Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability
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Pathways banner. Pathways15 Online. Advancing Inclusion in 2020 and Beyond. Monday 30 November - Friday 4 December



Pathways15 Presentations: Thursday 3 December

Main Session

National Disability Strategy and Tertiary Education

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

As a signatory to the 2008 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments of Australia are committed to a shared vision for “an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens’ through the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. The Strategy is currently under review. Lisa and Anthony will have a conversation about the strategy review in context to Inclusive Education in Tertiary Sector, current thinking on the directions it could take and the importance of future reference to the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals both for policy and practice.


National Disability Insurance Scheme

Mary Hawkins, National Disability Insurance Agency

Abstract pending


Stream One

An Exploration of Success: GradWISE

Edward Osano and Rebecca Riley, GradWISE

GradWISE is a revolutionary service developed by WISE Employment and Swinburne University to assist tertiary students and graduates living with disability to gain meaningful and commensurate employment. It integrates WISEs professional employment pathways and expertise with university career/disability support services. Head of GradWISE Edward Osano and Swinburne University AccessAbility Careers Hub Coordinator, Rebecca Riley will demonstrate how this collaboration provides an integrated, strengths-based suite of career development and support services that has improved graduate outcomes since its inception in 2018.

Currently, 66% of graduates engaged by GradWISE via Swinburne’s AccessAbility Careers Hub are in paid employment and of those yet to graduate, 37% have secured internships. In 2019, student surveys showed that, after engagement with the Hub, 88% of students/graduates felt equipped to develop their employability skills compared to 43% at initial registration. Successful strategies of one-to-one career coaching and peer support, one-to-many engagement including student Community of Practice and forums, industry and employer linkages and education on inclusive recruitment practices, will be explored.

In response to Covid-19, GradWISE has implemented online learning and networking services to assist participant’s progress on their employment journey and address the pandemics impacts. These include GradWISE online masterclasses introducing industry experts, graduate application processes and interview techniques, GradWISE Live, a safe online space and community to build social safety for participants and Peer Support, connecting participants with former GradWISE members who are now employed. Since 2019, GradWISE participants have benefitted from the innovative Neurozone brain and body optimisation solution to assess and strengthen performance and resilience. With Covid-19 affecting health, wellbeing and employment prospects of many students/graduates, GradWISE Career Coaches use this collaborative tool to identify impacts and develop solutions linked to factors such as nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, social safety, and goal-directedness and learning to assist participants to thrive in every aspect of their lives.


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

Kate Halpin, Specialisterne Australia

Specialisterne Australia is a non-for-profit dedicated to helping employers understand, value, and include in their workforce the unique capabilities of people on the autism spectrum. Specialisterne was created out of a desire to show employers the unique skills and abilities possessed by many autistic individuals and assist them in gaining meaningful and long-term careers in the belief that this will benefit both the individuals and the marketplace. Commonly dubbed the ‘Autism Advantage, many employers are now realising there is a talent pool of untapped talent that they aren’t accessing as a result of the interview process. Companies including Westpac, SunPork, PwC, DHHS, SAP and DHS work with Specialisterne to diversify their workforce and help them to find talented autistic staff members to fill their skill gaps.

Our innovative approach at Specialisterne Australia aims to break down these barriers by transforming the traditional recruitment process. We use an innovative, customised recruitment process to assess and select autistic employees which aims to remove the barriers in the traditional recruitment process, connect skilled talent with skilled roles and focus on demonstrating the skills and capabilities of the neurodiverse workforce. In our presentation we will explore how our patient, innovative recruitment method removes barriers, the steps we take to train and match candidates into meaningful roles and the success we have had working with employers to integrate neurodiversity into the workplace.


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

2020 has seen traditional career expos transition from large scale in-person events to virtual platforms that can be accessed from anywhere. This workshop will showcase an unprecedented collaboration in the tertiary education sector, resulting in an innovative virtual event program designed to highlight inclusive employment pathways for students with disability, namely Pathways to Employability (P2E), a six-week online series that first launched as a face to face one-day event between universities in Sydney in 2011, and the inaugural National Diversity Virtual Careers Fair, a collaboration between 22 universities.

