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Day One - Tuesday, 3 September 2024


Registration and Welcome Coffee 


Welcome to Country


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Lauren Henley.jpg

Chairperson Introduction

Ross Joyce, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations  

Lauren Henley, Senior Advocate, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Laying The Foundation For Inclusive Employment


Keynote: How legislations, government policies and industry standards can be reformed to better support disability employment and inclusion

  • Explore strategies for governments to implement new policies that incentivize businesses to actively recruit and accommodate individuals with disabilities, fostering a more inclusive work environment

  • Discussing the role of industry standards in setting benchmarks for disability inclusion practices and prioritizing accessibility and accommodation measures

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Graeme Innes AM, Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner


Fostering an inclusive culture to support employees with disabilities

  • Establishing clear guidelines and policies to support the inclusion and advancement of employees with disabilities 

  • Incorporating flexible adjustments seamlessly into the workplace to accommodate diverse needs and abilities 

  • Implementing accessibility training for all employees to foster empathy and inclusion

  • Integrating universal design principles to ensure accessibility from the outset, enhancing organizational reputation and customer satisfaction

Image of Corene Strauss

Corene Strauss GAICD, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Disability Network


Networking Bingo


Morning Tea

Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Metrics, Measurements, And Technology


Leading workplace inclusion through human rights

  • Looking at how to meaningfully bring the human rights of people with disability into boardrooms and workplaces 

  • Examining how confidence in applying rights-based principles of equal participation and non-discrimination can create inclusive workplace cultures Highlighting ways of promoting inclusive employment through co-design, communities of practice and customised employment

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Siobhan Tierney, Director, IncludeAbility, Disability Rights Team, Australian Human Rights Commission 


Discussing methods and metrics for measuring the impact of disability inclusion initiatives

  • Providing tools for evaluation and organizations by demonstrating the business case for investing in disability inclusion

  • How conducting regular employee feedback surveys provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of disability inclusion initiatives, allowing organisations to make data-driven improvements

Harleen Oberoi

Harleen Oberoi, Group Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Talent, Crown Resorts


Interactive Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1: How can disability employment providers help employers achieve disability employment goals that promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and business success?

Breakout 2: Utilising disability provider services to match employees with disabilities to the perfect workplace environment and culture for their skills and personalities


Breakout 3: Understanding how customized job coaching programs can support individuals with disabilities in securing and maintaining employment



Advancing Employment through Inclusive Technology and Intersectional Strategies


How to deliver a ‘barrier free’ digital workplace for employees with disabilities

  • What are the attributes of a ‘barrier free’ digital workplace

  • What are benefits for all staff (particularly employees with disabilities) as well as the organisation?

  • How can AI play a role for good?

  • How can any organisation easily integrate accessibility into policies, key business processes, organisational culture, and management structures in a consistent, repeatable, and measurable fashion?

Greg Alchin

Greg Alchin, Principal Accessibility Specialist, Service NSW


Case Study: Exploring the intersectional challenges and opportunities within disability  employment

  • Recognising how various aspects of identity intersect with disability to influence employment experiences and opportunities

  • How to foster intersectional leadership and representation to ensure that decision-making processes are inclusive and responsive to intersectional concerns

  • Offering personalised support and accommodations that consider the experiences of employees with disabilities, recognising and addressing the multiple barriers they may face in the workplace  

Catherina Behan

Catherina Behan, Head of Group Diversity & Inclusion, Suncorp Group



Breakout Session A: Focusing on removing physical, attitudinal, and systemic barriers to employment for people with disabilities and implementing universal design in the workplace


Breakout Session B: Discussing strategies for creating an empowering and workplace inclusive leadership


Breakout Session C: Leveraging technology for accessibility and inclusion in the workplace

Emma Bennison, Chief Innovation Officer, Life Without Barriers 

Emma Bennison
Matt Ashby

Matt Ashby, Director Cloud Infrastructure Platforms; Agency ICT Services, National Disability Insurance Agency  


Afternoon Tea

Supporting Disability Employees


Building supporting structures and systems that empower employees while minimising hurdles

