Keynote Speakers

Rachel Gadsden

Ms Gadsden is a visual artist, performance artist and artistic director who has been practicing for over 25 years. She creates both solo and collaborative art through painting, performance, digital film and animation. Ms Gadsden has been the first contemporary artist appointed to Hampton Court Palace, has undertaken four major commissions for the UK Parliament, and has completed major commissions for the four most recent Paralympic Games. She is exhibited internationally and has been involved in many key international arts events and festivals as both an artist and disability arts advocate. Her work is informed by a life-long lung condition which requires a syringe driver to inject her with medication at one-minute intervals to keep her alive. She also has visual impairment.

Beth Ziebarth

Beth Ziebarth has a personal interest and professional responsibility in advocacy for people with disabilities.  She currently serves as the director of Access Smithsonian.  In her position, Beth develops and implements accessibility policy and guidelines for the Institution’s 19 museums, the National Zoo, and nine research centres, ensuring that the Smithsonian’s 30 million annual visitors experience a welcoming environment that accommodates individuals of all ages and abilities.  Her work includes staff training on accessibility and disability topics, facility and program technical assistance, direct accessibility services, outreach and collaboration, and five signature programs for people with disabilities. Ms Ziebarth will be presenting via live video link from Washington.

Robin Marquis

Robin Lynne Marquis (they/them) is a gender queer, disabled, white, fiber artist and facilitator, with over 15 years of experience building deep relationships to foster creative collaborations, dynamic programs and intersectional inclusive spaces. Marquis earned their MFA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in the spring of 2018. Marquis works at Access Smithsonian as the Project & Community Outreach Coordinator and at the Peale Center as the Accessibility Coordinator while providing consulting on accessibility in arts organizations across Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. Ms Marquis will be presenting live on stage in Sydney.


Ria Andriani

Ria Andriani is a musician, writer and advocate based in Sydney. She works as a Braille Specialist with Vision Australia, current Choral Scholar for Christ Church St Laurence and writes for several publications including the Guardian, Cut Common music Magazine and Overland online magazine.

Follow Ria at www.facebook.com/RiaAndrianiWriterAndMusician.

Ohni Blu

Ohni Blu is a non-binary cyborg and emerging artist and curator who is currently serving on the Board of Directors at Firstdraft. They are completing an Honours year of a BVA. Their work explores themes of identity, radical healing, community relationships and rituals of care. 

Kate Burton

Kate Burton is an emerging artist from the Front Up 2016 Emerge program. Kates professional practice mostly consists of multidisciplinary works on paper. Her work usually explores themes of identity and the self as well as people’s fascination with specific subjects, based on her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

David Capra

Performance artist David Capra often works with his dachshund Teena. Teena is quite the publicity hound, in 2016 Teena appeared on the 9 Network’s Today Show to promote her own fragrance, Eau de Wet Dogge. In 2015 Teena’s Bathtime was launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s Jackson Bella Room, where visitors related to Teena’s experiences around anxiety- Teena doesn’t quite enjoy bathtime. In 2018, David and Teena performed “The long and short of it: Life lessons from art-dog Teena” to an audience of 5000 at TEDx Sydney. Most recently, David and Teena collaborated with Kaldor Projects for the Kaldor Studio (Art Gallery of NSW) and produced a series of “Teena Takes on…” educational videos unpacking the Kaldor archive. In October the duo will appear in cinemas nationally in Happy Sad Man, a Genevieve Bailey documentary the looks at men managing their emotional worlds. For the past 4 years David has been a facilitator at Campbelltown Arts Centre’s Little Orange, a studio for artists who identify with disability. 

