Keynote Speakers

Laurence Taggart

(International) Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Autism Research Hub, Ulster University

Dr Laurence Taggart is a Reader, and leads the Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Autism Research Hub at Ulster University. Laurence is the current Chair of the Health Specialist Interest Research Group of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD) and was until Dec 2016, President of the Royal Society of Medicine Intellectual Disability Forum. He is the Expert Advisor for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guideline for older adults with an intellectual disability in the UK.

Laurence’s main research interests focus on the health of people with intellectual disabilities (i.e. health inequalities, inequities and health promotion), the use of technology to improve health, computer interface and knowledge transfer. He has received funding of over £3.3 million from a range of national competitive funders (incl. NIHR, ESRC) to complete research projects aimed at transferring research knowledge into practice in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. He has published over 100 articles and chapters and is the co-editor of ‘Health Promotion for People with Intellectual & Developmental’ Disabilities’ (2014) .


Therese Sands

Director, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia

Therese Sands is the Director of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), an alliance of four national organisations constituted and led by people with disability. She has worked for 25 years in education, policy development, capacity building and advocacy in the area of disability and human rights.

Therese’s passion for human rights began at the Australian Human Rights Commission where she worked on the awareness campaign for the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). Through her work, she has gained extensive theoretical and practical experience of United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms, and how to use UN mechanisms to further domestic advocacy for the rights of people with disability.

Therese has a Master of Human Rights Law and Policy, and won the University of NSW Law School Public Defender’s Prize in 2012. She is a Life Member of People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and a member of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).


Cary Griffin

(International), Board Chair, Center for Social Capital, USA

Cary Griffin is the former President & CEO of Griffin-Hammis Associates, a full service consultancy specializing in building communities of economic cooperation, creating high performance organizations, and focusing on disability and employment. He is also past Co-Director of the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s National Self Employment Technical Assistance, Resources and Training project with Virginia Commonwealth University, and is one of only a handful of Subject Matter Experts hired by the U.S. Dept. of Labor to help implement Employment First nationally.

Cary maintains a strong relationship with the Rural Institute at the University of Montana, where he served as Director of Adult Community Services & Supports. He is the former Executive Director of the Region VIII CRP-RCEP at the Center for Technical Assistance & Training (CTAT), which he founded at the University of Northern Colorado in 1989. Prior to this Cary served as Director of an adult rehabilitation program in Southern Colorado.

He has extensive experience providing rehabilitation services and technical assistance in minority, rural, inner city and economically depressed communities. Cary has also designed and directed major systems change projects.


Panel Speaker

Health and Wellbeing

Jax Jacki Brown


Jax Jacki Brown is a disability and LGBTIQ rights activist, writer, public speaker and disability sexuality educator. Jax was named one of the 25 Australian LGBTI people to watch and has recently been appointed to the Victorian Governments’ Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality. Jax is a member of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Disability Reference Group and a graduate of Southern Cross University where she focused on disability and LGBTIQ rights. Her work provides a powerful insight into the reasons why society needs to change, rather than people with disabilities.




Julian Troller


Professor Julian Trollor is a Neuropsychiatrist and holds the inaugural Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He also heads the Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry within the School of Psychiatry at UNSW. Julian is involved in diverse research programs including ageing and cognitive decline in intellectual disability, intellectual disability in the criminal justice system, human rights and healthcare in intellectual disability, and ageing studies in the general population.





Community living


Lifelong education

Michael Arthur-Kelly

Michael has worked in and with schools and universities for his entire career. He has taught in classrooms in a range of settings and contributed to teacher training and development as an academic in two universities. Michael has conducted applied research in a range of areas in disability and special education including communication intervention for people with severe disability and staff training in managing challenging behaviour. He is currently a professor in the School of Education at The University of Newcastle.





Dianne Chambers

Dianne coordinates and teaches into units on catering for students with disabilities, inclusion and behaviour management at undergraduate level.  Postgraduate teaching areas include adaptive education, behaviour management and social skills, children with special needs, educating students who are gifted and talented and research methods. She supervises students within the School of Education Masters and PhD programs.  She is published in the field of inclusive education, assistive technology, service learning and children with ASD.   Dianne has consulted with UNESCO on guidelines for persons with disabilities and Open and Distance Learning using open solutions (published), and teacher education for global citizenship, and attended invited symposia with the World Health Organisation.  She is a member of a number of National and International organisations and is current National Councillor of the Australian Association of Special Education (WA Chapter).




Selim Pullu

Selim has taught history for over two decades and has extensive experience in field surveys and museum work.  During his academic career, he has held a variety of administrative positions including Chairman in Ancient History and Archaeology Departments in different universities, and  Director of Western Anatolia Archaeology Institute at the University of Afyon in Turkey. He bas been an associate of the University of Melbourne, Department of History since 2016.

Selim has dedicated the last four years to understanding and helping his son Ege who was diagnosed with autism. He was a key role facilitator for The Positive Partnership project and organised the “Dad’s Group” for especially Turkish fathers who have children with autism. He also worked with the team of animation movie specialists as an editor for making a short animated movie which describes and help others to understand autism. The movie is named  “A Family Journey” and has been translated in to seven different languages including Turkish.. He was proud and honoured to be awarded ASPECT’s Parent of the Year Award in 2016.




Meaningful occupation

Kerrie Langford

Kerrie has over 30 years’ experience working in the not-for profit sector in direct service, policy development, senior management and executive roles.  Prior to joining National Disability Services in 2013, she was the CEO of a leading Disability Employment Service for over 10 years.  Kerrie’s career encompasses a broad range of specialist disability service experience including: nursing, accommodation support and management, community services, volunteer management and disability employment.  In her current role with NDS, Kerrie has oversight of the disability employment services portfolio including Disability Employment Services, Australian Disability Enterprises, Social Enterprises, transition to work programs and the interface with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.