabilitation Counselling particularly in injury and disability management was recognised by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences who granted her the Alumni Award for Services to Humanity.


Stream One

An Exploration of Success: GradWISE

Edward Osano and Rebecca Riley, GradWISE

Edward Osano, Head of GradWISE, has been involved in the development and design of the GradWISE Program. An accomplished and highly skilled people and project manager, with over 10 years’ experience in management. Edward is focused, committed and determined to deliver graduate outcomes for students living with a disability.

Rebecca Riley is the AccessAbility Careers Hub Coordinator and has been with Swinburne University since May 2020. She is a tertiary qualified career development professional with over a decade’s experience working predominantly in the community health and welfare sector.

Best Practice Model for Employment Support Services: Creating Sustainable Career Pathways for Autistic Talent

Kate Halpin, Specialisterne Australia

Kate Halpin is a highly motivated individual with 12+ years of experience within the HR sector & has a strong passion for Diversity & Inclusion. Kate specialises in guiding organisations to achieve their strategic goals in working towards inclusive workplaces which foster innovation through diversity of thought & which challenge traditional recruitment processes. Kate is passionate about embedding an inclusive mindset in organisations by creating change, increasing education & awareness, influencing strategy & above all executing successful inclusion & diversity initiatives. Kate is particularly passionate about increasing the representation of individuals on the Autism Spectrum in the workplace and believes that by removing traditional recruitment barriers, employers have the potential to access the Autism Advantage; an untapped talent pool of highly skilled and work ready individuals.

Making Virtual Work - Employability and Career Events for Students with Disability in the Covid-19 Era

Jessica Buhne, Caroline Krix, Jacqui Lentini, NDCO Program; Friederike Gadow, Australian National University; Richard McKeon, Prosple; Krista Markham, University of Queensland; Mel Bruniges and Michelle Jeffrey, Macquarie University

Jessica Buhne, National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) for Sydney region has a background in Social Sciences and Counselling. Jessica has worked in various roles in the disability sector including; advocacy, education and employment, and has worked with people with disability to strengthen their knowledge and confidence to self-direct individualised supports. In her role within the NDCO Program Jessica has had the opportunity to work with local, state and national colleagues to identify barriers impacting the transition of people with disability in tertiary education and subsequent employment, and to develop collaborative responses to address these barriers. Jessica has a passion for inclusive practices that support social, educational and vocational outcomes for people with diverse learning needs.

Caroline Krix is the National Disability Coordination Officer for the Western Sydney region. Caroline joined the disability sector in 2006, and has since worked hard to facilitate the development of real opportunities for people with disability, to successfully achieve their work and study aspirations. Caroline’s current role enables her to connect various stakeholders including: Secondary and Tertiary education providers, Disability Employment Services, Employers, People with Disability and their families, with the aim of overcoming barriers to tertiary education and subsequent employment. Prior to becoming NDCO, she worked in the disability employment space, educating and negotiating with employers to provide valuable work opportunities to people with disabilities living throughout Western Sydney.

Jacqui Lentini is the National Disability Coordination Officer for the South West Sydney region hosted by Western Sydney University. Jacqui holds a degree in Social Sciences, majoring in Social Psychology and Social Research. Jacqui has spent the past 18 years working across the disability sector in various roles spanning across the different stages of life; from supporting families in early intervention to post-school options, living skills program and Australian Disability Enterprises. As an NDCO Jacqui seeks to address gaps and barriers to improve the transition for people with disability in the tertiary education and subsequent employment. Jacqui is passionate about improving participation for people with disability from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities.

Friederike Gadow is currently leading accessibility and employability projects at ANU, where she brings together a wide range of university and industry stakeholders to create meaningful and sustainable initiatives for students with disability, illness or medical condition. With over 15 years of experience in the disability sector across service provision, higher education and research, Friederike is passionate about harnessing the power of collaboration for collective and individual benefit. Friederike’s dedication to furthering inclusion of people with disability is also realised through her PhD study on social inclusion of people with intellectual disability who live in a home of their choice.

