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As the world progresses with an abundance of economic and technological advances, are
we at risk of losing the neighbourhood connections that sustain us?
Hugh Mackay was so concerned he wrote a book called The Art of Belonging! We are
not good at surviving in isolation, he states. We rely on communities to support and sustain us, and if those communities are to survive and prosper, we must engage with them
and nurture them. Thats the beautiful symmetry of human society, we need communities
and they need us.
Even though belonging is an issue for all of us, the barriers for people with a disability are
often amplified through negative attitudes, lack of employment, congregate care models
and special or separate places. This creates even deeper wedges of disconnection.


This is Belonging Matters sixth conference! For two full days, 300 delegates will be engaged and explore the importance of belonging. Through the stories and wisdom of over
20 speakers, this conference will analyse why we rely on communities to support and
sustain us, the risk of disconnection and exclusion, and how we support and sustain diverse communities to flourish and prosper. Current information about the NDIS will also
be provided.


The conference will attract a wide range of people locally, nationally and internationally.
This includes people with a disability, families, advocates, organisations, professionals
and community members who are concerned about community, disability, diversity and


I liken it to the BIG BANG
Real, rich & grounded

Changed my life


Truly inspiring & emotional

The speakers were excellent

Daring to imagine, courage to change & determination to act

Finally a relevant conference for two full days!
how to do

Succour for the soul!

Mindset changing

Lots of thought & reflection about the

Honesty, humanity, equality Opened my mind to new ideas Enlightening

This conference seeks to ignite

THE ART OF BELONGING and challenge the systemic exclusion of
people with a disability!



At this conference presenters will share their diverse and wonderful stories and insights about
community, diversity, acceptance, neighbourhood, and belonging. They will challenge us to move
forward and reject efforts that continue to exclude, segregate and separate people from their
Dr Michael Kendrick is an independent international consultant in human services and community work ,and resides in Massachusetts, USA. His interests include social integration, change, innovation, values, service quality, the creation of safeguards for vulnerable people, advocacy, the
role of individual persons and small groups in creating solutions, personalised support approaches, leadership and reform in the human service field.

Beau Vernons life changed forever on June 23rd 2012. In an instant, he went from a young 23
year old who never sat still, to being diagnosed with quadriplegia. He spent 8 months in hospital
looking at the prospect of spending his life in a wheelchair. Things have definitely changed for
me, but the vision to live life to the fullest and to tackle lifes challenges head on have stayed the
same. Beau now works at the Australian Football League (AFL), is senior coach of the Leongatha
Football Club and is finishing off his university degree.

Emma Gee is one of Australias acclaimed speakers, offering her thoughts and solutions on person-centred support and resilience. With a background in Occupational Therapy and learning to
speak again after experiencing a stroke, Emma is a renowned expert and living example of what
it takes to step in anothers shoes and truly bounce back in life. She is also about to publish her
first book.
Hugh MacKay is a social researcher and the author of sixteen books, including the 2013 bestseller, The Good Life. His latest book, The Art of Belonging, uses a mixture of social analysis and storytelling to explore the reasons why communities sometimes break down, and to explain how
community engagement enriches us all. Although Hugh cant be physically with us due to his
book tour, he will join us in a pre recorded interview to share his wisdom about The Art of Belonging.
Nathan Basha is a motivational speaker who is pushing the boundaries. Nathan might happen to
have Down Syndrome but he says, Thats not who I am! He has spoken at inter/national conferences, political forums, universities, schools, workshops and in the corporate sector, sharing
his insights about his inclusive life. Nathan is a homeowner, a filmmaker, works at the coolest
radio station in Sydney, travels internationally and is a much loved son, brother and friend
these roles bring Nathan a sense of belonging to his dream life.

Aoife OToole works for Cheshire Ireland who provide services to 295 adults with disabilities
across Ireland. In 2011, Cheshire closed two congregate care settings and has transformed services to create and maintain individualised support options for people in the community. Aoife
will share the changes that are possible for people with a disability when agencies commit to
transforming what they do and what it takes to make such change happen.

Iain Walker has had a long engagement with sustainable living, particularly with housing. He is a
founder of a thirty-year old cooperative housing program and also Murundaka Cohousing Multi
Generational Community in Melbourne, which was developed three years ago. Iains passion is
to develop models for a transition to a restorative climate through eco-friendly, affordable and
socially connected communities.
Errol Cocks is a research professor at Curtin University, WA. One of his recent research projects
explored personalised forms of supporting adults with intellectual disability as opposed to congregate living arrangements such as group homes. The research resulted in the development of a
framework which provides important information to aid future decision making. The research
project is now being extended to capture findings in Victoria and NSW which is timely as many
families and people with a disability consider various options for supported living arrangements
that reflect individual needs and preferences.
Meg Parsons career has been varied, working in local government, education and human services. Meg began working in the Disability Sector 25 years ago - first in direct service provision,
then coordination and management roles. Meg commenced with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in July 2013 and is now the Regional Director for Barwon NDIA which includes the Barwon trial site. Meg has a Masters in Disability Studies and also a Masters in Innovation and Service Management specialising in change management.
Dale Speed is from Queensland and has run a profitable mowing business for the last two years.
He attended mainstream school and like other students had part time employment. Dale enjoys
spending time with his friends, has an active social life and last year travelled to China and Bali
with a friend. He recently moved into his own unit that he shares with another good friend.

