By Noah Callan – ACC and Technology Coordinator | Kids Plus

Well! What a great success our very first Changemakers conference was. A positive vibe throughout it all.

We heard from Dr Margaret Mayston, Associate Professor, Neuroscience & General Physiology, as well as Professor Christine Imms, Apex Australia Chair of Neurodevelopment & Disability. They discussed matters related to the development of interventions for people with neuro disability, in particular those with cerebral palsy. These intervention practices are based on personal experience, scientific knowledge and debate. They asked us to challenge our satisfaction with contemporary practice in child-onset disability, and present principles and practices to advance participation-focused knowledge and how it is utilized. Combined, these two presenters were a powerhouse and we were very lucky to have them at the conference.

We also explored the journey of Kylie’s son Lachie starting and excelling in his learning and use of AAC, specifically PODD communication systems. Jacob and his mum Willeke, reflected on how things have changed through the journey, and what changes we would like to see from service providers in the future. I was humbled to join these guys and to share my experience around navigating through a life with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

We heard from Penny, Jenna and Rachel about the early years to young adulthood: around self-advocacy and autonomous communication. The focus was on how you can support and increase a young person’s ability to participate in all environments with autonomy, choice, and self-determination.  Self-advocacy becomes especially critical for clients who have complex communication needs. Penny also talked about her lived experiences and we got an insight into her daily life.

One of our delegates reflected:

“… I loved the input of academics, therapists and people with lived experience – it was great to have broad input! The theme of change! It made me think about and gave me permission to affect change.”


It was great to hear from Thomas Banks who has a documentary on Stan called Thomas Banks Quest for Love. Thomas shared his experience of over 6 years writing and developing his one-man play. Jenna did a solo presentation about building an AAConnect™ community. She explored the impact of education and training, changing attitudes, and developing advocacy skills through various supporting people around the client and through our AAConnect™ program. You can register for our Term 3 program on our website now.

Changemakers 2021 was all about challenging people to become changemakers in their own domain, to implement change and champion new and different ways of doing things. As one of our delegates said:

“I am definitely going back to be a changemaker. I will advocate for change. I will advocate to give everyone a voice. Thank you for giving me a poke, you have given me the impetus and ideas to poke the bear.”


We hope that you enjoyed the conference, whether that was in person or online. We are looking forward to our next Changemakers Conference in 2023!

See you then!