Richard is a co-founder of local careertech startup Prosple, and has been responsible for leading Prosple's product development in the virtual career event space. Prosple is currently assisting Pathways 2 Employability with running an online content and event series for career seekers with a disability.

Richard has bachelor degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Commerce from Monash University, and a Masters in International Development from USNW. He’s worked as an automotive engineer, management consultant and entrepreneur. He’s also the co-founder of social enterprise tuktukrental.com based in India and Sri Lanka.

Richard is particularly passionate about democratising access to top jobs for all early career seekers, regardless of their location, citizenship, or formal education.

Krista has worked at The University of Queensland since 2011 as a Careers Advisor. With interests in employability, diversity and inclusion, she has spent the last two years exploring these connections at UQ and developing DiversityHub. Krista co-developed the 2020 National Diversity Virtual Careers Fair with 22 partnering universities and enjoys the co-operative and inclusive nature of collaborative inclusion projects. Krista is passionate about supporting student employability by working in partnership with stakeholders to create mutually beneficial opportunities.

Mel Bruniges: A career development professional, I have worked with university students as a Career and Employment Advisor at Macquarie University for over five years. I enjoy gaining skills and knowledge to work with our diverse student cohort, including students with a disability. I work with students to identify their career options, clarifying their values, interests, personality and skills, and to develop skills to secure their desired role which they can take on into the future.
My tertiary qualifications include: a Graduate Certificate in Career Education and Development, a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, a Management and Leadership Diploma (Distinction) and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology).

Michelle Jeffrey has over 15 years’ experience in the career and employment industry, and she is passionate about helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students with a disability, to achieve sustainable employment outcomes. Michelle believes in lifelong continuing education and possesses a Cert IV in Government Investigations, a Bachelor of Business, a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management, a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration (awarded with merit), and a Master of Public Administration (awarded with merit). She is a first aid officer and a Mental Health First Aider. Michelle currently works as a Careers Administration and Project Officer at Macquarie University, where she has worked with students from equity groups to develop and improve employability skills.

Engaging with people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds

Susan Beard, Gary Kerridge, Devan Nathan and Isabel Osuna-Gatty, NDCO Program

Susan Beard is the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) for Adelaide Metro since 2018. Susan has worked in leadership roles in community centres managing ACE Programs and LLN courses, including working with families wanting to access education and employment.
Susan’s previous experience includes specialist employment placement and case-management for people with disability in crisis.

Susan’s career has been enriched by engaging with learners from multicultural backgrounds, who show courage and commitment to achieve their education goals to create a better future for themselves and their children. She holds a BA in Education, BA of Arts in Psychology and Politics and a Graduate Diploma Rehabilitation Counselling.

Gary Kerridge is a disability advocate who has had over 30 years’ experience as a disability professional and advocate. He has been on several boards including Deaf Recreation Victoria (Chair), Deaf Children Australia, Royal South Australian Deaf Society and Deaf South Australia.
Gary has worked within disability and education systems, he knows how to navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and is a passionate advocate for Deaf people, he has campaigned tirelessly for interpreting and accessible environments for Deaf people. Gary is a community builder and is a strong voice for Deaf people and people who use the NDIS.

Devan has been in the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) role since 2016. He was involved in the NDCO’s Multicultural Inclusive Film Project. His previous experience includes retail, marketing, logistics, employment services and disability. Devan has 10 years’ experience working in the disability sector, his qualifications are in marketing, management, community services and training.

His own experiences from being part of a multicultural society provide an overview of the challenges and barriers faced by people from multicultural backgrounds. This coupled with working experiences in the disability sector further provide Devan a deeper understanding of the needs of people with disabilities.

Isabel Osuna-Gatty is from a Spanish/Latin-American/African background. She is partially sighted and suffers from hearing loss. Isabel has a Master Degree in Psychology and postgraduate degrees in Counselling and Education.

