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Captioning Diamond Sponsor


Silver Partner

Australian Government - Department of Education and Training

Conference Partner

University of Canberra

Australian National University

Australian Catholic University

Canberra Institute of Technology

Name Badges & Lanyards Partner


Water Bottle Partner

Sunnyfield disAbility Services


Canberra Youth Residential Service


Keynote Speaker

Mr Matt Brett

Mr Matt Brett is currently Senior Manager Higher Education Policy, La Trobe University

Matt Brett

Matt is also involved in a range of disability and equity related projects and recently co-edited Student Equity in Australian Higher Education: 25 Years of A Fair Chance For All (2016) and prepared the chapter which reviewed disability in Australian higher education since 1990 . He recently published The Role of Inherent Requirement Statements in Australian Universities, the first national audit of inherent requirements statements.

He previously worked at the University of Melbourne where he is responsible for a number of social inclusion and disability action plans, and was the principal architect of the award-winning University of Melbourne Mental Health Strategy. He co-convened the 2011 National Summit on the Mental Health of Tertiary Students.

In 2008 he was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for his work in disability services, and the development of live remote captioning services.

Ms Leanne Cover

CEO, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). Canberra

Leanne Cover

Leanne Cover is the Chief Executive Officer of the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), the largest government provider of vocational education and training institution in Canberra, the Australian capital, with more than 22,000 enrolments annually. CIT provides programs and services in a wide range of industry disciplines at Australian Qualifications Framework levels 1 – 7. Leanne has undertaken this role since February 2015.

Leanne has an extensive background in the education and training sector spanning almost 20 years, including senior leadership roles at the CIT and in the ACT Education and Training Directorate. Since beginning as a CIT teacher in 1996, Leanne has held numerous leadership positions within CIT, including Head of Department, General Manager Office of the Chief Executive and Executive Director Governance and Organisational Capability.

From 2010 – 2012 Leanne worked as a senior executive responsible for planning and coordination of vocational education and training in her role as Executive Director Training and Tertiary Education within ACT Education and Training. In 2013, she was appointed as the Deputy Director General of the ACT Education and Training Directorate. This portfolio included public schools, the regulation of early childhood education and care services, the registration of non-government schools and the planning and coordination of vocational education and training.

Leanne is passionate about education and training and achieving better social and economic outcomes for individuals and the community. As the CEO of CIT she is committed to ensuring CIT is a dynamic, connected and diverse vocational education and training provider, offering quality skills development to individuals, employers and industry in Canberra, Australia and globally. She is well known for her leadership in shaping vocational education and training policy to address skills development for entry level and existing workers and ensuring education and training responds to the demands and requirements of industry and the community.

Ms Jackie French

Jackie French

Jackie French AM is an author, historian, dyslexic and patron of literacy programmes across Australia with a wide and deep - if accidental- experience in learning differences and methods, and their outcomes for students, as well as a passionate advocate for equal educational opportunity. Her work has won over 60 awards in Australia and internationally. She was 2014-2015 Australian Children' Laureate; 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. She still can't spell.

Mr Craig Hamilton

Craig Hamilton

Craig started his career as a broadcaster with ABC Radio in 1994. Since then he has covered Rugby League, Rugby Union and cricket at international level as a commentator. Craig is probably best known as a member of the "Grandstand" Rugby League commentary and has worked on the past 17 Grand Finals, State of Origin series and a number of Test Matches.

Craig was born and raised in the Hunter Valley town of Singleton and spent 16 years working as an underground coalminer in the Newcastle area before embarking on a radio career fulltime in 1999. In 1991 Craig represented the Newcastle and NSW Country cricket teams, and played against the touring Sri Lankan team.

In the year 2000, on the eve of the Sydney Olympic Games where he had been assigned to work as a broadcaster, Craig experienced a psychotic episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He spent 12 days in hospital and, since his recovery, has become one of Australia's most high profile speakers on Mental Health and Lifestyle.

In 2004 Random House released his highly acclaimed memoir "Broken Open" which gives a very personal account of living with Bipolar Disorder.
In July 2012, Allen and Unwin will release his second book "A Better Life"
Craig is now a much sought after motivational speaker around Australia who tells what it's like to battle a serious illness.

