ADVICE: How Eunica Liu started her own cloth nappy business from scratch

Australia uses an estimated 3.75 million disposable nappies every day, making up a significant portion of household waste entering landfill. One alternative that has evolved rapidly in recent years and is now a sizeable market of its own, is cloth nappies. In this interview, Eunica Liu shares her experiences with starting her cloth nappy business and how she managed customer feedback along the way.

  • How did you approach understanding the market and marketing opportunity for cloth nappies?

I was incredibly lucky in that there were Facebook groups and communities dedicated to cloth nappies. I spent six months lurking and absorbing as much knowledge as I could, identifying the key pain points for parents/carers using cloth and finding a way to solve them.

  • At what point did you know it was a market opportunity worth pursuing?

I felt like our product addressed a gap in the market. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but built on existing designs and made them better.

  • How did you take the first steps in building the business from scratch?

Most women who start cloth nappy businesses do so because they have used cloth nappies and want to make their own. They also benefit from having little ones to test their initial designs and samples.

I didn’t have my own little bottom to trial nappies, but what I lacked in this area, I made up for by constantly seeking and responding to feedback, creating a VIP Group so that I could connect with my customers and ask for their thoughts. Our customers will take the time to give us feedback because they know we will address their concerns, however minor.

I was also able to dedicate 100% of my time to the business because I didn’t have to run after a little one or take breaks for feeding/bedtime routines. This meant that I was able to respond to emails at 1am, or within 10 minutes of receiving it, even on a Sunday. A lot of our very loyal customers became loyal because of this – and I know because they tell me that this was the clincher.

  • How do you incorporate and balance the needs of being price-friendly, fashionable, and eco-friendly in the business model?

I have discovered that I am a pretty average person. So if I’m not ready to pay $X for a product – no matter how pretty and no matter how many bottles it saves from landfill – then it is unlikely someone else will. And no matter how amazing a product is, if there is no demand for it, it will sit unsold and eventually contribute to more landfill.

  • What’s your advice to other budding entrepreneurs considering starting their own business?

There is no time like the present. If you chip away at it each day, you will find that you get a lot more done than you anticipate. If you go “I’ll do it when X happens”, you’ll find that other things will pop up to prevent you from doing it.

  • What were your biggest challenges along the way?

Entitled customers. I’d like to think that my skin has gotten thicker over the years, but there are still days when an angry email from an unreasonable customer will throw my day out.

  • How do you recommend other entrepreneurs approach these kinds of challenges?

Tally up the angry customer emails and look at it as a percentage of your customer base. As you grow, you will inevitably come across more varied types of people but it is helpful to remember that they are a small minority of your much larger customer base.

About the expert

I’m Eunica and I’m passionate about making a social and environmental difference! Monarch came about through my desire to create a self-sustaining avenue for real change. I wanted to create an easy-to-use cloth nappy system that is no harder than disposables, and help transition more families into cloth. We create stunning, exclusive prints to make sure everyone is on board. All this while donating at least 10% of profits to customer-nominated charities.

Image description: Eunica is standing in a field in a patterned blue dress and black cardigan.


ADVICE: Nuturing with a hand up, not a hand out – Anthony Cavanagh, CEO of Ganbina

Ganbina is Australia’s most successful Indigenous school to work transition program, with on average 88% of its Year 12 graduates finishing Year 12, compared to the Indigenous average of 66%.

CEO, Anthony Cavanagh, is leading Ganbina’s vision to achieve true social and economic equality for Indigenous Australians within two generations, with an expansion project that is seeing the model rolled out to Indigenous communities along Australia’s east coast.

  • What do you attribute Ganbina’s successes to?

Ganbina began in the late 1990s when the founders of the charity were tasked to fill government jobs with Aboriginal candidates in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria, where 10% of the population are of Aboriginal descent. However, they soon realised they couldn’t find Aboriginal candidates to fill the jobs available to them – the majority of Aboriginal kids were dropping out of school and were unemployed. This meant they didn’t have the skills to do the jobs reserved for them.  

It was soon very clear, that focusing on work placement rather than work readiness doesn’t work to overcome Aboriginal disadvantage.

Instead Ganbina focuses on the pipeline and captures Aboriginal kids from the age of 6 until they are 25 years old – that’s the entire education, employment and training cycle of a young person’s life. Once the education and employment gap is closed in childhood and adolescence, these kids become work-ready and independent adults who then inspire and create change within their communities.

Our focus is on inspiring Aboriginal kids to stay engaged in mainstream education and employment, we help them discover who they want to be but we don’t tell them what they want to be.

Kids know what they want to do when they grow up from a very young age. My 7-year-old grandson wants to be a police officer like his mum. Now that may change as he grows up – but the spark of curiosity is already there.

That spark exists in every kid – Aboriginal and not, and Ganbina nurtures by giving these kids a hand up, not a hand out.

  • How do you plan to achieve true social and economic equality for Indigenous Australians within two generations?

Ganbina’s pilot program was designed from its inception as a 50 year program, which is two generations. We are almost half-way through and will be turning 25 next year. The program is two generations because the research tells us that’s how long it takes to create meaningful change in disadvantaged communities.

For myself, none of the men in my family could read or write. I was the first man in my family to finish high school. Education was what saved me and I passed this onto my own children. Both of my daughters then went on to finish their own education, find fulfilling careers of their choice and now they are starting their own families and my grandkids will continue the same cycle.

I broke the cycle of disadvantage in my own family because education gave me what I needed to succeed. Without it, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.

When we give Aboriginal kids the skills, knowledge and self-belief they need – they will do the rest and create that long-term change within their own families and communities.

On top of that, we are in the process of expanding our model to a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. We know our program works and we want to roll this model out so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can benefit from it.

  • Why is the goal timeframe two generations, not one?

Because that is what the research says we need for long-term generational change to happen. As a country we are working to overcome hundreds of years of Aboriginal disadvantage and that will not change overnight.

Ganbina created a model that is focused on impact, results, early intervention and change. The model focuses on Education, Training and Employment and based on this, we realised we needed 50 years or two generations to go through this model to create the long-term impact we are striving for.

If you think about it, a child is really in some form of education, training and employment from the age of 6 until they are 25 years old – when adolescence ends. That’s the full education life cycle and we need to be with these kids throughout that entire journey so they can unlock their full potential.

  • What are the biggest barriers you’re seeing to Aboriginal children and youth remaining in education, training and employment?

We need to focus on where the gap starts for Aboriginal people, which is as early as 6-years-old when they enter primary school. We know that 4 in 10 Aboriginal children start primary school with some sort of development delay – whether it’s poor motor skills, below average literacy skills or communication skills, that’s almost half. For non-Aboriginal children, that figure is only 2 in 10.

This gap that begins in primary school, continues throughout secondary school, then the workforce and creates the long-term inequalities we see in Aboriginal health today. If you’re an Aboriginal Year 12 student, you have a 66% chance of completing Year 12. If you’re non-Aboriginal, that figure is 89%. However our Ganbina Year 12 participants are 88% likely to finish Year 12 – on par with non-Aboriginal rates.

We need to capture these Aboriginal children from that very young age and fix the gap where it first starts, then continue to give them the skills and knowledge they need to make the most of their individual potential.

Ganbina believes in the hand up – not the hand out approach. We won’t give our secondary school kids an after-school job, but we will work with them so they understand the long-term benefits of that casual job at Kmart or Coles. We’ll help them with their resume and job interview skills – but we won’t apply for the job for them. Once kids are bought in and see the benefits of education, employment and training they just need the right support to unlock what they are already capable of.

