From Hervey Bay to Darwin: Patrick travels from strength to strength

Anyone who knows Pat knows he is determined, true to himself, and has an incredible sense of humour. It is in part due to these qualities Pat was awarded the ‘2022 Nigel Webb Emerging Leader Bursary’, presented as part of this years’ Queenslanders with Disability Network’s (QDN) Emerging Leaders program.

Pat, who lives in Hervey Bay, is passionate about connecting with isolated people with disability. So much so, that when he realised there was little support available for people like himself with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) in his community, determined to make a change, he started a social support group for people with ABI.

In recognition of QDN Life Member and previous Board Chair Nigel Webb, QDN’s Board has offered a bursary in 2021 and 2022 which provides one QDN Emerging Leader with the opportunity to network and learn from leaders with disability and organisations in different parts of Australia.

Pat is planning to use the bursary to visit the Northern Territory this year to learn from and network with people with disability in Darwin. He has drawn parallels between Darwin and his own community in Hervey Bay, places both home to transient populations of people with disability.

Isolation was one of the biggest challenges Pat used to face, until he started engaging with people in similar circumstances on social media. Social media became a way for Pat to connect with other people and he is planning to use the bursary to explore it as a platform to connect and engage with isolated people with disability.

“A lot of people with disability don’t have access to technology and are sometimes transient,” Pat said.

“I’m hoping to learn how I can reach people who might find themselves isolated and without a support network.”

It was by chance Pat discovered QDN and the Emerging Leaders program while scrolling on Facebook. Pat thought it might be a good opportunity to develop his leadership skills, but ended up getting much more than he bargained for.

“Being involved in the QDN Emerging Leaders program has completely changed me and changed my life,” Pat said.

“The program has taught me how to understand and engage with people.”

“I’m not a very social person but the social contact actually became something I looked forward to, and now some of my closest friends are people I’ve met through the program.”

“I’ve realised I’m not as alone as I thought, and that it’s okay to be different.”

Pat is encouraging other people living with disability to become QDN members, and to consider applying for the QDN Emerging Leaders program. He is passionate about other people like himself benefiting from the chance to learn about and network with other people living with disability.

“My advice is to take the opportunity and fly with it,” Pat said.

Pat says if you’re considering applying not to worry about your skills or experience – just do it.

“I was worried I didn’t have the right training or experience, but the program was different to what I expected. It was free flowing and easier to understand than I thought it was going to be.”

“QDN and the Emerging Leaders program has given me a voice and now they can’t keep me quiet. I feel like I can have my say.”

Patrick is one of 34 people who took part in the 2022 leadership development program which is supporting people with disability to develop skills and confidence, lead change, and create a more inclusive community.

The program involves monthly training sessions (face to face meetings, online interactive sessions), mentorship, and community activities to develop critical thinking, explore leadership theory practice and techniques, hold inquiring conversations, build relationships, and connect with established leaders and industry professionals.

Applications for the 2023 QDN Emerging Leaders program are open now and close on 17 February. We encourage applications from members from diverse disability, gender, culture and geography.

If you are interested in applying, please visit our website for more information. If you have any questions contact QDN at or phone 1300 363 783.

Learn more:

The program is funded by the Department of Social Services Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant.