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NSW Neurodiversity in the Water Sector Workshop

Icon of a calendar 7 Mar, 2024 | Small clock icon 9:00am - 5:00pm | Icon of a map pin Arup Offices, Sydney

How can we as a sector harness the power of the neurodiverse to address our skill shortage both now and into the future?

By making our workplaces accessible to the neurodiverse, we can utilise their unique attributes to help address our skills shortage.

Neurodiverse people have one or more ways in which their brain functions outside the "typical" way.  Historically these differences have been seen as deficient, but many sectors are recognising the benefits that the innovative thinking, attention to detail and hyperfocus of the neurodiverse bring to the workplace

Join other members of the sector during this unique workshop to:

  • Share experiences of initiatives and programs both within and external to the water sector
  • Map the water sector and neurodiverse enabling environments to identify opportunities and gaps
  • Connect water sector employers with schools and organisations to allow them to develop (pilot) programs, increasing participation by neurodiverse people

Workshop Program


Acknowledgement of Country
Welcome to the Workshop - Annalisa Contos, Workshop Organiser


Current Initiatives
Hear from leaders across the Water sector and beyond as they share stories of starting the conversation, designing programs and creating opportunities for the Neurodiverse.

Speakers to Include:
Sophie Barton, GHD
Bec Mede, Sydney Water
Dorine Kuo, ARUP
Doug van Gelder, Australian Spatial Analytics - see this article for a taster of ASA's work!
Christina Kerneborne, ex IBM

10:15am Morning Tea

Creating Successful Programs
How do we create programs that work? Our panel of experts will present case studies, discuss what makes effective programs and the support available for organisations and individuals

Hear from: 
Liz Webb, Department of Education
Catherine Lee, Neurodiverse Safe Work 
Shae Wissell, ReThink Dyslexia
Carolyn Burr, Untapped Talent

12:00pm Key Priorities

12:20pm Lunch
1:15pm Opportunities + Workshop Activities
Work together with fellow members of the Water Sector to identify opportunities, connections and solutions 
3:00pm Afternoon Tea
3:30pm Reporting Back
Groups report back on their findings, next steps and aspirations

Closing Remarks
The Hon. Rose Jackson, 
Minister for Mental Health, Youth, Housing & Homelessness 


Christina Kernebone,
ex. IBM

Doug van Gelder,
Australian Spatial Analytics

Dorine Kuo


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Christina is a strategy and transformation executive with over 20 years’ experience leading managed services transitions and technology-led transformations at IBM for some of Australia’s most well-known brands.  She has successfully delivered programs for clients in financial services, insurance, government and resources sectors, focused on improved client experience, operational efficiencies and digital moderinsation.  Her experience leading large global teams reinforced the importance of diversity in achieving the best outcomes on any project, and for the last four years she has been a champion and sponsor for improving inclusion at IBM for their neurodiverse employees.  

Doug is a highly experienced technology professional who has worked with multiple utility and government partners. His passion for embracing technology to improve processes and help people originated in the Royal Australian Navy, where he specialised in navigation, warfare and communications. After leaving the defence forces, he became an IT consultant before embarking on sales and client relationship management, working at TechnologyOne, Melbourne IT and Esri Australia. At ASA, Doug combines his lived experiences with neurodiversity with his defence and utilities background to advocate for neurodiversity in the workplace while creating social impact for young neurodivergent adults. 

