People with Disability Australia created Advancing Women as a project that seeks to improve outcomes for women, girls, feminine-identifying and non-binary people with disability in Australia across leadership representation and workforce participation and safety.
We look to break down the barriers to participation in leadership and decision-making roles, creating access and opportunities for women with disability who are ready and willing to lead.
As Australia makes great strides to improve the safety and representation of women and other minorities in the workplace, we cannot leave women with disability behind. Now is the time to raise the voice and stories of women with disability; to learn from them to advance our representation and engagement in leadership roles and ensure the sustainability of our employment and our safety in the workplaceNicole Lee, PWDA President
The project team, advisory group and co-design advisory panel comprise women and gender-diverse people with lived experience and subject matter expertise from regional and metro areas. This guidance leads to a genuine understanding of barriers and enablers to leadership representation.
Our Co-Design Advisory Panel comprises women with lived experience as a woman, feminine-identifying or non-binary person with disability who are invested and passionate advocates for improving the outcomes for women with disability in leadership representation.
My lived experience impacted my self-esteem and confidence, especially when I struggled to process and retain information. I want to drive positive change and advocate for others who face similar challenges – accessible education is possible if inclusive practice is embedded from concept to delivery.Tazia Nagy, panel member
The Co-design Panel along with the Advancing Women Project team will be building both the educational and mentoring streams from the ground up. Alongside their lived experience they will:
- Use their knowledge and experience working with stakeholder groups including women with disability, educators and employers.
- Apply their expertise of developing and/or delivering training and education, mentoring, and conducting and analysing employment research at the intersection of gender and disability.
- Provide unique insights from a broad range of experience and expertise to ensure all deliverables and outputs are relevant, accessible and sustainable in that they meet the needs of those for whom they were designed.
- Ensure that project deliverables and outputs are led by women, feminine identifying and non-binary people with disability and the perspectives of the disability community are represented at all stages of the project.
Disability should not be a barrier to learning. It should not be a barrier to meaningful participation in the workforce. Education is a powerful instrument of social change, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to a project that will make a meaningful impact on outcomes for women, girls, feminine identifying and non-binary people with disabilities.Tazia Nagy, panel member
The Co-Design Panel is:
Amanda McCartney (she/her)
Amanda McCartney currently works as a Senior Project Officer at Safer Care Victoria within the Mental Health Improvement Program. She has experience from a number of roles in public mental health, Women with Disabilities Victoria, a HOPE program coordinator, and Victoria’s Department of Health – alongside lived experience as a NDIS psychosocial consumer and as a hearing-impaired consumer.
Anja Christofferson (she/her)
Anja is an award-winning disability advocate and social entrepreneur – empowering others who are facing adversity with the empathy and expertise she’s nurtured from her lifelong disability. At 22 years old, Anja founded Champion Health Agency – a world-first ‘talent agency for lived experience’, representing people with disabilities, chronic illness and carers to drive positive change. Anja has recently founded the Women with Disabilities Entrepreneur Network (WDEN) to foster a sustainable ecosystem that supports connected growth in entrepreneurial opportunities for her peers. Anja has spoken and modelled internationally, authored an autobiography ‘Behind the Smile’ and received the QLD Young Achiever of the Year Leadership Award in 2020. Combining an MBA (Health Services Management & Entrepreneurship) and her lived experience, Anja has consulted, co-led and engaged in projects across health, government, research, corporate and not-for-profit sectors.
April Lea (she/her)
April identifies as an autistic ADHDer and is working as a senior leader in tech. She is extremely passionate about helping other neurodivergent individuals gain access to meaningful, sustainable careers and focus on building greater acceptance and appreciation in society for neurodiversity.
Bernadette Cheesman (she/her)
Bernadette Cheesman is a woman with acquired brain injury, after meningitis and encephalitis. She is still discovering many of the manifestations and consequences of this. An activist and writer, Bernadette has been a member of, or connected with, several groups, including Brain Injury Matters (BIM), United Brains (UB), the Peace Education Project, Alternatives to Violence Program and the AMES home tutor program. Bernadette has concern for the broad band of disability rights, including advocating for proper accommodation for people with high needs disabilities. These people are often left to hotel or aged care facilities, rather than accommodation that provides for their needs.
