What is The Abilities Collective @ Curtin

The Abilities Collective @ Curtin started in March of 2021. New to Curtin former staff member Alana Kelly was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder around the same time as starting her role at Curtin and set out to identify the staff networks she could reach out to for support.

Curtin has much in the way of resources and support, including central Diversity Inclusion and Belonging and Wellbeing Teams, and online training modules for staff, but there wasn’t anything for staff, run by staff in the way of a community or employee network. So, with the support of Erica Schurmann, Alana set out to start one.

Initially a channel on Yammer, the question was posed, “who would be interested in starting a dedicated group?” and so the Abilities Collective @ Curtin was born.

Our group comprises staff from across all sections of Curtin and provides a dedicated Teams channel for members which shares resources, information, articles, insights, and community events that may be of interest or benefit to staff with lived experience of disability. It is a safe space to ask questions, seek advice or to just be yourself and chat with like-minded staff about things that are relevant to you.

In June 2022, the Abilities Collective branched out further, forming the AC Advisory Group. Alana left us for new pastures, and we were lucky to have Sunyal Maroo and Arianne Chavez step up to chair our group. The AC Advisory group consists of two Co-Chairs and the Advisory Secretary, Anni Thompson, along with a small group of dedicated volunteers who give their time to meet monthly. In these meetings we discuss ways our Collective could improve visibility of disability and assist and participate in driving the improvements for staff with disability that form part of the Disability Action and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) and the inclusive direction Curtin takes with its staff.

Since the first yammer channel was formed in November of 2020, our AC Advisory group was formed in June of 2022, our members have launched a dedicated Abilities Collective @ Curtin website, published several articles that speak directly to various aspects of disability and inclusion, and supported the International Day for People with Disability Park Run event hosted by Edinburgh Oval Parkrun here at Curtin alongside the People and Culture team. Our members were invited to participate in the WA Disability Act review event hosted here at Curtin and have presented at the launch of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan and at the newly formed Diversity Inclusion & Belonging committee (DIBC). Members met with the Universal Design Working Group (UDWG) to discuss our role and structure as an employee network at Curtin, and in July of this year formalised our Terms of Reference.

Most recently, members of the Abilities Collective Advisory successfully advocated for inclusion of an additional special leave clause within our Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with the full support of the national Tertiary Education Union and the Enterprise Bargaining team which supports staff with Disability or Chronic Medical Conditions or staff who care for immediate family with Disability or Chronic medical conditions.

The Abilities Collective @ Curtin boasts 40 members and there is no obligation to join the Advisory Group, which runs separately. The Abilities Collective offers equitable participation for everyone without any obligation to undertake more than you can or are comfortable with. There is no requirement to disclose or to have disability.

As we head into 2024, we are seeking to improve social participation and find ways to offer events and gatherings for staff to get together.

Email us at AbilitiesCollective@curtin.edu.au