In sharing his story and experiences he offers hope to others.

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Australian National University

Marnie Hughes-Warrington

Professor Hughes-Warrington's key aim is to make ANU a world-leader in education innovation, including strengthening local and global connections in curriculum and education commercialisation.

She is an active researcher, with six books and $18 million in grants to her name. She was a key driver with the head of Philanthropy in developing the Tuckwell program and has a particular interest in providing support for outstanding students and citizens from any background to reach their full potential.

She is Chair of the Tuckwell Scholarships Board, the Freilich Foundation Board, National Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships for Australia and a member of the Office for Learning and Teaching's Expert Advisory Group.

Associate Professor Michele Fleming

Dean of Students and Director, Student Engagement Directorate at the University of Canberra

Michele Fleming

Associate Professor Michele Fleming PhD, MAPS is a former psychology academic and is now the Dean of Students and Director, Student Engagement Directorate at the University of Canberra. Michele’s role encompasses the development and management of initiatives, programs and policies designed to support and improve the student experience. Michele also has responsibility for the University’s student support services and its widening participation strategy and programs. Michele publishes in the areas of equity and outreach and has been awarded number of competitive grants to conduct a range of outreach programs to assist with breaking down barriers to higher education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from low socio-economic status backgrounds.

Ms Drisana Levitzke-Gray

Drisana Levitzke-Gray

Drisana Levitzke-Gray is the recipient of the 2015 Young Australian of the Year Award in recognition of her passion and dedication in advocating for the human rights of deaf people, raising awareness about Auslan (Australian Sign Language), and the right of deaf children in Australia to access Auslan from birth. Currently self-employed as a motivational speaker, Auslan and accessibility consultant, she also works for Woolworths as a Workplace Advocate, serving voluntarily on a number of committees, and recently qualified as a Deaf Interpreter.

Drisana is the embodiment of the concept of ‘deaf gain’, not ‘hearing loss’, inspiring the Deaf community, and encouraging the wider community to accept diversity.

Drisana was the first Deaf Auslan user to fulfil her civic duty as a juror, the first person to deliver a TEDx talk in Auslan and consistently promotes a positive image of deafness, which states loudly and proudly: “It’s OK to be deaf”.

Ms Jessica May

CEO, Enabled Employment

Jessica May

Ms Jessica May is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the innovative web based Enabled Employment, which is a labour hire company for people with a disability and Australian Defence Force veterans wounded by their service. Enabled Employment is unique in Australia and possibly the world with its approach of using flexible arrangements to enable highly capable people with a disability and veterans to find productive and well-paid employment.
Enabled Employment is a commercial private entity with an entirely new approach to eliminating barriers to employment for people with a disability. The company uses multiple innovative elements including the use of remote work, the employment agency business model and the latest cloud technology to make finding suitable work and suitable employees easy for both employers and employees.

Jessica’s CV is impressive, and includes the Prime Minister’s Award and the Innovation Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management, the Medicare Australia Achieving Excellence Award, and she was a recipient of the Robert Perry Memorial Scholarship at the Canberra Institute of Technology. She was also recognised by the Australia Day Council with an Achievement Medallion in 2007 during her tenure as a public servant, and achieved her Diploma of Software Development, Diploma of Project Management, and a Graduate Diploma in Public Sector Management.

She and the business were a finalist in the Canberra BusinessPoint Awards in 2014, won the ACT Australian Web Industry Award for Best Commercial Website, and the 2014 ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award for Excellence in Innovation.
In 2015, Jess won the Optus’ Your Shark Tank competition, the StartupSmart Startup Hero Award, launched a sister site for Australian Defence Force veterans with the not-for-profit Soldier On Australia to provide job opportunities for veterans and their families, won the ACT iAward Startup category, became a finalist in the ACT Telstra Business Awards, won the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Award for Startups, and went on to win the National Telstra Business Women’s Award for Startups in 2015. Jessica received a National Disability Award from the Minister for Social Services in November 2015 for Excellence in Community Accessibility. The business also won the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Graeme Innes AM Award Disability Employment Award 2015 against Australia Post, the Commonwealth Bank and Crown Resorts.