  • What role is and should the government be playing in helping to overcome these barriers?

Ganbina has chosen to be independent of government funding, because we knew continuity of this program was so important – and governments change every 3-4 years. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think government has a role to play in overcoming these barriers.

Yes, government should provide financial support but with some important caveats. Financial support should be given only to Aboriginal-led organisations that can prove their impact.

Yes, Aboriginal-led organisations understand community, but that doesn’t mean their programs are working. A study at the Centre for Independent Studies evaluated more than 1000 Aboriginal programs and less than 10 per cent were being evaluated. This means that more than 90% of programs that are aimed at improving Aboriginal welfare don’t even know if their program is making the impact they are wanting to achieve.

Follow up research found that for the small group of programs that are conducting evaluations, only three had strong and rigorous evaluation methods – I am very pleased to say Ganbina was one of those three programs.  

We prioritise independent evaluation because we need to know if what we are doing is working if we want to achieve what Ganbina aims to do.

About the expert

Anthony Cavanagh is an Aboriginal man and the CEO of registered charity Ganbina, which runs Australia’s most successful Indigenous school to work transition program for Aboriginal children and youth aged 6-25 years old. He has more than 20 years’ experience in recruitment and specialises in ensuring Aboriginal children and youth have the skills and education they need to make a successful and sustainable transition to the workforce. 

Image description: Headshot of Anthony smiling at the camera in a black blazer and white-striped collared shirt. He has grey hair and brown eyes, and is in front of a green and yellow background.

ADVICE: Business leaders need to think holistically about tackling ableism

Recent research by the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health has found that “about two thirds of people with disability have reported some kind of violence”, and “women with a disability were more than twice as likely to report sexual violence in the past year compared to women without disability”. The horrifying stats highlight the reality that ableism is ever-present across all aspects of our society and causing real damage.

In this interview, Ainslee Hooper, Anthropologist & Disability Consultant, shares her expert advice and experiences regarding ableism in Australian workplaces, how ableism can and should be managed, how it can be mitigated for future generations, and why a holistic approach is required to tackling ableism.

  • What are the most commonly overlooked forms of ableism you’ve noticed in the Australian workforce? 

I have found the most commonly overlooked forms of ableism are often covert. For example, people are discouraged from going for opportunities that come up in the workplace because superiors have already assumed the individual cannot perform the job like their peers. Still, there is no evidence to show this is the case. It is due to stereotypes that persist.

Another common one has been people with disabilities being excluded from opportunities because the workplace has not considered how things could be done differently. The lockdowns resulting from COVID19 and how the Australian workforce pivoted to keep things running were a real wake-up call. Many workers with disabilities have previously been told accommodations would be too difficult to implement, not logistically possible, etc., and yet these accommodations have been implemented due to the pandemic.

The final one, which is surprisingly huge, is the lack of disability in diversity plans. With disability being the largest minority group, it amazes me that disability is still glaringly absent from many plans. I have found the main reason for this is people are scared to touch disability, so they leave it. This solves nothing and instead allows problems to persist. There are diversity targets for the employment of people with disabilities, but that alone does nothing.

  • How has ableism in the Australian workplace evolved in the last few years?

I want to say things have evolved, but we have such a long way to go. We currently rank 21st out of 29 OECD countries regarding people with disabilities participating in the workforce. So, there are not only issues that persist within the workforce for employees with a disability but also cases of people with disabilities gaining employment, which is a whole other conversation due to the Disability Employment Services system’s flaws.  

  • What has been the pandemic’s impact on ableism and how people with disabilities are viewed in the workplace?

As mentioned previously, there have been considerable changes in the workplace as a result of COVID19. The biggest ones that have benefited people with disabilities are remote working and meetings via technology such as Zoom. Their peers without disabilities have also benefited from these and, as a result, are more aware of the issues faced by people with disabilities. Although for a business that does not have an employee with a disability, this may not be as obvious to them.

  • How are you working with business leaders to combat ableism?

I have been pleased to see businesses being proactive in reaching out to get guidance on improving the experience for not only workers with disabilities but also for their consumers with disabilities. I take a holistic approach, so I’m working with businesses in various ways and at all levels, from top to bottom.

I encourage all businesses I work with to implement a Disability Action Plan, making them aware of issues not previously considered. Working closely with businesses to assist them through this process, they soon see how easy it is to combat ableism and the gaps they need to focus on.

I am also doing speaking engagements to talk about my lived experience. I find storytelling is the most effective way of making people understand the problems and the impact these problems have on people with disabilities. I am always pleased to see people motivated to create change as a result of these sessions.

Many businesses have committees or groups focused on disability-related issues. I perform audits to identify any problems impacting these groups’ smooth functioning or committees to address critical problems effectively.

Finally, I’m also helping businesses identify issues for consumers with disabilities by talking with consumers about their experiences in a confidential manner to provide businesses with insights to gaps and recommendations on improving the experience. My approach to combating ableism is holistic, and I encourage businesses to think holistically too.

  • What are the most common challenges you come across in your work? Why do you think this is?

There are two common challenges I have come across. The first is lack of knowledge. One of my favourite sayings is from Anais Nin – “We see things as we are, not as they are.” There is so much unintentional ableism out there. When people hear the word ‘ableism,’ they often get defensive. It’s rarely intentional but stems from a lack of understanding of what the experience of disability is really like. The problems people with disabilities face are rarely what businesses think.

The second common challenge comes down to money, which brings me to another favourite quote, this one by Olivier Nourry – “Ableism is the natural child of Inaccessibility.” I still often hear businesses say providing for accessibility is not always feasible due to financial constraints. While this is a reality for many, and I don’t dispute this, I would love to see a shift from expense to investment because it allows more people to access your business. I am currently in talks with various parties to discuss how businesses can overcome these issues. Watch this space.

  • What’s your ambition for how ableism is managed in our workplaces?

For starters, we need more disability representation in the workforce. People with disabilities must be the ones who are leading addressing the problems. However, we can’t manage ableism from within workplaces unless we also combat ableism from the outside. My ambition is to encourage and assist businesses in fighting ableism at all levels, and it doesn’t have to be all at once. It’s a slow process, but we can get there. My ambition is to help businesses see the possibilities and the wins this will bring to their customers and society.

About the expert

Ainslee Hooper is an Anthropologist & Disability Consultant with a lived experience of disability as a lifelong wheelchair user. Her business, Ainslee Hooper Consulting helps businesses and organisations identify and remove invisible barriers to reduce the risk of ableism and be more inclusive and accessible. She is also available for speaking engagements tailored to a wide variety of audiences. Ainslee is currently completing a Ph.D @ Deakin University with her thesis examining the experiences of people with disabilities in Geelong during COVID19. You can contact Ainslee on 

She also has a newsletter you can subscribe to by jumping on her mailing list at

Image description: Ainslee is sitting in a garden in a mustard-coloured sweater. She has red hair, hazel eyes, and is wearing glasses.

ADVICE: We, as parents, must start to role model new behaviour for our kids

The following is a guest post from Natasha Janssens, author of Wonder Woman’s Guide to Money and an award-winning finance broker and money coach.

As a working mum of two, #choosetochallenge is a reminder to me to challenge the outdated social norms that govern the way I view my role in society and what is possible for me. It means challenging the storyline that says it is my responsibility, and mine alone, to make sure that my kids and husbands needs are taken care of.

