Supporting Children and Young People with Disability in Challenging Times


Event held Wednesday 15 June 2022.

The upcoming policy forum aims to discuss ways of supporting children and young people with disability through a variety of challenging contexts such as family violence, the COVID pandemic and the challenges for families navigating systems such the NDIS. Children and young people with disability and their parents/carers, are an identified priority group of Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031.

Keynote speaker:

  • Professor Sally Robinson (Flinders University).

We will then explore case studies from:

  • Plumtree Children’s Services (Ms Sylvana Mahmic, CEO).
  • First Peoples Disability Network Australia (Paul Calcott, National Training and Resource Development Manager).

The policy forum will conclude with a discussion co-facilitated by Professor Sally Robinson and Families Australia CEO, Jamie Crosby.

We encourage the participation of workers from Aboriginal controlled organisations, child protection and welfare organisations, disability and carers organisations, as well as those engaged with policy, advocacy and research on issues affecting children, youth and families.

Register for this policy forum through eventbrite

Keynote speaker:

Professor Sally Robinson

Sally Robinson does research with children, young people and adults with disability about what helps them feel safe, well and happy at difficult times in their lives. Most of her work is done in teams that include people with disability as researchers as well as asking them for their views. She also works with governments and organisations about how to listen to the things that matter to disabled people. Sally is Professor of Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University.

Case Study Presenters:

Sylvana Mahmic, CEO Plumtree

Sylvana has 28 years’ experience in the early childhood intervention field.  She is an advocate for early childhood intervention and self-management. She has served on over 15 reference and advisory groups in addition to five Ministerial appointments including membership of the Disability Council NSW. She has held executive positions on the Board of Early Childhood Intervention Australia NSW/ACT and was a founding board member of Diversity Disability Alliance. Currently, she is a member of the Access Advisory Group NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, the NSW Family and Community Services Multicultural Advisory Group, Australian Museum Access and Inclusion Advisory Panel and the NDIA Independent Advisory Council. She is co-creator Now and Next, promotes peer work and has incubated two new peer-led organisations. She is completing her PhD on individualised funding and supports her son to self-manage his funding. He has been utilising self-managed funding since 2009.

Paul Calcott, National Training and Resource Development Manager, First Peoples Disability Network Australia 

First Peoples Disability Network Australia proactively engage with communities around Australia and advocate for the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in Australia and internationally. They follow the human rights framework established by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Australia is a signatory, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

First Peoples with disability and their families are amongst the most seriously disadvantaged and disempowered members of the Australian community. They give voice to their needs and concerns and share their narratives of lived experience. 

First Peoples Disability Network Australia work for the recognition, respect, protection and fulfilment of the human rights of First Peoples with disability and their families. They work within a social model of disability, in which they understand ‘disability’ to be the result of barriers to our equal participation in the social and physical environment.


Jamie Crosby, CEO Families Australia

Jamie brings an extensive network of community sector, government and business relationships and community advocacy experience to his role as CEO Families Australia. Jamie has worked in youth and family accommodation services, juvenile justice, housing and homelessness support programs, and organisations delivering community services management and member-based advocacy. He also has deep experience in the Federal public service having spent the past decade working in Indigenous Affairs within the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He also convenes the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing.