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Joining the Dots for Mental Health: Digital Tools, Recreational Respite and Self-Direction for People with Disabilities

July 21 @ 9:30 am - 11:00 am NZST

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Disability should not mean disconnection from what life has to offer. When people feel disconnected and unable to participate meaningfully in life their mental health can be compromised. Technology has the capacity to empower and support people with a disability, providing choice about what activities they participate in.

Digital mental health tools, self-directed approaches, and recreational respite are playing a critical role in promoting inclusion, facilitating participation, and cultivating improved support systems for our disabled communities. These practical tools and approaches have the potential to nurture social health, enhance access to critical resources, and provide a platform for amplifying a diversity of voices. The importance of technology and the need for continued development in this space is apparent, and it is important that we work toward common goals that remove barriers to participation for people with disabilities in our communities.

Come and hear this panel of global subject matter experts as they discuss the imperative collaboration required to build the structure and connection of interdependent systems, and how collective work around the world is identifying ways to promote accessible, impactful, and sustainable best practices. Removing barriers and lifting up people with disabilities to promote participation provide a unique case study in the benefits that the eMental health ecosystem has to offer us all, while ensuring ‘nothing about us, without us’- that is to remember those we serve are the heart of everything we do.

Expert Panel Speakers

Professor Jane Burns, Australia


Professor Jane Burns is a health strategist passionate about mental health, wellbeing and innovation. She is Chair of Open Arms, Veterans Families Counselling Service, Chair of Swiss8 and a Board Member of the National Disability Insurance Agency.

She has over twenty years’ experience as a C-Suite Executive with high profile organisations, beyondblue: the national depression initiative and reachout.com and was the founder and CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre raising over $100M in capital.

She is the Founder of InnoWell and a Non-Executive Director with the Applied Positive Psychology Learning Institute.

She was a Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy at the University of California, San Francisco, a VicHealth Fellow in Health Promotion at Orygen Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health and an NHMRC Fellow in Suicide Prevention at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne. Professor Burns has a PhD in medicine from the University of Adelaide.

In recognition for her achievements in entrepreneurship she won the category of Social Enterprise for 2015’s Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence, and was a Victorian Finalist in the 2017 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Professor Burns is currently a strategic consultant to TogetherAI and Clarity+ and an enterprise professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Amy MacFarlane, Canada

Amy is a passionate social entrepreneur. A disability studies scholar a current Masters, counselling psychology student. A visionary leader. An educator and advocate for at-risk youth and young adults with disabilities (teaching leadership and entrepreneurship) and an international keynote speaker.

Amy is the Founder and CEO of Recreational Respite (est. 2008) which promotes inclusion, encourages community participation, and nurtures social health and connectivity for children, youth and adults who face barriers to participation because of disability, mental illness, disease, or other vulnerabilities, across Canada. Her work has been extensive in both Canada and internationally, promoting knowledge sharing with organizations (non-profit and for profits) to collaborate and maximize the program and service delivery but minimize the financial barriers to the individual and their families. Recreational Respite’s national team of recreation professionals offer direct one to one service in the community and group programming (in person and virtually). Involved in multiple collaboratives and national partnerships, she leads her organization and others in these collaboratives, to the common goal of removing barriers to participation for our most vulnerable populations. Recreational Respite’s collective work identifies ways to promote accessible, impactful, and sustainable best practices.

Marsha Marshall, New Zealand

Marsha Marshall is the CEO of Manawanui Support Ltd, a health and disability support organisation in New Zealand that facilitates and supports self-direction for over 7000 people with health and disability support needs and their families. Originally from Canada, Marsha immigrated to New Zealand in 1997 where she has led the implementation of self-direction in a variety of roles.  With a background as a Masters trained paediatric nurse, Marsha has over 30 years’ experience in health and disability and is passionate about self-direction, social impact, choice and control for people who require support, and most of all, quality of life outcomes.

Pete Bombaci, Canada

In 2016, Pete launched The GenWell Project, a Canadian led, Global Human Connection Movement, which has recently become more relevant than ever. The mission of The GenWell Project is to make the world a happier and healthier place by educating, empowering, and catalyzing people around the importance of proactive face-to-face social connection as an action we can all take for our health, happiness, longevity, and the betterment of society.

As a human connection expert, Pete is frequently called upon to share the knowledge and insights gained over six years leading the Human Connection Movement. Often a guest on global podcasts, radio, television and a panelist and speaker at conferences around the world, Pete can now more regularly be seen as a speaker in workplaces, schools and in the community, or as a keynote in conferences across Canada.

With a background in both for-profit and not-for-profit, Pete brings an entrepreneurial spirit to The GenWell Project and its effort to build a Global Human Connection Movement.

More Speakers To Be Announced

Event Details

July 21
9:30 am - 11:00 am NZST
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