Overview of Presentation

Presentation Title
It’s time for some common sense when employing people with a disability.


Let’s get back to thinking about people with disabilities as a person, a human, a human with hopes and dreams, a human that can tell you what they need rather than you making assumptions for them.

One thing I really struggle with is the demand for people to know ‘diagnostic labels’. What does it matter if Joe Bloggs has Multiple Sclerosis or Jane Doe has a mental illness? My thoughts are that once you know what a person’s diagnostic label is you start making assumptions about what that means.

When I disclosed my disability at my former workplace, the assumptions started, no one wanted to get me stressed, no one wanted to overburden me, no one wanted to ‘set me off’. So you know what happened? I was given nothing to do, given no staff and then avoided at all costs and cut out of the loop on the business of the branch. This was the worst possible thing for me, and my mental health spiralled out of control until I approached suicide.

Fortunately for me, Enabled Employment sprung up in my head and was my saving grace. But, you know what my answer would have been if I had been asked? Give me more work, give me more staff, give me things that are challenging and stress me out! Because, if I’m worrying about those things I have no time to be anxious and I will get better!

Every single disability affects a person in a different way, we are all individuals and disability doesn’t discriminate. In fact it is the only minority group you can join at any stage in your life.

So, why are people barraging businesses with information about everything that can go wrong when a person with a disability starts working with them? People with a disability are statistically less likely to have something go wrong than their peers so why do we set them up for low expectations or failure? Why can’t we just ask what they need? Treat them like the human being that they are, and cut out the fear and assumptions.

What we all need to do is just apply the principles of common sense. Flexibility in a role should be a given unless there are operational requirements that make it impossible. Not only is this good for people with disabilities it’s good for everyone.

Have you asked your employee’s what they need to perform the best that they can in their role?

Ms Darlene McLennan

Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND) President

Darlene McLennan

Darlene is the National Disability Coordination Officer for Northern Tasmania. She has been in this position for over 11 years. The program is hosted by the University of Tasmania in Launceston. She is also the manager of the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training ( Darlene feels her role at ADCET compliments the key objectives of her NDCO role, which are to improve linkages, improve transitions and improve participation for people with disability in post-secondary education. Darlene is also the retiring President of the Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND), which is the peak professional organisation for Disability Practitioners in the post-secondary education sector. She has enjoyed her time as president immensely and encourages everyone within the sector to connect with the organisation. Darlene enjoys the engagement and enthusiasm from the Disability Practitioners across the sector who are so committed to ensuring the participation of people with disability in further education. She has completed her Masters of Business with the University of Tasmania and has a post-graduate degree in Careers Education through RMIT.

Mr David Miller

Director, Skills Canberra

David Miller

David is responsible for the provision of strategic advice and management of vocational education and training (VET) and higher education in the ACT. This includes administering territory and national funds for a variety of programs addressing skills development for entry level and existing workers, as well as adult community education.

David’s ongoing commitment to the public service and the vital role VET plays in the economic prosperity and social engagement of the ACT is recognised across the jurisdiction.

David joined the ACT Public Service in 2009 after gaining extensive social policy experience in the Victorian Public Service in the Health and Justice portfolios, and recently completed his Executive Masters of Public Administration with the Australian and New Zealand School of Government and Australian National University.

David has four daughters and spends any spare time watching Peppa Pig rather than football.

Overview of Presentation

ACT Government Access and Equity in VET Strategic Framework and Action Plan 2016-17

David Miller will discuss the development of the ACT Government’s Access and Equity in Vocational Education and Training (VET) Strategic Framework and Action Plan 2016-17. The ACT Government is committed to increasing the level of workforce participation and providing the support an individual experiencing disadvantage or disengagement may need to gain skills that lead to employment or other meaningful engagement in society. This includes consideration of strategies and performance indicators to ensure the needs of all people are addressed. To achieve this commitment, better integration of services at the local level and more targeted sharing and distribution of information about available services are critical.

David will discuss the progress of a project to review existing ACT Government policy and to construct an evidence-based rationale for change. The project will work across ACT Government to identify issues affecting access and equity and to assist policy makers to understand prioritised areas for action in a coordinated way.

