Panel discussion: Employing Disability Matters

In this session, panellists will deep-dive into why Employing Disability, Matters.

People with disability have the right to equal involvement in the community and control over their lives. Participation in the open labour market is crucial to securing this.

So, how do we ensure that more people with disability join the labour market as the economy rebounds from lockdowns and subsequent labour market shifts?

And, how do we take advantage of the current climate to close the workforce participation gap?

Our panel of experts will share their insights about current Australian labour market conditions, providing context and perspective around employment pathways, opportunities and outcomes for people with disability — who currently experience a 30-point gap in workforce participation behind those without disability.

During the discussion, our panellists will consider:
• The factors that impede better employment rates for people with disability seeking work.
• The role that skills training plays in finding employment.
• If employers really understand the value a person with disability can bring to their organisation.
• How DES providers can better engage with employers and vice versa.
• What do participants and employers see as the central aspect of assistance into work.


MC Brett de Hoedt Mayor, Hootville Communications

Upon learning of the impending pandemic via his sources in Wuhan, Brett decamped to a secret bunker underneath the Four Seasons Hotel to refine his emceeing skills with guidance from a Master Master of Ceremonies.

Now he has emerged into the spotlight, able to introduce guests in semaphore, facilitate underwater panel discussions and forcibly induct strangers into the Disability Employment Australia Hall of Fame.

To stay ‘match fit’ our erstwhile host has been staging mock-conferences in pathology laboratories, vaccination hubs and various Chemist Warehouses. In his personal life Brett devotes himself to anti-vax conspiracy theorising, empathy training and door-to-door Ivermectin marketing.

He is triple vaxed and 13-times our emcee.

For more:

Scott Connolly Assistant Secretary, ACTU

Scott Connolly was re-elected ACTU Assistant Secretary at the ACTU Congress in July 2018. Prior to this he was Assistant Secretary at the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Queensland branch.

Scott grew up in western Sydney. Like so many young Australians his first job was working the trolleys at Woolworths during high school, where he stayed for 12 years in a variety of roles from dockhand to payroll.

It was here he began his involvement in the union movement, joining the SDA and becoming a delegate so he could have a say in management decisions.

Scott started at the TWU as an Industrial Officer before moving across three branches over 16 years. During this time, he was instrumental in protecting workers in the transport industry, helping implement legal changes that recognised trucks as workplaces and protecting bus drivers from violence.

Scott was involved in achieving domestic violence leave and increasing parental leave entitlements for Virgin members. He also led the 2011 Qantas members’ campaign when management grounded the airline.

As ACTU Assistant Secretary, Scott is passionate about fighting for a better future to ensure the next generation are not left worse off by the current one.

Scott has a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations, writing his honours thesis on the ACTU and the TWU during the Accord. He studied trade union leadership at the Harvard Law School.

Outside of work, he is a proud father of three kids and on his son’s advice, is a Western Bulldogs supporter.

Dani Fraillon CEO, Get Skilled Access

Dani is the CEO at Get Skilled Access. Dani has been involved in the disability sector for the past 28 years, following the birth of her third child who has a rare chromosome abnormality.
Dani was previously a Partner at PwC consulting in Australia and head of leadership globally. She specialised in shaping organisational culture, leadership assessment and development, board effectiveness, strategic communications and executive team development through strategic advice, coaching and facilitation methodologies.
Dani has worked in the US, UK, China, India, Hong Kong and South Korea on consulting assignments for organisations including BHP, Bank of America, Westpac, ANZ Bank, Orica, Optus, Ernst and Young, Lend Lease, Hong Kong Hospital Authority, Powercor and the state and federal governments.
During her time working in the disability sector, Dani has been involved in performance measures for Early Intervention Services, the design and construction of the first playground for all abilities in Australia and the Women’s Hospital ethics committee. She was also the founding chair of the Genetic Support Network as part of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
For eight years, Dani has worked with the Australian Paralympic Athletes on team culture and performance. She is currently the GSA program lead in the pilot program for the Federal Government to increase inclusion in mainstream sporting clubs and schools.

Alexi Boyd CEO, COSBOA

Alexi Boyd is the CEO for the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA).

A fully qualified BAS agent, Alexi has over 20 years’ experience working with small and family businesses in addition to running her own bookkeeping practice, where she’s supported countless small and micro businesses in their journeys.

Alexi hosts the community radio show and podcast, Small Biz Matters, where she interviews federal regulators, advocates, politicians, authors and experts.

Guided by her experiences, Alexi advocates for policies which help small business owners feel in control of their own journey.

Alexi is heavily involved in her local community and understands the important role that small business plays there. In her roles as VP of the Hornsby Chamber of Commerce, Hornsby Council BMAC committee, and through volunteer work in environment and education, she advocates at both grassroot and national levels.

Ross Joyce CEO, AFDO

Ross is the CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).
His past experience includes:
· Co-Founder and former Executive Director of the charity UrCommunity — aimed at providing food security, alleviating poverty and promoting inclusion.
· Executive Director of UrCommunity Initiatives.
· Principal and Founder of Verve — Empowering Solutions — providing management consultancy to not-for-profit, community service and small-to-medium-sized enterprises.
· Director at Annecto — a national service provider focused on inclusion in disability and aged, veteran’s and carers services.
· Chief Executive Officer at PivotWest — a division of general practice (primary health care).
· Chief Executive Officer at the Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne Medicare Local (primary health care).
· Chief Executive Officer at the Hume-Moonee Valley Regional Library Corporation.
Ross serves on a number of committees and forums, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) CEO Forum, the NDIS Independent Advisory Council (IAC), the Victorian Government NDIS Implementation Taskforce Working Group, the Ageing, Disability & Mental Health Collaborative Panel and the Innovative Workforce Fund Independent Advisory Group (IAG).

Michael Bois Owner and Director, Beg Your Pardon

Michael Bois is the owner of a made to measure suiting business for men, Beg Your Pardon, located in Adelaide’s East End. Michael is an advocate for and employer of people who have lived experience with disability.

Beg Your Pardon has been a long-time sponsor of the Amelia Rix award, acknowledging people with a disability in their efforts to secure employment.

Michael is a board member of Community Bridging Services, a not for profit supporting people with lived experience. He is also a long-time supporter of Community Concierge, which provides employment opportunities to people with a disability.

Finally, Michael is actively involved in the start-up community and is the founder of Treats, a hospitality technology solution.

Laura O’Reilly Co-founder, Hireup

Laura O’Reilly is a social entrepreneur who is working to create change in the Australian disability sector. Inspired by her experiences as the sibling of a young man with cerebral palsy, Laura co-founded Fighting Chance in 2011 with her brother Jordan, a not-for-profit organization which today supports more than 1,000 adults with disability in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide through the operation of its social enterprises, including Avenue and Jigsaw.

In 2015, Laura and Jordan co-founded Hireup, an online platform connecting Australians with disability with support workers who fit their needs and share their interests. Since its launch, Hireup has facilitated more than 70,000 support connections, provided more than 8.5 million hours of support, saved the users of Hireup around $70 million in support funding, and has revolutionized the way that people with disability access support in the community.

Laura is a graduate of Cambridge University and the University of New South Wales, where she studied history and law respectively. In September 2014 Laura was awarded the Australian Woman’s Weekly Woman of the Future, was a finalist for both the NSW Young Australian of the Year 2016 and NSW Woman of the Year 2019, and was a Westpac Social Change Fellow in 2018. Laura was awarded an OAM for services to the disability community in 2021.