Workbridge, where abilities equal employment.


Council President - Gaye Austin - Deaf Aotearoa NZ

Gaye Austin - Deaf Aotearoa NZ's portraitMy name is Gaye Austin. I live in Christchurch and I am married to Richard (Deaf). We have two daughters. (Hearing).

I identify as Deaf. I am part of an extended family of which many of us are Deaf. I started to lose my hearing at the age of 12 and became profoundly Deaf in my mid 20's. I managed through the use of hearing aids and very good lip reading skills until 2012 when I received a cochlear implant. This has been hugely successful.

I am a registered comprehensive Nurse (Invercargill) and Registered Midwife (CPIT). I am currently employed as a midwife at Christchurch Women's Hospital.
My employment over the years, firstly as a Nurse and later Midwife has involved the breaking down of many barriers. I was the first Deaf Midwife to qualify in New Zealand (as far as I am aware).Hopefully I have paved the way for others to follow, on a journey much smoother than mine. It is encouraging to see employers become more disability aware.

I am a current Vice president of the Executive Board of Deaf Aotearoa. I carry the health and employment portfolios.

Council Vice President - Paula Waby - Blind Citizens NZ

Paula Waby - Blind Citizens NZ's portrait

Council Member - Wendy Neilson - DPA (NZ) Inc

Wendy Neilson - DPA (NZ) Inc's portraitWendy Neilson, MNZM., J.P. M. Ed (Hons) Dip Tch is a Teaching Fellow at the School of Education, University of Waikato. She has also taught at primary, secondary and tertiary level and has worked on contract for a number of Government Departments. Her Master's thesis investigated how women with congenital disabilities saw success.

Wendy lives with disability and is actively involved with disability issues at both a personal and political level and has been on a number of national Boards/Councils including Workbridge (Vice-President), Podiatrists Board, SPARC Disability Advisory Group and is currently immediate Past- President of DPA NZ and on the MOH Local Advisory Group for the New Model for supporting disabled people in the Bay of Plenty.

Wendy is an Accredited Barrier Free Auditor and delivers Disability Awareness workshops to schools and corporate bodies in the Bay of Plenty . In her 'spare' time Wendy and her husband love gardening and hosting friends, but her greatest joy is being a grandmother.

Wendy has been involved with Workbridge at a governance level over many years and she is passionate about the value of employment to empower disabled people to live the life they choose.

Council Member - Stevie Stevens - Kapo Maori Aotearoa NZ Inc

Stevie Stevens - Kapo Maori Aotearoa NZ Inc's portrait

Council Member - Tina Mataiti - Vaka Tautua

Tina Mataiti - Vaka Tautua's portrait

Council Member - Adrian Coysh - HRINZ

Adrian Coysh - HRINZ's portraitBorn and bred in South Auckland, I have now moved further south and live on a 15 acre lifestyle farm in Patumahoe, about 10Kms from Pukekohe. We have four children, three of which suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a condition which has no cure and usually leads to total blindness by the age of 40. Only my eldest does not have the condition. RP typically shows its symptoms around the age of 12, and generally lose 5% of their sight per year, but the condition affects every individual differently and some cases are far more aggressive.

Over the past five years since the first diagnosis of RP, our lives have been vastly changed as we have struggled with issues of disability in our family. As a Recruitment Consultant of 13 years, I was appalled by the statistics of unemployed disabled people in general, and of blindness in particular. I have volunteered to be on the Auckland Committee of HRINZ, the professional body looking after HR professionals, and it is my mission to educate HR and Finance people (I mostly recruit Accountants) to implement improvement in their workforce diversity and understanding its real value.

Supporting Workbridge was a logical decision for me, and it is imperative that they interact with larger employers to source candidates for vacant roles, and invest in programmes that sponsor disabled people through tertiary education into their workforce. My profession before Recruitment was in Banking and Finance, and I would like to use my business acumen, and many business networks to advance the cause of all disabled people to have meaningful careers.

I also have an interest in Mental Health issues such as depression, and the way that businesses deal with employees who are suffering or recovering as a result of their condition. I am sure that self worth issues are also prevalent in disabled people, facing a world in which they are marginalised and underutilised in the workforce.

Council Member - Barbara Burton - Business NZ

Barbara Burton - Business NZ's portraitBarbara was appointed legal adviser to Business New Zealand after working in a similar role with its predecessor organisation, the New Zealand Employers' Federation.

Barbara's employment relations experience includes a period as employer representative on the former Labour Court as well as involvement in the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and attendance at ILO seminars on workplace equal opportunities.

Barbara was involved in the setting up of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust and has been responsible for preparing booklets for employers on the employment of disabled people and on human rights issues in general. She has contributed articles on employment relations and employment law to a number of legal publications and has assisted with the development of legal unit standards for the Qualifications Authority.

As well as representing Business New Zealand on the Workbridge Council, Barbara is currently its representative on the National Council on the Employment of Women. She is also involved in the work of BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Council of the OECD, as a member of the organisation's Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELSA) Committee.

Council Member - Melissa Woolley - NZ CTU

Melissa Woolley - NZ CTU's portrait

Council Member - Donald Neal - People First New Zealand Inc

Donald Neal - People First New Zealand Inc's portraitDonald lives in Blenheim and is a member of the Blenheim and Top of the South People First groups. He is currently secretary of the Blenheim group. He has been a member of People First for a year and in this time he has represented the group at the Low Income Road Show, presenting what it is like to live on the benefit, and also has helped to develop a project about the understanding and management of money. Don has had past experience working full-time in farming and plant nurseries. Don is a very strong advocate for people with learning disabilities and wants to spread the word about the Human Rights Act for disabled persons in Aotearoa. In his spare time he likes to have BBQ ' with friends and watch cars that are fast and noisy.'