Isabel is the recipient of the Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Australian Training Award. Isabel developed and implemented several local, state and commonwealth funded projects to assist Aboriginal and multicultural communities across Australia.
Isabel is currently leading a project to identify the challenges people with a disability from multicultural backgrounds face when accessing and/or participating in tertiary education and subsequent employment before and during the COVID crisis.

An Emerging Model for Cross-Team Collaboration: Disability and Student Learning at the University of Tasmania

Amelia Dowe, Doug McGinn, Debbie Hindle, Carol Devereaux and Alexis Smith, University of Tasmania

Amelia Dowe: Amelia is a Student Learning Advisor at the University of Tasmania. She has a background in Applied Linguistics and language education.

Doug McGinn and Carol Devereaux: Doug and Carol are Disability Advisors at the University of Tasmania. Their combined experience in that role spans over two decades.

Debbie Hindle: Debbie has had various roles in the tertiary disability sector. She has worked as an NDCO, Disability Advisor and currently coordinates the University of Tasmania's Specialist Peer Mentoring Program and is an ADCET Project Officer.

Alexis Smith: Alexis is an Accessibility Advisor at the University of Tasmania and works to ensure students have equitable access to educational opportunity.


Stream Two

Beyond Compliance - Innovative Approaches to Accessibility and Inclusive Education in Vet

Jen Cousins, TAFE South Australia

Jen Cousins has extensive experience and qualifications as a developmental educator, disability advocate, and VET practitioner. Within TAFE SA Jen has worked as Senior Consultant of Educator Practice, Principal/Lecturer in Community Services and Health, the National Disability Coordination Officer, and is currently the Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Jen holds a Masters of Adult, Vocational and Workplace Education, a Bachelor of Laws, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability Studies-Honours) and has been involved in a range of national projects that endeavour to increase awareness of the rights of students with disability in VET and to build educator capability.

Collective of Chronically Ill, Neurodiverse, Impaired or Disabled (candid) Students at La Trobe. Making University More Supportive, Because We Can, So We Did

Kathy Wilton, Laena D'Alton and Lyndel Kennedy, La Trobe University

Kathy Wilton has been a practitioner in the Disability field for 30 years. She recently joined The Equity and Diversity team at La Trobe as a Senior Disability Advisor. Kathy has a passion for providing proactive strength based support to the individuals she works with. She has a B.A. in Social Science, a Graduate Diploma in Special Education and a Diploma in Coaching Mentoring and Leadership.

Laena D’Alton is a PhD candidate in chemistry at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science. Her project is on developing low-cost disease diagnostics. She is also a communications assistant in La Trobe’s College of Science, Health and Engineering, where she helps tells stories about research, teaching, staff and students to a diverse audience. Laena lives with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia.

Lyndel Kennedy is a PhD candidate within La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre and a parent of neurodiverse young adults. Her research focuses on factors contributing to higher education success for neurodiverse students. She has worked at Aspergers Victoria for over 12 years, holding various positions including president, board advisor, and support group leader. She currently coordinates their Events and Young Adults Group. Lyndel has delivered over 40 presentations, including at the 2016 Aspect Autism in Education Conference and the 2014 Victorian Autism Conference. Her book, 'The Hidden Diffability: Discovering Aspergers' (2012) examines lived experiences in the Australian context via 15 case studies.

Silver Linings from the Covid19 Scoping Survey to the Sector

Debbie Hindle, University of Tasmania

Debbie has had a variety of roles in the tertiary disability sector through the University of Tasmania including as an NDCO and a Disability Advisor. She currently coordinates a specialist peer mentor program for students on the Autism spectrum and has recently re-taken up the reins as the NDCO for Southern Tasmania. Debbie also worked as a Project Officer for ADCET during 2020 where she was instrumental in developing several initiatives to support the sector respond to the impact of COVID-19.

