Trevor R Parmenter
Professor Emeritus, Sydney Medical School

Topic: “Carpe Diem-Seize the Day – Employment and people with intellectual disabilities: The past, the present and the future.”

Trevor’s teaching and research career spans 69 years; the first 21 years as a teacher and Special School Principal, followed by 23 years heading the Unit for Community Integration Studies at Macquarie University, then 13 years as Foundation Professor of Developmental Disability and Director of the Centre for Developmental Disability Studies in Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

Since 2010 he holds the position of Professor Emeritus. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of New England and Macquarie University. Throughout his career Trevor has been a champion of inclusive employment for people with disabilities, especially people with intellectual disabilities. His research, teaching and community engagement highlight a strong commitment to research into practical outcomes. His influence has been both national and international, including former Registrar and Editor-in-Chief for the Australian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disabilities, a past President of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a consultant to the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation. Trevor’s legacy features his many former students who now hold prestigious leadership roles in Universities, the Public Service and Disability Support Organisations. But as importantly are the people with disabilities who have found sustainable employment because of the enterprising influence of his advocacy and the work of his research teams.

Jan Kruger

Jan Kruger
Executive Director of Imagine More

Jan is the Executive Director of Imagine More, a family led organisation in Canberra.  Jan is a wife to Paul and mother to 4 fabulous young adults. Her youngest, Jack, is a CrossFit member, friend, AFL supporter and Government Household officer who happens to have Down syndrome.  Jan has used Social Role Valorisation to inform how to work towards crafting a full and meaningful life for Jack. Ove the last 3 years  Jan has been drawing on Social Role Valorisation together with customised employment principles to find and maintain meaningful paid work and volunteer roles for Jack. Jan and her family continuously work towards building an ordinary, inclusive life for Jack, where he enjoys a sense of belonging as a valued member of his community.


Jack Kruger

Jack Kruger is an Oztag player, world traveller, movie enthusiast, employee, Learner driver, friend and who happens to have Down syndrome. Jack finished school in 2020 at Daramalan College in Canberra, Australia. Jack attended his local schools for his education and as a result is widely known within his community. Since finishing school Jack has worked as an After-School Care Educator, a Government House Household officer and is studying fitness at the local college. Jack is now crafting a meaningful week of work, study, sport and leisure.

Therese Fimian

Therese Fimian
President - Marc Gold & Associates
Virginia, U.S.

Therese has worked in the disability employment field for over 20 years, overseeing national workforce, research and demonstration projects to increase access to employment options and economic and professional empowerment for individuals with significant disabilities.

Therese oversaw a demonstration project within a national provider organization (NPO) to create competitive integrated employment (CIE) opportunities for individuals in partnership with community provider agencies for disabilities receiving vocational rehabilitation and Home and Community Based Services. This resulted in the development of 100s of community jobs (CIE) and internships for individuals who were formerly in sheltered workshops, on Medicaid waiver waiting lists or transition-aged youth seeking employment. Additionally, several hundred partnerships with businesses were established using a Customized Employment approach to employer engagement.

Throughout her career, Therese has worked with provider agencies across the United States to facilitate improvement of employment services, incorporation of financial and benefits planning and increased access to assistive technologies. Therese joined Marc Gold & Associates (MG&A) in 2019.

Annette Bush
Parent and Advocate

Annette is a mother of five children and her youngest, Jacob, has an intellectual disability. Annette has a passion for Jacob’s right to lead an ordinary life filled with all the opportunities that other young men and women have. Currently, Jacob is an essential worker at their local supermarket and is enjoying the feeling that comes from a job well done. Annette has been associated with Family Advocacy for almost 18 years and has learnt many skills in navigating Jacob’s life with all the challenges life sometimes can bring. She has also presented at workshops where she has shared her insights and experiences in supporting Jacob to navigate work experience through the school years and then into employment in his local community.  She is eager to help other families to create good and purposeful lives for their sons and daughters.