It is well documented that graduates with disability experience significant disadvantage when it comes to employment outcomes (DET, 2014; Richardson, Bennett, & Roberts, 2016). Career and employability events provide opportunity for students to network with employers, recent graduates and peers; start to undertake activities that aim to increase employability while studying e.g. connecting with career supports, mentors and internship opportunities; and engage with crucial topics such as sharing disability information and workplace adjustments.

Presenters from the NDCO program, the Australian National University, the University of Queensland, and careertech company Prosple will highlight, discuss and critically evaluate:

  • Shifting the focus from localised, exclusive university owned events to collaborative, co-branded national events: why, how and benefits for collaborators, and industry
  • Key project stages and requirements including promotion, budget and sponsorship, program planning and evaluation
  • Accessibility considerations when delivering virtual (career) events and developing resources to support students with disability
  • Challenges, opportunities and untapped potential of the available technology
  • Benefits and pitfalls when using a highly responsive approach within the ever evolving Covid-19 context
  • Lessons learnt and goals moving forward

The session will conclude with a call to action and opportunity to be involved in future iterations of the events highlighted in the workshop.


Engaging with people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds

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

Many multicultural communities, especially humanitarian entrants face significant and complex challenges, hence requiring greater support in accessing services due to lack of local knowledge, low levels of English Language and Literacy skills, lack of confidence and poor self-esteem. Linkages with multicultural communities need to be strengthened among schools, community services, educational providers and employers.

Research has shown that disability carries a high level of stigma in multicultural families. Familial and community responsibility impedes carers to reach out for support, as they believe it is their sole obligation to take care of the person with a disability. It is very unusual for these communities to accept tertiary education or even employment as an option for a person with a disability. These vulnerable people are often isolated within their own families and fail to participate in the community.

Service providers need to build relationships based on trust and cultural awareness to engage with multicultural communities, as families and carers would not openly seek out for assistance. People with a disability from multicultural backgrounds depend on carers and family members for guidance and support. This overdependence often becomes a barrier to access and participate in tertiary education. The complexities of engaging with people with disabilities or carers from multicultural communities often arise due to lack of understanding of cultural values and beliefs.

The aim of this presentation is to share information, provide strategies and share innovative best practice methods and approaches which will strengthen engagement, organisational capacity and service delivery for tertiary education providers when working with students with a disability from multicultural communities.


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

Models of student support are offered in a variety of configurations across the Australian tertiary sector. For example, academic skills development might be offered through individual faculties, through the library, or a central unit. Other support areas such as Disability and Accessibility, Counselling, Student Advice and Course or Program information are likewise offered in a range of institutional locations and collocations. Although the nature of the work does not fundamentally change, these models do affect internal working relationships. Outcomes for students are often reliant on the effectiveness of these channels and processes, so it is essential that they are developed and refined over time.

This presentation will share our progress towards a model of integrated student support between the Disability and Student Learning areas at the University of Tasmania over the past two years. Our starting point was an ad hoc approach in response to immediate problems. Over time, we have worked towards improving our service through a proactive approach to common issues, knowledge sharing and capacity building within and between teams. In these times of constrained resourcing, we aim to do so by tapping into existing resources and skillsets within the university to meet student needs. We will share a student’s perspective on this process, using a case study on supporting a student with a Specific Learning Disability in their studies. We would also like to use this as an opportunity to hear about similar collaborations in other institutions, and to share thoughts about how we might continue to work towards successful cross-team collaborations in the context of dwindling resourcing in Higher Education.

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Stream Two

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

Jen Cousins, TAFE South Australia

In July 2020 TAFE SA introduced a new educational leadership role, a Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Teaching and Learning Specialists are responsible for providing educational leadership and modelling professional practice in a range of teaching and assessment methodologies. The Accessibility and Inclusive Education Specialist is responsible for providing leadership, authoritative advice and strategic guidance on best practice in access and inclusive education across the educational programs. This includes developing the capability of TAFE SA educators to embed accessibility, usability and inclusive practices in all aspects of their delivery and assessment in an endeavour to meet national access and equity requirements, demonstrate quality practices and lead innovation.

