Media Release: Westpac Committed to Advancing Women with Disability in the Workplace

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has tentatively welcomed today’s announcement that all levels of government will delay their formal response to the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) until mid-2024.

Westpac has signed on as the pilot partner for People with Disability Australia’s (PWDA’s) Advancing Women Project which will assist in creating workplaces where employing, retaining and developing women* with disability is business as usual.

Women with disability often face multiple barriers to career progression. PWDA’s Advancing Women Project was launched on International Women’s Day 2023 to break down barriers to participation in leadership and decision-making roles for women with disability.  

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) President Marayke Jonkers believes too often women with disability are underrepresented, overlooked, undervalued and not given the opportunity to get ahead in the workplace.  

“Since launching our project 12 months ago, we have spoken with hundreds of women and gender diverse people with disability. They’ve outlined the many barriers we face in accessing work and decision-making opportunities.  

“We are ready and willing to lead – but we need organisations to step up and make some changes to create a safe working environment for us,” she said.  

The multi-faceted program is designed to ensure organisations that are committed to employing and developing pathways to leadership for women with disability, have the tools to support them to thrive in their workplace.  

The program promotes a safe working environment for participants and their mentors through the delivery of a practical and targeted suite of training and education resources. Participants and their mentors also benefit from ongoing individual support through PWDA’s community of practice.  

Ms Jonkers commended Westpac for taking the lead and showing other businesses how important these changes are for inclusive and accessible workplaces to be the norm for women with disability right across the country.  

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) CEO Sebastian Zagarella also applauds Westpac’s commitment to the Advancing Women Project which is a significant milestone for the initiative.

Mr Zagarella said, “By taking part in this initiative, Westpac is demonstrating that businesses can make a meaningful, positive impact in advancing social change. Their commitment to being part of the solution is game-changing.”

The Advancing Women Pilot Project is funded under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program (WLDP) administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.

 Padma Raman PSM, Executive Director, Office for Women said “We’re focused on better outcomes for all women, but especially those who experience additional barriers to being treated equally, including women with disability. I believe that getting policy and practice right for the most marginalised serves the whole population. This pilot program funded under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program is helping to address the additional and intersectional barriers women with disability face in participating in the workforce and securing their economic equality”.   

Westpac has signed on as the program’s pilot partner for 12 months, seeing it as an ideal opportunity to lead the way in closing the gaps and breaking down barriers for women with disability at work.

Christine Parker, Westpac’s Group Executive, Human Resources said “At Westpac we have a long and proud history of advocating for women and championing accessibility and disability inclusion. Our focus is on creating an inclusive workplace where all our employees feel valued, respected and safe. This program is a positive step in the right direction to break down barriers and elevate women with disability in leadership.”

Ruth Bonser, Chair of Westpac’s ABLE Employee Advocacy Group for disability and carers, said the partnership is an example of how organisations can be a part of the solution.  

“I am a woman with a disability and recognise the complex barriers far too many of us face in our professional lives. I am thrilled Westpac is getting behind a program that provides the support, guidance, solidarity and opportunities that we need to grow and thrive as leaders.  

“Supporting women with disability into leadership positions isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. It strengthens our decisions, our resilience and our capacity for a deep understanding of our customers,” she said.

For more information about People with Disability Australia’s Advancing Women Project, please visit  

*Gender diverse, feminine-identifying, and non-binary people with disability   

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