I choose to challenge the guilt that comes along for the ride, every time I walk out the door to do something just for me – and leave hubby to deal with the kids on his own. I choose to challenge the story that I have to sacrifice my identity and financial independence in order to be deemed a good enough mother and wife.

The fact is that times have changed, and the rules that applied when our mothers and grandmothers were growing up, no longer exist. The reality today is far removed from what we were taught as kids.

While men and boys have been primed to thrive in a capitalist society (having been taught that their primary role is to be the providers), women have in many ways been set up to fail. While boys were told stories depicting the male character as a hero, girls were told they needed to look pretty and wait for prince charming to come to their rescue.

What happens then, when we find ourselves living in a reality that is in direct contrast to the stories we have been told as kids? Just look at the news headlines to find the answers. Women approaching retirement age are often broke and facing homelessness, after having dedicated their lives to caring for their families.

As much as I adore my children, the truth is I cannot afford to sacrifice my financial independence in order to raise them. As much as I love being a mum (some days more so than others), I cannot afford to think of myself as ‘just a mum’. Whether I want to or not, I cannot afford to be a stay-at-home parent and sacrifice my skills and ability to earn my own income. And I cannot afford to not play an active role in my financial future and leave all the big decisions to someone else.

Not only is it not good for me, but it is detrimental to their future. One of the main reasons that the gender gap has been so slow to close is because it is clearly not enough for us to just talk about it. We, as parents, must start to role model new behaviour for our kids. And it all starts with women letting go of the household chores and embracing our entrepreneurial and intellectual abilities. Let’s show future generations that their value lies in more than just their appearance or ability to cook a delicious meal.

About the expert

Natasha is the author of Wonder Woman’s Guide to Money and an award-winning finance broker and money coach. Her passion for education and helping others led her to start Women with Cents – an online community dedicated to empowering Australian women through education. Natasha is on a mission to ensure that all Australian women have access to professional financial advice, regardless of their age, income or circumstances.

Image description: Natasha is sitting on a black, leather lounge chair with her legs crossed. Her feet are on the lounge, with her black high heels on the floor. She wears a pink blazer, white top and blue jeans.

ADVICE: Have a hobby based on your dream industry or job

There’s no denying many people living with disabilities face obstacles entering the workforce. While many lack confidence from the challenges their disability can bring, workplaces often don’t have the understanding and acceptance to accomodate for them. 

Lake Munmorah-based Jarrad Taylor is on the autism spectrum and has always had an extraordinary passion for garbage trucks, even as a 10-year-old boy. Fast forward 8 years and the 18-year-old has now landed his dream job as a Bin Puller and Runner at Cleanaway, Australia’s leading waste management organisation.

In this interview, Jarrad shares his experiences and advice for others with autism looking for work.

  • When and how did your passion for garbage trucks begin? 

Ever since birth really! My first interaction was when I was a toddler, trotting out to the driveway to explore after I heard the roar of a truck out the front. I was fascinated by how tall and long the truck was, and especially interested by its automated arm picking up my garbage bin. Since then, I’ve become really involved in the industry. I began to know the drivers that did my street, and then nearly all drivers on the Central Coast! The automated arms are the piece of technology that really kickstarted my passion. It seemed so unique and different compared to all other types of trucks on our roads. Garbage trucks in general, are a very cool, loud, and interesting type of truck.

  • How has that passion evolved over time? 

After I started pursuing my passion, I decided to start my own YouTube channel (JT Garbo) where I’d document the operations of these trucks. I started, and views and subscribers sky-rocketed. I soon realised that there is a huge market for this type of content on YouTube. Back when I started, I was producing basic videos of the garbage trucks in my street. As I got to know many more drivers over the years, I would then start to venture into other suburbs and cities to film garbage trucks operating in those different scenes and environments. In 2014, I was in the Express Advocate newspaper, at the Somersby Depot (where I now work for Cleanaway – where I’ve dreamed to work) where they let me on my birthday wash my favourite garbage truck. Since I entered adulthood, I still carry out filming the trucks alongside my new dream job. 

I’m now living up to the name of JT Garbo as a garbo with Cleanaway Somersby, providing effective and sustainable waste services to the Central Coast. 

  • What is JT Garbo and what makes you excited about this YouTube channel? 

JT Garbo is a channel I started eight years ago, and since then, I’ve been filming garbage trucks on the Central Coast and surrounding councils. I plan on doing so for the rest of my life, alongside my job as a garbo at Cleanaway. The fact of knowing you have a fanbase who are excited to see your content is one of the things that warms me up inside and makes me want to continue to do it; communal support is overwhelming. Profit from doing YouTube is decent as well, but it’s not all about the money, it’s about sharing my hobby to the public. So far, my channel has been seen 600,000 times across 92 countries around the world. I have got to know and make friends with many of my subscribers and viewers, they love what I do to the point where I have also inspired them to start filming garbage trucks. 

I love going out and filming the garbage trucks. It’s like bird watching or trainspotting, but with garbage trucks! I can go deep into the models of the garbage trucks, the trucks’ numbers, their manufacturer and their specs. I can even look back into the history of the industry, researching waste companies and operations from by-gone eras.

  • How did you turn your passion into your job? 

I had some local garbos approach me one day in my street while they were working to let me know an opening for a starting role as a garbo, an offsider, had opened. Within a very short time after applying, I had heard back and was successful. I believe the hobby and my YouTube channel went to show my dedication, and I do believe this helped me reach my dream job as a garbo at Cleanaway.

  • Were there any challenges during the job application process? Tell me about working with Cleanaway

The job application process was very direct, very transparent and straight-forward – especially for me, everything made sense as I had been following how the industry operated since I was young. Cleanaway has welcomed me with open arms and I’m so grateful for that. This is more than a job, a workplace, this is my happy place, this is my childhood dream come true, and I have loved working as a garbo since I started here at Cleanaway. It is a fantastic industry, you get to be outdoors, you meet people in the community and you do a community service. It empowers me every day, I just love it so much.

  • What’s your advice to others with autism who are looking for work? 

Follow your dreams, go big, have a hobby based on your dream industry or job, and it may pay off one day, it clearly did for me, and I am now living the dream job. Never doubt yourself, experiment and always be nice. You’ll get there in the end if you go the extra mile and love what you do.

About the expert

Jarrad developed a fascination for garbage trucks when he was just two years old. Instead of socialising with other children, he’d find comfort in playing with his toy trucks and exploring everything there was to know about the real vehicles – from tech and functionality, to the history of Australia’s waste management system. At 10 years old he launched a YouTube channel, JT Garbo, that houses more than 600 videos today with a total of 500,000 views.

Image description: Two people in high-vis yellow shirts, and navy paints standing with their arms around each other and smiling in front of a bright blue CLEANAWAY truck.

ADVICE: Employing people with a disability is not about hitting diversity targets

The below is a guest post from Natasha Price and Adam Sheppard, Founders of InvincAble A.I.D.E (Accessibility, Inclusion, Diversity & Education).

Inclusion in the workplace has come a long way in the last few years, however, still has a long way to go. People with disability want to be contributing members of society in the exact same way as their non-disabled counterparts so it is imperative that we see sizeable and continuing improvements in this area. Whilst we understand this may be the only option for some, gone are the days when all people with disabilities were encouraged to sit around at home living off government benefits, without the means to chase their dreams and aspirations.