Morwenna Collett

Morwenna Collett is an experienced leader, project manager, lecturer and consultant. She is the Director, Major Performing Arts Projects at the Australia Council for the Arts and sits on numerous disability committees, including City of Sydney and Sydney Festival. A 2018 Churchill Fellowship, she will shortly be travelling to the USA, Ireland and the UK to investigate inclusive music programs which actively engage people with disability

Sarah Christie

Sarah is the Development Executive at Goalpost Pictures. At Goalpost Pictures, Sarah has worked on productions such as Wayne Blaire’s TOP END WEDDING, FIGHTING SEASON (Foxtel, Sky Vision), Leigh Whannell’s UPGRADE produced with Blumhouse, CLEVERMAN (ABC TV, SundanceTV), Neil Armfield’s HOLDING THE MAN, Matthew Saville’s FELONY and Unjoo Moon’s I AM WOMAN, which is currently in post-production, along with a raft of projects in development. Sarah has a background in law, previously working as an entertainment lawyer at Media Arts Lawyers. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Media Arts and Production) and a Bachelor of Laws from UTS. Previously, Sarah has worked at Beyond Productions and Mint Pictures with credits on BUSHWHACKED! (ABC TV) and CRICKET SUPERSTAR (Foxtel). Sarah has independently produced several short films and music videos, which have screened at festivals including Flickerfest, CLIPPED Music Video Festival, TEDxSydney, and featured on Rage and NOWNESS. Sarah has a background in law, previously working as an entertainment lawyer at Media Arts Lawyers. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Media Arts and Production) and a Bachelor of Laws from UTS.

Tracey Corbin Matchett

An inclusion and diversity champion, leading change in the film industry as CEO of Bus Stop Films. Tracey has led many projects promoting greater inclusion and diversity in the screen industry, most recently managing Women in Film and TV’s Raising Films Australia strategy, and previously with Screen NSW. Tracey is hard of hearing and is also a Director of Deaf Sports Australia.

Emily Dash

Emily Dash is an actor, writer, speaker and disability advocate with an emphasis on social inclusion and expanding perceptions of disability. She is currently a Resident Artist at PACT centre for emerging artists, and a founding member of integrative theatre company Midnight Feast.

Kate Disher Quill

Kate Disher-Quill is a Melbourne based artist working across photography, film, multimedia and print publications. As a visual communicator she is drawn to weaving stories into art to explore themes reflected in her community and the wider Australian society. She has exhibited in numerous group and solo shows around the country and most recently published a book titled Earshot, of an ongoing project which explores the experience of deafness.

Jack Dowdell

Jack Dowdell is a writer. He recently participated in the Createability internship where he worked with Goalpost Pictures. He studied film at UNSW and is passionate about disability representation in the film industry.

Robin M Eames

Robin M Eames is a queercrip poet and historian living on Gadigal land. Their work has been published in CorditeOverlandMeanjinWesterlySoutherly, and Deaf Poets Society, among others. They are currently working on a PhD at the University of Sydney, examining trans pathologisation and the construction of madness.

Alison Fowler

Alison is emerging as one of Australia’s most promising casting directors with a passion for unsurfacing new and unfamiliar faces. Winner of B&T 30 Under 30, she is pioneering for meaningful change in the industry by advocating for more representation in casting.

Mark Gaal

Executive Director Pathways and Partnerships at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art). A graduate of University of Queensland and NIDA, Mark has directed plays, musicals and operas for organisations including Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir Street Theatre and Opera Australia. This year, Mark is directing Patrick Marber’s Closer (NIDA) and Vivaldi’s Farnace (Pinchgut Opera).

Angie Goto, Sue Wright and Susannah Thorne (Museum of Contemporary Art)

Angie Goto is an Australian Deaf artist. Angie has been exhibiting in group and solo shows since 2010. Working as an Artist Educator at the MCA enables Angie to be involved in different programs focusing on access for community in a meaningful and rewarding manner.

Sue Wright is a Sydney-based artist working primarily with photography and mixed media. In her photography and video work, people communicate in Auslan in an attempt to break down barriers and offer the hearing world a glimpse into the deaf community. Sue is also an MCA Artist Educator. 

Susannah Thorne is Access Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, coordinating access programs and events, and providing advocacy and consultation. Susannah is currently developing MCA’s first Art is for Everyone Weekend in September, a 2-day festival celebrating difference and MCA’s commitment to making art accessible for everyone.

