Fuelling new ideas in the disability sector

Flinders staff (from left) Dr Julie McMillan from the School of Education, and disability advisers Paula Williams and Toni Crisci at Pathways 11

Inspirational survivor of the 2005 London bombings, Dr Gill Hicks – who lost both legs from below the knee – delivered on Wednesday the opening keynote address of Pathways 11, the three-day conference of the Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND).

The conference, which has been organised biennially throughout Australia for the past 20 years, is being held at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

ATEND is the peak body for service providers and consumers concerned with the education and employment needs of people with disabilities in post-secondary education in Australia.

The organising committee for Pathways 11 comprises disability practitioners from Flinders University, UniSA, the University of Adelaide, TAFESA, and National Disability Coordination Officers in South Australia.

Paula Williams, disability advisor in Flinders University’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services, said the Pathways conference was the primary professional development opportunity for disability practitioners throughout Australia and is always well-attended.

“The Australian Government’s vision of a socially inclusive society is one in which all Australians feel valued and have the opportunity to participate fully,” Ms Williams said.

“The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 require all educational institutions to ensure they provide appropriate supports for students with disabilities so they can achieve their educational goals, and participate equitably in society through improved employment and financial outcomes,” she said.

“The conference seeks to do this in practical and meaningful ways. For example, disability advisors and teaching staff from each university – including Dr Julie McMillan from Flinders School of Education – ran pre-conference workshops specifically for disability practitioners who are new to the role.

Pathways 11 will provide opportunities to stimulate new ideas, review current practice and policy, and network with local and international colleagues.”

Flinders University is proud to be a gold sponsor of Pathways 11, supplying a barista for the three days, Ms Williams said, “to ensure delegates have the very best coffee service”.

South Australian Member of the Legislative Council, The Honorable Kelly Vincent, Dignity for Disability party, opened yesterday’s proceedings and other guest speakers at the conference include Professor Sally Kift, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University, and Arana Pearson, Director of Keepwell Ltd.

“It has taken the committee two years of hard work and dedication to develop what we feel will be a fabulous experience for delegates!” Ms Williams said.

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