ACAA would like to thank the 2017 conference speakers. 

Keynote Speakers

  • Matthew Ames

    Matthew Ames
    Inspirational Speaker

    Matthew Ames was 39 years old when what started as a sore throat resulted in the loss of all four of his limbs. He had contracted a streptococcal infection resulting in toxic shock and was never expected to survive. Matthew suffered kidney failure, a detached retina, and permanent hearing loss in addition to the loss of his arms and legs. He was in a coma for three weeks, and spent almost two months in intensive care.

    Matthew came home in the first half of 2013, and is a continuing outpatient at the Mater Private Rehabilitation Centre in Brisbane. Now two years later Matthew has beaten the odds, spurred on by the fact that he is the father of four young children aged between four and 11 and husband of a very dedicated wife determined to grow old with him.

    Matthew has made a recovery that has amazed everyone who has shared his journey, powered by a positive attitude and focus on what he can do, rather than what he can't. He has started to share his stories with others in the hope that it inspires self-reflection, motivation to be positive about circumstances that arise, and new attitudes toward disability. His family's story has been captured in a recent book, 'Will to Live'. Matthew has been a Queensland state finalist in the 2013 Australian Father of the Year awards, and the recipient of the 2013 Queensland Pride of Australia (Courage) Award.

    Matthew has recently completed a series of surgeries associated with a procedure called osseointegration that will enable prosthetics to directly attach to his bones. He will be the first person in the world to have this done on all four limbs. Much of Matthew’s time is currently spent focusing on rehabilitation.

    Prior to his illness, Matthew was an executive in the energy and resources sector, an industry in which he had worked for almost 20 years as an environmental engineer and safety professional. His most recent position was as Group Manager, Health Safety & Environment at Origin Energy.


  • Alastair McEwin

    Alastair McEwin
    Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner

    Alastair McEwin is Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner. He commenced in this role in August 2016.

    Alastair’s educational background is in arts, law and business administration. Following his undergraduate studies in Adelaide, he spent time in Vancouver, Canada, pursuing postgraduate studies. Prior to moving to Sydney to commence as a consultant with Accenture, a global management and IT consulting company, he worked as Associate to the Hon. Justice John von Doussa at the Federal Court. Alastair has a strong background in working with non-profit organisations. He was the Executive Director of Community Legal Centres NSW, the peak body for Community Legal Centres in NSW. Other roles include CEO of People with Disability Australia and Manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law.

    Prior to commencing in his current role, he was the Chairperson of the NSW Disability Council, the official advisory board to the NSW Government on disability issues. He was also the President of the Deaf Society of NSW and Chairperson of the Australian Theatre of the Deaf. He has also been the coordinator of the World Federation of the Deaf Expert Group on Human Rights and an adjunct lecturer for the Masters of Community Management degree at the University of Technology Sydney.

  • Stephen Minning

    Stephen Minning
    Director, BrandCulture and Pam Wayfinding

    Stephen Minning is a branding and wayfinding specialist with over 20 years' international experience working with blue-chip companies and public-sector organisations.

    He leads a team of wayfinding experts who design immersive, engaging navigation experiences for clients such as Transport for NSW (TfNSW), Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and leading architects, property developers, and interior designers.
    Stephen is an influential member of the design community and a board member of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design.

    In 2016, Stephen launched Pam Wayfinding, a cloud-based platform for managing signs to create smart spaces that are easy to navigate and encourage exploration.

  • Maha Sinnathamby

    Maha Sinnathamby
    Chairman, Springfield Land Corporation

    Maha Sinnathamby is one of Queensland’s modern-day success stories. From incredibly humble beginnings in a small war-torn Malay village, Maha is now better known as the visionary developer behind Greater Springfield, a master-planned community (the 2010 World's Best Master Planned Community as awarded by the International Real Estate Federation) on the edge of Brisbane that will one day rival the size of Darwin.

