Dr James Muecke
Dr James Muecke AM graduated with Honors from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1987. Following his internship, James lived and worked as a doctor in Africa and subsequently as an eye surgeon in the Middle East, battling malaria, wild animals, and rebel soldiers. He founded Sight For All in 2008, turning his boundless energy into a fight against blindness in the Aboriginal and mainstream communities of Australia and some of the poorest countries of Asia and Africa. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable projects are now impacting on the lives of over one million people each year.
His commitment to social impact and humanitarian endeavors has earnt him a number of awards including an Order of Australia in 2012, the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Leadership Award in 2013, and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur for Australia in 2015. James is Australian of the Year for 2020.
James is a researcher, a teacher, an author, a musician, a photographer, and a film producer, and uses his many skills to deliver passionate, fascinating, and at times confronting presentations about his life, his work, philanthropy, resilience and social entrepreneurship. A neurological condition impacting on his dexterity has forced James into a premature retirement from surgery. Not letting his disability slow him down, James has redirected his vigor to crafting films, and has a number of powerful documentaries under his belt and several compelling projects in production.
Hannah was born with two congenital spinal disorders; Sacral Agenesis and Spina Bifida, resulting in her missing her sacrum and coccyx vertebrae and leaving her with a damaged spinal cord.
Hannah grew up in rural Sydney and quickly fell in love with horse riding along with her brothers and mum, she started competing in pony club at age 4 and became an elite athlete in Para-equestrian at 13 (the minimum competitive age). She competed in London 2012 Paralympics for equestrian before being recruited to wheelchair basketball.
Hannah was a dual sport athlete until 2017 when she chose to compete exclusively in basketball. Hannah is currently training for the Toyko Paralympics later this year.
Hannah also holds two degrees a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science (University of Western Sydney) and a Bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics (University of the Sunshine Coast), in her spare time Hannah coaches as the local wheelchair basketball club and assists with the development players in QLD.
Jax Jacki Brown
Jax Jacki Brown (they/them) is a disability and LGBTIQA+ rights activist, writer, and educator.
Jax runs their own business in LGBTIQA+ disability rights and inclusion where they provide guest speaking, education and workshops and training.
They are a member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council and the LGBTI Taskforce Health and Human Services Working Group where they advocate for LGBTIQA+ disability communities. Jax is interested in how we can build resilience, pride, and community for people with disabilities.
Nathan has Down Syndrome but he says, “That’s not who I am”. He has spoken at international and national conferences, political forums, corporate functions, universities, schools, community groups and workshops, sharing his insights about what can happen when people are encouraged to live their dreams and live life to their full potential.
Nathan is a filmmaker. He attended The University of Sydney and works at the prominent radio station Nova 96.9.
Nathan believes if change is truly to occur "It's in the mind sets - the fixed and mixed mindsets that create barriers and we need to break through that, allow more people to have a chance in life and allow people's ability to shine. What you see on the outside is one thing, but what you see on the inside is more”.
Samantha has been an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities since the early 1990’s and throughout her professional life as a social worker.
She has been past chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability in WA, as well as a previous member of the National Disability and Carer Council. Her work has included a strong focus on individualised support, inclusion, and co-design both in non-government agencies and State Government in Victoria and WA. This work led to her strong involvement in the campaign for the NDIS and as an expert in the NDIS initial design. Samantha has been past Chair of Women with Disabilities Australia and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations during these pivotal times.
Samantha spent 6 years as a local Government Councillor with City of Stirling, and her previous role was CEO of People with Disabilities WA. Currently Samantha is the State Director Western Australia NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
Born as an above knee amputee, Brant was told that he would never be able to run. For a long time, he accepted this as an excuse. At the age of 28, after drifting through life without a sense of purpose or direction, Brant decided to stop making excuses and start making a change.
Within a year of trying, failing, and succeeding to run on his artificial leg, Brant became the first Australian above knee amputee to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, setting a world record time in the process.
Three years after that, he also became the first Australian to compete as a triathlete in the Paralympics.
Through his resilient mindset and 'no excuses' approach to life, Brant founded his personal development and coaching business No Xcuses to help other people and organisations re-define what's possible by building a culture of resilience.