NZDEN Disability Inclusive Pathways Conference 2021 – photo gallery

Jared Hutcheson

Introducing NZ Speaker – Jared Hutcheson

Image of a man (Jared Hutcheson) with dark hair and beard. He is wearing a business shirt and tie. He is smiling.
Image: Jared Hutcheson, Westpac NZ

Jared Hutcheson is the current co-chair of Westpac’s Accessibility EAG (Employee Action Group). The EAG’s main goal is to raise awareness around accessibility and make our facilities and products accessible for our customers and staff.

Being in the bank for 10 years in the procurement division, Jared has been able to leverage his skills and experience within the bank to drive initiatives for Westpac’s Accessibility EAG. This includes retaining The Accessibility Tick, promoting NZSL Sign Language Week, working with our technology squad to make Westpac’s website more accessible as well as hosting events to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Find out more…

Victoria Lessing

Introducing NZ Speaker – Victoria Lessing

Image of a smiling blonde woman, Victoria Lessing.
Image: Victoria Lessing, CEO Merge NZ

Victoria identifies as culturally Deaf and she is a social advocate for the Deaf community. Victoria is a qualified New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) teacher. She has been teaching NZSL for almost 20 years and has been involved in the development of NZSL teaching curriculum.

Currently studying a BA double major in education and business, Victoria is also fluent in five languages. Victoria has a huge passion in inspiring people through teaching language and Deaf culture programmes.

Victoria now leads Merge NZ, which is a social enterprise with the aim to normalise NZSL in many towns and cities in New Zealand so organisations, service providers, businesses, schools and individuals can appreciate one of the official languages in NZ.

Find out more…

John Eatwell

Introducing NZ Speaker – John Eatwell

Image of a man (John Eatwell). He is smiling.
Image: John Eatwell, M.A. Post Graduate Diploma in Industrial and Organisational Psychology; Chartered Organisational Psychologist; Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society, Member of the Institute of Directors.

John has over 30 years experience, leading teams of professionals in the delivery of generalist HR as well as specialist services. In the course of his career he has delivered projects in Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Vanuatu, Venezuela, United States and the United Kingdom. John is currently Director of Strategic People Group, Health and Safety Association of New Zealand, Keep New Zealand Beautiful, Chair of the Institute of Organisational Psychology, on the Advisory Board for Telpower Canterbury Ltd and Treasurer for the Queen Charlotte Track Landowners Cooperative.

Find out more…



Thursday 29th July

8:00 amRegistrations open
9:00 amRegistrations continued (arrival tea and coffee available)
9:30 amWelcome/Pōwhiri
10:10 am Keynote Speaker – Getting This Right Counts
Paula Tesoriero MNZM – Disability Rights Commissioner
10:40 amMorning Tea
11:00 amDisabled Persons: Panel 1
Finding a Job – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Angela Desmaris, Maria Stevens, Natasya Jones, Rachel Noble and Vaughan Dodd
11:55 amPutting candidates and employers at the centre of disability empowerment
Phil O’Reilly ONZM – Iron Duke
12:40 pmLunch
1:30 pmTrue Inclusive Recruitment – Reflecting the needs of both stakeholders
Interactive session led by Phil Turner, Accessibility Tick
2:10 pmTop Tips for Disability Inclusion Success
Suzanne Colbert AM – previous CE of Australian Network on Disability, interviewed by Phil O’Reilly ONZM
2:50 pmHidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme
Selwyn Cook – Facilitator: Disability Employment
3:00 pmAfternoon tea
3:20 pmThe Value of NZSL
Victoria Lessing – Merge NZ
Jared Hutcheson – Westpac NZ
4:00 pmWelcome to Rotorua
Mayor of Rotorua – Steve Chadwick
4:15 pmHow Google Gets Disability Inclusion Programs Right
Christopher Patnoe – Google
5:00 pm‘The Name Game’/Networking Over Drinks (cash bar)
Julie Woods – “That Blind Woman”
From 6:00 pmDinner from 6:00 pm

Friday 30th July

8:30 amConference room opens –
Tea and coffee available
9:00 am NZDEN General Meeting –
Planning the Future for the NZDEN

Phil Turner – Managing Director, Accessibility Tick
9:45 am Making Your Disabled Employee Group Work Well
Brendan Roach – Director of Strategy and
Networkology, PurpleSpace
10:30 amMorning Tea
10:50 am Disabled Persons: Panel 2
Career Barriers – How Can We Knock Them Down?
Maria Stevens, Natasya Jones, Stew Sexton and Victoria Lessing
11:40 am Managing Fatigue in the Workplace
John Eatwell – Strategic People Group
12:10 pmLunch
12:50 pm Harnessing the Power of Neurodiversity in our Workplaces
Callum McKirdy – Speaker, author, mentor and facilitator
1:30 pm The Accessibility Game
Julie Woods – “That Blind Woman”
2:10 pm Closing remarks
Phil Turner – Managing Director, Accessibility Tick
2:30 pm Finish
Join us for afternoon tea and some further networking

If you have any questions about the accessibility of the conference, please email or call 09-242-0522.