    While the range of obstacles he has overcome on his way to the top are many and varied, the principles for his success have always remained the same. These principles are much more than a how-to guide for business success – these incredibly personal messages of positivity and self-belief are perfect for anybody wanting to discover how to achieve their own goals.

    Maha's story is one of failures, success and failures and success and how to persevere against great odds. Maha is an inspirational and engaging speaker who is surprisingly thankful for the challenges that his simple upbringing and life’s challenges have presented him. He is a firm believer that adversity and hardship has ingrained in him a resilience and mental toughness to face every hurdle that life presents; without which he may well be quite a different person.

    As Chairman of the Springfield Land Corporation, Maha's goal is make a difference in society by creating a master-planned community where people can live, learn, work and play in a city fully supported by high quality infrastructure, commercially viable development and sustainable development. Springfield is founded on the cornerstones of health, education and technology. Education at all levels is the cornerstone of his strong commitment to fostering social justice and social progress through adding value to individuals and increasing their potential as people.

    Springfield is presently 15% developed and, at completion, the CBD of Springfield will be twice the size of Brisbane’s CBD. To date, Springfield has directly and indirectly experienced a $15 billion expenditure and is moving at a rapid pace.

    Maha holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of New South Wales and has worked for the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

    Though never the goal, Maha has been recognised with many accolades, including: an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland; a Centenary Medal for contribution to Regional Development; the 2003 Ernst and Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year (Northern Region); the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International; Australian Institute of Management Medal for Management Innovation; and the Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin International Renowned Entrepreneur Excellence Award.

    Maha was also named in BRW's list of wealthiest individuals with a net personal wealth of $1.25bn. But it has never been the acquisition of wealth that drives Maha. His mantra is “chase success and money will follow” as he firmly believes that chasing money will not grow a person. He is very heavily committed to uplift society.

    If he didn't seem busy enough, Maha also holds many leadership and committee roles outside of the property development industry. He has released a book 'Stop Not Till the Goal is Reached' in which he shares his 10 principles for fearless success.


Plenary session speakers

  • Alexander Armstrong

    Alexander Armstrong
    Project Officer, Australian Building Codes Board

    Alex’s work at the Australian Building Codes Board primarily focuses on delivering new and innovative changes to the National Construction Code.  With a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Queensland University of Technology, he initially started his career working as a structural engineer. Building on his 10 years’ experience in the building and construction sector, he now focuses on researching and developing new Performance Solutions for the National Construction Code. This is primarily done through quantifying the NCC Performance Requirements.

  • Richard Coulson

    Richard Coulson
    Director, Cox Architecture

    Richard Coulson graduated from University of Queensland in 1992. He joined Cox Architecture in 2001 and is one of three Queensland Directors of the National practice. During his time with Cox, Richard has undertaken a diverse portfolio of projects across a wide range of sectors from public/cultural buildings through to large scale commercial projects, complex education buildings and major sporting facilities. Recent sports projects include the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, Anna Meares Velodrome for the for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the North Queensland Stadium. Specific complex access projects have included the suite of Youngcare facilities built in Queensland. Richard is the Cox Queensland leader for urban projects including transport and connections.

  • Steve Grimes

    Steve Grimes
    Project General Manager, Grocon

    Steve Grimes has over thirty years professional experience in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States delivering award winning, large scale, master planned, mixed use residential, commercial and retail development projects.

    He has extensive urban renewal and green field development experience, and has been a part of creating numerous integrated, vibrant and sustainable commercial, retail and residential precincts.

    A key component of all the roles he has undertaken, included developing and maintaining relationships with key project stakeholders including Local, State & Federal Governments, and Statutory Authorities in a variety of arrangements including alliances, joint ventures and fee for service. 

    Steve is currently the Project General Manager for Grocon’s Parklands Project at Southport. This is a mixed use development with 1252 dwellings and over 5000m2 of retail space and as Project General Manager, he has primary responsibility for all aspects of delivery of the project including design, authority approvals, procurement, financial management and stakeholder engagement.

