First meeting of the Down Syndrome Advisory Network

DSANDown Syndrome Australia held our 6th Annual General Meeting in Melbourne last week. As for most organisations, our AGM provides an opportunity for our members to gather and reflect on the progress over the last year, and also the challenges and opportunities we face for the coming year.

But this year’s AGM was like no other that we have held before.  It marked the inaugural meeting of our Down Syndrome Advisory Network (DSAN).

The DSAN is made up of people with Down syndrome from across Australia who will provide information and advice to the DSA Board and work with the DSA CEO to assist us in making sure that we are representing the voices of people with Down syndrome.

It is thanks to the support from the Sherry-Hogan Foundation that we were able to bring this new network together for the first time.

This first meeting focused on having an opportunity to meet other members, to discuss the terms of reference of the group and to find out more about what it means to be on an advisory network.  We had the assistance of VALID to facilitate the meeting and assist in our discussions.  The group also had a chance to decide on a new logo for the network and provide feedback to our design group.

It was a fun and engaging meeting and we talked about why members had joined the group.  There were a range of reasons but it was clear everyone was excited to have a new challenge and to have a chance to speak out on behalf of people with Down syndrome.  Some of the comments included:

“I have always wanted to be a voice for people with Down syndrome.” Claire (QLD)

“I wanted a new challenge” Andrew (WA)

“My issue is about respect.  We all need respect.  We want people to respect disability in Australia” Matt (VIC).

“I want people to see the person not the disability” Kylie (NSW)

On Friday, the members had an opportunity to meet the members of the DSA Board and to talk about how they will work together in the future.  The network also talked to the Board about the issues that were important to them including NDIS, employment, media representation, and community understanding.

The morning finished off with a presentation about education from Jody Carr, Canadian Politician, Former Minister of Education and Post Secondary Education. Mr. Carr has a passion for universal, inclusive education where all children learn together in common learning environments as a means to achieve better outcomes for all students, regardless of background and diversity. We were very fortunate to have Mr. Carr speak to our network and the board about inclusive education in Australia.

We then proceeded on to the formal AGM and national Board meeting. 

We look forward to working with the DSAN to help us advocate for and with people with Down syndrome. 

If you want to learn more about the DSAN or our members please go to

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