Inaugural meeting of Melbourne Disability Champions

Wed 30 August 2017

Champions and staff smiling at the Melbourne roundtable

The Australian Network on Disability (AND) was proud to hold its first ever Melbourne meeting of Disability Champions’ this month, generously hosted by ANZ.

Christine Linden, Disability Champion for ANZ, opened the event by providing a brief overview of ANZ’s Accessibility and Inclusion Plan and talked about their sponsorship of the Attitude Foundation as a way to influence a positive community attitude towards people with disability.

Senior executives from Kmart, Victoria Department of Premier and Cabinet, Medibank, Cummins South Pacific, DFP Recruitment, Victoria Police, Ashurst, NAB, and the Victorian Disability Services Commissioner, Laurie Harkin AM, talked about progress within their own organisations and their areas of interest.

Topics of discussion included workforce mental health and wellbeing, inclusive advertising, position descriptions, ‘two-door’ recruitment approaches, website accessibility, and the importance of internal influencing. It was agreed that future meetings will feature one or two of these topics in detail and draw more deeply on the experience of members.

Champions gathered around the table at ANZ

Members shared their experience of AND’s Stepping Into internship program and said they are consistently impressed by the high calibre of interns and the power of the program as a tool for cultivating an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.

AND’s Chief Executive, Suzanne Colbert AM, talked about her top three ‘must do’s’ for disability champions:

  • Know the ‘why’: Knowing your ‘organisation’s why’ connects people and gives them purpose and passion.
  • Knowing the ‘what happens when’: What happens when an employee, a candidate or customer needs something done differently to accommodate their disability.  Get an understanding of how quickly and effectively your organisation makes adjustments.
  • Connect with employees and/or customers with disability: They are the key to your journey to be a disability confident organisation.

One of the disability champions present said that he would add another ‘must do’ to the list – 'know the roadmap’. Suzanne and the champions agreed that this was a wise addition.

Suzanne brought attention to some global opportunities in which AND members are invited to participate. Business Disability International (BDI) and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) are piloting an accessible ICT procurement tool, free of cost. Organisations interested in participating in the pilot should contact Suzanne.

The 2017 Harkin Summit in Washington, DC will take place on November 2 and 3. Last year a delegation of six attended from Australia. It was a fantastic opportunity to link with diverse stakeholders from across the globe to hear about how corporations, governments, NGOs and philanthropists are working together to make global progress on employment of people with disability.

We know from experience that it’s particularly powerful when senior leaders come together to discuss the progression of disability inclusion. AND holds Disability Champions meetings in Canberra, Sydney and now Melbourne. Meetings provide a platform for senior executives to share valuable experiences and engage in conversations with like-minded leaders who are progressing access and inclusion for people with disability within their organisations. They prove an opportunity to:

  • Hear about other organisations’ successes and challenges.
  • Keep informed of employee/customer and community expectations.
  • Stay abreast of contemporary information and relevant research.
  • Influence how AND supports large complex organisations, such as yours, to welcome people with disability in all aspects of business.

Our next Disability Champions event will be in Sydney later this year. If you are unsure whether your organisation has provided details about your organisation’s disability champion, please discuss with your Relationship Manager or contact Rebecca Charlton on 02 8270 9200 or

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