    Prior to that he was the Project Director for the RNA’s redevelopment of its Brisbane Showgrounds and before that the Project Director of Lend Lease’s redevelopment of the US Army’s 8000 dwellings in Hawaii. 

  • Glenn Hay

    Glenn Hay
    Associate, Landscape Architect, Lat27

    Glenn has worked across all scales of landscape architecture. From small and large scale private residential projects through to commercial, industrial and community facilities; as well as large scale urban developments, multi-unit residential projects, environmental rehabilitation and wetland landscapes. 

  • Soren Luckins

    Soren Luckins
    Founder, Büro North

    Soren Luckins is the founder of Büro North, an Australian based but globally connected user-experience, place-making and wayfinding design studio.

    Under his direction Büro North has built an impressive portfolio of awards, publicity and clients locally and internationally. Soren leads a team of talented, lateral-thinking designers and oversees every stage; from research and client consultation to implementation and project delivery. Working with clients across Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, the United Kingdom and South-East Asia the team brings vast experience to resolving complex travel, retail, healthcare and education wayfinding and user-experience challenges globally.

    Soren has a Bachelor of Design and Honours degree in Industrial Design from Swinburne University as well as a combined diploma from Germany’s Facchoschule Hildesheim University. Among many other awards, Soren has received the prestigious ‘Young Guns’ award from the Advertising and Design Club of New York.

  • Sophie Parsons

    Sophie Parsons
    Community Partnerships Coordinator, Wellington City Council

    Sophie has been working on the 'Wellington BlindSquare Enabled' project for just over a year. This project brings together smart technology and accessibility to take Wellington one step closer to being the coolest little accessible capital in the world.

  • Michael Small

    Michael Small
    Director, Michael Small Consulting

    Michael Small works with people with disability, businesses, government and the building sector to assist in making buildings and services more accessible.

    From 1993 to 2011 Michael worked at the Australian Human Rights Commission developing guidelines and standards to improve access to public transport, education, banking and the built environment.

    Michael was closely involved in drafted the Premises Standards and produced a number of resources to assist building professionals implement access requirements.

    Michael convenes the ACAA committee working on the review of the Premises Standards and in 2016 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study access compliance overseas.

  • Damian Thompson

    Damian Thompson
    Director, Registered Landscape Architect, Lat27

    Damian has enjoyed designing public and private environments along Australia’s eastern coastline, including stints in the UK and Asia, for over two decades. His work bridges urban design and landscape architecture and he has enjoyed a long association guest lecturing and tutoring at QUT.

    He has led and contributed to multi-disciplinary teams that deliver award-winning projects ranging from intimate laneways through to major public parklands and urban renewal projects. Damian is passionate about site-specific, community driven design outcomes and is one of the founding members of Lat27.

  • Bryce Tolliday

    Bryce Tolliday
    Managing Director, Wayfinding Australia Pty Ltd

    Bryce Tolliday is an access consultant with over 15 years’ experience developing accessible wayfinding solutions for major public building projects within Australia including the Gold Coast University Hospital, the QEII Jubilee Courts and the Queensland Cultural Centre Precinct.

    Bryce is a member of the AS1428.4.2 Design for access and mobility – Wayfinding committee and has been involved in a number of wayfinding research projects. He is also a professional member of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design and an accredited member of the Association of Consultants in Access Australia.

    Bryce is a passionate advocate for the delivery of accessible wayfinding solutions and believes that Wayfinding is an experience which everyone has a right to experience on the same terms.

Concurrent session speakers

  • John-Ross Barresi

    John-Ross Barresi
    Project & Innovation Coordinator, Senior O&M Specialist, Guide Dogs Victoria

    After graduating from LaTrobe University in 2001 as an Orientation & Mobility Specialist, John-Ross worked at Vision Australia providing O&M training to those who are blind or vision impaired. In 2004 he moved to Guide Dogs Victoria where he is currently employed.