  • Fostering a flexible work environment that prioritises performance over rigid time-based measurements that promotes a healthier work/life balance for you employees

  • Discussing how a flexible approach can better cater to individual abilities and limitations, fostering a more inclusive and understanding workplace culture

  • Embracing diversity and fostering a supportive workplace where employees feel safe sharing their strengths and weaknesses, to provide opportunities for individuals to thrive based on their unique abilities

  • Encouraging organisations to adopt a purpose-driven approach that allows all employees to leverage their skills and work towards a fulfilling lifestyle

Mark Pietsch

Mark Pietsch, NSW Director, Physical Disability Australia


Fireside Chat: exploring how to support individuals, educate teams, and enhance inclusive pathways

  • Empowering Employees: As disclosures around ADHD rise, it's vital to equip our teams with knowledge and tools to support colleagues effectively throughout the employee lifecycle.

  • Role Design and Application: We're discussing how to leverage the strengths of individuals with ADHD by designing roles that align with their abilities, ensuring short-term success and long-term fulfillment.

  • Elevating Discussions: It's time to elevate the conversation to the board level, instituting quarterly discussions on action plans to foster a more inclusive environment and support neurodiverse talent effectively.

Lainie Cassidy

Lainie Cassidy, Director; People and Culture, KPMG


Building a business case to show the strategic advantage of neurodiversity in the workplace

  • How to convey the benefits of neurodiversity to senior leadership and decision makers 

  • Providing actionable insights on how neurodiverse individuals contribute to innovation, problem solving, and productivity

  • Implementing targeted outreach programs in increasing accessibility, and attracting neurodiverse talent

  • Exploring the benefits of collaborating with disability advocacy groups to build trust and access a pool of qualified candidates, enriching the talent pipeline and organizational culture

Catherine McNair

Catherine McNair, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing, QBE Insurance

Kimberley O'Reilly

Kimberley O’Reilly, Portfolio Manager, Technical & Specialty & QBE Pride Co-Lead, QBE Insurance


Chairperson’s Closing Address 


End of Forum Day One & Networking Drinks 

Day 2

Day Two - Wednesday, 4 September 2024


Registration and Welcome Coffee 


 Opening Address

Ross Joyce Headshot.jpg

Ross Joyce, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations  

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Lauren Henley, Senior Advocate, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Community And Stakeholder Engagement


Keynote Presentation: Equipping managers and organisations with practical strategies to support neurodivergent staff members in the workplace

  • Learn of the challenges faced by neurodivergent employees and how Yenn has overcome some of these challenges in the workplace

  • Uncover actionable strategies for managers and organisations to promote inclusion and diversity and accommodate to diverse needs of employees    

Yenn Purkis

Yenn Purkis, Author and autism advocate


Supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities through initiatives that enhance employment prospects and foster career advancement

  • Highlighting the significance of tailored skill development programs designed to enhance the employability and career readiness of individuals with intellectual disabilities

  • Ensuring individuals with intellectual disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities and can perform to the best of their abilities

  • Advocating for inclusive policies and practices within organisations to remove barriers to employment and promote equal opportunities

Catherine McAlpine

Catherine McAlpine, Chief Executive Officer, Inclusion Australian (National Council on Intellectual Disability)


Case Study: Westpac’s strategy and vision for integrating accessibility and inclusion into their corporate culture

  • Setting strategic roadmaps and working with business stakeholders and supply chain vendors to implement successful accessibility and inclusive initiatives  

  • Hearing success stories at Westpac and metrics demonstrating progress towards inclusion goals and how they set the roadmap for the future  

  • Learning and how to continuously improve and innovatively drive forward the corporate DNA  


Majella Knobel, Director; Access and Inclusion, Westpac 


Morning Tea

Employment Strategies and Practices


Entrepreneurship as the greatest untapped opportunity for diverse talent and your organisation

  • Supporting the long-term employment prospects, economic freedom and independence for people with disability

Anja Christoffersen

Anja Christoffersen, Chief Executive Officer, Women with Disabilities Entrepreneur Network


Inclusive disability employment projects and the key fundamentals of how to go about setting up successful disability inclusion initiatives