Danielle Gullotta

Danielle Gullotta led the development of the AGNSW’s Access programs since 2008 and the Disability Inclusion and Action Plan. She has partnered with Front up to support pathways to practice for artists and administered the Createability Internship program. The AGNSW’s strategic objective is to continue developing opportunities for artists with disability.

Bree Hadley

Associate Professor Bree Hadley (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) is editor of The Routledge Handbook of Disability Art, Media, and Culture (Routledge 2019), author of Theatre, Social Media and Meaning Making (Palgrave 2017), Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers (Palgrave 2014), and articles in performance, media, and disability studies journals.

Thomas Hamilton

Thomas Hamilton is an emerging arts worker. He has spent the past five years being involved with the festival sector. Previous roles include producing the Young Queer Writers Program for the National Young Writers’ Festival and working as a Festival Assistant for Sydney Festival 2019 through the Createability Internship program.

Jacqueline Homer

Jacqueline Homer has a BA in Theatre and a Diploma in OSH. She is currently DADAA’s Head of Production and has been working on CACD programs since joining DADAA in 2005. In 2015 she developed a program that would extend accessibility to the arts for people who are blind or vision impaired and continues to work in creating pathways for people with disability to access the arts.

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt, ONZMwriter and innovator. Robyn co-founded Crip the Lit, and the Disability Clothesline project, and is one of the founders of NZ’s first disability TV series. Her career includes arts access, digital and information access, human rights, TV, radio, print journalism, social change policy and international study and presentations. A longtime disability activist she’s from Wellington N.Z.

ICACM (Michael Turkic and William Le)

ICACM is the brainchild of Croatian respected actor, director and educator, Michael Turkic and Vietnamese hearing- impaired writer and award-winning indie filmmaker, William Le. They are also life partners.

Rosemary Kayess

Rosemary Kayess, is the Academic Lead: Engagement, Disability Innovation Institute UNSW and a human rights lawyer. Rosemary currently teaches in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. Convening international law and human rights subjects, focusing on the equality provisions within international instruments and their translation into domestic law and policy. In June 2018 she was elected to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Dov Kornits

Dov Kornits graduated tertiary study with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Film and Theatre studies from UNSW. Upon graduation, Dov worked as a freelance film journalist for various outlets, including Oyster Magazine, Courier Mail and Nine MSN. In 1997, Dov co-founded FilmInk Magazine, a widely read consumer movie magazine, and its associated website, filmink.com.au. In 2016, the printed edition of FilmInk Magazine ceased publication, but the website continues today, covering the Australian film and entertainment scene for both consumer and professionals. In 2017, Dov Kornits was employed as Head of Theatrical at Umbrella Entertainment, releasing films such as Cargo, Jungle, Rip Tide and The Go-Betweens: Right Here into cinemas. Since leaving Umbrella in 2018, Dov has worked with various filmmakers and distributors to release their films into cinemas, and he has also started acquiring films of his own to release, including the disability-themed documentary KELLY’S HOLLYWOOD. In 2019, Dov Kornits partnered with Lou Balletti to create the company Filmink Presents, which is distributing local and overseas films in Australia and New Zealand, in cinemas and beyond. In the past, Dov has directed the SciFi Film Festival and was also president of the Film Critics Circle of Australia. Dov feels passionate about disability issues, brought on when his daughter Sofia was born with an intellectual disability in 2006.

Claire Lamont

Head of BA Performance in BSL and English, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Claire Lamont trained at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Claire is the Head of the BA Performance in BSL and English at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, one of only a few courses in the world set up to train deaf actors and theatre makers. Claire has worked throughout Ireland the UK and internationally as an Actress, Director and Theatre Maker.

Liz Martin

As Arts Development and Training Manager, Liz works to enhance opportunities for people with disability to participate in the arts through coordinating programs including the Accessible Arts and Bundanon Trust Artists’ Residency Partnership, Accessing the Arts Group Sydney, the In Conversation series, and Disability Awareness and Equity Training. Liz also supports organisations in the research and development of their individual Disability Inclusion Action Plans.

