-20 November 2020
Bendat Community Centre


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We are privileged to welcome the Honourable Stephen Dawson MLC,
Minister for Environment, Disability Services and Electoral Affairs, who will open the Conference on Thursday, and Dr John Byrne AM,
Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, who will give a welcome address on Friday.


The conference looks forward to key presentations from these invited disability advocates and thought leaders, along with those who will be selected via the Call for Content process.

Prue Hawkins

Prue is a respected disability discrimination lawyer and now principal of her own firm Empire Law, after a career in various types of advocacy.

Whilst at University studying for her first degree, Prue was involved in a serious car accident and had to instigate legal proceedings to recover damages from the driver’s insurer. This encounter with the legal system awakened her fascination for the law, especially how it could help people, like it had helped her. After finishing a fine arts degree, she went on to study law and has never looked back.

Prue has many years of experience in family law matters and disability discrimination complaints in both the state and federal jurisdictions. She is a passionate and caring legal professional and eloquent communicator who can guide clients through baffling legal jargon and help people from all backgrounds to access legal justice.

Prue is an articulate and informative speaker, and in addition to her legal expertise draws on her own lived experience as a wheelchair user with brittle bone disease.

Patrick Gunasekera

Patrick Gunasekera is a queercrip Sinhala interdisciplinary artist based in the Whadjuk region of the Noongar nation, disrupting dominant epistemologies of art and culture through writing, visual media, performance, and community work. At twenty-one years of age, Patrick has presented his work across many art spaces and festivals locally and nationally, and his writing has been published in various journals and anthologies, including the upcoming Black Inc. anthology Growing Up Disabled in Australia, edited by Carly Findlay.

Being an artist on the margins, his work is informed by the precedents of resistance, grassroots organising and solidarity set by People of Colour and disabled activists and artists around the world today and throughout history. He endeavours to democratise art through his work, with a particular focus on Blak sovereignty and cripping methods of making and connecting through art.

Patrick is also a lived experience public speaker and has presented on intersectionality and domestic violence at WAAMH Mental Health Conference 2019, New Economy Network Australia Conference 2019, and community and health sector gatherings. He is also a local community organiser in refugee justice work and climate justice activism.

Dr Rita Kleinfeld-Fowell

Rita is an experienced professional advocate and disability discrimination lawyer, working with Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc (Midlas).  

Along with her PhD in Law on the definition of disability discrimination, Rita holds two Masters Research Law degrees and 18 years post-qualifying advocacy experience. She previously worked as an NDIS Planner and draws on previous experience in the UK. 

At Midlas, Rita and her team of advocates work with people with a disability to address neglect, abuse, mistreatment, discrimination, and poor service. Rita’s team work to appeal NDIS decisions, advocate for better NDIS plans, and ensure that people with a disability get fair treatment from service providers, primary health and employers. Being both deaf and blind Rita is the Chairperson of Deafblind West Australians and will be supported by her Guide Dog, Ivy.

Senator Jordon Steele-John

Jordon is Australia’s youngest Senator and is our only Federal Member with a visible disability. His entry to Parliament in 2017 at age 23, caused some lamentably hasty renovations at Parliament House, to make key areas wheelchair accessible.

A lifelong disability advocate, Jordon has long been involved in social justice campaigns and was named the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year in March 2019 for his leadership as a disability advocate. Jordon holds a range of policy portfolios including Youth, Disability Rights & Services, Peace & Nuclear Disarmament and Veterans’ Affairs. He is currently a member of the Senate Select Committee on Autism and is deeply involved with the Disability Royal Commission.

An important national voice, Jordan has been instrumental in raising the profile and instigating change on a range of key disability issues including the exclusion of DSP and Carer payments from the COVID-19 stimulus increases, issues of abuse and violence towards people with disability and improving the NDIS.

Jordon will be presenting from an apolitical perspective about his advocacy insights and advocacy experiences as a person with Cerebral Palsy.

Paul Montague (MC)

A veteran performer and multi-award winning professional comedian and actor, Paul has over 25 years’ experience in performance, with credits in film, television, theatre and too many TV commercials.

Paul holds a degree with a double major in Drama and Education and is currently completing his Master of Theology. He has served on the national nomination panel for the Helpmann Awards (Comedy) and the WA Workshop Co-ordinator of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s ‘Deadly Funny’ Indigenous Comedy Program. Paul also has extensive experience in writing and directing, mentorship, chaplaincy and youth work. He has worked extensively with corporate, government and community sector clients. He can currently be heard on “Holy Heretics” Tuesdays on ABC Radio 720.

He draws on extensive experience across the community sector and as an adult educator. Paul identifies as a Mental Health Warrior, through his own lived experience of bi-polar disorder and with loved ones who are neurodiverse.

loud and proud in a disabled body

The whole community is invited to join us for a ground-breaking live performance, which blows apart typical preconceptions of disability.

Presented at the conclusion of the conference, tickets must be bought separately to conference registrations.

Registrations are now open.

Avoid disappointment and register now.


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