Health Ambassador Work

Health Ambassador Work thumbnail.

Inclusive Communication: Improving health outcomes for people with Down syndrome 

Advocacy work in 2021

  • Member of the NZ/AUS Inclusion International Consultation on Being Included in the Community and Deinstitutionalisation
  • Member of the expert advisory group on the National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health
  • Advisor to COVID Disability Advisory Committee Meeting
  • Member of ‘We Need to Talk’ Project Advisory Group – University of Queensland
  • Member of the Disability and Health Sector Consultation Committee (DHSCC) meeting
  • Member of the Roadmap Implementation Governance Group (RIGG)
  • Advisor to National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards – Intellectual Disability Consultation
  • Co-design of resources with Council for Intellectual Disability

Health Direct Australia

April 2022

A DSA health Ambassador delivers a speech

Read the Health Direct article here.

Information Partner Newsletter Autumn 2022

Caitlin speaks in Parliament on the importance of inclusion

March 2022

We are so proud of the work our Health Ambassador Caitlin Woolley does and are thankful to Andrew Wilkie MP – Independent Member for Clark for sharing her speech in Parliament on the importance of inclusion.

“I want to be included and respected, not left out because of my disability.”

Inclusive Communication – Improving health outcomes for people with Down syndrome, Webinar to the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN).

March 2022

Starting slide of the CESPHN Presentation

Rohan and Olivia presented and shared their experiences to the online forum about the importance of inclusive communication.

To view the webinar, click the link here.
Inclusive Communication – Improving Health Outcomes for people with Down syndrome – 29 March 2022

“Thanks so much Rohan and Olivia for sharing your experiences and wisdom. I hope that the health system can better meet the needs of people with Down syndrome through the fantastic advocacy that you are doing.”- Allied Health Practitioner

Alishia’s story is featured by the NDIS

March 2022

During March Alishia was featured by the NDIS in a story on the work she does at Northern Territory NDIS provider Carpentaria about two years ago and as a Health Ambassador for Down Syndrome Australia. You can read about Alishia’s story here:

Alishia helps spread the word about inclusive communication to health professionals

Down Syndrome International 11th World Down Syndrome Day Conference

March 2022

At Down Syndrome International’s 11th World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the United Nations in New York, a video featuring Rohan Fullwood and the other health ambassadors was featured showcasing the importance of inclusive communication and self-advocacy.

Inclusive Communication.

Gillian Gerke’s video on Inclusive Health – My diagnosis does not define me, was also featured.

Inclusive Health – My diagnosis does not define me.

Presentation to the Nursing students, University of Adelaide

March 2022

Hugo Taheny

Hugo and Natalie presented at the University of Adelaide to over 200 second year nursing students on inclusive communication. This was Hugo’s first face to face presentation as a health ambassador and the feedback was sensational.

“Standing up and sharing information in front of lots of people is scary and daunting so well done to Hugo” – nursing student

The nursing students obtained a better understanding of the skills of communication and the need for inclusive communication in health.

“it will take some time and patience but using their strengths can truly help establish meaningful and therapeutic relationships with individuals which is essential in life, especially as a nurse”– nursing student 

Presentation to the Occupational Therapy students, University of the Sunshine Coast

March 2022


Gillian and Natalie delivered an online presentation on inclusive communication, to the Occupational Therapy students at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The students acquired more knowledge about Down syndrome and how inclusive communication can lead to people with Down syndrome achieving better health outcomes. When asked what they found most interesting they said:

“Learning about the human rights of people with an intellectual disability. It was very interesting and I would like to find out more so I can advocate for my future clients.” – occupational therapy student
“That there is different types of Down syndrome. And to clarify if someone understands something and if not find a different way of saying it or making it visual.” – occupational therapy student
“Gillian was amazing! The presenters did a fantastic job of delivering the information in an engaging manner.” – occupational therapy student

Presentation to the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Nursing

February 2022

Caitlin presents to the Faculty of Nursing

Caitlin and Natalie presented at the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Nursing. Caitlin spoke of her experience in health and the benefits of inclusive communication in improving the health outcomes for people with Down syndrome.

The audience gained knowledge and skills from Caitlin’s experience.

“Recap on how persons with Down syndrome learn, strengths and how I could better adapt my communication techniques” – Registered Nurse

“Caitlin was amazing and really gave insight into lived experience” – Student Nurse

Presentation at CESPHN GROW Project launch

December 2021

Health Ambassador Rohan presented at the Central and Eastern Sydney PHN GROW Project launch. Rohan shared his personal experience about navigating the healthcare system, and told everyone how important inclusive communication is for people with intellectual disability.

