Keynote Speakers


Sylvana Mahmic

Sylvana Mahmic keynote speakerSylvana Mahmic is an advocate for early childhood intervention and the CEO of Plumtree. Plumtree is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for young children ages birth to eight years old with a developmental delay or disability, and their families. She has held executive positions at Early Childhood Intervention Association NSW/ACT Chapter over the past 10 years, including the roles of President and Vice-President.

Sylvana has served on more than 15 reference and advisory groups and five Ministerial appointments, including the Disability Council of NSW. She has been a member of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Independent Advisory Group since 2013. 

Sylvana contributes a number of perspectives in her advocacy work: her personal experience as a mother of a young man who has a disability; her professional experience working with young children with disability and their families; and being from a culturally diverse background. 

Since 2009 Sylvana, her son and the extended family have been learning how to use a self-managed package using individualised funding and she uses these experiences to shine a light on the potential of this approach for people with a disability and their families. 

Sylvana is currently undertaking research into individualised funding models as a PhD candidate at University of Western Sydney.



Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanski

Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanski have been engaged as activists, teachers, innovators, entrepreneurs and writers in the world of caregiving and disability for more than three decades.

Vickie was the founding director of Canada’s first Family Support Institute. Al, in his role as Executive Director of British Columbians for Mentally Handicapped People (now Inclusion BC), led the closure of Inclusion BC's major institutions, segregated schools and sheltered workshops.

They co-founded PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network) in 1989 in response to the question, ‘What happens to people with disabilities when their parents die?’

PLAN has been associated with a number of innovations including:

  • pioneering social enterprise in Canada
  • instigating the world’s only Registered Disability Savings Plan – today there are more than $2 billion in deposits
  • stewarding the Representation Agreement, a grassroots alternative to adult guardianship which enshrines in law the legitimacy of caring, trusting relationships to support decision-making
  • developing a citizen based theory of disability
  • addressing isolation with a focused and strategic approach that creates durable personal networks/circles of support
  • establishing Tyze Personal Networks, a social purpose technology business to spread the use of care networks and address isolation.

For the last 10 years, Vickie and Al have been exploring the emerging world of social innovation, to learn how other social movements achieve lasting impact. They are interested in blending social innovation methods with the traditional ingenuity of carers and people experiencing life challenges. They believe caring is resplendent with creativity, tenacity and grace, and want to shine a light on it.

Vickie and Al are members of the Order of Canada. They have five children including Liz, an artist and poet who every day illustrates the potential of people with disabilities. Vickie is also a carer for her 92 year old mother.

Their books include Safe and Secure, A Good Life and Al’s most recent, Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation.


Tim Kelsey

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Digital Health Agency

Tim Kelsey is Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency. He is an internationally regarded expert in thinking differently about how digital and social media can transform the customer experience in public services.

Tim was the first National Director for Patients and Information in the National Health Service (NHS) in England - a role which combined the functions of chief technology and information officer with responsibility for patient and public participation.

He was also chair of the National Information Board and led the development of Personalised Health and Care 2020, a framework for implementation of a modern information revolution in the national healthcare system across Britain.

Tim joined the NHS in 2012 after serving as the British government's first Executive Director of Transparency and Open Data.

As a leading advocate of a popular knowledge revolution in public services, in 2000 he co-founded Dr Foster, a company which pioneered publication of patient outcomes in healthcare. Telstra Health bought Dr Foster in 2015.

Tim was named a Reformer of the Year by the Think Tank Reform in 2012, and one of the 500 most influential people in the UK in 2014 by the Sunday Times.

Tim was a trustee of the Nuffield Trust, a leading health policy think tank, until 2015, and was appointed visiting professor at the Institute for Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, London in November 2015.

Before Dr Foster, Tim held various news editor, investigative and television reporter roles, among them for the Independent and The Sunday Times, as well as Channel 4 and the BBC. He has also worked for Telstra and for McKinsey & Co.



Christine Bryden AM and Paul Bryden

A former science and technology advisor to an Australian Prime Minister, Christine Bryden was diagnosed with dementia in 1995.

In 2001, Christine was the first person with dementia to give a plenary address to the international conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International. In 2003 she was the first person with dementia to be elected to the Board of Alzheimer’s Disease International. She has given many talks and interviews in Australia, as well as in several other countries.

Christine was a member of the Alzheimer’s Australia Consumer Dementia Research Network (2010-2015). She is a member of Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation Scientific Panel, Queensland’s State-wide Dementia Clinical Network Steering Committee and the Cognitive Impairment Advisory Group of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. In 2016, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her advocacy work.

Christine has written four books: Who will I be when I die?, Dancing with Dementia, Nothing About Us, Without Us (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) and Before I Forget (Penguin Australia).

Three years after her diagnosis, Christine met Paul Bryden, a former diplomat. Despite her prognosis, they fell in love and married. With his help, support and encouragement, Christine has been an active advocate for people with dementia. Hers is an emotional and spiritual journey of survival and hope, accompanied by Paul, a loving and supportive husband and enabler.

Paul Bryden worked as a diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1970 to 1984, focusing on international trade issues. He subsequently held senior positions in the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority.

He has been involved in dementia (Alzheimer’s) issues since meeting Christine in 1998. He has been a member of Alzheimer’s Australia (ACT), President of Alzheimer’s Australia (Sunshine Coast), and a Member of the Management Committee of Alzheimer’s Australia (Queensland).

Paul is a Chaplain at Woodford Correctional Centre, as well as an enabler for Christine.



Christopher Hills and Garry Hills

Christopher Hills is a 20-year-old video editor, and owner of Switched-On Video Editing. He was born with athetoid cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic, which limits his ability to control muscle function and speech. So to use a computer, he uses his neck muscles to operate a Switch Control.

Christopher has completed jobs for clients such as Queensland Health, The National Disability Insurance Agency and Control Bionics in the US. Prior to starting his business, he studied Video Production with RMIT University online, and received a High Distinction. He also became an Apple Certified Pro in Final Cut Pro X.

As well as his work as an editor, Christopher is an Accessibility Ambassador and is a member of the Apple Consultants Network. He has produced a number of videos for his YouTube Channel on inclusion and how technology has an impact on his life, and has appeared and presented at various conferences.

Christopher enjoys all things technology-related, including flying flight simulators.


Since 2003, Garry Hills has been the primary carer for his son, Christopher. He is married to Tamara and they have two children.

Garry’s years as a carer, home-schooler and parent have been life-shaping. He has dedicated himself to developing the skills and attitudes needed when caring for a person with profound physical disabilities.

Garry has developed an intimate acquaintance with all manner of assistive and inclusive technologies, especially switch access; and has become an ardent advocate for Switch Control, Apple’s Accessibility feature built into all Macs and iOS devices.

Garry is an Accessibility Ambassador and is passionate about helping parents, carers, support workers and educators to understand and make the most of Apple’s inclusive technologies. He has a Graduate Diploma in Open and Distance Learning (USQ).

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