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Di Samuels
Parent and Advocate

Di Samuels lives on the Far South Coast of NSW and is the proud mother of four young adults and a new son in law. She’s had a long association with Family Advocacy from when her youngest daughter Rhiannon was preschool aged.

Di believes that fostering and sustaining community connections is at the heart of safeguarding a life of her daughter’s choosing. Her passion for an inclusive education and life for Rhiannon has driven her to strive for the same ordinary opportunities that have been afforded to her older siblings.

This vision has enabled Rhi to start her transition to work through the typical processes offered through the education department such as work experience, vocational TAFE courses, work placements and now a school-based traineeship.

Rhi Samuels-Connell

Rhi Samuels-Connell uses the pronouns she and her and is an HSC student from the Sapphire Coast of NSW, home of the Thaua and Diringanj people of the Yuin Nation. She’s a creative through music, dance and performing arts and an Amy Shark fan.

She is a passionate young person who wants to have the same opportunities while she proudly lives with disability.

People may know of her through stories she and her mum have shared about the pursuit of inclusion and living life to the full, most recently a film called ‘Rhiannon’s work experience’.

She will be speaking about the latest things happening in her pathway from school to work now she is near the end of Year 12 and particularly her School Based Traineeship.


Milton Tyree
Project Associate for the University of Kentucky and owner of Milton Tyree Employment Consulting, LLC

Milton has more than 40 years of experience in the design, development and provision of supports and services centered on people with disabilities having access to valued aspects of everyday life. A particular area of interest has been the ongoing struggle around people with disabilities having good employment.

Milton’s employment efforts have been strongly influenced by the work of the late Dr. Marc Gold, and he’s an associate with Marc Gold & Associates (MG&A). He’s also had extensive opportunities for study, work and teaching related to the late Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger’s Social Role Valorisation (SRV) theory and its many implications for employment services. He is a retired project director of the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute where he continues part-time work focused on open employment leadership development.

Most of Milton’s career has been within his home state of Kentucky, but includes additional teaching opportunities in other US states, Canada, Ireland, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

David Mank Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, U.S.

David Michael Mank, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. Dr. Mank is a Senior Advisor (part-time) at the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labour, and is the former Director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana’s University Centre for Excellence on Disabilities.

As a writer and researcher, Dr. Mank has an extensive background in the education and employment for persons with disabilities. He has authored or co-authored dozens of articles and book chapters. His interests also include transition from school to work and community living.

Dr. Mank has worked on issues related to Competitive Integrated Employment for people with significant disabilities for many years and more recently with EconSys. His work has included developing the first free standing supported employment program in Oregon. He has worked on provider transformation (from sheltered work to competitive integrated employment) in a number of states across the country.

He is a member of the editorial boards of the Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (TASH), the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. He is Associate Editor for the journal, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Collaboration for the Promotion of Self-Determination (CPSD).

In January 2015, He was appointed by the U. S. Secretary of Labor to the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, which was created in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. He was subsequently elected Chair of the Committee, which delivered its Final Report and Recommendations to the Secretary of Labour and Congress in September 2016.

Catherine McAlpine
CEO, Inclusion Australia

Catherine McAlpine is the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Australia, the national representative organisation for people with an intellectual disability and their families. Catherine is a respected leader in the disability community, with previous senior roles in state and national advocacy and not-for-profit disability organisations. Her focus is on supporting the rights and empowerment of people with intellectual disability and their families. She has spoken as a witness at the Disability Royal Commission at several public hearings, including on employment, inclusive education, and the response to theCOVID-19 pandemic. Catherine has a track record of collaboration and innovation to increase the inclusion of people with a disability. This is informed by her previous roles in the corporate sector, and running a small business, which gave insight into the need to base reform around sustainable business models.