Dorine is a civil engineer at Arup with project and design management experience on large infrastructure projects with a strong interest in inclusive design and accessibility in the built environment. She is also an advocate for the neurodiverse community in engineering, raising awareness both internally at Arup and across the industry by collaborating with industry partners. One of her aspirations is to shape a supportive work environment for the neurodiverse community in a holistic way, from the candidate all the way to the employee experience

Catherine Lee,
Neurodiverse Safe Work

Shae Wissell,
Re:think Dyslexia

Liz Whittell Webb,
Support Teacher Transition

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Through her company, Lethbridge Piper, and Associates Catherine partners with client organisations to support and guide their Boards and Executive Leadership in setting and achieving strategic occupational health and safety objectives. Catherine is a Registered Nurse, an Occupational Health Nurse, a Certified Occupational Health and Safety Professional, a Professional Coach, Certified Principle OHS Auditor, Licenced Private Investigator and Management Consultant. She is currently undertaking a Master of Arts Research at Griffith University in which she is studying the impacts of ADHD on safety critical roles within the civil aviation sector in Australia. In 2020, Catherine founded the Neurodiverse Safe Work Initiative, a pioneering social enterprise aimed at fostering awareness among employers regarding the advantages of embracing neurodiversity in the workplace. With its unique perspective on neurodiversity through a work health and safety lens, Catherine’s work is achieving international recognition and leading to positive change both for employers and neurodivergent workers.

Dr. Shae Wissell is a leading advocate, researcher, and entrepreneur specialising in dyslexia within the workforce landscape. With a clinical foundation in speech pathology and a dual master's degree alongside a Doctorate in Public Health, Shae has a rich educational background and extensive work experience across health, non-profit, and social enterprise sectors. Founding re:think dyslexia and the Dear Dyslexic Foundation, Shae harnesses her diverse expertise and personal journey to provide targeted learning and development support, innovative workforce solutions and strategic advisory services tailored to both individuals and organisations.Her pioneering research, both locally and internationally published and presented, focuses on the lived experiences of dyslexic adults in Australia, delving into their unique challenges within healthcare, education, employment, and social well-being spheres. Through this work, Shae is able to turn her research into evidence informed practice that contributes to the development of inclusive workplace policies and programs, fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels.

Liz is an accomplished Support Teacher Transition with the NSW Department of Education, servicing the Northern Sydney region. With a depth of expertise spanning over 20 years, Liz specialises in supporting neurodiverse students through their journey in mainstream and special education settings, facilitating their transition to post-school life with a focus on further education and employment opportunities. She is driven by a commitment to creating inclusive pathways that leverage the unique skill sets of young neurodiverse adults, fostering collaborations with adult education providers and employers to maximise individual potential. Liz's passion for enhancing the employability and educational outcomes of neurodivergent students has marked her as a leader in navigating the complexities of the secondary and tertiary education sectors and the employment landscape, embodying a progressive approach to embracing neurodiversity in educational and professional environments. 

Bec Mede,
Sydney Water

Carolyn Burr,
Untapped Talent

Sophie Barton,

Bec Mede



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Rebecca is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager who has worked spent the last 16 years unapologetically focused on creating a culture of inclusion and belonging within some of the world’s strongest AXS listed organisations. After recently writing Downer’s Australia and New Zealand’s Inclusion & Belonging Strategy, Rebecca has now moved to her current role of Manager, Culture, Inclusion and Belonging with Sydney Water.

Untapped Talent is a for-purpose social enterprise with a mission to help organisations overcome skill shortages by building high-performing teams from groups of highly skilled individuals. We work with organisations to identify commercially compelling employment opportunities and have developed a unique and proven model to implement autistic employment programs and institute them as business as usual.

Sophie is a water strategy consultant within the Water Resources Group at GHD in Melbourne. Sophie's experience across hydrologic modelling, stakeholder engagement and integrated water management enables her to deliver solutions that promote the resilience and sustainability of our waterways and communities alike. Sophie supports the Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group at GHD and has advocates a strengths-based approach to embracing neurodiversity in the workplace.

Event Day Details


7 March 2024

Time Registration from 8:30am, workshop starts 9:00am


Arup Office

Address Level 5, Barrack Place,
151 Clarence St, Sydney 2000

Register Here

Registration Type Registration Fee
Members $60
Non-members $100
Students/Concession $50

For more information please contact
Bridget Masters
Event Manager 

Thank you to our Workshop Delivery Partner


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Thank you to our event Partner

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Thank you to our Workshop Supporter

Atom Consulting


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