Wurundjeri Elder TBA

Sharon Bourke, in partnership with her son Dan, self-direct funds that support him. Together with
clarity of vision and practical planning, self-direction has provided Dan with greater control, flexibility
and richer community opportunities. Sharon also works as a consultant. She has worked on the Pave
the Way project supporting people with a disability and their families to plan bright futures and as a
manager of a disability support service designed to respond to peoples individualised support needs.
Her motivation lies in the belief that all people can enjoy a good life within a welcoming community.

Leanne Burke works for Staffing Options in QLD which operates as a host agency for self-directed
support. She manages the establishment of systems to enable people to direct their own support
or direct on behalf of a family member or another person. Leanne is also actively engaged in a
family-directed support arrangement on behalf of her sister. This role is undertaken as part of a
loving family who collectively assist Maria to navigate a sense of belonging in her community
that isnt reliant on her family, but allows her to create her own identity.

Dr Craig Hassed is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University. Craigs work focuses on incorporating
mindfulness-based strategies into health, professional and educational environments. Part of
Craigs role at Monash is as a mindfulness consultant incorporating mindfulness programs for
staff and students at the university. Craig has also published seven books including Know Thyself,
Mindfulness for Life, and Mindful Learning.

Cameron Skinner lives in Warrigal, Victoria. He is a receptionist for the Jeremiah Business Group,
believes in the importance of giving back to community through volunteering and is an avid Collingwood Football Club supporter. Cameron has been a great asset to the Belonging Matters conference and has taken on various roles such as Master of Ceremonies and resident Vox Popper
interviewing delegates on various topics. Cameron inspires many people to live their dream.

Amanda Murphy lives in South Australia and is a facilitator of Community Living Projects Circles@School Project. The project builds intentional circles of friendship, support and belonging
for students with disabilities. She has a teaching background and an interest in working with students with disabilities in mainstream school settings. Amanda is passionate about inclusive communities and building belonging for all children.

Sue Smith and her husband Mike are parents to Alicia and Isaac. Isaac is 15 years of age and is
currently in Year 9 at the same mainstream school he has attended since kindergarten. He lives
with Fragile X Syndrome. Sue has an education background and advocates strongly for Isaac to
achieve the good things in life. Sue and Isaac are participants in the Circles@School project.

Jo Cregan and her husband Andrew are parents to two sons, Neil, aged 5, and Gabriel, aged 8.
Both boys have Autism and attend their local Catholic School. Jo is passionate about the pursuit
of a good life for her children and is their strongest advocate. Jo has navigated the transition to
the NDIS and both she and her children are participants of the Circles@School Project.

And many more speakers!

Social gathering
Relax and belonging at our social gathering! Enjoy entertainment by duo Brendan Forde and
Corinne Bowen at the Glenferrie Hotel, 324 Burwood Road, Hawthorn on Thursday evening,
27th August from 6pm 8pm.


Early Bird


(Includes full program, lunch, morning and afternoon tea)



over two full days

Closes 31/07/15
(AUD, Inc. GST)

Closes 14/08/15
(AUD, Inc. GST)

Standard: This rate is for professionals or people with a disability and

families who are attending who are employed by or represent a service, support or advocacy organisation, or company or corporation.







Student (Full-Time): This rate is for students who are studying fulltime. A copy of a current student card must be provided.



Student (Part-Time): This rate is for students who are studying parttime. A copy of a current student card must be provided.



Social Gathering: (Thursday 27th Aug, 6.00pm8.00pm) Includes finger food and plenty of networking! Drinks at bar prices.



Companion Card: Must be produced if supporting a person with a disability to attend.



Agency Sponsored: This rate is for agencies who wish to either sponsor people with a disability or families who use the services of their
Concession: This rate is for people with a disability, families, and
Health Care Card holders who are paying as an individual from their
own resources.

To guarantee a place, please register early by completing the registration form and payment details online. Registration is for
both days (no single day registrations are available. Registrations will not be accepted without payment and a fully completed
registration form listing all attendee names and details. Please see full terms and conditions please view Belonging Matters
Ticket Terms and Conditions Policy and Refund Policy.
Belonging Matters

Phone: 03 97398333

Overseas +613 97398333




Hawthorn is a large eclectic suburb, that is 6 km and a short train ride from the central
business district of Melbourne. It has plenty of cool cafes, great restaurants, cheap Asian
food together with great shopping and public transport.
The recently redeveloped Hawthorn Arts Centre is an intriguing mix of contemporary and
traditional design. As a heritage listed building, the elegant grandeur of the Main Hall
doesn't disappoint, while the pre-function area is strikingly modern.


Belonging Matters is a not for profit education & advisory resource for those interested in
community & social inclusion. It was established in 2003 to challenge the systemic exclusion of people with a disability by providing a range of resources and learning opportunities for people with disabilities, families and organisations. Our aim is to empower people
to imagine better lives for all, deepen knowledge or skills, and equip themselves to enable
people to live full, meaningful and inclusive lives in the community.


Is your business or organisation concerned about the
community, diversity and its sustainability?


Showcase your services and/or products
Support and be a part of thoughtful and positive change
Make a difference to the community
Provide a networking opportunity for those concerned about community
Enable people with a disability and families to attend a
conference that will make a difference

Phone (03) 9739 8333 or overseas +61 3 9739 8333