Ann Greer has lived and worked in disability for over 40 years.  She is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities get an equal opportunity life and believes that this will occur if we pay attention to the twin needs of the person themselves and the community.  Valen, Ann’s son is now 36 years of age.  His future did not look bright as a little boy as he was very troubled and the family did not always understand what he experienced on a day to day basis.

Ann sees Valen as one of her greatest teachers and is very pleased to say that Valen is a wonderful son – loving and kind.  He still lives with many challenges but he and his support team have built the necessary skills to create a great life.  Valen lives with his dad, John and is supported every day to manage his life, bank, shop and manage his micro business – two coffee machines that he maintains and replenishes with the support of his team.

This workshop will outline the strategies and the thinking behind building that life around Valen using a combination of paid and family supports and our plans for the future.


Day 1 11:30 – 1:00

What is possible when we dare to believe in a full and good life for everyone.

Anne’s daughter Jane

Jane celebrated her 43rd birthday on the 20th March. She celebrated her first birthday as a married woman and in a new town as she moved from Townsville (her birthplace) to Bundaberg with her new husband in October. Jane has had paid work, been a student, an international public speaker and has a rich life. Ann who is Jane’s mother will share with the audience, the thinking behind how Jane’s support is configured, the challenges in supporting her in the context of her relationship with her husband Peter and how support has been wrapped around her to ensure that her needs as a human being are met as well as those of her disability. The presentation will be rich with stories to help in understanding what it takes to make this possible.

Day 1 4:00 – 4:45

Creating an equal opportunity life – don’t talk to me about degree of disability – it’s interesting but not very useful!

Jane’s son Valen

This presentation will discuss the complexities of building a good life around a person considered to have multiple challenges. An outline of ‘what it takes’ to achieve this will be shared with the participants and will be told in stories and anecdotes. Ann will discuss the understandings that have come as a result of actively ‘listening’ to the nuances of her son’s behaviour and working with him from a standpoint of deep respect and love for who he is as a human being. Valen’s primary place in his family life is as a son and a brother not as a ‘challenge’ or a ‘burden’. He is an active participant in all aspects of family life and community life to the level that he can cope with and aspires to. Valen has been consulted on the contents of this presentation and has agreed with what is being shared.


Day 2 1:35 – 3:00pm

Communication as the foundation piece to a good education – what does it take?

This presentation will outline the importance of communication when we are planning the education of a student with a disability. Ann is not a communication ‘expert’ but has spent the last 35 years working with families and educators to establish strategies to ensure that communication between students with and without disabilities and the student and his or her teacher are workable and practical. Wherever possible, Ann believes that communication can be low-tech and inexpensive – but attractive to other students (technological natives) in the classroom and should not bamboozle those of us over 35 (the technological immigrants). This will be a strategy-filled presentation.