Employing people with a disability has a 2-fold effect. Not only does it help people with a disability find gainful employment, offering financial freedom and independence, but by making a business more accessible and inclusive, organisations would also be widening their customer base to the one in five people in the community with a disability.

Huge underemployment of people with disabilities (52.8% employed, compared to 82.5% of the general population) often pushes them onto unemployment benefits or setting up their own businesses. People with disabilities are 40% more likely to be self employed and are, in fact, three times more likely to remain in business than their non disabled peers. This is often due to the lack of opportunities in the workforce offered to people with disability, plus the lack of awareness and understanding which employers may have of the benefits of employing those living with disability.

People with disabilities have often been pigeonholed into certain types of employment, such as call centre work or the fast food industry, instead of being encouraged to follow their passions simply because of accessibility and inclusion issues within the workplace, and a general lack of understanding from wider society. Unconscious bias is real, and it is still alive and well in society today, however, this is rarely the fault of the individual. Unconscious bias comes from years of conditioning and childhood influences which may have been reinforced throughout life.

If an individual has had very little or no contact with a person with a disability, they will come with a preconceived notion of what that person might look like, act like or what that person would have the ability to achieve. These preconceived ideas or biases can be strengthened by the bombardment of negative connotations within the media and arts.

Please understand that employing people with a disability is not about hitting diversity targets but rather the benefits that such inclusion would bring to an organisation. Don’t take on a person with a disability purely because they are disabled but take them on because they could posess multiple transferable skills, equal to or better than an able-bodied employee.

Let’s not forget, if you have an employee with a disability and your business has become more accessible and inclusive as a consequence of this, as an organisation, you will be able to reach a wider demographic of customers as disabled individuals will now be able to access your products and services where they potentially may not have been able to before.

The other obvious benefits of inclusive workplaces could be:

  • Allowing individuals to showcase their skills and ability, and utilise experience they may already possess, whilst demonstrating to the wider community that disability does not equate to inability.
  • It allows customers and other staff members to have a greater connection with a more diverse range of individuals within their community and, therefore, a greater experience of the wider world.

In some of the cases where a business is not accessible the smallest of changes can often make the most significant difference. For example, changing the layout of a store so that items are easier to reach for a person of short stature or a wheelchair user, more intuitive to find for a person with visual impairment, or just being aware of the space within store so that mobility device users can easily navigate around it.

Employing a person with a disability, or welcoming them into your business as a customer, may seem like a daunting prospect, however, there are plenty of advisory and support services available which can help an organisation get started in this process. It is important to point out that consulting with those who have lived experience, not purely academic knowledge, can be the difference between a true understanding of things that may be introduced which can make a real and tangible difference to people with disabilities, and possibly only covering the regulatory side of things and, sadly, government code is often not in depth enough, nor is it best practice. This can still exclude many.

About the experts

Natasha Price is an elite wheelchair athlete, entrepreneur, speaker, blogger, published author, Queensland State Champion, international marathon winner and Gold Coast Women of the Year finalist from the Gold Coast, Australia. She is the founder of InvincAble, a products based business that exists to empower those living with disability and long term health conditions to live fun, fulfilling and active lives.

Adam Sheppard is an athletics coach, personal trainer, retired para athlete, former Australian record holder, speaker and entrepreneur. He was born and bred in the Sunshine State and lives with his wife of ten years, Christy, and their three year old son, Fletcher.

Together, Natasha and Adam founded InvincAble’s sister organisation, InvincAble A.I.D.E (Accessibility, Inclusion, Diversity & Education), where this unstoppable team utilises their decades of lived and work experience in the field of disability to empower, inspire and create the kind of change that will have a meaningful impact on diversity and inclusion worldwide.

Image description: On the left, Adam is sitting in a wheelchair looking to the Natasha to his side. He wears a grey polo shirt and is smiling. On the right, Natasha is sitting in a wheelchair in a white polo shirt and grey pants. In the background is a pond surrounded by greenery and trees.

ADVICE: Transitioning from 23 years in health care to business management

Newly appointed COO of Physio Inq, Liz Pearson, Liz has been a clinical physio for 23 years but felt with her experience she could offer support to younger physiotherapists. After joining Physio Inq in September of 2019, Liz was supporting the co-founder as a state manager for the Mobile & Community services arm of the company. Her addition to the team helped define the role of a state manager.

Outside of her expertise as a clinician, Liz’s passion to assist those in need rolled over to developing a reporting system for clients with the goal to give NDIS clients the best possible shot at making a claim. The system that Liz setup scores each report from A down to E and looks for consistency and quality in the reports. The reports are used to ask NDIS for funds for home improvements, equipment, or whatever they need to get a quality standard of living.

In this interview, Liz shares her reflections on her career to date, and why she is still passionate about the physiotherapy field.

  • What made you originally want to become a physio? 

Way back in the 1980’s when I first started my physio course, I wanted to be a physio to help people, to understand the science of movement and body mechanics, and to use my brain and my body! 

  • How has your interest in the field changed over time?

I’ve learnt how incredibly diverse the field of physiotherapy is. I’ve increasingly become interested in holistic physiotherapy and the strong link between mind and body; actually that they are the same thing in our integrated beings! I’ve also become more and more interested in managing and leading other allied health therapists and supporting them in their individual careers. 

  • What were your biggest learnings as you transitioned from being a clinical physio to taking on business management roles? 

My biggest reflection would be that, as physios, we are problem solvers with our clients. That same skill is transferable to managing other amazing humans. Secondly, I have learnt how much there is to the world of business. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to start businesses, grow businesses and learn more about business with further education. 

  • What’s your advice to other health care professionals considering transitioning into business management and leadership? 

Do it! We need smart, empathetic and talented professionals to lead health care into the future; people who understand what it means to touch, care for and be part of the healing journey of other humans.

  • What are you currently most passionate about improving or changing in the health care sector through your work?  

I am passionate about shaping amazing careers for our allied health professionals, so they stay in the game into the long term and have truly meaningful and rewarding careers. Our purpose at Physio Inq is to demonstrate that a healthcare business model that is based on autonomy, innovation and the success of our team is the most commercially and socially effective model, consistently creating happiness and fulfillment for those we come into contact with. I am so passionate about being part of this big shift in the healthcare sector, for each professional, for all our clients and for the future of Australian allied health care.

About the expert

Elizabeth Pearson is the Chief Operating Officer of Physio Inq, an Australian allied health provider offering a range of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and exercise physiology services both in-clinic and via mobile practitioners, the latter specialising in disability and aged care. With 23 years of experience as a clinical physiotherapist before she transitioned into management roles, Elizabeth is pivotal in the operations management development and compliance to onboard the additional services, practitioners and new franchises as Physio Inq’s national expansion continues.

Image description: Headshot of Elizabeth smiling, with light brown hair tied back and a grey collared shirt.

ADVICE: There is no excuse for not hiring people with a disability

As the global pandemic has forced many businesses to re-assess how they build and foster inclusive workplace environments, this interview with Karen Knight, Vision Australia General Manager Client Services, covers how businesses can be more inclusive for people with disabilities and the value of looking past stereotypes and misconceptions around working with disabilities to develop truly diverse workplaces.

  • Historically, what have been the biggest barriers to employers hiring and retaining talent with disabilities? 

There’s no doubt that in the past workplaces were more inaccessible than they are now, particularly when it comes to technology.

