Meet the QDN Emerging Leaders - 2023

Group 1

Men with his Flower shirt smiling to the camera

Philip Reik

Mt Gravatt East, Brisbane

Disability leadership to me works best in the context of a power with relationship between stakeholders. Where power dynamics and intentions have been identified early, and each party has a clear role towards mutual empowerment and the achievement of the desired outcomes.”

Woman with a flower dress posing for a camera.

Lara McCrae

Tarragindi, Brisbane

"Disability leadership is about empowering peoples with disabilities to speak up, have autonomy and make choices that affect their lives. It's about having the confidence and skills to advocate for oneself and others, ensuring that our voices are heard, respected, and considered in matters that impact us." 

Men in his blue shirt smiling to the camera

Jake McCoombes

Leichhardt, Ipswich

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Rani Tesiram

Manly West, Brisbane

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Michelle Reekie

Bracken Ridge, Brisbane

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Todd Evans

Albany Creek, Brisbane


Emma Bushe

Southside, Gympie

"It’s a chance to shed light and to guide knowledge into the everyday existence and unfortunate yet still ongoing struggles that disabled people encounter in a world that still doesn’t fully cater or give access to them. Disability leadership is a way to give voice to disabled people and their lived experience, to show others that we’re human beings like everyone else on this planet who have goals, dreams, desire and an inherent need to be seen as part of life around us….and that we too deserve to be heard, seen and respected also. And disability leadership in the present is a chance to make the future better for everyone and all generation of disabled Australians who are coming up behind us or are yet to be born so they will have stronger opportunities and integration into their communities and society in general."


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Luisa Smart

Victoria Point, Redlands City

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Jacqui Oswald

Newstead, Brisbane

"It means everything to be able to make a difference in other people’s lives it makes my life so happy that I get to the job that I get to do make me want to live my life the fullest possible that I can."

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Azure Rigney

Toowong, Brisbane

“Being a trusted contact and source of information for the disability community and beyond to turn to for support and systemic advocacy.”

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Lisa Bagnall

Kanara Downs, Brisbane

"Disability leadership means living a rich meaningful life while living with a disability; and being willing to strategically share the insights that enable the transition from a perception of being 'disabled' to flourishing."

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Bee Austin

Glen Eden, Gladstone

"Disability Leadership means opening a dialogue with communities to create and share brave spaces where our societal constructs and assumptions are questioned, collaboration and co-design cultivate an opportunity for systemic innovation, and the complexities of living systems are embraced.

I recognise that there is a need for change regarding how societies, communities, and individuals construct the (normative) narrative ‘for’ people, as opposed to ‘with’ people, particularly regarding those that society deems to marginalise, and Disability Leadership can drive this inclusive and equitable future."


Men wearing a Blue T-shirt smiling at the camera.

Andres Angulo

Sinnamon Park, Brisbane

"Disability Leadership for me is to stand out from the crowd even though you or someone has a disability. Could be speak out or advocate for somebody and make a difference in a positive way. Is to mark a pathway that others could follow and learn from your experience."

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Claire Mitchell

Coorparoo, Brisbane

"I am passionate about being a voice for people with Down syndrome and want to make a difference in the lives of others."

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Leanne Watts

Wurtulla, Sunshine Coast

"To me, Disability Leadership means that people with disabilities are seen as valuable members of society with unique skills and perspectives. It's about breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion in all areas of life. Disability Leadership encourages people to develop their leadership skills and to advocate for themselves confidently. At its core, Disability Leadership is about creating an environment where individuals with disabilities are given equal opportunities to contribute, influence policies, and effect positive change. It involves breaking down societal barriers, promoting accessibility, and challenging discriminatory attitudes and practices. It's also about working with other marginalised communities to create a more equitable society for everyone. Ultimately, Disability Leadership is about challenging ableism and empowering individuals with disabilities to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond."

Gillian Gerkhe

Regency Down, Lockyer Valley

"Remembering the majority and using leadership skills that you have to make your voice and actions heardNot just listening to your community but putting your thoughts on how to bridge those gaps into action, and seeing them through."

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Lorna Decker

Rangeville, Toowoomba

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Sue Chapman

Murrumba Downs, Brisbane


"Inclusion – of everyone and everything.  Disability shouldn’t be hidden. Disability shouldn’t disable anyone from being who they are as individuals or becoming leaders.  There is potential in everyone with or without a disability.

Maintaining Patience – Having respect and understanding - adjusting to obtain the end result.

Passion – To enact change, refusing to accept barriers, being persistent and flexible.

Adaptability and Curiosity – continue to upskill and learn, not just for self but for all. Being collaborative with others.

Resilience – be prepared for failure – bouncing back from setbacks is an important element of leadership.

Tolerance – shows trust and empathy - encourages others to not only work with you but work to their best abilities."

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Belinda Thompson

Mt Lofty, Toowoomba

"Assisting others through information and actions to find and live their best lives to the best of their abilities."

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Roxanne Doyle

Earlville, Cairns

"To me, Disability Leadership simply means never giving up. It means speaking up and speaking out and fighting for what is right."


Gale Campbell

Woree, Cairns


Rahim Mohammadi

Inala, Brisbane

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