    John-Ross had an early interest in adaptive technology and how it can assist his clients to enhance their independent mobility. In his current role of Innovation & Project Coordinator/Senior O&M Specialist, he manages projects that design and implement new technologies that aim to provide greater independence for his clients.

  • Claire Bernadou

    Claire Bernadou
    Accredited Access Consultant

    Claire is an accredited access consultant with 12 years of experience. Claire is passionate about social inclusion and the participation of people with disabilities, and developed an interest in the built environment while undertaking a Bachelor of Health Science (Orientation and Mobility). Her experience with orientation processes and way-finding in an urban environment enables an outlook beyond the rigidity of building legislation. Claire works directly with major clients including Public Transport Victoria and Brisbane Airport Corporation and is highly regarded for her interpretation and application of the Disability Standards. She was involved with the development of the first published edition of the Disability Access Facilitation Plan for Brisbane Airport and auditing of the airport’s Terminal buildings.

  • Jane Bringolf

    Jane Bringolf
    Founding Director, Centre for Universal Design Australia

    Jane Bringolf has a background in community services spanning more than thirty years. A recipient of a Churchill Fellowship in 2004, Jane travelled overseas to investigate organisations pursuing universal design, accessible environments and assistive technology. She later completed a PhD in urban studies focusing on housing. Jane's nine years as Executive Director with the Independent Living Centre NSW, and more recently as Liveable Communities Project Manager with Council on the Ageing NSW, adds to her experience of working in the aged and disability sectors.  As a founding director of the newly established Centre for Universal Design Australia, she hopes to make designing universally an everyday activity. Jane also holds a Bachelor of Social Science and a Masters of Business Administration.

  • Jane Bryce

    Jane Bryce
    Access Consultant, Visionary Access Consulting

    Jane began her working life as an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) with Guide Dog organisations in Australia and later in the UK Instructor. Following her time as an O&M, Jane worked as a Community Education Coordinator with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in a role that was multi-faceted.

    Jane has been an established access consultant since 2014, operating an independent consultancy and more recently as the Access Consultant and trainer at Assistive Technology Australia.

  • Martin Burgess

    Martin Burgess
    Director, Access and Building Consultancy Ltd (UK)

    Martin has extensive building construction experience, training initially as an architect, prior to commencing a career in Building Surveying and Building Certification in the UK. Since the mid-1990s, Martin has had a keen interest in accessibility, developing a thorough understanding of the broad requirements of Disability Discrimination legislation which enables him to provide expert support and advice to clients and designers.

    Martin's broad knowledge ensures he is well equipped to provide a wide range of access consultancy services, including training, policy development and assessment and verification of alternative solutions to meet the functional requirements of relevant building legislation. His experience also includes work as an Expert Witness.

    His knowledge has led to his involvement with technical standards development with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the UK and the ME64 Committee in Australia, which supports the development of the lead Australian Standards for accessibility. Martin has also sat on the management committee of the ACAA as well as the UK’s National Register of Access Consultants. Martin retuned to live in the UK in 2014 but continues to take an active interest in universal design both as an Access Consultant but also a Building Certifier and Surveyor in the UK.

    Martin made some good friends and colleagues in Australia when working as an Access Consultant and is looking forward to catching up with them. He is keen to share his experience with delegates over developments and changes in the UK on Universal Design and associated guidance.


    • Post graduate Diploma in Surveying – College of Estate Management
    • Diploma in Management Studies
    • Certificate in Access Appraisal – Buildings


    • Major Rail infrastructure works in NSW and ACT
    • Albert Cotter Bridge (Anzac Parade), Sydney
    • Costco and Tesco stores Australia and UK
    • Jamie Oliver Restaurants, Australia and UK
    • New £600m Children's Hospital, Perth
    • Sydney and Canberra International and Domestic Airports
    • Green Square Redevelopment and Library, Sydney, Australia
    • Lloyds and Barclays Bank Refurbishments, UK wide, including Piccadilly Circus
    • Atomic Weapons Establishment, UK
    • National Physical Laboratory, UK
    • New Southmead Hospital Project, Bristol, UK
    • Abbeygate Development, Milton Keynes
  • Megan Darcy

    Megan Darcy
    Director, Taylored Thinking

    Advocate, author, athlete, and entrepreneur.