But given the wide range of assistive technology that is available today, along with government funding to help individuals and organisations access it, there is no reason this can continue to be used as an excuse for not hiring people with disability, let alone putting them in positions of leadership.

  • What have been the biggest barriers for talent with disabilities in finding work and growing in the workplace? 

We know that people with a disability are underrepresented in the workforce. In terms of the blind and low vision community, just 24% of people who are blind or have low vision in Australia are in full time employment.

More than 60% of people who are blind or have low vision believe employer attitudes are one of the main barriers to full-time employment and around 50% believe they have not been hired due to living with blindness or low vision.

Workplace accessibility, whether it be the physical work environment or systems and technologies used, is also a major barrier. 43% of people who are blind or have low vision believe workplace inaccessibility impacts their ability to find work.

  • What are the discrepancies between these perspectives? How can we overcome them?

There needs to be a shift in employer attitudes around hiring people with disability.

Bringing people with disability into your workplace doesn’t have to require large changes and employers need to be proactive in terms of understanding what is available to support them doing this.

Vision Australia can provide advice and support around making their workplaces accessible and inviting for people who are blind or have low vision, and government funding schemes like Job Access can fund equipment and workplace modifications that may be needed.

A true commitment to diversity will strengthen a workplace and there is exceptional value in an organisation having their workforce demographics reflect the differences in the community.

  • How has COVID-19 changed this landscape and the workplace for people with disabilities? 

Many workplaces have had to quickly adapt to most, if not all of their staff, working remotely. At Vision Australia, we effectively moved our entire work force of around 800 people to remote working in a matter of days.

Remote working can open up opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision, or live with any other disability, but COVID-19 has also shown that organisations have the ability to adapt to different circumstances.

We would hope that employers recognise this and understand that making changes to foster the employment of people with disability is not prohibitive.

  • Considering the way the workplace is changing, what can businesses can be doing now to ensure their workplaces are welcoming and accessible for people with disabilities, particularly those with vision impairment?

Many organisations will claim to have disability employment targets or similar, but these are relatively tokenistic unless there is an actual plan in place to achieve them.

At Vision Australia, one of our organisational targets is to have 15% of our workforce made up of people who are blind or have low vision and we have a number of structures in place to achieve this.

This impacts our recruiting process, the technology and systems we use at work, the training we provide and education we provide to our sighted employees.

All of this creates a workplace where people who are blind or have low vision are valued and able to work independently and collaboratively alongside their sighted colleagues. Importantly, it also creates a workplace where people who are blind or have low vision want to work.   

About the expert

Karen Knight is the general manager of client services at Vision Australia, where she has provided leadership for the past 13 years. 

Karen has been blind since birth. She is a registered psychologist with previous experience in mental health, youth suicide prevention and mental health promotion. She has worked largely in the health sector and for prominent community organisations.

For the past twenty years Karen has been involved in advocacy in the blind community including twelve years as a Director of Blind Citizens Australia, the peak advocacy body for blind and vision impaired people. She has also been involved in a range of disability sector committees and served on the Board of Vision Australia.

Karen is a specialist on My Aged Care, psychological support for people who are blind or have low vision, and delivering services that support the blindness and low vision community.

Image description: Photo of Karen in a patterned blouse and black jacket in front of a white wall. She is smiling and looking to the side. She has short blonde hair.

ADVICE: How to build workplaces that are welcoming to people with disabilities

The below is a guest post from Tom Appelbee and Graeme Firth from Fenetic Wellbeing

By law in the UK, all employers must treat all job applicants equally, regardless of any disabilities they may have. With this in mind, it is imperative that workplaces everywhere are prepared to welcome people with disabilities.

All over the UK there are workplaces that are physically inaccessible to those with disabilities, which makes applying for such jobs out of reach.

To combat this, workplaces must implement changes, however big or small, to create an accessible workplace.

Below are some of the changes that could be made to make the workplace that would help with welcoming people with disabilities:

Building access points

The first port of call is to think about every single access point into the building, and the outside parking area. The first thing is to assess whether all access points have stairs or not. If so, it is vital that an access ramp, stair lift or access lift is installed. Access points to a building are the first thing an employee will encounter, and if access is unfairly presented towards a person with disabilities this will cause an instant bad impression of the workplace.

Secondly, it’s important to ensure the building car park has dedicated disabled car parking spots near the entrance. Ideally, a workplace will have at least 4 car parking spaces accessible to those with disabilities.  

Inside the workplace

When inside the building, it’s important to question the accessibility of the hallways and walkways leading to the office itself. If there are obstacles in the way, such as tables chairs, or decorative accessories, these need removing to create more space. This is important for wheelchair or mobility users especially, as they will need ample room to navigate to the office, particularly if the hallways are narrow.

When in the office, the same applies. There should be sufficient space for wheelchairs and mobility scooters to get around. Therefore, tables, desks, chairs, and storage solutions should be spaced out effectively for easy accessibility. In terms of desks, these should be pre-assessed to ensure wheelchairs and mobility scooters can fit under them, so the employee can stay seated in the mobility aid whilst working.

In terms of kitchen access, all kitchen essentials should be reachable from a wheelchair or mobility scooter, such as plates, glasses, tea, and coffee. Instead of putting them in higher kitchen cupboards put them at a lower level. As well as this, there should be specific toilets that are fully adapted to accommodate those with disabilities.

Other things to think about include installing equipment and aids for those who are deaf or visually impaired. Getting all staff to consider signing up to the British Sign Language course could make life easier for a deaf employee, and it would also be a great life skill to have.

Those with a disability such as Asperger’s may benefit from having a quiet space to escape, so, making hot desking an option could make employees feel more comfortable if the working environment is flexible.

Workplace culture

It is important that those with a disability are welcomed into the team, just as those who are abled would be. Treat those with disabilities respectfully, as you would any other employee, but also make sure you are aware of their disability, without being patronising. Make sure they are part of the team, just like everyone else! Those with disabilities can join in with all workplace activities and team bonding sessions, however, these may have to be adapted slightly.

Always make sure employees with disabilities feel heard. When they start the job, ask if there is anything they need in terms of equipment or support that would help them fulfil their job properly. Ask if they have noticed anything that needs working on in the office, such as more team activities or even more free hot drink options! Make sure they know their opinion is valued. Have regular meetings with them to give yourself and them the opportunity to highlight any updates within the company, anything positive that the employee has done or any concerns you may need to raise.

Extra support

If there are numerous people with disabilities in your workplace, it could be worth considering external support, to ensure you are giving them the correct support that they need.

For more information on mobility aids for physical workplace support, please contact Fenetic Wellbeing.

About the experts

From our humble beginnings as two friends working out of an attic in Keighley, to an award winning business serving over 100,000 satisfied customers nationwide.

Since 2009 we’ve collected awards including Entrepreneur of the Year, Business of the Year, and Independent Trader of the Year at the Keighley Business Awards.Here at Fenetic Wellbeing we make it easy to buy mobility products online. We work hard to provide a range of products that are high quality, fairly price, and backed by a level of after sales care you can rely on. 

Image description: Tom Appelbee and Graeme Firth from Fenetic Wellbeing with some of their products.

ADVICE: Bringing government and community collaboration together to build on climate action

The below is a guest post from Yasmin Grigaliunas, CEO and Co-founder of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS).

With the strong proliferation of knowledge available to us via the internet and issues of civil and social issues becoming more transparent. Individuals and communities are more informed than ever before. And they don’t just want to ‘buy stuff’. They want businesses and brands that support causes they care about.

