Disability employment (support and assistance; employer engagement; access; workforce participation rates; career development; and Public Service employment) is addressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, specifically Article 27. The new DES programme alone cannot be Australia’s response to Article 27. Disability employment encompasses much more that DES, whether that be the NDIS, ADEs, programmes that may appear through the Mental Health reforms, State based programmes, jobactive and the 250,000 people who aren’t accessing employment assistance even though it is their right to do so. This panel, featuring Peter Broadhead from DSS, Peter De Natris from NDIA, Suzanne Colbert from AND and Therese Campbell from The Work Focus Group will look beyond DES as you are familiar with it to the new DES and beyond to ask the question, how can we lift participation rates of people with disability? Should employers have a more central role? Should people with disability take the wheel? How can instruments like workplace modifications and Work Assist be utilised much more than they are to provide access and build awareness? Continuity of best practice (something old) and optimism for the future based on reinvigorated engagements (something new) is the order of the day. This Panel will look through the evidence to the policy and into practices that this sector can adopt to bring forward a bright future of disability employment.
Disability Employment Australia
Rick has worked in the disability employment sector since 1996. He became Disability Employment Australia’s CEO at the start of 2015.
He began his career at the Salvation Army, first as an Employment Consultant, and later a Manager of the Disability Employment program. He went on to be the Executive Officer at Workforce and then worked at WISE Employment for ten years as the Policy Advisor.
Rick has seen multiple changes to the structure of disability employment, including the introduction of case based funding, the adoption of different assessment models and the program operate to a performance and compliance framework. Through it all, person-centred assistance, ongoing support and the Disability Service Standards have been integral to best practice and outcomes.
Rick’s work focus is policy development in relation to disability employment services in the Australian and international environment. He represents the sector’s best practice to government, disability advocates, employers and academics. Rick has a Bachelor of Education.
Branch Manager, Disability Employment Services Branch
Department of Social Services
Peter Broadhead is the manager of the Disability Employment Services (DES) Branch in the Department of Social Services. Since April 2016, the branch also has responsibility for building on the work of the Disability Employment Taskforce, to provide advice to government on options for DES beyond the expiry of the current arrangements in June 2018, and any related initiatives to address increased employment opportunities for people with disability in the open labour market.
Peter first came to DES about two years ago, commencing as the manager of the DES Policy and Performance Branch in late August 2015. His responsibilities for DES were extended in February 2016, with the addition of eligibility and assessment, employer engagement and participant’s services. He has worked in departments of health and social policy in two states and the Commonwealth for about 30 years, at senior executive levels for the last 25.
Suzanne Colbert AM
Australian Network on Disability (AND)
Suzanne is the founding Chief Executive of the Australian Network on Disability (AND). Her goal in starting the organisation was to advance the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of business by collaborating with Australia’s leading businesses.
AND has a team of 18 specialist staff who work together to deliver consultancy services, information and facilitated learning to more than 180 member organisations. AND is regarded as the ‘go to’ organisation for employers wanting to progress the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of their business.
Under Suzanne’s leadership, AND has initiated many innovative supports for employers including publications, policies, learning and development sessions, and programs such as the ground-breaking Stepping Into™ paid internship program which has been enjoyed by more than 800 university students with disability.
Suzanne commenced her work in the disability sector over 27 years ago, assisting people with significant disability into well paid and sustainable jobs. She then became founding General Manager of a high performing Disability Employment Service and founding Chair of the national peak body representing employment services for people with disability.
Her significant experience combined with her foresight to create systemic change, has led her to participate in many advisory groups to Federal and State Governments as well as participate as a ‘Field Expert’ for the International Labor Organisation’s Global Business and Disability Network.
In 2010, Suzanne was awarded an AM in the Australia Day Honours list. In 2013, she was inducted into Disability Employment Australia’s Hall of Fame, and was included in the AFR/Westpac 2013 100 Women of Influence. Suzanne is also a member and of Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Peter De Natris
Strategic Advisor to the NDIA
National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)
Peter’s current role is as a strategic adviser to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). His focus is on early childhood and early intervention and economic participation for NDIS participants.
In his current role he is focusing on key areas of Scheme Design and Approach which recognise the shift from the current program based systems to an Insurance scheme based on markets that need to be developed and supported so that best practice can be enabled and continuous improvement encouraged.
Peter has worked in, around and with all levels of Government on policy and strategy to improve outcomes for people with disability in employment. Driven by a passion to see the Australian commitment to economic independence of people with disability and the potential of these people realised, he recognises the potential of the NDIS as the game changer.
Prior to his current role Peter had 12 years with Ageing, Disability and Home Care, in NSW as a Regional Director in Southern NSW and the Executive Director.
Managing Director and Principal Consultant
Australian Strategic Services
A visionary, a strategist, a big picture thinker, Michael is widely known and acknowledged throughout Australia by directors, CEOs and executives of community businesses (NFPs) for his unique facilitation processes, his comprehensive understanding of the emerging and future trends of disability, mental health, aged care, hospital and health care, and related human service industries/sectors.
Examples of Michael’s specialisation and key achievements are:
• Continually focused on the big shifts and exploring the emerging opportunities that aren’t yet on directors, chief executive officers and executives’ agendas, but ought to be
• Facilitation, development and project management of governance, strategy, business development, amalgamation, merger and partnership projects
• Worked with over 6,000 boards, chief executive officers and senior management teams of community businesses, in all states of Australia over the last 26 years
• Approximately sixty to sixty-five per cent of projects are with stand-alone organisations, in particular in rural, regional and remote Australia
• Originally qualifying in disability, he has a comprehensive understanding of disability and has worked with a significant number of disability, disability employment, mental health and related organisations.
Group Manager Government and Stakeholder Relations
Work Health Group
Thérèse has worked in employment services and occupational rehabilitation for 25 years, initially as a Case Manager, then moving into management and a range of executive roles, predominantly in the areas of strategy, business development and stakeholder engagement
Thérèse is an Occupational Therapist, with post graduate qualifications in Management from the University of Western Australia and the Australian Graduate School of Management. She has 16 years’ experience as a board director at the WorkFocus Group, including a six year period as Chairman, and has completed the Company Directors course at the Australian Institute of Company Directors.