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In our words

This year, Disability and LGBTQ+ advocates Wayne Herbert and Yenn Purkis released their book In Our Words.  The book brings together a large number of stories from Queer and Disabled folks which take the form of letters to their teenage selves.

In this session, Wayne and Yenn will join Alastair McEwin, former Disability Royal Commissioner and member of the LGBTQ+ community, in a conversation where they will discuss some of the challenges faced by Queer and Disabled people, as well as looking at ways to include and empower them at work and the importance of allyship.  Drawing on selected examples from the book, the session will look at workplace experiences around intersectionality and how organisations can make a difference and support people to enable their ‘letter to themselves’ (metaphorically) to be positive, confident and inclusive.


Wayne Herbert

Wayne Herbert

Director of Progress and Property , LEAD Disability Services

Wayne is currently the Director of Progress and Property at LEAD Disability Services.


Wayne is an international speaker, writer, comedian, disability and LGBTIQA+ community activist. Wayne is an experienced not-for-profit board member, currently representing the ACT on the board of LGBTIA+ Health Australia having previously served as Vice President of Meridian, and a board member of Sharing Places Inc.  Wayne is also a member of the NDS ACT Territory committee and has previously served as Deputy Chair of the ACT Government LGBTIQ Advisory council and as a member of the ACT Disability Reference Group.

A highly values-driven, ambitious, and outspoken advocate for people with disability and people in the LGBTIQ community, Wayne was a nominee for the 2018 ACT Australian of the Year for services to the disability and LGBTIQA+ communities. Wayne has a proven track record of taking on a strategic leadership role in driving regulatory and organisational change at a local, national, and international level. Wayne takes a unique approach enabling people to embrace change and integrate initiatives that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and respect. Wayne combines comprehensive knowledge of working within peer lead organisations, organisational governance and personal lived experiences along with a genuine passion for driving positive change in our community and empowering people with a disability to unleash their potential.

Instagram @waynecjherbert

X/Twitter @waynecjherbert

Photo credit: Valent Lau, Corporate Photographer

Yenn Purkis

Yenn Purkis

Autistic author and advocate

Yenn Purkis is an Autistic and ADHD author, advocate and presenter who has been working in this area since 2005. Yenn has 17 published books, all on elements of autism and intersectionality. Yenn also works in the Australian Public Service. Yenn has presented all over the world including twice for TEDx Canberra (in 2013 and 2023). Yenn has expertise in a number of topics related to neurodiversity, including employment, mental health, gender diversity, advocacy and resilience. Yenn also has a Masters degree in Fine Arts. They have a large following on social media and post a regular blog and weekly memes. Yenn lives in Canberra in their apartment which has over 200 artworks on display. They share their home with their little tortoiseshell kitty, Sunflower.

Australian Human Rights Commission

Alastair McEwin AM

Disability Consultant

Alastair McEwin AM is a strategic and solutions-focused leader, with extensive experience in disability and human rights, and a strong record of service to Australia through senior executive and Commonwealth statutory office holder roles.  Profoundly deaf, Alastair has held numerous management and governance roles in the private, government and non‑government sectors.  He has served as Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, and as a Royal Commissioner with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Alastair is currently working as a consultant in disability and human rights, including as a Senior Fellow with the Grattan Institute.  He is an Adjunct Professor with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), UNSW Business School at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).