This is a unique and emerging role within the VET Sector, a first for TAFE SA and a rare commitment seen across the VET sector. This presentation will share some of the learning that has occurred since this role was created, highlighting conceptual frameworks, critical thinking, and challenges in the initial development of this role. It will showcase the intersection with other initiatives and strategies across the organisation and sector such as Disability Access and Inclusions Plans, Disability Services and Supports, policy and procedures, and professional learning. It will highlight the need to work in partnership with disability and equity services and educators to embed access, inclusion and universal design as a benchmark beyond compliance, to create quality and innovative educational practice.


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, Latrobe University

This PowerPoint and multimedia presentation will discuss the impetus behind, the focus of and the resources required for the development of a peer support group for ChronicAlly ill, NeuroDiverse, Impaired or Disabled (CANDID) students at La Trobe University. The presentation will focus on:

  • Why the group was formed
  • The vision of the group
  • How was it developed during offsite learning
  • What maintains it
  • What are the costs and benefits?

The presenters will outline their roles within CANDID, and the planning, development and projected outcomes of the group. This will include anecdotal information about how CANDID supports individuals' mental health and wellbeing across a diverse range of conditions and abilities: what we know is making a difference, and what students have found helpful. We will share some of the students’ stories via multimedia vignettes.

Given that this initiative began during the first Victorian lockdown, while universities were undergoing strategic restructuring, we will discuss how it was initiated, promoted to students and took flight during this time of rapid change.


Silver Linings from the Covid19 Scoping Survey to the Sector

Debbie Hindle, University of Tasmania

During 2020 COVID-19 disrupted life for most people working and studying in tertiary education. However, despite the challenges, uncertainties and difficulties this caused there also emerged some silver linings. This workshop gives a brief overview of the range of silver linings that were identified through the scoping survey conducted by ADCET in July this year. It will also challenge you to consider how we might carry some of these forward as we create our ‘new normal’.


Inclusion Through Universal Design for Learning

Lynsey Kennedy-Wood, Down Syndrome Queensland

Research demonstrates that inclusion is integral for quality of life and it is never too late, or early, to create genuine inclusion through community engagement, knowledge, power, and purpose. This presentation will outline the research behind the need for inclusion, in all areas of life, and discuss how utilising the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can ensure all individuals are catered for, irrespective of disability/ability. It will outline concepts, strategies, and proven examples to ensure all individuals are considered in all learning environments. It will showcase how teaching episodes and subsequent assessment can be modified and adapted to create access, understanding and knowledge as well as taking a ‘backwards’ approach to learning goals and outcomes.

At the conclusion of this presentation delegates will gain knowledge and understanding of how to use Universal Design for Learning principles to adapt and modify learning outcomes to ensure success for all individuals.

Currently working as an Education Consultant in the disability sector, and possessing a Masters in Inclusive Education from QUT, I am extremely passionate about advocating for individuals to be given the right to an inclusive life. A life where all individuals are offered opportunities to contribute to society on the same basis as their counterparts. Through several conference presentations, numerous school observational visits, professional development workshops and webinars, plus daily email and phone conversations I have a plethora of experience in sharing insight, strategies and advocating for all, to build a brighter future for individuals with a disability.

All materials used, including a PDF of the presentation, notes, references, and applicable links, will be provided to all delegates at the completion of the presentation. The online component will pose no issue as we currently conduct monthly webinars on different topics, which are well attended with delegates from all over the world.


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

There is a growing interest in how peer mentor programs can support students on the autism spectrum in their tertiary studies. This panel session responds to needs identified in a Tertiary Autism Mentoring Community of Practice for information on how to get a program off the ground. The panel features staff from three mentoring programs across Australia who will share their experiences of setting up and sustaining a successful program. Hear from Jasmine McDonald from Curtin University, Katy Lambert from University of Newcastle and Charlotte Brownlow from University of Southern Queensland discuss topics such as funding, gaining support from leadership, evaluation and feedback. This session is chaired by Debbie Hindle, from University of Tasmania’s Autism Mentoring Program.

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