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Keynote Speaker

Dinesh Palipana OAM

Dinesh Palipana OAM

Advocate for doctors with disabilities; QLD STATE RECIPIENT AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2021

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM is a senior resident doctor at Gold Coast University Hospital. Despite facing numerous barriers, he became the first quadriplegic medical graduate and medical intern in Queensland. He was recently admitted as a lawyer.

As co-founder of Doctors With Disabilities Australia, Dinesh has worked with the Australian Medical Association to create first-of-kind national policies for inclusivity in medical education and employment.

Dinesh is a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby league team. He is also a member of multiple committees for disability advocacy and has spoken in world-renowned forums such as TEDx. Through COVID-19, he advocated for equitable treatment for people with disabilities, including as a witness to the Disability Royal Commission.

Dinesh has also contributed significantly to scientific advances in treating spinal cord injury and restoring function to people with paralysis. His national and global impact has been recognised with numerous awards, including Junior Doctor of the Year and the Order of Australia.


Drew Beswick

Drew Beswick

CEO, Possability

Drew is driven to make a real difference in the disability sector through the continual improvement of services and, more broadly, by contributing to national action around access to housing and services.

As Chief Executive Officer, Drew leads the strategic direction of the organisation with a strong focus on culture, sustainability and service innovation—towards its Vision of a world where everyone has the opportunity to pursue their potential.

Prior to taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2016, Drew was Chief Operating Officer for four years. In both roles he has seen Possability through times of significant growth, change and uncertainty due to the introduction of the NDIS and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Drew is a qualified social worker with post graduate qualifications in management and governance and has been a Director at Housing Choices Australia since 2019. With extensive experience in a range of human service settings across Australia and the United Kingdom, he has held senior roles in Health and Social Public Policy, and was the State Manager for the Federal Department of Health and Ageing.

More about Possability

Karenza Louis-Smith

Karenza Louis-Smith


Tertiary qualified with a BA (Hons) in Youth and Community work, Karenza has over 25 years industry experience working in the UK and Australia. 16 of these have been as the CEO of leading, award winning for-purpose organisations.

Her areas of expertise include designing and leading services that respond to mental illness, psychiatric disability, offending (including services for those at risk of entering the criminal justice system) as well as drug treatment and homelessness.

Karenza’s unique perspective as a sector leader and innovator includes her own lived experience of mental ill health as a young person. Passionate about changing the world, Karenza has participated in intensive leadership development with the Global Leadership Foundation and Leadership Victoria and is a current Board Director at Mental Health Victoria.

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Julia Squire

Julia Squire

CEO, Ability Options

Julia Squire is a highly experienced CEO and leader with more than 30 years’ management experience and 24 years as a CEO in the public heath, commercial and not for profit sectors in the UK and Australia.

With a passion for quality, safety, engagement and sustainability, Julia has ensured the services, organisations and systems she has worked in are person-centric, engaging, effective and wherever possible have measurable outcomes for the people they serve.

Julia feels strongly that the Disability Sector needs to use its collective voice to advocate for our participants, employees and organisations. As a consequence, Julia sits on the NDS NSW State Committee as Vice Chair and supports her team to engage with peak bosies and other partners.

More about Ability Options

Ben Keast

Ben Keast

CEO, ARC Disability Services Inc

Benjamin Keast has been the CEO of ARC Disability Services in Cairns since April 2016. Commencing with ARC in 2002 as the Business Admin Trainee, Ben held a variety of roles within the organisation over his 21 years. Supporting his journey Ben has a number of qualifications up to obtaining his MBA in 2018 and most recently is a graduate of the AICD. Ben has always held a passion for collaboration and skills development within the Disability sector since his engagement on the Disability Sector Training Coalition (2008 -2012).

Ben has been a member of the Far North Queensland’s Regional Disability Advisory Committee; Premiers Regional Forums and was formally the Chair of the Disability Support Industry Reference Committee . Ben has been on a number of not-for-profit boards within advocacy services; arts; and community housing organisations. Ben is currently the Chair of the Far North Queensland’s Disability Provider Network, an inaugural director of the Human Services Skills Organisation and a Queensland State Committee Member for NDS.

More about ARC Disability Services

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Interim CEO, Disability Advocacy Netowrk Australia

Jeff is responsible for governance and compliance; financial management and administration; program development and coordination; and human resources.

Jeff is a solicitor with a lifelong commitment to social justice and the protection of the environment. Prior to joining DANA, Jeff worked as a senior executive for 15 years, being a longstanding CEO of EDO NSW, a public interest environmental law firm, and People with Disability Australia. He has also worked as a consultant specialising in governance and environmental policy, and for the NSW government in the areas of drugs policy and environment protection.

Jeff also has a wealth of governance experience, with 50 years’ cumulative experience on Boards in the environmental, homelessness and community legal sectors. He is currently on the Board of Climate Action Network International, the Advisory Committee for the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law and a member of the Leadership Coalition of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA).

More about DANA

Faye Spiteri OAM

Faye Spiteri OAM

CEO, Fronditha Care

An accomplished strategist Faye has extensive experience in executive leadership roles across government, corporate and for purpose sectors.

In February 2021, she was appointed CEO of Fronditha Care – a leading provider of aged care services and is committed to building on the legacy of the organisation in provision of care to the Greek and broader Australian community. She was also the first female President and Board Chair of the organisation and ended her 9-year tenure in 2019.

Her areas of expertise include aged care, cultural and religious diversity, gender parity, social justice, access and equity and social cohesion.

Passionate about achieving better social outcomes driven by genuine collaboration and engagement, in 2021 she was recognised with a Medal of the Order (OAM) for her contribution to driving social change and inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll for Women as a Change Agent in 2019.

More about Fronditha Care


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