Mr Richard Nicholson

Senior Consultant, Athlete Pathways and Development, Australian Institute of Sport, Australian Sports Commission

Richard Nicholson

Having lost the use of his legs at age 4 through illness, Richard grew up attending mainstream education in the ACT. Richard has been involved in sport since age 10, first beginning in archery then at the request of a high school PE teacher he began training and competing in mainstream Gymnastics.

Over 30 years later Richard’s sporting journey now includes five Paralympics Games, six World Championships, three Commonwealth Games and many other competitions, marathons and road races around the world across two different sports , powerlifting and athletics.

Professionally, Richard worked full-time at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 11 years between 1988 and 1999, before leaving to study full-time at the University of Canberra for a degree in Sports Management.

After graduating in 2002 Richard began working at the Australian Sports Commission.

Through his work at the Australian Sports Commission. He has delivered hundreds of ‘inclusive sport workshops’ and had the opportunity to present at many national and international conferences speaking on the importance of including people with disability in sport and active recreation.

Richard now works in the Australian Institute of Sport managing a national talent transfer program as part of the Australia’s Winning Edge strategy.

Ms Sue Salthouse

Sue Salthouse

Ms Sue Salthouse has worked in the area of social justice and human rights since 1996. She is particularly concerned about how the intersecting issues of gender and disability discrimination affect women with disabilities.

Sue is convenor of Women with Disabilities ACT, a systemic advocacy organisation which bases activities on principles delineated in the Human Rights conventions ratified by Australia. She is a Director of Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE) and Rights & Inclusion Australia and immediate past-chair of Advance Personnel (Disability Employment Service). In 2015-16 she was the ACT representative on the COAG Advisory Panel on reducing violence against women and their children. She is a member of the governing Council of the University of Canberra and Co-Chair of the ACT Disability Expert Panel.

Sue was announced as the ACT Senior Woman of the Year 2014, a finalist in Australian of the year in 2015, and was the 2015-16 ACT Citizen of the Year.

Overview of Presentation

Why do students undertake tertiary education? We could point to an altruistic desire for knowledge and skills for their own sake, or a need to meet the expectations of the family, or partially a desire to acquire status in our communities - but realistically the aspiration for tertiary qualifications is to improve their chances in the workforce. Students with disabilities, facing significant barriers to workforce entry, have heightened need for a tertiary ticket. Your work is to enhance this pathway. Thus, a focus on employment outcomes for these students is one measure that we could take of your success. What is the best way to support students with disabilities to ensure successful completions and transition to the workforce? Is assisting that transition part of the job, or is it peripheral? Do the Education Standards help or hinder your work, and will the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have any effect on making transitions more successful?

Master of Ceremonies

Genevieve Jacobs

Genevieve Jacobs

Genevieve Jacobs always wanted to be a journalist, but she took the scenic route to her present position as an ABC presenter. She learned her trade on the Cootamundra Herald covering everything from sheep sales to darts tournaments and won the Country Press Association’s EC Sommerlad Award for best coverage of a local news story for her work on a devastating bushfire.

As a freelancer, Genevieve has written for national arts and gardening magazines including Country Style, Art & Australia and Your Garden. She co-ordinated Australia’s Open Garden Scheme in Southern NSW and the ACT, served on the national editorial committee for the Scheme’s guidebook and was team leader for NSW. She has lectured widely on Australian artists and their gardens, speaking at venues including the National Gallery and Sydney Botanic Gardens.

Since 2006, Genevieve has worked for 666 ABC Canberra, moving from weekend programming to her present role as the Mornings presenter. It’s a challenge she has attacked with relish, providing her with the opportunity to expand her interests in politics and current affairs, history, the arts and the environment. Genevieve’s trademark is a strong connection with local issues, and a warm, well informed and humorous presentation style.

She has been widely involved in community events in Canberra as a guest speaker, facilitator and MC. Genevieve is patron or board member of a number of ACT non-profits including Gift of Life, the Asthma Foundation, the Friends of the Old Parliament House Rose Gardens and Open Gardens Australia NSW/ACT.

Genevieve is married with four children, and lives on a family farm on the South West Slopes of NSW. She loves nothing more than a good yarn and the chance to discover people’s stories.

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