Sam Martin

Sam Martin, pronouns He/Him, is a film student at the Australian Film TV and Radio School with an aspiring passion for creating and supporting diversity within arts, media and performance spaces. Identifying as Queer and Hard of Hearing/Deaf himself, Sam has recently embarked on exploring the contradicting and intersectionality of his own identity hoping to create positive discussion and encourage others to do the same. He is also the Vice president of Deaf Rainbow NSW and a Committee Member of Sydney Queer and Disability Community Group.

Glenn McKenzie

Glenn McKenzie (a.k.a. Mac Dyson) is a Kiwi actor, countertenor, and writer. His current performance repertoire includes “Evensong”, a theatrical memoir about Shakespeare’s boyfriend/muse, and “Lamentation”, a chamber cantata on the plight of the refugee. Mac’s novels for Teens, exploring identity, creativity and resilience are available @ Smashwords.com.

Website: https://glennmckenzie-evensong.com/

Duncan Meerding

Duncan Meerding is a furniture and lighting Designer/Maker based in Hobart. Much of his work concentrates on overall form rather than intense detailing, with a particular interest in how light performs through and around objects. His work is informed by the making process, his alternative way of viewing the world and our impacts upon the natural environment.

Alison Myers

Alison Myers is the Audio Description Manager at The SubStation, a leading Australian captioning and AD provider. After many years as a captioner, Alison branched out into AD in 2008 and has been a passionate advocate ever since. Alison’s experience as a freelance video editor has proved valuable for clients.

Paul Nunnari

Paul currently works for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as Director, Inclusive Infrastructure and Experience. As part of this role Paul advises key agencies across government on their accessibility and inclusion overlay for major infrastructure projects, urban design, place making and major and community events across NSW. These events include Sydney NYE, Australia Day, ANZAC Day, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Sydney Vivid Festival, Newcastle 500’s, World Rally and the successful delivery of accessibility and inclusion considerations for the Sydney Invictus Games in 2018.

Ruth O’Brien

Ruth O’Brien is a vocalist, arts administrator and arts advocate.  Since October last year, Ruth has been working for Accessible Arts in Canberra as part of a 2-year project to improve accessibility to arts and cultural events, programs and organisations in the ACT.  As part of her work as a practicing artist, an Accessible Arts employee, and having also worked on projects Women With Disabilities ACT and Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, Ruth has gained a lot of experience As an artist with disability and through this project, Ruth has learned about the many barriers to access effecting people with disabilities.  Ruth has also been involved with projects with Rebus Theatre as an actor and musician and has worked as an advisor on disability reference groups for organisations such as Arts Access Australia for the upcoming Meeting Place conference and for the National Portrait Gallery. Ruth also writes regularly for BMA magazine in Canberra and is working towards being a self-sufficient solo performer through electronic looping, percussion and improvisation.

Gary Paramanathan

Gary Paramanathan is currently the Acting Manager, Outreach, at AFTRS. Prior to coming to AFTRS, Gary worked extensively in arts, screen and cultural development administration, including at ICE, Penrith City Council, Fairfield City Council and Australian Marriage Equality. He founded the storytelling night Them Heavy People and holds a Masters in International Communications.

Sonal Patel

Sonal is an Artist and Venue Coordinator with Adelaide Fringe and can give you tips on presenting your work in Australia’s largest open access arts festival. In 2020 Adelaide Fringe will be celebrating our 60th birthday and we want you to join us from 14 February to 15 March 2020.

Stephanie Pringle

Stephanie Pringle – Casting Director, Chicken and Chips Casting. Steph is one of the country’s most promising casting directors. 

Winner of B&T’s 30 under 30 Award for Young Entrepreneur, she is a passionate advocate for inclusive casting and representation on screen and has a knack for discovering emerging young talent.

