Now & Next Family Conference 2019 – Small steps, giant leaps

The 3rd annual Now and Next Family Conference 2019 Small Steps, Giant Leaps was held on the 26th of October 2019 brought to you as a collaboration between Plumtree, Now and Next™, Reframing Autism and Reframing Disability.

The conference provided a unique opportunity for families and carers who are raising a child with a disability, developmental delay or neurodivergence to learn, share and innovate together. It offered access to stimulating and dynamic speakers, informative Q&A sessions, and connected families sharing similar journeys of navigating the smallest of steps and the most monumental of leaps.

Through little steps and from the earliest moments, we can make giant leaps for our children. In doing so, we lay the foundations for our children to become the directors of their futures.

The conference was brought to you as a collaboration between Plumtree, Now and Next™ , Reframing Autism and Reframing Disability.


Conference Program

View the conference program


Welcome to Country | Michael West, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

Michael is proud to be part of the oldest living Civilisation, encompassing History, Knowledge, Ceremony, Traditions and Culture practiced for more than 65,000 years.

Michael sees himself as an educator sharing stories spanning from contemporary urban based Artist to cultural representative with Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

“Burning and creating “Message Sticks” is practicing my culture and they are used for symbolism, marking points in the continuum and the education of people about history and Aboriginal perspectives.”

Everyone has an intrinsic value, it’s upon us, the individuals, the communities and society to support and develop capabilities to enable the achievement of dreams and aspirations.


Opening of the Conference | Jordan O’Reilly, CEO Hireup


KEYNOTE PANEL: Including the voice of your child: Building independence and flourishing

In 2017 and 2018, our panel discussions centred on parent-professional relationships and how parents can ‘lean into’ their relationships with professionals. This year, we are shifting focus to how we can support out children to ‘lean in’ too.

Our panel of experts will discuss the ways that families can encourage, incorporate, and include their child in decision-making and planning through asking the questions: Why should we include children in the decisions that affect them? What is our role to promote this? How can children be integral members of their teams, even when they are very young? In what ways can children express their view in therapy, home and community environments?

Join us, as we explore how our children can flourish through developing independence in their own lives.

Chair: Dr Melanie Heyworth, peer worker

Panel members: Marlena Katene; Kylieanne Derwent; Melo Kalemkeridis; Jordan O’Reilly; Jodie Laughton


KEYNOTE: Helping children recognise and express emotions | Dr Emma Goodall

It is frustrating for children and their families when a child cannot recognise or safely express their emotion. This session will explain why many children with disabilities struggle to identify and manage their emotions. It will also give you practical strategies to support them to do so.

These strategies require 5-20 minutes a day and are suitable for all people regardless of their age, challenges and their support needs. However, while children are still learning about their emotions, they need the adults around them to help them manage their feelings.

This session will provide you with three strategies that will be useful when helping children to manage and recognise their emotions.


10 things I love about having an inclusive life | Marlena Katene

Having a disability does not equate to having a boring or stagnant life. In Marlena’s presentation ‘10 things I love about having an inclusive life’ she will show how with the right supports, a clear vision and a purpose, no matter what the disability, we can ALL attain to living the good life. 


Closing of the Conference | Sylvana Mahmic


Karim’s Mojo Disco

Karim’s Mojo Disco is a life-changing motivational presentation by “Don’t Dis My Ability” ambassador, Abdul-Karim Bouchafaa.

Guaranteed to put a smile on your dial and a spring in your step, Karim’s Mojo Disco will completely change the way you think about people living with disability and might change the way you look at yourself and the world altogether.

For more information on Karim’s Mojo Disco visit his site karimsmojodisco.com

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