Project GROW is helping GPs and Allied Health practices become more accessible, and training GPs and Allied Health staff to better look after the health needs of people with intellectual disability.

Presentation at ASID conference

November 2021

Caitlin and Natalie presented at the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) conference and Olivia and Natalie presented at the WDSC to audiences spanning around the world. Both presentations were online and informed the audience about the Health Ambassador Program. The presentations were titled: Inclusive communication – Improving health outcomes for people with Down syndrome – A discussion on the research, the development and the delivery of the Health Ambassador program.

World Down Syndrome Congress Dubai

November 2021

Olivia and Natalie presented at the 2022 World Down Syndrome Congress. The theme for this year’s congress was ‘Unlocking Hidden Potentials’, and they did a presentation on the importance of inclusive communication.

“…it was very informative, along the real life story and very interesting. I listen twice.”

The Health Ambassadors also made a presentation poster on the Inclusive Communication program for the Congress and shared their insights on how healthcare professionals can communicate better.

Disability Health Sector Consultation Committee

November 2021

Hugo shared his experience of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination with the Disability Health Sector Consultation Committee.

Hugo told the committee that he got the vaccination because he wants to keep his family safe and to have a good life. He shared that he had a reaction after receiving his second shot, but received the right support from the healthcare system to recover and get better.

Presentation to Charles Darwin University

October 2021

DSA Health Ambassador Alishia Lindsay presented to a group of Allied Health and Clinical Science students from Charles Darwin University in Darwin. The group felt that they all improved their knowledge about Down syndrome. The group thought that Alishia’s presentation on ‘Inclusive Communication’ was “very engaging”.

 “Allowed me to see a greater view on the perspectives of people with Down Syndrome. Also the importance of inclusive communication.”

Speak Out Advocacy Conference

September 2021

DSA Health Ambassador Caitlin Woolley presented at the 39th Speak Out Conference in Tasmania. Caitlin presented to an audience of people with disability and their supports, about the important work she and the other Health Ambassadors are doing.  

 “Very impressive thank you” – conference participant 

Presentation to Deakin University Occupational Therapy students

September 2021

Two women presenting a speech

DSA Health Ambassadors Emily Porter and Amelia Sloan along with project manager, Natalie Graham, presented to second-year Deakin University Occupational Therapy students about Inclusive Communication. The Health Ambassadors spoke to the students over Zoom of their experiences within the health system. Over 71% of participants said that Emily and Amelia’s presentation changed their knowledge about communication styles. 

“I will make sure I take more time to get to know the person and make a point to adapt my communication style to meet the individual’s needs”.

Inclusive Communication

August, 2021

DSA Health Ambassador Amelia Sloan and Natalie presented to Kyneton District Health Hospital & Community Care via Zoom.

Amelia’s core message is to ‘have patience, be calm and give me time to process what you are saying to me’. 

“You’re both amazing people!!! keep making a change to the communities” … “I think we all need to be aware of the different ways we can communicate to ensure understanding.” – the Kyneton staff

Launch of National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability

August, 2021

The Health Ambassador Program is included in the Roadmap. DSA Health Ambassador Caitlin Woolley and CEO of Down Syndrome Australia Ellen Skladzien spoke at the launch of the National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability.

Caitlin spoke about the importance of being a Health Ambassador for DSA and also said “All people deserve the same healthcare and this roadmap gives everyone the vision and actions to make that happen so … thank you.” 

Presentation to Leaps and Bounds Disability Service

August, 2021

DSA Health Ambassador Gillian Gehrke and Early Years Officer at Down Syndrome Queensland Tanya McConnell, presented to Leaps and Bounds Disability Service, a multidisciplinary allied health provider.

They received enthusiastic feedback, including “Such a great presentation that started more in-depth discussions. Both Gillian and Tanya were so lovely and kind as well as very knowledgeable”.

Breaking down the communication barriers

June, 2021

DSA Health Ambassador Emily Porter and Health Program Manager Natalie Graham presented at The University of Melbourne MD Student Conference.

‘Take 5’ Presentation for Health professionals

June, 2021

View 5 slides in just over 5 minutes to improve your knowledge and awareness of Down syndrome and how better to communicate with someone with Down syndrome.

Involving children and young people in health decision making

DSA Health Ambassador Hugo presented to the Health Literacy Network in the ACT about involving children and young people in health decision-making.

May, 2021

Hugo Taheny

View the PowerPoint slides to the presentation here.

You can find a recording of the Involving children and young people in health decision making webinar on YouTube here.

DSA Health Ambassadors talk to Professor Richards about the COVID-19 vaccines

March, 2021

Health Ambassadors Emily and Amelia discuss the COVID-19 vaccines with infectious diseases specialist Professor Michael Richards.