Amrita Ramjas

Amrita was born on the 22nd September 1988 in Sydney Australia. She is the middle child in her family with an older sister and younger brother. Amrita is from an Indian/Guyanese/ West Indian/Australian cultural background and is very proud of her cultural heritage. Amrita has great determination and focus in doing the things she loves. She represented Australia in the Special Olympics World Games held in Shanghai, China in 2007 and won the overall gold medal in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. Since then she has been involved in a diverse range of activities and experiences These include working in open employment, attending Sydney University to complete a two year inclusive program (Uni2Beyond) for people with intellectual disabilities, and being a founding member and President of the Up Up Toastmasters club. Amrita also loves art, drama and acting and was excited when she was given the opportunity by Bus Stop Films to be a part of the documentary “Lives in Action”, and was then delighted to be accepted as a student in the inclusive classes with Bus Stop Films. In spite of the challenges of having Down syndrome and an intellectual disability and coming from a minority cultural background, Amrita shows great initiative and resilience in being herself.  Amrita is currently working for Broadspectrum in Parramatta as a welcomer and admin assistant where she is given the opportunity to use her abilities and interests to do what she loves – earn a living and give back to society.

Anna Rigg

Anna Rigg began her career in social policy working in disability inclusion and access at the City of Sydney. She has supported colleagues at the City of Sydney to embed disability inclusion across in everything the City of Sydney does from delivering major events, policies guiding public space design and making print materials more accessible.

Daniel Savage

Daniel is a practicing visual artist based in Canberra, exhibiting nationally and has developed a reputation for creating dynamic, engaging, and conceptual rigorous work. He’s also an active advocate for disability access, inclusion, and representation in the arts, having worked alongside major arts festivals, organisations and institutions.

Meagan Shand

Meagan Shand is an Executive Manager with over 20 years-experience working in the NGO sector. Meagan lives with disability, and received a Centenary Medal of Australia in 2001 for her vision and commitment to creating a disability-led advocacy group. Meagan came to the role of CEO of Arts Access Australia in Feb 2017, she says her biggest achievements to date have been leading the first international Meeting Place forum in Berlin and the first regional forum in Alice Springs.

Diana Simmonds

DIANA SIMMONDS is a writer, teacher and theatre critic. Brought up in Kenya and a Sydney-based Australian since 1985. Has worked for every major media company in the country and survived. Now runs stagenoise.com. Passionate about theatre, writing, politics, honesty and social justice. Tries hard, falls over and mostly gets up again and carries on.

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is the Director – Community, Emerging and Experimental Arts at the Australia Council.  He has spent much of his professional career working in close connection with the arts and cultural industries since graduating from the WA Academy of Performing Arts in 1997. Jeremy previously worked at DADAA in WA – overseeing an extensive regional arts and health programme, in addition to several strategic projects across the organisation.

Studio ARTES

Studio ARTES is an NFP who provides support for artists with a disability to learn and practice in a supported environment. Weekly sessions are run over three Sydney locations in Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Life Skills. Professional development projects extend our talented members, bridging the gap from recreational towards professional.

M Sunflower

M. Sunflower, is a culturally diverse artist, with an Aboriginal (Dharug), Lebanese, Chinese & convict background. Her interdisciplinary work explores concepts of identity, mental health, society, feminism, activism, pop culture, the nature of being & the universe.  M. Sunflower is the coordinator GOG! A Front Up arts project.

Riona Tindal

Dr. Riona Tindal, born unapologetically Deaf, has been using creative arts as a visual communicative language, completed her PhD in Design at Newcastle University, 2016. As a Deaf Arts Coordinator with Accessible Arts, sharing time between Sydney and Hunter region, she is a passionate advocate for inclusivity for artists with disability.

Digby Webster

Digby Webster is a Sydney-based visual artist and ambassador for Front Up. His works are included in the Artbank and Australia Council for the Arts collections.  He has co-facilitated workshops and given artist talks at the AGNSW. Digby’s interactive installation See What I See, was incorporated into VIVID Sydney 2019.