Message from the CEO
We are coming to the end of 2021. It has been a truly exceptional year at Australian Network on Disability, and I could not be more impressed with all that we’ve achieved throughout the year.
I am so proud to have taken the reigns of such an amazing organisation. Despite challenging times, we have achieved so much. Our network is now over 350 members strong, and you have demonstrated your passion and commitment more than ever this year. This is evident by the largest participation of our programs and in the engagement with our services including our first-ever hybrid Annual Conference at the ICC Sydney, with record attendance along with a high number of engaged members attending our roundtables.
This year has also seen us develop our new branding and launch our new and accessible website, which is now more user-friendly than ever before. We also recently released our Annual Report and are in the process of putting the final touches on our new e-Learns before we release them.
I attended my first Australian Network on Disability Annual General Meeting (AGM), which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am pleased to report that we welcomed back Ainsley Barahona Santos, Belinda Curtis, Kevin Figueiredo and Peter Wilson AM as Directors who have been re-appointed to the Australian Network on Disability Board. Congratulations and well done to our Directors on being re-appointed for another three years. Thank you to everyone who nominated, it was an incredibly strong pool of candidates. We also extend our thanks to Sam Palmer for her outstanding leadership and support as Director since 2010. Sam has decided to retire from the Board due to work commitments.
At the AGM, we also had the pleasure of announcing our inaugural Life Membership Awards to AND founders – Suzanne Colbert AM, John Bennett OAM, Steven Bennett OAM and the late John Little. The Life Membership Award is a brand-new category of exemplary membership at AND. Awardees are selected based on two requirements:
- Sustained and exemplary contributions to the mission and objectives of AND
- Outstanding and nation-wide contribution to the mission of achieving a disability confident set of workplaces across Australia.
I would like to express my gratitude for our Awardees. As founders of Australia Network on Disability, they pioneered the path of equitable inclusion for all – and this award recognises them for their outstanding contributions.
Thank you to our network
This year couldn’t be as successful as it was if it wasn’t for you. During a time where it would have been all too easy to lose focus as lockdowns and restrictions rapidly evolved around us, you kept the momentum of disability inclusion going.
You recognised the importance of the equitable inclusion of people with disability and prioritised it. We are grateful to be working with the leading organisations across Australia, who are embedding disability inclusion as part of business-as-usual, as it should be.
As many of you are aware the end of 2021 sees Emily Matthews, our Member Experience Manager, take on the new role of motherhood.
With change comes the opportunity for both Amber Tratter to take on the new role of Strategic Development Manager and Emma Henningsen to take on the Member Experience Manager role until Emily returns in October 2022.
This may result in some Relationship Manager changes, but I can assure all our members that the great service and dedication from relationship managers will remain.
We are also saying farewell to our Finance and Operations Manager, Carolyn Ekins. Carolyn has done a huge amount of work over her past two years, completely revolutionising the way we work digitally. Carolyn will be deeply missed, but we wish her well on her new endeavors.
It has certainly been a big year; not only at AND, but for all of us. As the holiday season approaches, I sincerely hope you have an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, take some time to reflect, and most importantly, take some time to relax.
Australian Network on Disability will be enjoying some time off, as we shut down from Friday 17 December to Tuesday 4 January 2022.
As we look towards 2022 we have some exciting projects in the pipeline. Importantly, book Thursday 9 June 2022 for the Annual Conference which will include a pre-conference event on the evening 8 June. We are working on refining our Access and Inclusion Index, and we will be announcing an exciting leadership initiative in the new year for people with disability.
Wishing you all a safe, relaxing and re-energising holiday season,