Find out more…

Julie Woods

Introducing New Zealand Speaker – Julie Woods

Blonde haired woman (Julie Woods) smiling. She has a black lace top on and a pearl necklace.
Image: Julie Woods

When Julie Woods went blind in 1997 as a 31 year old mother, she thought her life had ended; little did she realise it had only just begun.

After turning down the chance to go cross-country skiing, Julie realised she wasn’t going to make a very good blind person unless she learned to say WHY NOT to opportunities that came her way. Learning to read with her fingers, embracing how to touch type and getting speech software on her computer were her first steps in gaining greater access to the world around her.

But she couldn’t stop saying WHY NOT!

Not only that, she went on to say WHY NOT to walking 10 half marathons, visiting the Seven Wonders of the World and refereeing not one, not two, but three games of nude touch rugby…

Find out what Julie did last year in response to reading a newspaper article on disability awareness that horrified her, and how it inspired her to create the Accessibility Game.

Pink flower logo for That Blind Woman. There is braille underneath that represents the same words.

Find out more…

Phil O’Reilly

Introducing NZ Speaker – Phil O’Reilly

Man (Phil O'Reilly) in a blue suit, business shirt and tie.
Image: Phil O’Reilly

Phil O’Reilly ONZM is Managing Director of Iron Duke Partners, a Wellington based Public Policy Advisory Firm.  He is a global business leader and advocate. 

He was until recently the Chair of the Board of Business at OECD, based in Paris, which is the representative of businesses in OECD member states and was a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation based in Geneva.

He has worked closely with the B20, advising G20 leaders and was also a member of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

He has acted in a governance or advisory capacity to a number of New Zealand and overseas organisations in areas as diverse as trade, sustainability, diversity, pay equity, manufacturing, tertiary education, child poverty, social welfare and the future of work. 

He was previously Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand’s leading business advocacy group, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes.

Find out more…

Suzanne Colbert

Introducing International Speaker – Suzanne Colbert

Woman (Suzanne Colbert) in an office. She is wearing a red blazer and she is smiling.
Image: Suzanne Colbert

After stepping down as CEO of the Australian Network on Disability (AND) in December 2020, Suzanne is consulting to organisations and assisting them to recruit suitably skilled and talented people with disability. She brings clarity and simplification to understanding the complexity of employment services, providers, and programs so that organisations can create efficient and effective recruitment strategies tailored to their needs.  

Suzanne continues to support AND’s Disability Champions by equipping and encouraging newly appointed Disability Champions and facilitating meetings.

Under her leadership AND grew from 2 members with 40 employees to 310 members collectively employing 1.75 million Australians and became the ‘go to’ for employers committed to building disability confidence. AND built a suite of best practice publications, policies, facilitated and eLearning sessions and developed the Access and Inclusion Index and the Disability Confident Recruiter recognition program.

Suzanne pioneered the internationally acclaimed Stepping into Internship Program, mentoring programs, and the highly effective and successful Intellectual Disability Business Administration Traineeship program.

Prior to the Australian Network on Disability, Suzanne was the founding General Manager of a successful disability employment service for 7 years and the inaugural Chair of Ace National Network (now Disability Employment Australia).

She is a member of Disability Employment Australia’s ‘Hall of Fame’.

Find out more…

Callum McKirdy

Introducing NZ Speaker – Callum McKirdy

Image: Callum McKirdy sitting on some steps in a causal pose

Callum McKirdy is a speaker, author, mentor and facilitator specialising in workplace dynamics and behaviour. With a successful 20-year career assisting leaders and teams to develop radically authentic workplaces by leveraging their uniqueness across Australasia.

Proudly dyslexic and ADHD-positive, Callum champions organisations to think differently about different thinking, and views neurodivergent people as the innovative super-workforce of the future.

Callum speaks at industry conferences, facilitates high-impact workshops, trains teams, and mentors professionals who are looking to reconnect people with purpose in their workplaces.

The author of The HR Catalyst: A Guide to the New Practice of Leading HR, published in 2019 and a contributing author to the 2020 Amazon Bestseller What The Hell Do We Do Now? – An Enterprise Guide to COVID-19 and Beyond, Callum is due to publish his second book TILT: Thinking Differently About Different Thinking in late-2021.

Find out more…