At the same time, government agencies are trying to figure out the best ways to navigate and develop policies that are sustainable and combat climate change. In 2019 and 2020 we have seen mass protests around the world regarding many issues, including climate change. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. It is going to take governments, communities and businesses working together to create lasting change.

One strategy for creating collaborative climate solutions that engage government and community would be through community-based businesses that offer hands-on, community-based experiences, workshops and services.

These educational experiences offer community members the chance to learn new skills such as repairing products and give government agencies the opportunity to educate and understand the conversation around sustainability at the local level of their communities.

World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) is a Brisbane based start-up/scale-up, designing solutions to commercialise the circular economy through the activation of dormant goods for good. We maximise the value of goods already in the economy, through the circular principles of recycle, repurpose, reuse, and re-commerce. In doing so, we’re diverting landfill, and drawing wealth from waste which is invested back into our local communities.

We host and run Brisbane’s first circular economy retail precinct. A recommerce marketplace providing a platform for Australians to participate in circular practices through the buying and giving of dormant goods that would have otherwise risked going to landfill.

Social enterprise business models like WBGS have social and environmental impact embedded within our framework. We provide spaces for our customers to learn and engage with products in order to renew and repair.

Our community makerspace allows us to educate customers about how to repurpose, repair and reuse products to keep them out of landfill, and also gives them opportunities to develop real hands-on skills which they can take back into their homes and communities. This is all in addition to our warehouse which has high-quality products for sale!

By engaging the community on three separate but all inter-related levels we give them the resources, tools, and skills to change their consumption to a more sustainable framework and lead a responsible consumption revolution to combat climate change.   

There is an opportunity here for government agencies to get involved using WBGS or social enterprise, community-focused businesses like ours to engage with community at a grass-roots level. Together we can create new experiences that challenge existing norms around how we use and dispose of our ‘stuff’ and preserve our resources for future generations.

About the expert

Award-winning Yasmin Grigaliunas, CEO and Co-founder of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS), is on a mission to turn Australia’s circular economy aspirations into reality while at the same time providing social good. Having been described as a “one-percenter”, one of those people with a natural capacity and passion only matched by her energy for entrepreneurship, she is living proof that we can make a positive impact on people’s lives and the future of the planet through the events and experiences we create.

It all started in 2013 when she did a spring clean and garage sale to sell the family ‘stuff’. She did a shout out to friends and family, and before she knew it, what started as a humble spring cleaning garage sale to raise money for cancer research, exploded into an annual community event in Brisbane, giving birth to WBGS!

She could see the waste just keep coming and rather than sit back and watch the problem grow, Yas – who maintains energy levels that are the envy of most – set about creating and realising socially and environmentally positive community solutions for our ever-increasing waste streams.

Fast forward a few years and Yas ditched a lucrative career to found WBGS, a Brisbane based start-up/scale-up, designing solutions to commercialise the circular economy through the activation of dormant goods for good. Currently, WBGS hosts large-scale local re-commerce events and is developing a digital platform enabling communities globally to reproduce these large-scale re-commerce events through a toolkit.

To date (not including the 2018 main event), WBGS has donated over $314K to charities, diverted over 3.3-million kgs of potential waste from landfill and contributed over $1.7-million in social value to the global economy. Yas and her organisation are living proof that you can provide positive impact for people, planet and profit for purpose.

Image description: Headshot of Yasmin wearing black-rimmed glasses and red lipstick, smiling at the camera. She has shoulder-length blonde hair and is wearing a black blazer over a black and orange branded shirt.

ADVICE: Be a risk taker – Marie Mortimer shares her nine years of trial and error

Only 25% of the mortgage industry is female, and in 2018 fewer than 30% of the employees in tech’s biggest companies and 20% of faculty in university computer science departments were women, despite research consistenyl highlighting the value and importance of diversity in the workplace.

Marie Mortimer, founder of, shares her experiences as a woman in both finance and technology, her advice to others, and her experiences starting and growing her business over nine years.

  • What was the most challenging aspect of starting back in 2011? 

When I started in 2011 it was just a concept and a very different business model to our core business at Firstmac. Firstmac is our parent organisation and Australia’s largest non-bank lender and wholesale funder, who primarily distributes loans via third party networks such as mortgage brokers. was launched as a direct to retail model and a lot of people internally and externally to our business were very negative about this direction. Also, at the time nobody was really offering a full home loan application online to retail customers, so it was very different changing the customer mindset that they could jump online and do it all themselves to save thousands of dollars.

So, as well as being challenged by our industry peers, we were also challenged by customers as we had to change their mindset and help them understand that switching home loans is easy and, in their control, not their banks’.

  • What have been the biggest challenges in sustaining and growing the business since then?

Everybody thinks being an online lender is as simple as having a cool website with a great rate. It takes a lot of work to plug that website into an entire backend system that makes the loan decision process simple for everyday Australians. It also takes a lot of work to get people to visit  your website and apply, because it’s not like a shop front where you have face to face contact and it’s easy to talk to a customer and get your message across.

It has taken 9 years of trial and error and constant improvement to get customers to switch to and stay. The competitive landscape is always changing, so we stay true to our business model and our customers, which means we have a very loyal following. We now have over $6billion in settlements, which makes us bigger than some smaller banks and credit unions.

  • How did you overcome these challenges? 

I’ve overcome these challenges by breaking them down and being methodical about my approach. Sometimes it can be disheartening and exhausting when you have a setback, however there is always a way. Sometimes you must get creative and think outside the box, sometimes you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. I think with experience, I’ve learnt where to fix something and where to move on. Don’t look back, look forward.

  • As a woman in finance and tech, a minority on both counts, what is your advice to others considering launching into either of these industries, or graduating this year from those fields of study?

Take the risk and back yourself. As a female in a very male dominated profession, being the minority is the norm. But the good news is that there has been more focus on this in recent years and there are a lot of places to get help. It might sound cliche, but more women need to have confidence in themselves, and take the risk, ignore the noise around you. It’s easier said than done, but if you have a vision or a dream, you’ve got to go for it. Be a risk taker, that’s what we need all women to do, in order to challenge the status quo.

I also think that so much focus has been put on diversity at the top executive level of organisations, and that has done great things towards achieving parity, however I believe that we need to focus on the earlier stages of the career. Young women shouldn’t shy away from male dominated industries when they are choosing what to study. We need more women in finance and technology because diversity brings a different point of view and innovation. You may think you will be the minority, and you probably will be, but what you will be able to bring is something unique. Don’t underestimate yourself!

About the expert

Marie launched in 2011 and has since grown it into a business with $6 billion worth of home loans under management. Marie has been instrumental in changing the way Australians apply for home loans by moving them online and away from traditional bricks and mortar banks. Marie is passionate about developing the FinTech industry in Australia, particularly in the consumer space. When she isn’t at work, Marie loves to spend time with her husband and two young children.

Image description: Headshot of Marie in front of a white background. She has short black hair and is wearing a black blazer over a black and white patterned blouse.

ADVICE: How to Build a Carbon Neutral Workforce

A guest post by Joanna Auburn co founder of Trace

There is an increasing urgent pressure looming over us to act and do more for the environment. The problem is, as individuals, we don’t know what to do. This state of flux drives anxiety and ultimately in-action.

