Transformative ideas for people with a disability at Brisbane Social Innovation Workshop

Published:16 April 2018

Brisbane Social Innovation Workshop participants Jake Shepherd, Monica Mallory and Genevieve Burnett nut out their big idea for work futures for people with disabilities.

Many of us struggle to even imagine the future – but a group of dedicated changemakers has converged on CQUni Brisbane, determined to help design it.

Attending the three-day Social Innovation Workshop, the group of students partnered with not-for-profit disability support agency Multicap to envisage employment opportunities for people with disabilities in 2030 – driving big ideas including a technology-enhanced ambassador program, a series of franchise opportunities, and an environmental steward initiative.

The initiative of the South East Queensland Region Engagement Committee, the workshop was supported by CQUni’s Office of Social Innovation, and guided by futurist Gretchen Young, with students forming teams to design and pitch projects to link Multicap clients with jobs of the future.

All local to south-east Queensland, participants gathered on campus on Wednesday 11 April to meet program managers Ashley Clarke and Robin Dick, then visited Multicap’s busy support centre at Eight Mile Plains.

Hearing from current Multicap clients who are employed in Multicap’s range of social enterprises was a vital element of the workshop program, according to Ashley.

“Getting to meet four clients, and hear about what they wanted to achieve in their life and in their work, really put them at the centre of the students’ thinking, and grounded the process in a real-life, practical approach,” she said.

The students then also considered their own experience and backgrounds and were led in a human-centred design approach to create their proposals.

Participant and Social Work student Genevieve Burnett joined Paramedic Science student Jake Shepherd and Business/Professional Communications student Monica Mallory, to propose a project that supported people with disabilities to become ambassadors and trainers within the disability support sector.

“My son and my mother are autistic, and I have nephews who are autistic – so this is something that’s I’m very passionate about,” Genevieve explained.

“Having a disability is not a problem to be solved – it’s a resource that our community needs to utilise, and we can do that by working with people with disabilities, to help them realise their dreams.”

In other teams, Engineering PhD student Jay Somasundaram and Chiropractic Science student Kathryn Yost proposed that Multicap establish a range of franchise formats, for clients to team up with a parent or guardian to operate, while Sustainability PhD student Kim Polistina and Human Resources student Nikki Truong designed an initiative where people with disabilities were organised and supported to care for natural assets within the community.

A panel of experts, including Multicap CEO Joanne Jessop and chairman Michael Roche, along with CQUni Associate Vice-Chancellor (SEQ) Graham Black, provided feedback on all the proposals and congratulated the students on their big-thinking.

Detailed proposals for the ideas were gifted to Multicap to consider for implementation.

The Office of Social Innovation is offering workshops across a range of CQUni campuses in 2018, as well as the annual week-long Social Innovation Studio in Gladstone in June.

The opportunities are part of CQUniversity’s commitment to empower students with a social innovation mindset, and its international role as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.

For more information about Office of Social Innovation activities in 2018, visit

Loading the player ...