    Between raising a toddler and creating amazing baked goods, Megan Darcy designs adaptive technology for the blind and low vision community. 

    If you don't find Megan secretly siphoning off the last of the coffee, or encouraging you as she races past at a running event, you can find her writing, speaking, or freelancing about creating a more inclusive environment, culture, and community.

    Much like taking six pairs of shoes away for a weekend, regardless of whether they are needed, it is this belief in the right to choice that is behind Megan’s approach to almost everything. Through her personal brand, blogs, and her business Taylored Thinking, she is quietly revolutionising how people who are blind or have low vision see themselves, and in turn how they are seen by others.

    Megan works to dispel the princess or pauper mythology surrounding disability in a modern society.

    Her honesty, humour, and occasional high jinks, will have you captivated as she weaves her stories, anecdotes, and insight into an engaging and entertaining narrative.

    Megan is not shy about her vision, or about where, when and why we as a collective get it right, and get it wrong. Her cheeky sense of fun, style, and chaos will give you a new perspective you didn't even know you wanted. Her openness will allow you to ask questions you didn't even know you had.

  • Cathryn Grant

    Cathryn Grant
    Senior Access Consultant, Architecture & Access

    Cathryn currently works as a Senior Access Consultant at Architecture & Access.  Her role involves assessing large and small developments with regards to access for people with disabilities. She has recently completed a Masters in Public Health studying the relationship between health and the built environment.  She has developed strong links with Deakin University and has collaborated on research projects regarding universal design and access to the built environment.

  • Rod Hunter

    Rod Hunter
    Principal, Hunarch Consulting

    Rodney Hunter is a former practicing architect and currently a research consultant in built-environmental access and safety, including with respect to people with a disability. His increasing focus over latter years has been on slips, trips and falls. He has presented research papers on slips, trips and falls at international conferences in Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and the United States. 

  • Allen Kong

    Allen Kong
    Architect, Director Allen Kong Architect Pty Ltd
    • Fellow Australian Institute of Architects (FRAIA)
    • Member Association of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA)
    • Member of Building Appeals Board, Victoria (BAB)
    • Member of International Union of Architects, Architecture for All, Region IV work group.
    • Member AIA National Access Work Group
    • Chair of AIA Victoria Access Committee

    Allen has built an award winning international reputation for designing sustainable social architecture.

    Early work includes disaster relief reconstruction in Afghanistan, followed by research and design work for Australian Antarctic bases. Recent work has been affordable accommodation for homeless aged people; people with dementia and other disabilities. 

  • Andrew Kramer

    Andrew Kramer
    Associate Director, Lat27

    Andrew is a registered landscape architect and has been involved in a diverse range of notable projects, both locally and internationally, over the past 18 years. He has experience in delivering projects from concept to construction sympathetic to local places and cultures. He strives for quality design solutions that address all facets of social, economic and environmental issues. He is an award-winning Associate Director of Lat27 and takes pride in delivering high quality outcomes for our complex urban environments.

  • Keith McCullagh

    Keith McCullagh
    Airport Approvals Assessor, Brisbane Airport Corporation

    Keith is an Airport Approvals Assessor for Brisbane Airport Corporation with more than 20 years’ experience across a number of disciplines within the built environment that commenced in the UK. An experienced and enthusiastic professional skilled in Building Surveying and Facilities Management, Keith has a keen interest in Accessibility, specifically reducing barriers for people with disability within an Airport built environment whilst creating a better experience for the user. Keith has been an integral part of Brisbane Airports’ major drive to ensure the infrastructure and main facilities provide best practice in terms of Accessibility with projects that include animal assistance facilities at both terminals, wayfinding enhancement and public stair and accessible path upgrades. In addition, Keith has also been involved with the formation of BAC’s Airport Accessibility Reference Group (AARG), updating our existing Disability Accessible Facilitation Plan and continued auditing of the airport’s main transports buildings to ensure Brisbane Airport meets its obligations within the timeframes as set out by legislation.