Your carbon footprint

This is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of your activities. Everything we do adds to our footprint, we can reduce it significantly by consciously thinking about our lifestyle choices. Understanding how your carbon footprint is made up is the first step, this quick quiz will help you do just that.

What is carbon offsetting and how does it work?

A carbon offset (or carbon credit) is generated from an activity that prevents, reduces or removes greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. When you offset this means that for every tonne of CO2 emitted, one carbon credit is purchased. What people don’t often know is that the carbon credit funds meaningful and impactful social projects, helping to support sustainable development and improve the lives of communities in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Navigating the world of offsets

This can be difficult, just like in any industry there are scams out there but one thing you can do to ensure you are truly funding measurably impactful projects is look for the Gold Standard stamp of approval.

Verified climate projects deliver measurable benefits aligned to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Like the Myamyn Lowland Forest Conservation project that protects the natural habitat of Australia’s vulnerable wildlife, or Safe Community Water Supply which helps increase access to safe water sources for communities in Rwanda.

Why should my business have a carbon neutral workforce?

For people and the planet

Going carbon neutral can deliver a range of social and economic benefits but at the root it is an environmental gesture. In 2018, scientists upped the ante on climate action and defined a very small window in which to act to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change,  stating that to protect the planet and sustain our livelihoods, we need to reach net-zero global emissions by 2050. Even with the most determined efforts to cut emissions at the source, businesses are still falling short of their net-zero goals. If you want to achieve climate neutrality, offsetting the carbon emissions you can’t reduce is currently the only way to do that.

And the added social development aspect means that your dollar could be supporting a tree planting project that provides an income to families, or go towards a renewable energy project helping to build vital infrastructure in a developing country – wins all around!

Employee engagement

Our research shows that one of the biggest challenges businesses face is making sure your employees feel engaged and connected to your efforts. Climate change is actually the top concern for Millennials and Gen Z and so we believe that companies that strive to protect the environment and clearly demonstrate this purpose to their employees will outperform those that don’t. By offsetting your workforce every member of staff will feel connected to the impact the company is making.

Drive change

Businesses are facing a plethora of their own challenges, however the experience of many of the world’s leading companies (including Amazon, Microsoft and Adidas) is that tackling climate change helps to improve efficiency, retains investors, and positively impacts reputation as a business and an employer. Sustainable business is a journey and not something that will be solved overnight. Whilst you are understanding your footprint as a business & setting targets you can offset your workforce so that your impact starts immediately.

About the expert

Joanna is the co founder and CPO of trace, she is an experienced product manager with a passion for sustainability and customer experience.  She has recently taken the leap to full time entrepreneurship after a career across a range of industries including renewable energy and fintech.

Image description: A photo of Joanna standing in a park in a bright red and blue jacket over a black blouse with her arms by her side, smiling at the camera.

ADVICE: “The only thing I would do differently is starting my own business sooner”

While the pandemic has created uncertainty and disrupted job security for millions around the world, it has also presented opportunities to try new things and explore new territory. This is exactly the challenge Kathy Zmijewski took on when she found herself redundant due to COVID-19 and embarked on launching her own consulting business.

In this interview, she outlines how she took the leap into business ownership, the journey to getting her first clients, and her advice to others struggling during the pandemic.

  • What made you decide to start your own consulting firm, instead of joining another company? 

I’ve wanted to start my own business for a number of years, but I couldn’t find the right time. However, like with many things in life, there never will be a right time so you might as well give it a go.

My professional background is in marketing communications and business management. I was made redundant from my role as a General Manager at an employment law firm due to COVID-19 at the end of May this year. I was in this role for almost six years and if it wasn’t for a pandemic, I would have stayed there long-term.

However, like many people, I was faced with unemployment and took advantage of that push to start my own consulting firm, Right Fit Consulting. I provide a variety of consulting services such as strategic communications, public relations and business consulting.

I come from a family of hard-working Polish immigrants with a penchant for entrepreneurship. I grew up watching my parents start their own side business; and then invest and work in my brother’s tech-based company. All of these experiences and my qualifications, in particular my Executive Master of Business Administration, have provided me a great springboard to start my own business.

  • How did you go about acquiring your first clients in the first weeks of starting your consulting business? 

I found my first client through an advertisement on Seek and my second client through my personal network who is a business owner. Once you get your first client, it is easier to get the next one. I found that people are genuinely interested to hear about your experiences on starting a new business whether it be your friends or your professional network.

Cultivating my LinkedIn network has been incredibly helpful as well. I make sure I respond to all of my messages, even if they are not 100% relevant to me. Receiving one good recommendation from a potential referrer is worth its weight in gold.

  • Having recently gone through the process of setting up the company, what’s your advice to other consultants considering starting their own business?

Make the most of this uncertain time. Whilst many businesses are struggling, opportunities are arising. You just need to be open to new things and be quick to jump on them. My three pieces of advice are:

  • Talk to people in your professional or personal network who have started their own business and ask them lots of questions. I reached out to so many people asking for tips such as which indemnity insurance company to go with to what rate to charge my services at.
  • I know this sounds like a cliché, but don’t be afraid to fail. What has helped me is knowing that it is an unusual time where you won’t be judged if you have a slow start or if things don’t go well in your new business.
  • Have a monetary buffer or a secondary source of income. I was lucky to have a significant redundancy payout and savings to keep the fear of uncertainty and potential failure at bay.
  • Anything you’d do differently? 

The only thing I would do differently is starting my own business sooner. You don’t need a pandemic to try something new. However, if you are like me, I recommend that you make the most of this time.

  • What’s your advice to others who may have lost their jobs, been stood down, or are going through a redundancy due to COVID-19, who may not be in a position to start their own business? 

My advice is just to give it a go, especially if your business has the flexibility to be conducted from home during this uncertain time. Believe it or not, starting a new service-based business does not cost as much as you think. Assuming you have a computer and mobile, you just need to set aside a small bit of money to get a business name registration, domain name registration and build a simple website through a template-based website provider like Wix. Use your spare time to research online tools to help you develop marketing material and promote your business.  Alternatively, you can reach out to a freelancer or a boutique consulting firm like mine to help you get started.

I used to be so dependent on my regular salary coming in and was scared to go out on my own in case I couldn’t make enough money. However, COVID-19 has forced me to think differently about money and employment. My circumstances have led me to diversifying my employment. In addition to starting my own consulting firm, I have also accepted a part time management role at a succession law firm. If one doesn’t work out, then I can fall back on the other.

About the expert

Kathy Zmijewski has worked in marketing communications for over ten years specialising in business development, public relations and operations. She has assisted numerous businesses in the legal, financial services, consumer and automotive sectors to grow their brands and reputations. Her professional career includes working in PR agencies and in-house roles. Kathy has completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne, a Post Graduate Degree in Public Relations at RMIT and most recently an Executive Master of Business Administration at RMIT. Kathy established her own consulting business, Right Fit Consulting, in May 2020 after being made redundant from her corporate role at a law firm.

Whilst born in Australia, Kathy identifies as part-Polish with her parents immigrating to Australia from Poland almost forty years ago. In her spare time, Kathy is an avid skier, loves being in the outdoors and going for dog walks with her white fluffy Samoyed.

Image description: Close-up headshot of Kathy. She has long blonde hair, is looking at the camera and is wearing a floral dress and a black blazer.

ADVICE: Assessing your own financial stability

Women and young people are among those with the lowest financial literacy in society, and during the pandemic it’s these same groups of people who are experiencing the most stress and are most likely to have lost their jobs.

