End of year message from the CEO

2022 has been an outstanding year at Australian Network on Disability and I could not be prouder of our amazing network and all that we’ve achieved throughout the year.

Despite the ever-present threat of Covid, we experienced phenomenal growth in 2022 with 74 new members joining our network, taking our total number of member organisations to just over 400. Together our members employ more than 2.2 million Australians or 18 per cent of our national workforce.

Our members’ commitment to inclusivity is making very real difference to people with disability, as evidenced by their involvement and the record level of participation in all our ground-breaking programs, outlined in our annual report, which showcases how – together with our members and partners – we are changing the lives of so many Australians.

It was a transformative year for us as we increased our staff numbers from 22 to 39, streamlined our digital processes and launched 11 new e-learn modules with updated content and features to help businesses become disability confident.

We attracted a record attendance of more than 480 delegates at our annual conference and we look forward to seeing you all again at our 2023 conference at Hilton Sydney on June 6.

We were thrilled to host our inaugural Disability Confidence Awards the night before our conference, recognising organisations that have made systematic changes to their workplaces to become inclusive of employees and customers with disability, as well as recognising individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote disability inclusion in 2022.

The ABC’s Nas Campanella was named our Disability Inclusion Changemaker of the year; the NSW Department of Communities and Justice took out the Disability Employee Network of the Year award, and Westpac was the top performer in the Access & Inclusion Index.

I would like to thank the five long serving directors who left the board in 2022 including Samantha Palmer, treasurer Bronwyn Grantham, Travis Tyler, David Davies and Maryanne Diamond, who is leaving us to join the board of the NDIA.

We were delighted to have three new directors join our board: Susan Davies, Australia Post’s Executive General Manager People and Culture; Kate Eastoe, Woolworths’ Group Company Secretary & Group Counsel; and Alyson Tong, Arup Australasia’s Chief Financial Officer.

Australian Network on Disability’s commitment to our members, and to creating a disability confident Australia is unwavering. This year the board approved our 2022-2025 strategic plan which centres on excellence in four key areas – our members, our team capability, products and services, and reputation and advocacy.

To achieve our ambitious goals, we established a new organisational structure, created a new consultancy division and a strategic development team. We also created 9 new roles including more Relationship Managers to better serve and support our incredible members.

Emily Matthews returned from maternity leave to recommence her role as the Member Experience Manager. Emma Henningsen, who led the team in Emily’s absence, has taken up the newly created role of Consultancy Manager. These changes will help our members by providing in-depth experience and guidance across many areas including training, customer experience, premise reviews, recruitment and Access & Inclusion.

We also created a Strategic Development team led by Amber Tratter looking at developing pioneering projects and developing broader data and research. For the first time we undertook much-needed research into the employment of people with disability by asking our 400 members to respond to three short surveys on workplace adjustments, employment targets, the challenges of employing people with disability and the retention of people with disability.

We were overwhelmed by the response, and I am incredibly grateful to our many members who provided such valuable insights into the employment of people with disability. Read our initial survey findings.

Led by our newly appointed Research Officer Dr Jodi Lamanna, our team will be conducting further research in 2023 and we look forward to sharing our data.

2022 has been an exceptionally busy year and I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to our members, partners and all the exceptional organisations and individuals with whom we collaborate to break down barriers for people with disability.

I hope you enjoy a rest over the festive season. Our shut down is from Friday 16 December to Tuesday 3 January.

I wish you all a safe, happy and invigorating holiday season and I look forward to working with you in 2023.

Corene Strauss