Qld Disability Advocacy Conference

Building connection and capabilities

Conference Program

Day one – June 21

Registration and morning tea

9:00 – 10:00am

Registrations close at 9:45am.

Welcome to Country

10:00 – 10:15am

Welcome to Country by Songwoman Maroochy.

Followed by housekeeping with Master of Ceremonies and disability advocate, Elly Desmarchelier.

Sector overview

10:30 – 11:30am

Brief presentations from:

  • Max Wise – Dept. of Child Safety, Seniors and Disability Services
  • Caitlin de Cocq van Delwijnen – Queensland Independent Disability Advocacy Network (QIDAN)
  • Jenny Smith – Capricorn Citizen Advocacy (CCA)
  • Miia Tolvervan – People with Disability Australia (PWDA)

Facilitated networking

11:30 – 12:30pm

Facilitated by Elly Desmarchelier.


12:30 – 1:15pm

Accessible communication

1:15 – 4:45pm

Includes break for afternoon tea 3:00 – 3:30pm

Presented by Cathy Basterfield from Access Easy English.

This 3 hour workshop is an opportunity to learn about Easy English, Easy Read and Plain Language. Find out the latest, including some practical tips and techniques you can use to improve what and how you write. We will explore how Easy English can support a range of different accessible formats. You will have the opportunity to view some current best practice Easy English resources and receive a resource list of where to find them.

We will also discuss techniques to enhance face to face communication to improve all interactions, with and without Easy English.

Day 1 wrap-up

4:45 – 5:00pm

Elly Desmarchelier

Social networking

5:00 – 6:00pm

Informal opportunity to network with other attendees and speakers.

Day two – June 22


8:45 – 9:00am

Welcome and housekeeping

9:00 – 9:15am

Elly Desmarchelier

Why data is your new BFF

9:15 – 10:00am

Presented by Courtney Wolf from the National Centre for Disability Advocacy.

Courtney will breakdown why the quality of data collection and reporting is important for not only the disability advocacy sector, but for the people the disability advocacy sector supports. Courtney will speak about how data is being used to inform and influence policy and programs and how disability advocates can work towards ensuring their practices are conducive to good data collection and reporting. Courtney will also provide examples of where data has been used to make meaningful change.

Morning tea

10:00 – 10:30am

Diversity, dignity, equity and best practice: a framework for supported decision making

10:30 – 11:15am

Presented by Professor Christine Bigby from La Trobe University.

This presentation is based on an extensive research study about Supported Decision Making that was commissioned by the Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The study included an international literature review about the progress of law and other reforms to adopt supported decision making, and focus groups and interviews with 79 people with disabilities, family members, service providers and advocates about their perspectives on supported decision making. The presentation will give an overview of the principles and key elements of a framework for supported decision-making that can be applicable to all people with cognitive disabilities in all contexts in Australia and consider what is necessary for its implementation.

Supported decision making panel

11:15am – 12:00pm

Panel discussion on supported decision making with:

  • Professor Christine Bigby, La Trobe University
  • John Chersterman, the Public Advocate for Queensland
  • Lisa Prichard, Deputy Public Guardian – the Office of the Public Guardian
  • Jennifer Duperouzel, person with lived experience


12:00 – 12:45pm

Supported decision making in practice workshop

12:45 – 1:55pm

Presented by Professor Christine Bigby from La Trobe University.

This workshop will explore what is needed to put the principles of supported decision making into practice with people with intellectual disabilities. It will unpack the evidence informed La Trobe Support for Decision Making Practice Framework and, using clips based on their research, illustrate how each of the steps can be applied in practice.

When the professional becomes personal; Self-care in the workplace

1:55 – 3:15pm

Presented by Briony Blackmur from Briony Blackmur Social Work Consultancy.

Briony will make use of her personal experience, research, and current literature to present the workshop, “When the professional becomes personal; Self-care in the workplace”.