Cecile Sullivan Elder
Executive Officer- Family Advocacy

Cecile has been the Executive Officer at Family Advocacy for the past seven years, but has been involved in the disability sector for over 25. Her many roles in the sector have included leading post school services, teaching Disability Studies, working as a Community Visitor with the Ombudsman Department and, more broadly, advocating for change management within the disability service sector and associated systems.

Cecile is passionate about people with disability being supported to thrive in their local community — whether that be attending the local school alongside neighbourhood friends, accessing paid employment whilst at school or generally having the right supports to access the opportunities society has to offer.

The role of families is critical in the realisation of all this. Family Advocacy’s work (both in advocacy and capacity building) is aimed at strengthening the knowledge, skills and confidence of families to speak up and to advocate for the authentic inclusion of their family member with disability.

Helen Neale
Community Living Project, SA
Tom's Mother and Advocate

Tom Neale
Small Business Owner

Helen is the mother of two fabulous children who continue to motivate and inspire her to be the best version of herself. Her dog Oli provides her with daily cuddles and walks. Helens current role with Community Living Project (CLP) as project lead of “Discover micro enterprise- exploring possibilities”, an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building project, enables her to passionately share information about Micro Enterprise as a possible career option for people with disability. Her hope is that through sharing real stories of enterprise owners people will be inspired to consider micro enterprise and others will hold higher expectations for people with disabilities.

Tom is a social, fun loving 24 year old from Adelaide who loves traveling, playing with his godson and catching up with his circle of support members. He is a member of Rotaract, a volunteer at Treasure Boxes and a lover of beer and chicken wings. He is also the proud business owner of Ground control by Major Tom, a lawn maintenance micro enterprise that he has been operating successfully for nearly 6 years. Tom likes to share his story to encourage others to follow their dreams and aim high.

Marusha Rowe
Employee and Student

Marusha has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, vision and hearing impaired, and dysarthria. She was born in India coming to Australia at 5 months of age.

She completed her higher school certificate in 2014, going on to complete Certificate 3 in Business Administration and IT at TAFE. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Curtin University in Western Australia.

Marusha has a passion for Advocacy, especially when it comes to inclusion. She has worked on several documents with CYDA (Children and Young People with Disability Australia) and ACIE (Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education); she consulted with Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the Create Foundation (National advocacy body for children and young people in out-of-home care). She worked for a year with the Lumos Foundation in the UK and the United Nations, looking at ways to improve the lives of Young People around the world with a disability in out-of-home care. Marusha worked as a childcare support teacher with Only About Children under the Curious Kids program, which she also introduced to one of the local preschools in her area

In her spare time, she enjoys surfing with the Disabled Surfers Association and playing Boccia, where she won several Boccia junior championships at state and national levels.

Julia Shumaker
Job Mentor and Small Business Owner

Julia Shumaker is in her early 20s, a good friend to many, and a vibrant member of her community. She has a keen interest in teaching and supporting people to thrive. Julia has been working alongside Jack Kruger in various roles over the last 4 ½ years.

One of her most impactful roles has been as Jack’s job mentor. Julia has been learning about customised employment through workshops and mentoring. The implementation of this learning has resulted in some wonderful employment outcomes for Jack.

As well as working with Jack, Julia runs her own small business. She is a member of a local dance studio and enjoys being outside with nature.

Nathan Basha
Motivational Speaker, Filmmaker and Advocate

Nathan has Down syndrome but he says, “That’s not who I am”. He has spoken at international and national conferences, political forums, corporate functions, universities, schools, community groups and workshops, sharing his insights about what can happen when people are encouraged to live their dreams and live life to their full potential. Nathan is particularly passionate about ensuring that people with disability have employment opportunities just like every other Australian.

Nathan is a filmmaker. He attended The University of Sydney and works at the prominent radio station Nova 96.9. Nathan believes if change is truly to occur “It’s in the mind sets – the fixed and mixed mindsets that create barriers and we need to break through that, allow more people to have a chance in life and allow people’s ability to shine. What you see on the outside is one thing, but what you see on the inside is more.