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What do good quality jobs look like for People with Disabilities?

In this session, we will hear from experts around successful strategies for working with employers and effectively placing DES participants into employment. Research has shown that many employers do not really understand the value a person with disability can bring to their organisation, and there are misconceptions about costs related to employing people with disability. Many employers are keen to employ a Person with Disability but need more support to make it happen. Our experts, led by Professor Jo Ingold, will discuss the relationship between people with disability and employers, and discuss what works and strategies that make a difference when employing people with disability.



Professor Jo Ingold

Professor, Australian Catholic University

Jo is Professor of Human Resource Management at the Peter Faber Business School, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. She has spent over two decades working in and around employment services. Prior to becoming an academic she worked in the non-profit sector and in UK central government.

Jo’s research and teaching encompass the intersection of HRM and public policy, labour market intermediaries, recruitment and talent acquisition and workplace inclusion with a particular focus on disability. She has built a large cross-country evidence base on employer engagement in employment and skills services and works with governments, industry and practitioners to embed best practices on demand-side approaches. She is currently leading a number of research projects, including an Australian Research Council Linkage on the nexus of employment service providers, employers and job quality and an Economic and Social Research Council project on social procurement and good work in the UK, US and Australia.

Jo is a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals and co-chairs the UK Employment Related Services Association’s Employer Engagement Forum. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Chartered Academic Member of the Australian Human Resource Institute and Editor of the academic journal Work, Employment and Society. Jo has lived experience of disability.

Employer Engagement: Making Active Labour Market Policies Work co-edited by Jo Ingold and Patrick McGurk (Bristol University Press) out now in paperback:


Daniel Valiente-Riedl

General Manager, JobAccess


Daniel has over 20 years of experience working in the disability sector. During this time, he has worked in the areas of mental health, intellectual, developmental, acquired and physical disability.

Currently, the General Manager for JobAccess, Daniel manages a MedHealth team delivering this award-winning service on behalf of the Australian Government. JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers.

Daniel has a passion for working with people and has occupied senior management positions in several organisations, including volunteer Directorships in not-for-profit organisations. Daniel was also a part-time teacher at the Sydney Institute of TAFE, delivering courses within the Community and Mental Health Diplomas.

Daniel has completed studies in training and assessment, management and human resources management, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Master of Business Administration, and is currently completing the Master of Science in Organisational Psychology.


Saraya O’Connell

General Manager, Hotel Etico Australia

Saraya O’Connell is the General Manager at Hotel Etico Australia. Saraya is a passionate and dedicated disability leader advocating for inclusion, with 15 years’ experience in the disability services industry. Saraya’s commitment to creating inclusive workplaces is evident in her crucial role at Hotel Etico, where she champions inclusive employment and independent living initiatives while fostering a new era of diversity and inclusivity in the hospitality industry, challenging norms, and leading the way for employing people with disabilities.

Karina Davis compressed

Dr Karina Davis

CEO, Jobs Bank

Dr. Karina Davis has worked for equity and social change across her career in education and employment and has led various teams across significant transformational organisational, policy and/or management change.

Karina was the first in her family to finish high school. Understanding the impact of disadvantage inspired Karina to pursue a career in social change, and she has spent over a decade developing innovative educational and training programs to make the system more inclusive.

She has held executive and/or senior roles including as Executive Director, Education at Monash College; Executive Director, Programs and Educational Leadership at Melbourne Polytechnic; and a Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Melbourne.  Across her career experience, Karina has focused on big picture strategic and transformational change with a commitment to help create environments where all can achieve and succeed.

Karina is currently the CEO of Jobsbank, an independent for purpose organisation based in Naarm (Melbourne), helping employers reach their diversity, inclusion, and social procurement goals. Jobsbank aims to achieve results that are sustainable in the long term. In every project her team identifies the social issues as well as the business opportunities and works on both levels to deliver positive social impact and commercial results.


Joshua Bamford

Human Resources Director, M&H Ward Group

Joshua Bamford is an award-winning Disability Employment Advocate who serves as the Human Resources Director for the M&H Ward Group, overseeing nine McDonald’s restaurants in the Toowoomba region with a workforce of over 800 employees. Despite facing personal challenges with double deficit dyslexia and short-term memory loss, Joshua has harnessed these experiences to thrive in leadership roles for the past 15 years.

A passionate advocate for disability employment, Joshua developed an award-winning disability employment program that has received four separate awards. His initiative has successfully integrated over 50 individuals with disabilities into meaningful employment within the dynamic and demanding environment of McDonald’s.

Joshua is a prominent figure in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Region for his Human Resources and Recruitment practices, holding a permanent position on the Local Jobs and Skills Board which is directly involved in shaping the development of alternative employment programs with business stakeholder, this board ultimately reports to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

His contributions extend beyond disability employment; he has established various innovative recruitment programs, including a Mature Age Employment Program and a First Nations Employment Program.

Driven by a vision of practical and reasonable inclusive practices that are not just a box ticking exercise, Joshua Bamford is committed to fostering the next generation of leaders in the Australian workforce.


Rebbecca Jurkiewicz

Training And Placement Specialist, Chapter 1 Employment

Rebbecca is a Training & Placement Specialist with Chapter 1 Employment where the team support businesses on their journey to set inclusivity as standard and helping DES Providers create career pathways for their clients.

Bec began her career as a Field Officer in Group Training on the Sunshine Coast where building relationships with local businesses and tradesmen in a regional setting was the key to creating apprenticeship pathways for young people. After 5 years and a number of performance accolades including signing up the first 100 Electrical Apprenticeships for the Sunshine Coast region, Bec moved to Brisbane and began working as a Site Manager. This would be Bec’s first time leading a contracts like DEN and Job Network using the infamous EA3000, but this move also inspired a now 18 year and growing career, who since then has undertaken leadership roles in Business Improvement and Training, National Outcomes and Claims Management and Strategy and Performance.

Bec has a lived experience of disability, injury and illness both personally and as a carer of her younger sister. She believes that this experience has only made her a better operator in employment services, a better consultant for businesses and a more passionate advocate for inclusivity.
When Bec isn’t working with the Chapter 1 team she can be found somewhere on her acreage learning how to sustainable dam management, learning how to fence, manage her growing coop of chickens and other furry creatures whilst also undertaking DIY renovations of their 1970 homestead.