Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: 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.


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 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.