Inclusion Through Universal Design for Learning

Lynsey Kennedy-Wood, Down Syndrome Queensland

Lynsey Kennedy-Wood became the Education Consultant at Down Syndrome Queensland after completing her Masters in Inclusive Education from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2013. She is a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for all individuals to receive an inclusive educational experience and achieve to the best of their ability. Lynsey hopes to inspire individuals to be contributing members of society on the same basis as their peers and educate others on how to ensure this is possible. She believes TRUE inclusion is the key to a life of purpose.

Panel Session: Autism Mentoring Program

Panel Facilitator: Debbie Hindle, University of Tasmania. Panel Members: Jasmine McDonald, Curtin University, Katy Lambert, University of Newcastle, Charlotte Brownlow, University of Southern Queensland, and Susan Hancock, Australian National University

Debbie has had a variety of roles in the tertiary disability sector through the University of Tasmania including NDCO and Disability Advisor. She currently coordinates a specialist peer mentor program for students on the Autism spectrum and an ADCET Project Officer. Debbie holds a Masters of Positive Psychology from the University of Melbourne and is part of the dynamic production team for one of the world’s leading workplace wellbeing practitioners. This combination gives Debbie a valuable edge in bringing the latest from the science of wellbeing to grow wellbeing and resilience in ourselves and the students we support.

Dr Jasmine McDonald has an extensive background in education of students on the autism spectrum as a parent, educator and researcher over the past thirty years. In 2014 she helped devise and now jointly runs the Curtin University Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP). Additionally, Jasmine translated CSMP into a generic mentoring program for use at all tertiary sites now available on the national Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) website, and is currently involved with research developing an Autism CRC / CSIRO chatbot specifically designed to support tertiary students on the autism spectrum.

Katy Lambert has worked at the University of Newcastle, predominantly in Accessibility, since 2009. Katy has been one of the coordinators of the UON Specialist Peer Mentor Program for students with an autism spectrum condition since it was introduced in 2017.

Charlotte Brownlow is currently the Associate Dean of the Graduate Research School at the University of Southern Queensland. Her research focuses on neurodiversity, and she is particularly interested in research and practices co-produced with autistic people. She has been working with the autistic facilitators for USQs A-Skills program in the design and delivery since 2015.

Susan Hancock has worked in the ACT education support sector in the area of education support for 18 years. Currently a Disability and Equity Advisor (DEA) in the office of Access and Inclusion (A&I) at The Australian National University (ANU) providing professional support and advice for students with a disability and equity groups. At ANU Sue has worked on a number of projects and was involved in establishing the Participant Assistant program, assigning ANU student mentors to students with ASD to support their successful transition to university study. Sue was a member of the Steering Committee contributing to the development of a resource for students with ASD – How to Transition to Tertiary Education, Helpful Hints for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Friday 4 December

Creating places of belonging for those living with disability: Going beyond diversity and inclusion in post-secondary education

Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes, University of Sydney

I am a Kamilaroi woman who lost her eyesight to congenital glaucoma as a child following measles. In January 2016 I moved back to Sydney from Adelaide after a decade's absence to take up a lecturing and research position in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. I teach and research in the spaces of Aboriginal and inclusive education, Indigenous studies and Indigenous methodologies. Living with vision impairment means that I have been a lifetime advocate and activist for accessibility and inclusion within the built environment, in online digital platforms, and in the minds of people who tend to under-estimate the abilities of those living with disability. I have studied in the fields of education, sociology, criminology and psychology. I borrow and bend the theoretical frameworks of cultural responsiveness, Critical Race Theory and , and Critical Access/Disability Studies. I am passionate about higher education having a unique responsibility to work towards equity and social justice.

My experience includes working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Adelaide City Council Access and Inclusion Panel, and the SA Minister’s Disability Advisory Committee. I facilitated the writing of Vision Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP seeking to make the organization more culturally savvy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are blind or have low vision. Prior to returning to university to study education, I worked as a Senior Project Officer with the NSW Department of Corrective Services developing programs to lower the re-offending rates of Aboriginal peoples across the state. My work history is diverse, having been a counsellor with organisations like the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON), the Salvation Army and Oasis Youth Support Network.