Amber o'shea

Amber O'Shea, Head of Strategy, Australian Disability Network 


Panel:  Exploring effective career pathways programs and disability advocacy initiatives

  • Insights from leading Australian organisations on structuring and executing career pathway initiatives (a look into the 18-month program)

  • Discussing the importance of collaborating with industry experts and disability advocates to ensure the success and relevance of career pathway programs

  • Exploring strategies for measuring the impact and success of the career pathways program, including tracing career progression, retention rates, and overall satisfaction of participants

  • Exploring the role and impact of the Australian Disability Network facilitated by the Business Council of Australia

Amber o'shea


Amber O'Shea, Head of Strategy, Australian Disability Network 


Marcelle Harrison

Marcelle Harrison, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Kmart & Target

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Josie Fakira, General Manager Organisation Development, Coles Group


Interactive Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1: Showcasing assistive technology solutions and tools that enhance workplace accessibility and productivity for individuals with disabilities

Breakout 2: Offering training programs focused on developing soft skills, communication, and confidence-building techniques essential for success in the workplace.


Breakout 3: Highlighting best practices for creating inclusive work environments that promote diversity, equity, and accessibility for employees with disabilities



Mental Wellbeing


Panel: Nurturing a Healthy Work Environment for Employees with Disabilities

  • Creating a supportive work environment that promotes the wellbeing of employees with disabilities

  • Implementing inclusive wellness programs that address the diverse needs of employees with disabilities, such as accessible fitness programs, mental health support services, and stress management workshops

  • Fostering social connections and a sense of belonging among employees with disabilities through networking events, peer support groups, and inclusive team-building activities

Matt Ashby

Matt Ashby, Director Cloud Infrastructure Platforms; Agency ICT Services, National Disability Insurance Agency  

Geoff Trappett

Geoff Trappett, Disability Inclusion Lead Australia & NZ, Woolworths Group

Courtney Pond

Courtney Pond, Group Inclusion & Diversity Manager, The NRMA

Chloe Rattray

Chloe Rattray, Global Lead; Amber Accessibility & Inclusion Network, BHP


Understanding the Wellbeing Needs of Employees with Disabilities

  • Discussing the unique wellbeing needs of employees with disabilities, including physical, mental, and emotional aspects, and the importance of tailoring support and resources accordingly

  • Discussing the importance of providing accessible healthcare benefits, including insurance coverage, preventive care services, and accommodations for medical appointments, to ensure equitable access to healthcare for employees with disabilities

  • Promoting work-life balance among employees with disabilities, such as flexible work arrangements, remote work options, and paid time off policies that accommodate medical appointments and caregiving responsibilities

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Disability Advocacy Network Australia


Afternoon Tea

Driving Inclusive Leadership and Career Advancement


Panel: Exploring inclusive workplace strategies and leadership development, with insights from Hotel Etico and Fairmont Resort’s collaborative efforts

  • Challenges, opportunities, and best practices in fostering inclusive workplaces and cultivating leadership among individuals with disabilities

  • Insights from Hotel Etico and Fairmont Resort into the collaborative approach to support career progression for individuals with disabilities

  • Discussing strategies implemented to create inclusive work environments, provide skill development opportunities and promote leadership growth

  • Hear examples of successful career advancement stories and the impact of the partnership on employee’s professional journeys

Andrea Comastri


Andrea Comastri, CEO and Co-founder, Hotel Etico


Saraya O'Connell

Saraya O’Connell, General Manager, Hotel Etico Australia

Charlie Young

Charlie Young, General Manager, The Fairmont Resort


Incorporating diverse voices and underrepresented challenges into inclusive policy to foster career advancement

  • Emphasize the significance of actively seeking input from diverse voices to inform policies, practices, and initiatives

  • Provide insights into the challenges and barriers faced by underrepresented groups

  • Develop strategies to promote career advancement opportunities

Mary Teague

Mary Teague, Director Access, Equity, and Inclusion, UNSW

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Caitlyn McLoughlin, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, UNSW


Chairperson’s Closing Address & End of Forum

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