Celebrating Ability, Creating Equity - Queensland Women's Week 2017

On Wednesday March 9th 2017, Equity Works gathered this dynamic group of women together (from left Martine, Kathryn, Sarah, Jamie, and Nicole) to address a group of Sunshine Coast business people on the topic of Celebrating Ability, Creating Equity.  Our speakers eloquently shared their stories and focussed in on the particular area of how their disability has contributed to their experiences, choices, challenges, and aspirations in the areas of employment, careers, business innovation and entrepreneurship.

We are pleased to acknowledge that this event was supported by the Queensland Government and YWCA Queensland through their Queensland Women's Week grants program. 

Our speakers successfully wowed the audience with their candour, their unique approach to any barriers they had faced and their determination to live life large.  Such was the response from the audience to the speakers that we are planning to offer a very similar opportunity to many more businesses during Disability Action Week later on this year.  We will hold the event again at Maroochy River Golf Club, as Charlie and Mark were wonderful hosts and the venue was very inviting and catered well for accessibility.

We chose the theme of Celebrating Ability, Creating Equity as we knew that people with disability in Australia face extraordinary challenges in securing meaningful employment and we also knew the incredible drive to succeed that was characteristic of many of the women with disability that we knew.  The unemployment rate for people with disability in Australia is about double that of people without disability and graduates with disability take more than 50% longer to gain full time employment than other graduates.

Sarah, a recent graduate from the University of the Sunshine Coast shared her wonderful sense of humour and talked passionately about her online venture - Out of the Box - currently in development.

Martine, a long time resident on the Sunshine Coast (via Perth and Paris) spoke eloquently about her life before and after she acquired a disability after a health event.   Martine left the audience in little doubt about the sharp intellect that she could apply in a flexible employment setting.

Our youngest speaker Jamie, shared her personal stories of employment, good and bad, with a lovely resolution in an employment position now that she loves and suits her strengths (and where she headed for a shift straight after the event).

Nicole, a current postgraduate student at the University of the Sunshine Coast contributed insight into the research she has undertaken as part of her studies.  Studies that now reach into the postgraduate realm with a focus on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Our final speaker of the day was Kathryn.  Kathryn is based in Brisbane and spoke to her passion and purpose of creating inclusive communities.  Kathryn is creating a range of initiatives that will contribute to integration of inclusive design in a range of public spaces.  Readers can visit her website Accessibiliti-t to learn more about the range of initiatives that Kathryn has been involved in and working on now.

Many of the audience provided feedback regarding their experiences of the day and have asked to be involved in engaging the business community in any future events.  We hope that a seed has been planted and opportunities for greater inclusion and participation can grow from continued initiatives that bring people with disability and our business community together.