Panel Session: Student Experience

Panel Facilitator: Graeme Innes, AM. Panel Members: Anthony, Jack, Beth, Julia and Karen

Graeme Innes, AM is a lawyer, author, and company director. His autobiography Finding a Way achieved popular acclaim in 2016. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than thirty years and is a conference presenter and facilitator. Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights.

Graeme led the merger of four blindness agencies to form Vision Australia, and chaired the board of that agency. He is currently the chair of the Attitude Foundation, a start-up aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities.

Graeme was awarded an AM for his work on the development of the Disability Discrimination Act, was a finalist for Australian of the Year, and, on the international stage, he was a member of the Australian delegation that participated in negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Canberra in 2014, RMIT University in 2016, UNSW in 2017 and Edith Cowan University in 2018, in recognition of his work as a human rights activist.

Anthony Brussow was a recent mature-aged apprentice who balanced work and family life to successfully complete a Certificate III in Engineering Mechanical Trade (Maintenance) at TAFE Queensland SkillsTech in 2019. Anthony accessed disability support throughout his time at TAFE as he suffered autoimmune encephalitis in 2014 and also has longstanding literacy issues as a result of dyslexia. This condition and the dyslexia means that Anthony faced significant challenges in terms of his learning with effects on his attention skills, speed of information processing and aspects of his executive functioning. Anthony worked hard throughout his apprenticeship to develop work skills to an excellent level and continues to be an outstanding role model to his work colleagues and those new to his trade. Anthony positive attitude and trade aptitude saw him awarded the TAFE Queensland SkillsTech General Manager’s Award in 2019.

Jack A. Milne is currently undertaking a Graduate Program with the Australian Federal Government’s Attorney-General’s Department (Policy Stream). He was working in the private sector prior to joining the Australian Public Service (APS).

Mr Milne is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Australian Migration Law and Practice at the Australian Catholic University. He completed high school at Wantirna College with a relatively low ATAR score of 28.90 and then went on to study Certificate IV up to Advanced Diploma of Marketing at Swinburne University of Technology (TAFE). Jack then progressed onto a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing and Asia Business Studies) degree at Swinburne University of Technology and studied International Relations and economics at Oriel College, University of Oxford. He holds a Master of Science in Business Analysis and Strategic Management from Alliance Manchester Business School, the University of Manchester.

He was the Australia regional youth co-ordinator for the Royal Commonwealth Society and played a leading role in the establishment of the Commonwealth Children and Young Persons Disability Network based at the Commonwealth Secretariat. He also held the position of one of the lead advisers to the former Vice Chairperson, Commonwealth Youth Council, a role that help promote young people with disabilities across the Commonwealth of Nations.

He was awarded the Associate Fellowship of the Royal Commonwealth Society for his work and commitment towards promotion and upholding of Commonwealth values and his work in 2017. Finally, Jack was one of the five recipients of the One Young World’s ‘1 in 7’ Scholarships in 2018. Jack is currently a council member of the Royal Commonwealth Society ACT Branch and is on the Institute of Public Administration Australia Future Leaders committee.

Jack’s future aspirations are to be in a leading role in the APS with the aim of advancing the interests of Australia in the region and beyond, promoting democracy, human rights and rule of law. What Jack is most passionate about though, is championing the disability cause and disability inclusive development.

Beth Radulski is an Autism and Neurodiversity activist, and the first openly Autistic Autism researcher at La Trobe University. She is conducting a PhD on Autistic masking - defined as the purposeful concealment of Autistic traits - and the Neurodiversity Movement. Beth works as the Project Officer: Neurodiversity at La Trobe, using her research background to increase educational accessibility and acceptance for Neurodiverse student and staff cohorts.

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