This workshop will cover topics such as: vicarious trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue. Practical strategies and resources will be presented to ensure that self-care is kept at the forefront for individuals and organisations alike.

Day 2 wrap-up and afternoon tea

3:15 – 4:00pm


Elly Desmarchelier, she has short red hair and is wearing a blue shirt under a red jacket.

Elly Desmarchelier

Elly Desmarchelier is a sought after speaker, writer, event facilitator and disability rights advocate. As a proud disabled woman, Elly was the national spokesperson for the Defend Our NDIS campaign during the 2022 Federal election. Her fierce advocacy has gained her access to rooms where decisions are made that impact the lives of Australians with disability, such as speaking at the Prime Minister’s 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit. Fuelling her advocacy, Elly is determined to create change for the 1 in 5 Australians with disability and believes that’s only possible if people with disability have a seat at the table.

Cathy Basterfield, she has short copper hair and is wearing a pastel patterned shirt.

Cathy Basterfield

Cathy Basterfield is a highly experienced speech pathologist, with more than 30 years’ experience working with people with complex communication needs. For the last 18 years, she has lead the development of Easy English. Cathy was involved in the development of the first guidelines for writing Easy English in Australia. This is still the basis of quality Easy English. Cathy collaborates with international researchers and practitioners in Europe, USA, UK, with new work in Korea and Singapore underway. Cathy and her team have received multiple national and international awards for their Easy English work in the last 12 months.

Courtney Wolf, she has long blonde hair that is curled and is wearing a  black top.

Courtney Wolf

Courtney is an Education and Engagement Officer at the National Centre for Disability Advocacy (NCDA). Courtney has been involved with data improvements at both a state and national level. Her experience as an advocate informs her data improvement work and she hopes to use data to inform government on the disability advocacy sector.

Professor Christine Bigby, she has short brown and grey hair and thin black framed glasses with trees in the background.

Professor Christine Bigby

Professor Christine Bigby is the Director of Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne. The focus of Chris’s work is policy issues, program effectiveness and front line practice that supports quality of life outcomes for people with intellectual disability. She currently serves as President of the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability.

John Chesterman, he has short hair and is wearing a blue suit with blue shirt and blue and red striped tie.

John Chesterman

John Chesterman is the Queensland Public Advocate. A lawyer and historian by training, John has expertise in the fields of human rights, guardianship, supported decision making, powers of attorney and elder abuse. Prior to taking up his current position John was Victoria’s Deputy Public Advocate. He has previously undertaken a Churchill Fellowship on the topic of adult safeguarding, and his books include, as co-author, “The politics of human rights in Australia” (CUP).

Lisa Pritchard, she has short straight brown hair and is wearing a black collared shirt.

Lisa Pritchard

Lisa has extensive experience in the United Kingdom and Queensland in the areas of policy and legislation, health and human services frontline complaints management and regulation. Prior to joining OPG in 2021 Lisa spent 7 years at the Office of the Health Ombudsman, which she helped establish, having previously led the Professional Standards Unit at the Office of the Queensland Medical Board and the Ethical Standards Unit at Queensland Health. She holds a Bachelor of Law with Honours and is admitted as a Lawyer in the Supreme Court of Queensland. As DPG she is responsible for Guardianship, Investigations and the Children and Young People Advocacy functions.  

Headshot of Briony Blackmur, she has wavy hair tied back and is wearing tortoise shell glasses and a green cardigan.

Briony Blackmur

Briony is an accredited mental health social worker with extensive, long-term experience working with children and adults within the health and social sectors of the community. As the director and senior Social Worker of a private Social Work practice in Brisbane, she provides direct therapeutic support to individuals and families.  In addition, Briony provides professional supervision, training, and consultation to organisations.


This conference is by invitation only.

Registrations close at 5pm on Wednesday 14 June.

Registration includes all conference sessions, catering and networking.

You can register and find more information at Humanitix via the button below.