  • Jennifer Moon

    Jennifer Moon
    Community Education/Access Advisor, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

    Qualified as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Jennifer has worked in the field of vision impairment for almost 30 years, teaching people with impaired vision to travel around the environment safely and independently.

    Jennifer has worked in most states of Australia as well as internationally, (United Kingdom and Russia).  In her current role with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Jennifer offers access advice and information on the needs and rights of people with impaired vision.  She also liaises with stakeholders and industries, regularly conducting education and training programs.

    Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts (Disability Studies) a Master of Cognitive Science and is a qualified Access Consultant.

  • Nick Morris

    Nick Morris
    Director, Morris Access Consulting Pty Ltd

    Nick holds a degree in Human Movement and Education and is an accredited accessibility consultant with the ACAA.  In 1996 as part of the Aussie Rollers, he won a Paralympic Gold medal in Atlanta. In 1997 Nick was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to sport. After the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics, Nick was invited to be the expert accessibility advisor for the International Paralympic Committee which he did from 2004 – 2012. This required him to mentor organisers of Summer and Winter Olympic / and Paralympic Games, Commonwealth, Asian and Pan American Games as to how to create accessibility within their cities, tourist attractions and events. Nick has also been on ABC TV program “New Inventors” as a Judge and is currently a judge for the Australian Event Awards.

  • Lindsay Perry

    Lindsay Perry
    Accredited Access Consultant

    Lindsay has over fifteen years’ experience as an access consultant and has provided access consultancy services at both the national and international levels.

    Having worked on a wide range of projects throughout her career, Lindsay is committed to ensuring that accessible environments are created that will improve the quality of life for the community as a whole and considers a wide range of disabilities in her work.

    She is an accredited access consultant, registered architect and has recently completed a Master of Disability Studies with Distinction.  Lindsay currently holds the position of Treasurer on the ACAA Management Committee.

  • Tara Quirke

    Tara Quirke
    Environmental Design Consultant, University of Wollongong

    Over the course of her career, Tara has held several senior health and aged care management and educational positions in regional and remote Australia and South Africa. She has two Masters Degrees (Clinical Nursing specialising in Gerontology, and Mental Health) and has additional post graduate qualifications in education and management.

    Tara is the Queensland based Environmental Design Consultant for Dementia Training Australia, University of Wollongong, and she regularly conducts education on ways to create dementia enabling environments. She is on the Advisory Panel for the Australian Journal of Dementia Care and is actively involved with many Alzheimer’s Australia (National) and NHMRC funded research projects where she advocates for research that is making a difference for people living with dementia and research that supports carers

    Tara was the primary carer for her dad (Jim) for 14 years. Jim was diagnosed with dementia when he was 68 years old and he lived with Tara and her husband until he died in 2011.

  • Ali Yousif

    Ali Yousif
    Director and Owner, Sirius Wayfinding Pty Ltd

     An experienced wayfinding specialist and guest lecturer with a demonstrated history of working in the creative design industry, including public transport, urban planning and architectural design firms.
    Skilled in Wayfinding, Human-Centred Design and Environmental Design Solutions, Ali has created systems addressing wayfinding with intelligence and lateral thinking without relying on precedent, for several significant projects in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

    With a fascination for logic and mathematics as well as art, interior design and creativity, Ali founded Sirius Wayfinding in 2012 after extensive experience in civil engineering and graphic design, which gave him the necessary foundation for a unique career in wayfinding. 
    Ali is currently authoring an upcoming book - "Intelligent Wayfinding" - addressing wayfinding with intelligence and lateral thinking, without relying on precedent.
    An influencer with his unique wayfinding theory, Ali's best practice ideas have been successfully adopted by students, designers, architects and companies specialising in wayfinding, in Australian and international projects.