In this interview, financial advisor, Jessica Brady, explains the importance of removing the stigmas around discussing finances and financial problems among women, and what women need to be doing throughout the pandemic to maintain financial stability.

  • In your experience, what are the contributing factors to how discussions about money have become somewhat taboo among women? 

You know, I’d actually challenge the wording of that question and say that women (ladies?) talking money has always been taboo – it’s most definitely not a recent phenomena! Society has been telling us directly and indirectly for decades just how frivolous and bad at finance we really are and to great effect! A huge number of women crave the kind of financial freedom that gives them security, the ability to do good and help others. But how long has it been since they stopped being told that a good, rich husband was the only avenue for achieving those things? Two generations? One? Has it even stopped? There are so many factors both implicit and explicit that have limited the conversations being had by women. Only now are we starting to see them unravel!

  • How is this perception of money-related discussions impacting women’s financial stability? 

What happens when you condition generations of young women to believe that the security and freedom they so desire is only available through one avenue – marriage? You end up with a nightmare scenario where women in their 50’s become the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia and vast numbers of social housing projects are filled with older women who were left destitute after the deaths of their husbands. Even as we depart from the ‘women belong in the kitchen’ status quo – its effects are still real and very tangible. The wage gap, disproportionate burden of unpaid care, low levels of C-suite roles and even expectations around domestic duties are all a part of the hangover. Money is just one of the many conversations that are long and sorely overdue. We need to re-negotiate everything from domestic workloads to the feasibility of a superannuation system that actively disadvantages stay at home parents – of which women make up the vast majority.

  • During the pandemic what are the biggest financial watch outs for women?

Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic as they make up an outsized portion of the part time/casual workforce. It’s almost as if there is an unreasonably large burden of unpaid care and domestic duties preventing many of them from accessing full time employment opportunities! For those who have lost their jobs we recommend a deep dive into the Australian government’s COVID-19 financial support programs. Likewise for those who work for themselves – the government has introduced a whole range of programs to support businesses during this difficult time. For those of us who are still employed we recommend revising your spending and budget. There’s never been a better time to bolster your savings and emergency fund! For a deep dive into the available options and taking care of your finances, check out our Ladies Talk Money COVID-19 special here.

  • What should they be doing or considering now to mitigate long term financial risk?

It sounds silly but actually understanding your financial situation is so important in times like these. It’s imperative that we consider the impact of our long, medium and short term financial goals and fully understand the implications of our actions. Rash decisions can have huge, long lasting financial impacts; it’s important to consider all of the pros and cons before making any big changes! Finally, all of the ladies out there need to think about protecting themselves with the right insurance policies! It only takes one serious event to realise how vulnerable we really are. We insure all of our nice things – cars, homes, holidays etc – but so often fail to adequately insure ourselves. Insurance may sound dull at first – but what’s more exciting than going to sleep at night and knowing you’re completely covered in the event of some unexpected crisis!

About the expert

Jessica Brady | Co-founder, Financial Advisor – Fox & Hare | | Co-founder – Ladies Talk Money |

Before launching Fox & Hare, Jess spent 11 years working for major players including Macquarie Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Zurich. Realising there was so much confusion, frustration and heartache associated with money, Jess wanted to build a place where people could be excited about the idea of creating and achieving financial goals. Now, two and a half years later, Fox & Hare is shaking up the finance industry, promoting education and expert coaching to help next-gen professionals feel empowered about their money. Alongside Fox & Hare, Jess is also a co-founder of the recently launched initiative, Ladies Talk Money – a free, online platform of videos, articles and resources dedicated to supporting women to talk about all things money.

Image description: Headshot of Jessica Brady sitting cross legged on a leather couch wearing a black top and black jeans with glasses on smiling.

Headshot of Costa Vasili

ADVICE: CALD engagement requires diverse leadership

With a quarter of Australians born overseas, almost half with at least one parent born overseas, and nearly 20% speaking a language other than English at home, it’s clear Australia is a multicultural country. However, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians have been underrepresented across various industries, and miscommunicated to during times of nationwide change including the current pandemic.

In this interview, Costa Vasili, founder of EthnoLink Language Services, shares his journey building the business over the last ten years, his observations of CALD engagement during this time, and his advice for business and political leaders looking to effectively communicate with people of CALD backgrounds.

  • Almost 10 years since founding EthnoLink Language Services, what have been the biggest challenges over this time?

The biggest challenge I have faced over the past ten years has been the need to constantly learn, grow and evolve personally, in order to be the leader that the company has needed me to be.

I was only twenty years of age when I founded EthnoLink in 2011. I am a different person now compared to who I was then. Starting a company at that age can be tough, particularly when operating in a business-to-business environment where youthfulness can be seen as a weakness rather than a strength.

But as our organisation has grown, I have had to grow personally with it. Today, we have nearly twenty full-time staff and work with over three hundred translators across Australia. I’ve needed to develop many skills along this journey in order to continue to be the leader that EthnoLink has needed me to be.

  • How has this impacted the way you will approach the next 10 years?

Personal and professional development is at the core of my life. One of our company’s values is “Better Every Day” which is a reference to our philosophy of continuous improvement. I firmly believe that if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards. Even amidst this global pandemic, I’ve learnt much. I am confident that taking this philosophy into the future will ensure that our company can continue to adapt and innovate in order to stay relevant and on top of our game.

  • What role does translation play in overall CALD engagement?

Translation is only one part of a well-developed CALD engagement strategy. Community translation is an enabler. It enables an organisation to communicate with people who do not speak English well. It enables that organisation to get across an idea or message that the organisation is trying to get across — not some distortion of that message.

Importantly, the process of translation is not responsible for the development of source material. We can work with organisations to help them craft their source words, but the process of translation is responsible for conveying that message faithfully. Similarly, the process of translation is not responsible for the dissemination of that material to the community members who need to access that information. Again, we work with organisations to ‘fill this gap’ in CALD engagement, but it’s not the role of translation. Translation sits in the middle of a CALD engagement strategy — it’s vital, but it relies on the whole strategy working well together.

  • What are the biggest challenges you’re seeing business and political leaders facing when it comes to CALD engagement in 2020? Why?

Certainly the number one challenge that business and political leaders face when it comes to CALD engagement is a lack of understanding. Business and political leaders don’t fully understand the diverse needs of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds. In turn, they struggle to truly engage because they simply don’t understand the concept well enough.

Good CALD engagement is not a ‘one size fits all approach’. Each individual cultural group has different thoughts, customs, values and drivers. As such, leaders need to seek to understand the needs of people, rather than a group called “CALD” which is simply a bureaucratic term. One of the simplest ways that business and political leaders can address this issue is by promoting diversity at a leadership level. If leaders surround themselves with people from diverse backgrounds, it will create a culture that permeates through the entire organisation.

About the expert

Costa Vasili is the founder and CEO of EthnoLink Language Services which has grown over the past decade to become one of Australia’s largest translation companies servicing the Government and Not-for-profit sector. Costa was born in Melbourne, Australia to a Greek Cypriot family. His father, George, migrated to Australia at the age of thirteen with limited English. The stories Costa heard growing up, coupled with his upbringing as a second generation Australian, spurred him to start EthnoLink to help improve communication between organisations and the Australia’s diverse community.

Image description: Close-up headshot of Costa Vasili, slightly angled, facing the camera, wearing a suit jacket.