Cathy Middleton (she/her)
Bio to come.
Sal Rogers (they/them)
The way that people with disability are treated and perceived needs to change. We need to engage people with authentic stories so that people can begin to understand their own privilege and address their subconscious bias regarding disability. We need to make space for workplaces to have these realisations and then actively work toward ensuring that highly skilled and capable leaders with disability are no longer discriminated against and overlooked.Sal Rogers
Clare Gibellini (she/her)
Clare has worked in the disability sector for 16 years and has lived experience of autism. She enjoys supporting others to advocate for themselves sharing her experience with disability rights and policy campaigns ensuring we remain intrinsic to the decision-making process at the intersection of employment and disability. As a skilled trainer in person-first practices, Clare has developed programs to support people with disability to become self-employed or to run their own small business. She works for an organisation that has a peer support project and volunteers for the South West Autism Network, Outback Academy Australia and the Red Dust Heelers. Clare is passionate about protecting the rights of people with disability in all areas of life and enjoys enabling leadership opportunities for people with disability.
Dr Jannine Williams (she/her)
Dr Jannine Williams is a senior lecturer in human resource management at QUT. Her research interests include the development and organisation of socially responsible work which meets the needs of individuals, groups, and organisations. This focus is developed through a concern for the meaning and experiences of work and how work practices can be developed to be inclusive and create value. She explores these interests through the intersections of:
- The experiences of people with disability in the workplace, and conceptual and theoretical constructions of disability and ableism
- Gender and the experiences of women in the workplace, and media representations of women professionals and leaders
Kausar Sreckov (she/her)
Kausar Banu Sreckov is a distinguished HR Director and tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities. With an impressive 6-year track record in various sectors, including NDIS, she is passionate about fostering inclusivity within the workplace. As a visionary leader, Kausar has been instrumental in implementing innovative solutions to enhance productivity and talent management across organisations. She truly believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive professionally. Kausar’s commitment goes beyond her day-to-day work – she actively participates in panel discussions and conferences, advocating for a more employable future for all women with disabilities. Her dedication is evident through her contributions to EEON’s annual meeting and PWD Australia events. She is also a member of several organisations dealing with people with disabilities, such as Enabled VIP, PDCN, Australian Network on Disability, We Are Billion Strong and the United Nations. She’s not just building careers; she’s shaping futures!
Maddie Nicholas (she/her)
Madeleine is a small business owner. Her company LightenUp teaches adolescents how to advocate for themselves and uphold healthy boundaries. She has worked in the disability sector for several years intending to improve life for those in my community. Maddie is looking forward to working with PWDA and helping to improve things for those in the disability community.
Natalie Elliott (she/her)
Natalie lives on unceded Bundjalung Country and lives with the complexities of disability. Natalie is a former teacher with 20 years experience, educating from preschool to year 12, across NSW, the NT and QLD, often in very remote areas. Natalie has specialised in working with children with disabilities and from trauma backgrounds, as well as supporting their families. She is passionate about creating change, both in the lives of the people she works with, and in the systems that create barriers for people with disabilities. Natalie is in the process of a career change and is studying post graduate psychology and counselling. She runs a small business, called Empowering Pathways, which focuses on advocacy, mental health, collaboration and capacity building. When she has finished her studies, Natalie intends to continue working in the disability, mental health, employment, advocacy and empowerment spaces with young people and families.
Rachel Lamb (she/her)
Rachel Lamb is (soon to be) the Senior Emergency Preparedness Advisor at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Developed and emboldened through 20 years’ experience in emergency management leadership roles, Rachel is a strong and unwavering advocate for women and people with disability. She has been a co-chair for the Victorian Government Department of Justice and Community Safety Enablers Network – a group aimed at partnering with, advocating for, and improving the workplace for people with disability. Rachel is motivated by empowering others, encouraging inclusive practices and in seeing diverse workplaces that truly reflect the community.
Tazia Nagy (she/her)
Tazia was diagnosed with ADHD and Complex PTSD in her mid-twenties. She holds a Diploma in Educational Studies and am continuing further study to support her career in the public service, where she works providing ministerial support and policy advice. She is a single mother of two children and lives on Wiradjuri Country in Central West NSW.